Introducing My "Bright Betty"
Emergency Oil Lamps
(Part 1)

Dateline: 18 December 2016

One Bright Betty provides enough light to read by. 
Two Bettys are better because there are less shadows. 
1/2 cup of lamp oil will fuel a Betty for 12 hours.

I made my first Bright Betty emergency jar lamps back in 2010, and we have used them many times since then. In fact, the power went out here a couple days ago for several hours and, as nightfall came on, we simply went into our pantry off the kitchen and got the Bettys. They are always on a shelf, ready to be put to use....

Four Bettys at the ready!  
In our cellarway pantry by the kitchen.

All we do to get a Bright Betty going is unscrew the lid, lift the wick holder up and light it with a match....

Lighting the Bright Betty

I saw in a recent Lehman's catalog that they now sell Olive Oil Lamp Parts, like you can see in this picture...

When I saw that I thought to myself, "Hey, that's a Bright Betty wick holder!" Shortly after I came up with my jar lamp design and the Bright Betty name back in 2010, I created A Bright Betty Web Site to sell Bright Betty kits. 

But, like a lot of ideas I get, I never fully pursued it. And I never will. 

Nevertheless, I'm convinced from my personal experience (approximately 100 hours of testing and use over the past six years) that the Bright Betty idea is a good one, and I'm going to give you some visual insights into making your own Bright Betty lamps in my next blog post. For now, I want to explain my Bright Betty lamps...

About The Bright Betty

The basic concept of an oil lamp in a jar is nothing new. You can find similar jar-lamp tutorials elsewhere on the internet. And, as already noted,  Lehman's sells jar lamps for burning olive oil. But the Bright Betty is a bit different than other jar lamps, especially the olive-oil-fueled lamps.

First, my Bright Betty lamps have a fiberglass wick, not woven cotton. Fiberglass is better. The other difference is that my Bright Bettys burn liquid paraffin instead of olive oil for fuel.

The fiberglass wick, with liquid paraffin fuel, puts out more light than a thin-wick olive oil lamp. 

Read the customer reviews at the Lehman's link (above) and you'll see that their little wicks put out a very small amount of light. But Bright Bettys are vastly better light producers. Not like a lightbulb, mind you, but it's a downright satisfying and useful amount of light. I'd say one Betty puts out the light equivalent of several candles  

Being in a thick-glass canning jar with a handle, the Bright Betty is easy to carry. I've carried mine outdoors and it has done a pretty good job of casting some light in the dark. But it is much better lighting up a room indoors. 

Unlike a traditional oil lamp, the Bright Betty doesn't take up a lot of space in storage, and it doesn't have a chimney to smoke up. It's just a simple and convenient light in a jar.

The only disadvantage I have found with the Bright Betty is that the flame is inside the jar with the fuel

But only once has that been a problem for me. That one time the fuel level was low in the jar and the flame spread out over the surface of the paraffin. When that happened, a funky flame formed inside the jar and it smoked. The flame didn't pose a danger that I could see, but it was definitely an annoyance. It was easy enough to extinguish (blow across the top of the jar or put the lid on to put out the flame).

That being the case, we never leave our Bright Bettys unattended. We take them with us as we move around the house. 

The high-quality, unscented, smokeless liquid paraffin I use to fuel my Bright Bettys is from a two-gallon jug I bought just before Y2k. That was 17 years ago, but the fuel looks and works as well today as when it was new. I don't think liquid paraffin ever goes bad. A gallon will last a very long time for fueling these emergency jar lamps.

There are many internet links with information about making liquid paraffin "candle" lamps using jars and bottles. Some of them (Like This One) are really neat. And you might consider them to be safer (with the flame outside the fuel reservoir) than my Bright Betty design. 

Whatever the case, I'm pleased with the convenience and practical usefulness of my Bright Betty jar lamps and we are comfortable using them as an emergency light source. I'll provide some details about how I make them in my next blog post.

CLICK HERE to go to Part 2 of this series.

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