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Page history last edited by Eric Bagai 11 years, 8 months ago

Paraffin a.k.a Lamp Oil, Mineral Oil


Unlike the other common names for fuels, Paraffin is a moniker for a type of hydrocarbon rather than a generic size range. Technically, paraffins are fully saturated hydrocarbons without benzene rings, exotic atoms, or any other imputities. The paraffins are biologically neutral, tasteless, odourless, and colourless. However, the legal for trade-moniker Paraffin, allows for certain impurities, and outside the US, the percentage increases. Often, "pure" paraffin will contain up to 1% contaminants, enough to give it a distinctive gasoline smell and taste. In the UK and other Anglophone countries, Paraffin is often directly comparable to Kerosene or heating oil. However, in polar and near-polar regions, paraffins used for heating and stove oil often contain larger proportions of naphtha and benzene so that they will light more easily in sub-zero temperatures.


Since, technically, a wide variety of chemicals from propane, to white gas, to lamp oil, to vasoline, can be called a paraffin, the properties are harder to pinpoint. For our purposes, we will stick to the more common forms: lamp oil and mineral oil. These liquid, long-chain hydrocarbons range from c10 to c18, have a very high flash point (200+ degrees f), and a very low vapor pressure. Lamp oil can often be left in the open, even in direct sunlight, without fear of it producing combustible vapors.


Because it is so stable at room temp, Lamp oil is very hard to light under most circumstances. It will only burn from a wick or other substance with a high surface area. It will often stain any surface it touches because of the difficulty it has migrating and evaporating. The notable exception to this stability is when in the presence of high surface area conditions. When lamp oil is applied to cotton balls, wood shavings, fur, or feathers it begins producing a cloud of vapors almost immediately. This cloud stays in a form that is readily ignitable from spark or intense heat.


From a performance standpoint, Lamp oil is one of the preferred fuels. It's accepted by even the most restrictive fire departments. Though it burns smokily, it can be found in forms that burn without a lot of toxins (Lamplighter Farms Ultrapure), and all forms produce a very long show. Its very high flash point means that it usually won't burn on your body, even if you smack yourself with a freshly lit wick. Highly purified forms can also be obtained (food-grade, medical, pharmaceutical) that are safe for consumption, making them the ideal fuel for fire breathing (unless inhaled). The biggest problem with lamp oil is in the eventual complacency of the performer.


Proximity to feathers and fur should be avoided at all costs as these materials make Lamp oil react like Naphtha.


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