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Friday, February 1, 2013

Help for allergies?

A reader left a comment after my blog post Low-Tech Solutions to High-Tech Problems, as follows:

I have problem, maybe someone can help me! I am allergic to the oil used in old oil lamps, allergic to candles, I've bought candles made out of soy and still they make me sick. Anything that uses a flame and gives off the slightest order causes me to be come sick. Any suggestions for lighting for long-term? Thanks for the help.

I have a feeling this might be a fairly common issue. Can anyone help? Please post your thoughts so everyone can benefit!


  1. I wonder if candles made from beeswax (organic only , so no pesticide residue) and cotton wicks. Zinc is a component in many wicks, so cotton only. Beeswax candles smell like honey!

  2. Lots of ventilation. This odor will permeate everything. A

    You may be forced to go with LED lighting systems as back ups with battery and solar panels for backup.

  3. Many people have issues with petroleum based fuels. Most soy candles probably still use a little petroleum based wax and/or fragrance.
    There are odorless distilled petroleum lamp oils (Aladdin makes a good one) that work very well. That say I do notice an odor when the lamp is extinguished.

    LP gas lights are very popular here with the local Amish but they can be a little fussy, have a learning curve and are more expensive that oil lamps. LP gas lighting is good for every day use but overkill for occasional use.

    100% bee's wax candles are very pleasant but pricey for everyday use unless you make them yourself.
    Good luck!

  4. I have a battery operated lantern. Our oil lamps make me fees sick too .. so they are only used in extreme emergencies for a short duration.

  5. I love the little solar LED lanterns put out by D.Light (I got mine on Amazon.) During the day they can sit on a windowsill and at night they are ready to use.

    1. I agree! I have two always in the window so they are ready to go. They're bright, light and reliable. http://www.amazon.com/d-light-S10-Solar-LED-Lantern/dp/B004B924OG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359765425&sr=8-1&keywords=solar+lantern

  6. I guess the key is, finding out what element is irratating you - is it petroleum as some pp's suggest above, fragrances,or the particulates from smoke?
    Do wood fires make you sick? If so, it is likely the smoke itself and you may need to stay high-tech with led's as suggested.
    If it is fragrances or petroleum, the all-natural items suggested above may help - or you can create a simple oil lamp from olive oil - extremely ancient technology. You can buy olive oil lamps, or improvise them from a wide range of materials. A tutorial is here, shown as a craft project for Chanukah.

  7. Are you using plain kerosene or lamp oil? Lamp oil is pricy, but has less odor. Beeswax are supposed to be the cleanest-burning wax, but I don't know if that's true. Anything that burns gives off some sort of by product. I have an oil lamp that runs on cooking oil/lard/bacon grease-any oil. I haven't tested it yet though.
    My LED-converted old Maglite will run almost four days continuously on fully charged batteries. You can't beat it for long lasting light. A really cheap LED lantern can be made from clearance pile solar yard lights. Glue 'em in a candleholder, make a chandelier-just give them sunlight. Kept out of the weather, even the cheapies last a long time. The reason most of mine have failed is corrosion from water getting in.
    The neat thing about combustion lighting is you can cook over it if need be,and you get some heat from it in winter.

  8. I noticed that a reader mentioned wood fires making people sick. My husband and I recently went to eat at a restaurant which featured a wood-burning fireplace. Within a few minutes my eyes were watering, and my husband had a nose that was both running and stuffy at the same time. We have eaten there in weather that did not allow for a fire so know that the fire was the apparent problem. We have given up using our gas-burning fireplace as it also causes discomfort. It seems that we are limited to the use of our central heating system.

  9. We have begun a journey of better eating, which included adding olive coconut oil; I had stockpiled crisco and canola. I plan to make a candle using a can that I removed the top using my manual opener that lifts the lid off, which leaves the lid intact allowing it to be set back in place. I used a can of chicken, but a tuna can would work also. I actually had some used canola oil that I strained through a coffee filter and saved for my experiment.

    From the inside/underside of the lid, poke a hole with a small nail and use the nail to stuff your wick through a small amount. Cut your wick so it goes to the bottom of the can and then a little more. Put in your cooking oil, set the lid on and allow the wick to soak up the oil, about 30 minutes. Light your candle and enjoy.

    I got my idea from this site: http://www.tacticalintelligence.net/blog/homemade-oil-lamp.htm

    Use whatever oil you use at home, if you have any that does not bother you when you use it. I, too, can not tolerate most scented candles. Candles and air fresheners cause more indoor pollution than people wish to acknowledge. I would also guess that perhaps the restaurant you ate at that had the fire going that caused you problems, either used some starter logs or an accelerant to get their fire going. I use cotton lint, a match, some pine cones and kindling and don't have any reaction. I did make some firestarters using the dryer lint tied up inside a fabric softener sheet. Worked like magic, instant flames, instant watery eyes, headache, cough. I don't even use them, but my brother who does his laundry here, does.

    Good luck.


  10. For one thing, being so severely allergic is not only unpleasant but it is unnatural.

    For now, follow the advice given above and find ways to use what would otherwise be considered edible oils. You may find some relief in that. You could also try different types/brands of oil. You may find one that works.

    For long term, address your allergies. Find a holistic Dr who can help you through your journey of becoming less sensitive and less allergic. I would be willing to bet that lamp oil isn't the only thing that bothers you. Do your research with lots of reading on all kinds websites, both western medicine and more traditional or homeopathic medicine.

    Allergies are your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. They tend to be accumulative as well. If one thing is wrong and not corrected (it could be so little you could live with it) then eventually something else will go wrong as well. It's like climbing a ladder and the higher you go the harder you will eventually fall. You need to use food, vitamins, minerals and physical exercise to reverse and correct the allergy issues, but it does take time and effort.

    Good Luck.

    Mrs C

  11. I have the same issues, but can use clear liquid paraffin with good ventilation, especially when extinguishing. I always blow the lamps out in front of an open window or working exhaust fan.

    Plumbers candles are the next best option for me.


  12. This may be a good solution for those who have trouble with oil or candle light. We recently bought three of these nifty little lights from NoKero. They give off an impressive amount of light. Also are lightweight and may be used as a solar charger for rechargeable batteries. http://nokero.com/

    1. We bought a Nokero light for backpacking and it is the coolest little thing. I highly recommend them and they have some other neat products too.

  13. I've heard good things about beeswax candles - they're supposed to be air purifying (rather than soy/petrol which can do the opposite). I haven't had the means to try them out yet, but I have gotten stearin candles from Ikea for not too much money, could be an option.

    I've got asthma and allergies (they've slowly been getting better with better diet and homeopathics), yet our fairly efficient (about 70-74%?) wood stove doesn't bother me. The old, sad fireplace insert though was a different story (it was about 25-35% efficient - burned through wood like it was going out of style and smoked like you wouldn't believe). That's part of why I'm such a fan of the newer wood stoves with the much higher efficiency ratings. :) Green wood vs. seasoned wood can also make a huge difference.

  14. I wish I could remember where I saw this. A couple of young guys invented a light that works on weight. You hang it from something sturdy, fill the bag with rocks or something heavy, then lift the weight up and let it down again. I think it runs about 20-30 minutes per lift on the high setting, and quite a bit longer on the low setting. These gentlemen designed it for African villages and people send in around $50 to donate one. Rather than going to a bank, they are using this as seed money to ramp up production. Then, they can get their cost down around $5. I want some when the price goes down.

    brenda from ar

    I think I found it: http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/gravity-light

  15. Here, this might be better:

    brenda from ar