Oil lamps once played a major role in the early days of colonial America. The vast majority of homes in those days had a lamp that usually had a glass reservoir with a wick and chimney. The company that manufactured the lamp would give specific instructions concerning its care.
-From the “Directions for care of B & H Lamps”:
• When filling for the first time or putting in a new wick, allow the wick to become thoroughly saturated before lighting it for the first time.
• Don’t cut the wick, turn up the wick so that the charred portion is exposed. Rub evenly from left to right to remove the char.
• Re-wick about once every two months, if the lamp is used every evening.
From the “Instructions for Use of Angle Lamps”:
• Trim the wicks right or this lamp will not burn right.
• Trim the wicks until there are no points on the flame and you will get a big round brilliant flame.
• Cut off the corners of the wick. This prevents smoking and makes the flame round.
• Remember, keep trimming the wicks until there are no points, and you will have a large, clear flame.
-The state and condition of the wick was crucial to the success of the light.
• An untrimmed wick will produce too much smoke.
• A thinly trimmed wick will not allow very much light.
• A charred wick will hinder the performance of the lamp.