Burning fluid

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Description

An oil lamp fuel containing turpentine and alcohol developed by Isaiah Jennings in New York in 1830. The composition, along with the name 'burning fluid', were patented by Henry Porter, Bangor Maine, in 1835 and it was marketed as 'Porter's Patent Composition Burning Fluid' into the 1850s. Burning fluid burned brightly without any smoke or odor, but the volatile mixture was potentially explosive. Lamps used with burning fuel had removable caps, secured with chains, to minimize fuel evaporation during the day. By the 1860s, kerosene replaced the volatile mixture, but the 'burning fluid' name continued to be used for the new lamp oil fuel. The term 'camphene' has been incorrectly used as a synonym for 'burning fluid'.

Synonyms and Related Terms

oil lamp;

Additional Information

See The Rushlight Club for more information on historic lighting devices and fuels.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • External source or communication Comment: Submitted information: Charles Leib, August 2008.