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Review: Emergency Lighting with the Aladdin Mantle Lamp

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: August 24, 2021
Review: Emergency Lighting with the Aladdin Mantle Lamp

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When it comes to non-electric lighting, there actually is a genie in the bottle.  Oh my gosh, if you only knew how long I have been waiting to say that!  So now you ask:  Genie? Bottle?  What the heck?

Many of you have mentioned that you have a kerosene lamp.  Some have been of older vintage, passed down from grandparents or purchased for a song at a garage sale.  Others have a newer lamp, purchased specifically for prepping purposes.  And then there are the rest of us, lamp-less and yearning to learn more.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

Today I am super excited to introduce you to the Aladdin Genie III Lamp, and, thanks to the generosity of Galen Lehman (yes, THAT Lehman), have a complete Aladdin Lamp setup to giveaway to one very lucky reader.  More about that later but first, let me tell you about the Aladdin Lamp.

The Aladdin Lamp

I first learned about Aladdin lamps when I read a draft of Book 6 of Ron Brown’s Non-Electric Lighting Series.  Prior to that, I  knew very little, if anything about Aladdin table lamps.  I  knew what they looked like but not much more.  Mostly, I had no idea that these old-timey lamps were still being made.

Here is a ten thousand foot summary description of Aladdin lamps:

Aladdin lamps are mantle lamps that burn kerosene.

It is the mantle that emits light from the flame which is why an Aladdin is so much brighter than a wick-only lamp.

They are not pressurized so they don’t hiss or flicker.

They produce up to 60 watts-worth of smooth white light. The Aladdin is bright!

They have been on the market over a hundred years, since 1909 to be exact.

Aladdin’s have a cult following and there is even a worldwide collectors club, The Aladdin Knights of the Mystic Light.

You can purchase an Aladdin brand new as well as used.

And that is just to begin with.

Setting Up the Aladdin Lamp

One nice thing about the Aladdin is that everything you need to set it up is included with the exception of fuel.  At Galen’s recommendation, I used genuine Aladdin Oil and did not test other lamp fuels.  It is my understanding, however, that other fuels such as Klean-Strip Klean-Heat and pure K-1 kerosene will produce satisfactory results.

After unwrapping all of the parts, you need to fit the mantle to what is called the gallery.  The gallery, or slip-gallery, is the upper portion of the burner.  It is the section that holds both the mantle and the chimney.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

A “before” picture to the mantle.

The next step is the only step that requires some care.  Before using the lamp, you need to burn off the mantle coating by touching a flame to the top of the mantle.  The dicey part is that you only want the flame to touch because if you accidently touch the mantle with your match stick, it will disintegrate.  How do I know?  I was being extremely cautious and failed at my first three attempts to light the mantle.  I was using short matches and they extinguished before I succeeded.  Mr. Know-It-All, Shelly, wanted to try and within 2 seconds, shattered the mantle.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

This is what will happen if you are not careful.

Luckily, I had a spare mantle and it lit up easily.  It helped that I used BBQ wand but you can also use a longer match or even a standard BIC.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

The next step is to add the wick to the bowl, screw the burner into the bowl and then fill it with your fuel of choice, Aladdin Lamp Oil or K-1 kerosene.   My Genie III had a fill hole making this easy to top off using a funnel.  Note that the first time around, you need to let the wick soak for an hour.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

The last step is light the burner, again using a match, and attach the gallery/chimney section.

Ready, Set, Light!

I was pretty anxious to see how my lamp worked and whether it lived up to the hype.  To be honest, at first I was disappointed.  Apparently this is a normal reaction for a first-timer because we expect to see a full-blown glow right away.  The reality is that it takes a while for the burner to warm up (10 to 15 minutes is my guess) and after that, you need to adjust the wick to obtain the desired illumination.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

This is my favorite photo.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

It is difficult to tell from the pictures, but the Genii III lived up to it’s reputation.  Not only did it give up a significant amount of light. but there was something charming about watching it burn.  Okay, I get excited about the oddest things but honestly?  I loved the way it looked and right away wanted to jump online and get not only a lamp shade, but another Aladdin lamp.

Emergency Lighting Aladdin Mantle Lamp | Backdoor Survival

When it comes time to extinguish your lamp, turn the wick knob until it stops, and blow across the chimney.  The flame will go out.

Note:  The Aladdin Genie III will burn for 12 hours before you need to refill the oil reservoir.

A Word About Mantles

As I found during my testing, mantles are fragile and need to be treated with care, especially during the initial set-up.

In his book, Ron recommends Philippine-made mantles and further indicates:

I recommend you buy them only direct from Lehman’s (// Lehman’s is a major player; its inventory turnover is high; that means you’ll get mantles that were recently produced. (In the interest of full disclosure, please know I have zero financial interest in Lehman’s.)

In every case, no matter what Aladdin mantle you buy or where it’s from, open every box and check every mantle individually. I have received shattered mantles in perfect boxes from trusted sellers. On eBay, buy only from sellers with a 100% satisfaction rating from their customers.

Galen Lehman advises, “Lehman’s (and most reliable retailers) will replace mantles that arrive to customers broken.” And that’s great. Except what I have done is to buy a dozen mantles in one shot, receive them neatly packed in a carton, check one and, finding that one to be okay, set the entire box on a shelf. Ten years later (after I’ve long since forgotten who the vendor was) I discover that some of the mantles in that carton are not so good. So, again, my advice is to check them individually when first received.

I agree, and to add to that, recommend that for emergency purposes, you have a couple of spares.

Something else to watch for black spots on the mantle that may appear while the Aladdin lamp is burning.  This means that the mantle has been over fired.  I am uncertain of the ramifications but all you need to do to correct this problem is turn down the wick.  That is easy enough to do using the knob on the side of the burner.

Safety Concerns

Safety concerns are always an issue with any type of emergency lighting that produces a flame.  The Aladdin is no exception.  Never leave an Aladdin lamp (or any kerosene lamp) unattended.  If by chance it becomes over-fired, it will pose a fire hazard.

Also, keep in mind that fresh air is required if the lamp is going burn properly.  Never use your lamp in a tightly sealed, indoor area.  If you are indoors, keep a window or door slightly cracked.

Finally, do not burn gasoline in your Aladdin lamp; it will explode and there will be no good ending to that event!

Galen Lehman Weighs In On Preparedness

I have had an opportunity to get to know Galen Lehman and, perhaps unknown to you, have had some of my articles shared on the Lehman’s Country Life blog.  In preparation for this article, I asked Galen to answer a few questions so you can get to know both Aladdin and Lehman’s a little bit better.

Can you explain for my readers how you came to own the Aladdin Lamp business?  I have heard through the grapevine that you started out as a collector.

Lehman’s has been an Aladdin dealer for something like 50 years.  No one can even remember when we started, but we’ve found mentions of Aladdin in early advertising from about that long ago.  When I started working there in the 1970’s, one of my first jobs was putting them away.

I was so intrigued by how they worked, that I soon fell in love with them.  I read Bill Courter’s book, Aladdin, The Magic Name in Lamps from cover to cover and joined the collector’s club.

Victor Johnson started the company in 1909, and his family still owns the original company today, but they made the difficult decision to sell the lamp division to new owners. That company, which was eventually named Aladdin Lighting Technologies, had as one of its original investors my father, Jay.

After 15 years running Aladdin Lighting Technologies, Jay and the other owners began looking for a succession plan.  They reached out to Lehman’s. At the time, Lehman’s was their largest customer, and they felt we were uniquely positioned to understand the brand and its legacy.  I jumped at the chance to take over, and in early 2015 we purchased all of their assets and incorporated under “Crownplace Brands, Ltd.”

We chose the name “Crownplace Brands” because our intent was to sell other related products under other brand names.  So it is today, that Crownplace Brands sells Aladdin Lamps, Dietz lanterns, Feuerhand lanterns, Diamond gas refrigerators and Dometic gas refrigerators to Lehman’s and about 200 other dealers.

For my review, I pretty much started with zero knowledge of how to operate the Aladdin Lamp although I did cheat and watch a couple of YouTube videos.  There is method to my madness since I know that not everyone (i.e. my husband) is willing to read the manual before using a new piece of equipment.  That said, what tips do you have for the first time user of an Aladdin Lamp?

Well, my first tip is to read the owner’s manual! J

That said, there are few key operating hints we like to give every user:

1. After you fill it for the first time, make sure the wick is “wet” with fuel before lighting.  This will take about 20 minutes, in most cases.  When the wick is ready, it lights easily without any smoke.

2. When lit, the lamp begins working immediately, but will not achieve full brightness for about 20 minutes.  When you first light it, set it so about half of mantle is illuminated.  It will reach full brightness on it’s own, and the whole mantle will glow with full brilliance.

3. The wick must be clean, straight and properly shaped.  We provide a small tool with the lamp to do this.  (It’s shaped like a thimble.)  It takes only a few seconds to use and instructions for cleaning are in (you guessed it) the manual.

There are also some important safety rules

1. Never leave a burning lamp unattended.  Because of changes in ambient air temperatures, drafts in the room and the fact that as the lamp warms it tends to get brighter, it is important to monitor the lamp as it burns to make sure it’s not causing flame, fumes or smoke.

2. Keep away from combustibles.  For example, keep 36” from the ceiling unless you have the optional chimney heat shield.

3. Do not refuel the lamp while burning.

4. Always make sure the lamp is properly assembled before lighting.

Switching gears, I know that my readers love the products offered in the Lehman’s catalog because they mostly do not require modern technology to function.  Can you share with us your three top selling products?

The most popular items change by season.  But, I can give you some examples.

Aladdin Lamps themselves are one of our most popular items.  Thousands of them have been sold since 1908 and they are still selling today.  People who buy Aladdin lamps buy them to use.  For that reason, we not only stock new lamps, but parts for the entire line, going back almost to the beginning.

Gas refrigerators are a key part of our line, too.  There is no other efficient way to refrigerate when there is no electricity.  Our gas refrigerators are in use from the mountains of northern California to salt-sprayed islands off the New England coast.  In fact, we’ve sold them all over the world!

Another popular item is our wood-fired cook stoves.  There are lots of ways to cook, but woodstoves help you do it in a way that uses less technical resources and produces food that tastes AMAZING!

And finally, as you know, Backdoor Survival readers come to this website because they want to learn self-sufficiency so they can take care of themselves and their families in the event of a disaster or what I like to call, a disruptive event.  Do you personally prepare and if so, what are you personally preparing for?

I think it is critically important to be prepared.  You don’t go grocery shopping or out to eat with friends without making a plan.  Why would you not plan for things that we know are going to happen, like wide-spread disease(1), extended electric failure(2) or terrorist attack(3).

My method of preparedness is two-fold.  I believe we should be 100% ready for any short term disaster.  This means having all the food, fuel, water and (if you live in a cold climate) heat for short term disruption.  Under that plan, we start with the assumption that national infrastructure stands and eventually musters enough talent, manpower, money and materiel to solve the problem.

After that, one has to consider long-term disasters where national infrastructure fails.  The cost and effort required to prepare for those events is overwhelming.  So, we are less prepared for them.  Preparedness in this case means having some way to grow food, appliances that don’t require fuel supplied by the infrastructure (like wood cook stoves) and finding a source of water (like a hand-pumped well).  The goal is to answer the question, “What will I do after my stored supplies run out?”

(1) New diseases are always finding their way in.  My opinion is that the current biggest threat is malaria.  Malaria’s reach once covered much of the USA, and antibiotic resistant versions are in play once again.  If we don’t find a solution, it will be back in the USA again.  When malaria is pandemic, friends of mine in Africa have told me it can cripple the infrastructure, overburden hospitals and sicken critically needed talent.

(2) I believe an electro-magnetic pulse is our biggest threat, whether the result of attack or solar flare.  But any major storm could have a pretty devastating effect…just a few years ago, I personally went for nearly two weeks straight without electricity (easily surviving in a warm house with water, food and light, because I was prepared).

(3) Terrorist attack on physical infrastructure is our main threat here.  The kinds of attacks we most commonly see now, on planes, trains and buildings, have no impact on our national infrastructure.  But an attack on our food supply or transportation system would be another story.

The Giveaway

This latest Backdoor Survival giveaway is for a Genie III Aladdin lamp, a spare mantle, and a bottle of Aladdin brand lamp fuel.  Are you excited?  I hope so because I am!

To enter the giveaway, you need to utilize the Rafflecopter form below.  Select one or more of the options after signing in using your email account or Facebook, the choice is yours.  The best way to start is by clicking on “Free Entry for Everyone”.  After that, each option you select represents an additional entry.  There are a number of different options so pick and choose or select them all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article.  Please note that the winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

Note:  Due to Customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to those with a shipping address in the United States.

The Final Word

In the beginning, my preps were focused on water storage and purification, and food.  Later, I turned my efforts to first aid and wellness in a survival situation.  These days, my needs and interests fall more into learning how to embrace old-time skills.  This does not mean that I do everything by hand; far from it.  Instead, I seek affordable tools and items that will make survival in an austere setting a bit easier and more comfortable, with electricity or without.

To that end, I am thrilled to be given this opportunity to review a genuine Aladdin Lamp and also to give you an opportunity to win one of your own.  In addition, I am working with Galen and Lehman’s  to continue to share more reviews of products that are not dependent on technology.  In the meantime, for more Information about Aladdin Lamps, the go to place to visit is and especially the Aladdin Learning Center.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates.  When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to items related to today;s article.  Plus, an article about emergency lighting would not be complete without a selection of some of my favorite light sources.

Fireplace Matches:  This is something I encourage you to add to your supplies.  There have been so many times where a standard sized match would not cut it.  Plus, as much as I like those BBQ wands, sometimes they run our of fuel just when you need them the most.  This is for 3 boxes of 40 matches and shipping is free for everyone.

BIC Multi Purpose Lighter One Value Lighters:  I like BICs so this is what I use.  Note that these are not the refillable type.

First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguisher Aerosol Spray: These spray cans are so darn handy to have around.  They are single use and much easier to stash in a kit than a traditional fire extinguisher.

Ultra Bright LED Lantern – Collapsible:  I admit to now owning 3 of these collapsible lanterns. It uses 30 different LEDS and is powered by 3 AA batteries, including rechargeables.  Instead of a switch, you turn it on by extending the lantern from its collapsed condition.  With a lifetime warranty and over 1,350 close to perfect ratings, I can see why this is popular.  Currently with free Prime shipping.

BYBLight TML-T6: This flashlight is extremely bright, casts wide angle and, when zoomed, a very focused beam.  I swear that if there were a rattlesnake out in the desert outside my back yard this flashlight would find it.  It’s a sturdy thing with an aluminum casing that is not at all heavy.  It has 5 built in modes including the standard high, medium, low plus a strobe and SOS mode. It includes a rechargeable battery and a charger plus an adapter to hold AAA batteries.

BYB Flashlight 250

Just to see it stacks up with my other favorites, here is a photo showing the differences in size and form factor between the BYBLight, Coast HP1, and the UltraFire Mini-Cree.

Book 6: Kerosene Pressure Lanterns: Ron covers Aladdin Lamps in this book even though the Aladdin is not a pressure lamp.  Highly informative, I recommend that you have the complete Non-Electric Lighting Series in your survival library.

Aladdin, The Magic Name in Lamps:  If you are interested in learning more about Aladdin lamps, this book is the classic you will want to read.  It may also be available at your local library.


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112 Responses to “Review: Emergency Lighting with the Aladdin Mantle Lamp”

  1. I have a fair-sized investment in Aladdin mantle lamps and now regret it. The mantles always were expensive, and that hasn’t changed a bit. The new Yttrium mantle material is substantially dimmer too. And I’m sure they’re just as fragile as ever.

    I’d strongly suggest going with LED battery lamps. Far cheaper and much, much safer. For the cost of a single Aladdin lamp a person could buy a solar battery charger as well as a large supply of high-quality batteries.

    • Hi Zachary. FYI, Coleman #95 mantles, designed for the Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel lantern, can be modified to work on an Aladdin lamp. I’ve done it. It works. And it throws off 40+ watts-worth of light. As an added bonus (as I state in “Book 6: Kerosene Pressure Lamps” by yours truly), “If you begin this project not knowing how to curse, you’ll be an expert at the end.”

      Note that I use watts instead of lumens or candlepower in rating light output. As an amateur, I can easily compare a lantern’s output to a 40- or 60- or 100-watt electric bulb.

      And, yes, I know that the Aladdin is not a pressure lamp. It is a kerosene lamp. And it is a mantle lamp. But it is not a pressure lamp. I just had to squeeze ’em in there someplace.

      Also, did you realize that you can use your Aladdin without any mantle at all. Because it has a tubular wick (like an old-time Rayo), a Model 23 with no mantle whatsoever will produce 30 watts-worth of light — four or five times as much as an ordinary flat-wick kerosene lamp.

      Hope this helps.

  2. I believe I’m covered with lanterns…my mother collected oil lanterns and I have several larger lanterns in my camping gear. I always make sure my light sources are kept in working order.

  3. I would like ideas on what to use for a clothes wringer. There’s an expensive one that can be bought (possibly at Lehman’s) for about $150. And I’ve seen suggestions about using a mop bucket that has a wringer, but I’ve not read anything from someone who actually did that. Are there other alternatives? Or has someone here used the mop bucket wringer and could tell us about it?

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