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Camphene oil was invented in the 1820s as a cheaper alternative to whale oil and a cleaner and easier-to-use alternative to lard oil. Also known as "burning oil," camphene was made by mixing freshly distilled turpentine with alcohol. By the late 1850s, whale oil cost $1.50 a gallon, while camphene oil sold for sixty cents. Camphene oil, however, was dangerously explosive. Experts warned against the use of camphene oil in the home. In 1857, Godey's Lady's Book told its readers that it was "suicidal" to use these lamps in the house.


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process/materials   glass
item type   Household Goods/Lighting Device
accession #   #K.129.01-.02

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See Also...

Oil lamps

Whale-oil Lamp

Whale Oil Lamp

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