It’s summer time here in Maine; at least that’s what the calendar tells us. And just what do Mainers do in the summer? They head to camp.
So there you are at camp, playing cards after a day of swimming or hiking, telling family stories and suddenly the electricity goes down in the storm. You feel your way to the cupboard for the candles and light them up.
After the initial shock of darkness, the kids giggle and marvel at the candle glow. Of course, now is the perfect time for someone to start the infamous scary story.
As the story is told, Mom almost recites it in her head as she’s heard it a thousand times. A few minutes in, she starts clearing her throat frequently but as soon as the young girl decides to open the door to see what the noise was, she breaks out into a coughing fit. This not only takes away the full effect of the axe murderer grabbing the young girl, but also sends Mom to the kitchen for some water.
After a bit, she’s better and returns to the scene. The children are huddled up to the nearest grown-up and snuggled in their summer quilts. The girl is now screaming and running for her life through the midnight forest and is about to be captured by her assailant’s well laid trap when Mom’s coughing starts up again. Geeesh!
Off to the kitchen again and in a few minutes she gets to thinking that it might be the candles giving her a problem. They are old after all, and definitely not considered green. She has this same problem when burning kerosene and lamp oil too.
What can she do during an emergency for light? She needs something that is quick to come by, cheap and easy on her respiratory system as well as the environment. Thinking about it and missing all the good fear surrounding this dread-filled story, she heads to the hints section of the camp’s cookbook collection.
One of her grandmothers used to burn fats and a variety of oils for light back in the day so she searches for just how that was done. Ah, it’s found and the secret is revealed.
The answer is olive oil. Did you know that olive oil can burn? It’s a 99% pure renewable fuel that won’t produce smoke or odor.
Did you know that you can make your own olive oil lamp? Here’s what’s needed:
Grab couple of mason jars and/or a few old glass jelly jars that have a handle.
Flexible steel wire, cut about two times the height of each jar in length.
A wick for each jar. (Yes, every good Mainer has wicks kicking around!)
Shape one end of the wire into a long hook, a tiny bit higher than the height of the jar. Hang the hook over the side of the jar so it holds the wire on the jar and doubles as a handle to pull up the wick for lighting.
Wrap the other end of the wire into a coil to create a wick stand about an inch or two in height that will rest on the bottom of the jar.
Pinch the top of the metal coil onto about 2 inches in length of wick so that about a quarter inch or less of the wick is sticking up above the wire coil. If it’s any longer the wick will smoke. The other end of the wick soaks in the olive oil.
Add enough olive oil to the jar so the level is just under where the wick is pinched by the wire. If it’s any higher, the lamp may go out.
The oil is drawn up the wick where it vaporizes and gets burned by the flame, and just a few ounces of oil will burn for several hours. This is cheaper than most candles.
It’s also safer as the flame is inside the jar and not as exposed. If you use the glass jelly jars with a handle, they’re perfect for carrying from room to room. Very small glass jars can be brought with you when you go camping. Just put the contents in your backpack and set it up when you get there.
Soy and bees wax candles are available but they can be a bit costly. Olive oil is a good economical solution and it provides a nice light. You can also look for Lampante Oil which is olive oil that is not food grade, but instead used for burning in lamps.
If you’d like to add some drama to those thunder clapped nights of scary stories, intensify the experience by infusing your olive oil with herbs, spices or essential oils to nail down that memory in the senses.
Debi A. Davis, co-author of Train The Transcriber, a General Business Transcriber Training Course written by transcribers, for future transcribers. Learn how to be on top of your transcribing game by downloading her popular, free E-series, 21 Transcriber Tips in 21 Days available at => http://www.TrainTheTranscriber.com