A hurricane lantern is a flat-wick lamp made for portable and outdoor use and, on a wilderness island, is unfailingly robust and reliable.
A hurricane lantern’s beauty lies in its simplicity – burning paraffin and other lamp oils slowly, it provides a cheap, warm and reliable light.
The wick draws the fuel upwards through the cotton material in silent play on a delicate flower’s life-sustaining osmosis. The warm and lolling petal shaped flame occasionally flickers to bring an intimate charm to the remotest of wilderness bothies.
Otherwise know as a storm lantern, it is crudely made from crimped tin-plate sheet metal where knocks and dents only add to its rugged and trusty character.
There are differing hurricane lantern types and I prefer to use the cold blast design, which draws cold fresh air from around the top of the globe and feeds it through the metal side tubes to the flame, making a brighter light than the hot blast equivalent because the fresh air fed to the flame has plenty of oxygen supporting the combustion process.
Furthermore, cold blast is safer than others as tipping over cuts the oxygen flow to the burner and extinguishes the flame within seconds reducing risk of fire.
Batteries not included
However, a visit to any high street camping shop will reveal we are no longer trusted to manage such a flame. Despite being used for centuries by everyday miners, sailors and farmers, storm lanterns are now condescendingly made electric with a kindergarten LED replacement for the monitored masses. Given this toybox Playmobil lookalike to hold to the gathering gale, Captain Hook might well have been impressed with its pure white brilliant light but the design seems to miss the point, entirely.
If for this reason alone, I insist on using the real thing.