As with any other piece of equipment, a white gas camping lantern requires care and maintenance to ensure the best possible quality of light over the object's maximum life span. The following tips will help you make sure you get the most out of your investment.
Gas lanterns should be cleaned occasionally to make sure none of the tubes are blocked. Most gas lantern companies sell affordably priced maintenance kits that include specialized pieces to clean out the tubes. They may also include small pieces that wear down quickly. Buying a maintenance kit made specifically for your brand and model of gas lantern can make all the difference in your lantern's performance.
Caring for Mantles
The mantles, made of a thin mesh material, have to be replaced occasionally or the lantern will sputter. A good rule of thumb is to replace mantles once you can see a large hole. Even if you cannot see the hole, a worn mantle is the cause of most sputtering and also of dirty, sooty flames. New mantles can also be found quite cheaply and should be kept on hand at all times.
Caring for Your Gas Lantern's Pump
Your gas lantern's pump will also require periodic maintenance. Once or twice a year, you should apply a small drop of light machine oil to the plunger. This will help the plunger maintain a seal, making it more efficient as well as longer lasting.
Caring for your Gas Lantern's Sparker
The sparker is the mechanism that actually ignites the fuel. It is important to check on this piece periodically because the lantern cannot be safely used without it. Because the sparker cannot be repaired, you should keep an extra with you at all times.
Properly Storing Your Gas Lantern
Because most gas lanterns spend the majority of their lifetime in storage, proper storage can be the key to a long and productive product life. First, empty all fuel from the tank. This will keep the fuel from clogging any lines as it become sticky over time. Second, take apart the lantern and wash with warm water and a small amount of mild soap. Once you have rinsed and dried it thoroughly, store it in pieces in a clean, airtight container. This will keep dust, debris, and insects from getting into the tubes.
Fuel Quality Gas Lanterns
Because dirty fuel and/or debris are the most common causes of wear-and-tear in gas lanterns, it is important to check all fuel to make sure it is clean. When pouring fuel into the gas tank, use a screen or a coffee filter to ensure your fuel is unpolluted.
Another practice that can harm your gas lantern is using mixed fuels. Some, such as gasoline, do not burn as clean. Others may burn too hot, damaging the metal in the lantern. It is important that gas lanterns run solely on the type of gas recommended by the manufacturer. In addition to potentially ruining a very expensive piece of equipment, using mixed fuels also produces a lower quality light.
When your lantern stops working, your first step should be to determine what part is malfunctioning. Sometimes the problem can be solved by simply waiting for the lantern to cool, then disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling it.
Other problems are not so simple to fix. A broken or worn pump will be obvious because the lantern will not keep pressure even after repeated pumping. If it doesn't light despite being pumped, or if it lights but quickly dims and goes out, there is probably debris in the generator or one of the fuel lines. Another common problem is sputtering. If the mantles are not worn, sputtering may be caused by a clog. Instead of replacing a part, this may be fixed by keeping the fuel lines wide open. Last, if the light seems yellow and murky, the problem is most likely with air supply.
Once you have pinpointed the problem area, the next step is to contact the manufacturer to see if replacement parts can be purchased. Because a high quality gas lantern is expensive, purchasing a completely new one should be done only as a last resort.
Most white gas lanterns can be used indefinitely with appropriate use, careful storage, and the regular repair and replacement of key parts. If you follow the instructions given here and by the manufacturer, your lantern will be a steady and dependable source of light for many camping trips to come.