How to Add Oil to Your Rain Lamp


If you love decorating with vintage items, then an oil rain lamp is always on your radar. The lamps were popular in the 1950s but have slowly made a comeback, with lovers of vintage lighting searching everywhere for them. Due to their rarity, oil rain lamps are expensive; while an ordinary antique oil lamp goes for between $25 and $150, a well-maintained oil rain lamp will cost you $2,499, going by the price listed on eBay. Of course, any item that costs an arm and a leg needs to be carefully maintained, which is why we will tell you the right way to add oil to your rain lamp to avoid damaging it.

When Do You Need to Add Oil to a Rain Lamp?

Since there is very little information regarding the oil rain lamp, let’s help you understand first how it works. A rain lamp has a pump, two pans, and drip lines. Usually, it is for decorative purposes besides lighting; therefore, rain lamps have plastic foliage and a Venus statue. One of the pans is at the bottom of the lamp, while the other is at the top.

When you turn on the lamp, the pump moves the oil to the top. A hidden tube prevents the pan from overflowing by allowing the excess oil to move back to the bottom pan. The oil then flows to the drip lines, and the small holes disperse oil to the fishing lines encompassing the statue hence producing a rain effect.

The oil that keeps dripping accumulates in the bottom pan as it travels down the fishing lines. It is then pumped again upwards to the top pan, where the light makes the moving oil sparkle and create a raining effect. When the oil is too little in the lamp, the raining effect disappears. You must therefore add more for the raining effect to resume.

How to Add Oil to a Rain Lamp

As Hunker advises, once it is time to add oil to a rain lamp, ensure that you place it on a sturdy flat surface. Cover the area with towels and plastic coverings though you can go for a paper towel as well to prevent soiling the carpet or whichever surface you are using, with oil spills or drops. The small holes at the bottom pan are used to refill the oil, but you will have to turn on the light first.

Then, carefully pour the oil a little at a time. The aim of lighting the lamp is to know when the lamp has enough oil to resume the raining effects. Therefore after pouring about a pint of oil, wait for a while, then observe if it restarts the raining effect. If not, carefully and slowly add more oil and stop to recheck. You can never know the exact amount of oil needed for the rain lamp to resume the raining effect. Usually, the amount of oil to add depends on the size of the rain lamp and how low the oil is.

However, no rain lamp requires less than a pint of oil or more than three pints when refilling. Besides the raining effect resuming, the sound of the pump can guide you to know when you have added enough oil because it changes when it has enough to begin pumping.

Which Oil is Best to Add to a Rain Lamp?

According to eHow, rain lamps have few working parts; therefore, they rarely need any maintenance. However, should you use oil with scent additives, the pump will be damaged. When they were popular over seven decades ago, rain lamps came with their special oil, the Drakeol#35. It contains white mineral oils, making it one of the most versatile petroleum products.

Since it is extremely pure, this oil is even used in baby care, hair and skin products, With time, Drakeol #35 has become the last option, and rain lamp owners can opt for mineral oil readily available in drug stores at pocket-friendly prices. You can also use paraffin, and glycerin has gained popularity as a replacement for Drakeol #35.

The most recommended oil is a mineral oil that comes in a bottle labeled Rain Lamp Fluid. It claims that it does not clog as regular mineral oil does. Although you might be tempted to use water, it will evaporate quickly, and the raining effect will disappear. Other oils are prone to rancidity; they may also prevent the pump from functioning well.

What Happens When You Accidentally Use the Wrong Oil?

On Do You Remember, K. Gitter writes about her excitement about getting a vintage rain lamp. She was happy to find one on Craigslist for $35; little did she know that the price was low only because of the work ahead. She found out that the rain lamp had been using motor oil, so Gitter had to drain it and clean it.

Gitter warns that it took six hours to restore the rain lamp to its former glory. Since the fishing lines are fragile, you must be careful not to break them. Restringing them can be a headache. When cleaning the lamp, you will need to line the surface you are working on with towels and plastic. After carefully dismantling it to avoid damaging the bulb, foliage and statue, discard the oil. You can use a metal cleaner and dish soap to clean the metallic parts.

As HomeQuicks enlightens us, you should also wash the foliage and statues with soap and water, being extra careful that the electric components do not get water. Unclog the fishing line holes using a needle and wipe clean the strings with paper towels. Once you reassemble the parts, you can fill the map up with the proper oil. The pump may have stopped working after using improper oils. So, at this point, you should repair or replace it.

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