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Encyclopedia > Carbide lamp
Lit carbide lamp
Lit carbide lamp
A French manufactured Carbide of Calcium lamp on a bicycle
A French manufactured Carbide of Calcium lamp on a bicycle
Carbide of Calcium lamp in a coal mine
Carbide of Calcium lamp in a coal mine

Carbide lamps also known as Acetylene Gas lamps are simple lamps that produce and burn acetylene gas (C2H2) which is created by the reaction of calcium carbide (CaC2) with water. Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 543 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (904 × 998 pixel, file size: 147 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Carbide lamp Metadata... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 543 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (904 × 998 pixel, file size: 147 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Carbide lamp Metadata... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (640x760, 70 KB) Carbide lamp on a bicycle Source: German Wikipedia: de:Bild:Carbidlampe_001. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (640x760, 70 KB) Carbide lamp on a bicycle Source: German Wikipedia: de:Bild:Carbidlampe_001. ... “Velo” redirects here. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Calcium carbide is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CaC2. ... Impact from a water drop causes an upward rebound jet surrounded by circular capillary waves. ...

These lamps were used in mines after the re-invention of the medium in the 1892 (not to be confused with the oil powered Davy lamp). Large domestic settings, veteran cars, lighthouses, bicyclists; all used Acetylene Gas powered lighting and they are still used by cavers, hunters, and cataphiles. Chuquicamata, the second largest open pit copper mine in the world, Chile. ... Davy lamp The Davy lamp is a candle containing safety lamp devised in 1815 by Humphry Davy. ... A cyclist is a person who engages in cycling whether as a sport or rides a bicycle for recreation or transportation. ... sport of exploring caves. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wiktionary. ...



The conventional format of producing Acetylene Gas in a lamp is by putting the calcium carbide in the lower chamber (the generator). The upper reservoir is then filled with water. A threaded valve or other mechanism is used to control the rate at which the water is allowed to drip onto the chamber containing the calcium carbide. By controlling the rate of water flow, the production of acetylene gas is controlled. This, in turn, controls the flow rate of the gas and the size of the flame at the burner, (and thus the amount of light it produces).

This type of lamp generally has a reflector behind the flame to help project the light forward. An Acetylene Gas powered lamp produces a surprisingly bright, broad light. Many cavers prefer this type of unfocused light as it improves peripheral vision in the completely dark environment. The reaction of carbide of calcium with water produces a fair amount of heat independent of the flame. In cold cave environments, carbide lamp users can use this heat to help stave off hypothermia.

When all of the carbide in a lamp has been reacted, the carbide chamber contains a wet paste of caustic lime (Calcium hydroxide). This is emptied into a waste bag and the chamber can be refilled. The residue is toxic to animals and should not be deposited in locations where animals may consume it. However, over time the hydroxide will react with atmospheric Carbon dioxide to form Calcium carbonate, which is non-toxic. It has been suggested that Portlandite be merged into this article or section. ... In order to meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article requires cleanup. ... Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound, with chemical formula CaCO3. ...

Small carbide lamps called "Carbide Candles" are used for blackening rifle sights to reduce glare. These "candles" are used due to the sooty flame produced by acetylene.

Use in caving

In cave survey, carbide lamps are favored for the lead or "point" surveyor, who must identify suitable points in the cave to designate as survey stations. The sooty carbide flame may be used to harmlessly mark cave walls with a non-toxic and removable station label. Especially favored for this purpose are all-brass lamps or lamps made with no ferromagnetic metals, as these lamps do not deflect the needles of the magnetic compass, which is typically read while brightly illuminated from above using the caver's lamp. If a permanent magnet is not attracted to a lamp part, then that part is suitable for use in cave survey (the body of the lamp may be brass, but the reflector made of ordinary steel, so both must be checked. Austenitic stainless steel reflectors are suitable.) Ferromagnetism is a phenomenon by which a material can exhibit a spontaneous magnetization, and is one of the strongest forms of magnetism. ... This article is about the navigational tool. ... Iron-carbon phase diagram, showing the conditions under which austenite (γ) is stable in carbon steel. ... The 630 foot high, stainless-clad (type 304L) Gateway Arch defines St. ...

Apart from their use as cave surveying tools, many cavers favor carbide lamps for their durability and quality of illumination. They were once favored for their relative illumination per mass of fuel (carbide versus batteries), but this advantage is less significant or reversed with the advent of high-intensity LED illumination. The acetylene-producing reaction is exothermic, which means that the lamp's reactor vessel will become quite warm to the touch: this can be used to warm the hands. The heat from the flame can also be used to warm the body by allowing the exhaust gasses to flow under a shirt pulled out from the body: such a configuration is referred to as a "Palmer furnace" for SUNY Oneonta geologist Arthur N. Palmer. In thermodynamics, the word exothermic describes a process or reaction that releases energy in the form of heat. ... The State University of New York at Oneonta is a four-year liberal arts college in Oneonta, New York, United States. ...


The first carbide of calcium lamp (mining lamp?) developed in the United States was patented in New York on August 28, 1900 by Frederick Baldwin, (U.S. Patent 656,874 ). Domestic lighting was introdused in circa 1894 and bicycle lamps from 1896. For other uses, see Patent (disambiguation). ... “NY” redirects here. ... Äž: For the film, see: 1900 (film). ...

Another early lamp design is shown in a patent from Duluth, Minnesota on October 21, 1902 (U.S. Patent 711,871 ). For other uses, see Patent (disambiguation). ... Duluths canal connects Lake Superior to the Duluth-Superior harbor and the St. ... 1902 (MCMII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...

In the late 1900s, Gustaf Dalén invented the Dalén light. This combined two of Dalén's previous inventions: the substrate Agamassan and the Sun valve. Nils Gustaf Dalén (November 30, 1869 – December 9, 1937) was a Swedish Nobel Laureate and industrialist, the founder of AGA, the company and inventor of the AGA cooker and the Dalen light. ... The Dalén light was the predominant form of light source in lighthouses from the 1900s through to the 1960s by which time electric lighting had come to dominate. ... Look up substrate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Agamassan (aga) is a substrate used to safely absorb acetylene and thus allow the transport, storage and commercial explotation of an otherwise unstable gas. ... A Sun valve, (aka Solventil, solar valve) is a form of flow control valve, notable because it earned its inventor, Gustaf Dalén the Nobel prize in physics. ...

The Re-Invention of Carbide of Calcium and its use with Acetylene Gas lamps.

Acetylene gas lighting was successfully developed and introduced by many manufacturers for various uses from circa 1894. Fuller in America is credited with its introduction in 1895. Often described as artificial daylight, Willson and Moorehead re-discovered the properties of acetylene gas in 1892. They demonstrated that by dripping water onto carbide of calcium, acetylene gas was produced which, when ignited under about 5lbs of pressure, gave a brilliant white light. Carbide of calcium is manufactured from coke and lime in an electric furnace with an achievable heat of approximately 4000 degrees Fahrenheit. The chemical action converts the coke and lime into carbide calcium and carbon monoxide gas. The chemical action which takes place when the water is brought into contact with the carbide of calcium is represented by this equation:

CaC2 + 2H2O → Ca(OH)2 + C2H2 [citation needed]

Acetylene gas as properly generated will produce 95.6% of pure gas per volume. The remainder is made up of sulphuretted hydrogen, ammonia, hydrocarbons and phosphoresced hydrogen (Ref 5). This latter impurity is perhaps the most dangerous, as it forms a highly explosive compound when brought into contact with copper (Ref 14). Owners of bicycle lamps should not fear as the hydrogen gas generated in a bicycle lamp is so miniscule that it will have no effect. On the other hand, it was a problem with very large domestic acetylene gas generators where substantial amounts of gas were produced. It also helped if the generator was kept cool, which in the most part was true when using your lamp on an evening ride. Some means of filtering the impurities was certainly needed as if they were allowed to pass along with the gas; they would very quickly block the small burner tip. In consequence most manufacturers after 1900 used a horse-hair filter sandwiched behind a plate in the upper part of the generator. Modern users often remove this, not realizing the damaging effect at the burner. If the filter needs replacing then cotton wool is a good alternative.


  • Clemmer, Gregg. American Miners' Carbide Lamps: A Collectors Guide to American Carbide Mine Lighting. Westernlore Publications, 1987.

See also

A Standard Household Light bulb This page is a list of sources of light. ...

External links

  • A Guide to Carbide Miner's Lamps. Has many good pictures & videos.
  • Carbide lamp Demonstration experiment: Instruction and video
  • (French) Acethylene.com A comprehensive guide to the care and maintenance of acetylene gas lamps
  • [Early Vehicle Lighting] A guide to vehicle lighting; oil, candle and acetylene gas. Shire Publications UK.

  Results from FactBites:
Miners' Davy Lamp and Carbide Lamp (830 words)
If the lamp is placed in an explosive atmosphere, such as a mixture of air and methane gas as commonly found in a coal mine, the explosion that takes place when the flame contacts the gas is contained within the gauze mesh and does not cause a danger to the miners.
A picture of a Davy lamp is incorporated in the Lindal and Marton Primary School LAMPS logo, in recognition of the school's mining heritage.
Carbide lamps were easy to use and to maintain, and were very popular in mines, such as iron-ore mines, where there was minimal risk of explosion.
Carbide lamp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (427 words)
Carbide lamps (acetylene lamps) are simple lamps that produce and burn acetylene gas produced by reacting calcium carbide with water.
These lamps were formerly found in mines (not to be confused with the Davy lamp), vintage cars, and lighthouses; they are still sometimes used by cavers.
When carbide lamps are used for illuminating magnetic compasses in cave survey, it is important that the lamp and reflector not contain ferromagnetic metals which deflect the compass indicator.
  More results at FactBites »



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