Setting the Mood and Creating the Atmosphere
When spending time outdoors at night, an electric light can get too bright and you just want to get back to basics with gentle fire and candles. The garden lantern provides a way of getting just the right lighting whilst keeping it from going out.
Early lanterns include fireflies that the Chinese would trap in jars and the kerosene fuel-burning lantern introduced in the late 19th century. Kerosene lanterns are an example of ‘hot/cold blast’ lamps and include a chimney system and ducting around a glass case which ensures that the flame isn’t put out by wind, but receives adequate airflow to optimise brightness. Lanterns are such a popular feature of gardens and have spanned millennia because they are so much easier to light, maintain and transport than a fire.
Modern day lanterns are still a common feature of gardens whether they burn fuel or simply house a candle. The kerosene style lamp mentioned above is generally not used nowadays, although kerosene is still used as a fuel in garden lamps such as the Mantle along with ‘white gas’ or ‘naphtha’. The Mantle does not actually have a burning flame, but provides incandescent light (light which is shed from the heat of an object rather than its flame).
Garden lanterns are very rarely made from anything but metal and are typically made from cast iron or pewter and given a bronze, silver or gold finish. Such materials do get hot, but their large handles ensure the user does not get burnt and these metals are not subject to damage from temperatures below around 210 degrees centigrade.
Not only are these the most suitable material for the job, but they allow the lantern to be beautifully crafted, often with leaves and patterns. When placed next to a wall or shinning over a lawn, intricate shadows are cast, further enhancing the environment. If the user is concerned about attracting moths and other insects, they can invest in a citronella candle, which repels the light-loving night pests.
Although there is always a safety risk with any kind of burning lantern, the candle lantern has a large handle which not only prevents burning of the users hands, but also provide a way for the lantern to be hung up high away from children and flammable fabrics. Every lantern owner must ensure that they keep a watchful eye on their lamp and always blow out the candle when they are finished with it.
Non- electric garden lanterns seem to prevail as leading outdoor light sources because of the mood they create. The soft glow of a candle can be incredibly atmospheric at night time. Often fitted with a catch door and large handle, simple lanterns are an effortless and timeless way to wind down and enjoy company in good light.
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