Trimmimg the wicks of kerosene lamps

Q. For many years I have trimmed the wicks in kerosene lamps in my mountain cabin with varying degrees of success. Do you have any suggestions? Louise Audron La Crescenta, Calif.

A. Lamp-wick trimming is not exactly our forte, but we did have kerosene lamps during our boyhood on a California ranch. We always trimmed the lamp wicks while dry. That way they lit better and were more efficient when burning in the lamp.

After trimming, the wick was inserted and let soak for an hour or so before lighting it in the lamp.

If you need to trim the wick after the fact - that is, after it has been soaked and burned in the lamp - trim off the burned fibers in a convex shape to fit the burner. Keep any strings from falling into the oil.

One old-timer cautions you to buy lamp wicks and not stove wicks for replacements. Stove wicks contain metal strands while lamp wicks are usually just plain cotton.

We hope this elementary wick-trimming instruction will avoid any future wick problems with the lamps.

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