Since the dawns of humanity lamps have been an indispensable item in any household; maybe at the beginning they were not more than mere carved rocks or shells with some form of fuel ignited within. After the appearance of pottery and other crafted objects made either of metal or alabaster, lamps diversified a lot, not to mention that the flame control also became possible by means of more advanced wicks. Even the name “lamp” dates back to the Greek antiquity where “lampas” was the term used to designate a torch. Further on, throughout history, lamps underwent constant improvement getting more and more specialized and efficient for illumination purposes.
Control over the air flow within the lamps, glass protections meant to increase flame quality and circular wicks are only a few of the most important improvements added to these “historic” illumination items. The fuels used for lamps covered a wide range of options: there were fuels for all pockets, from olive oil and beeswax to whale oil, sesame oil and nut oil. Animal fat and lard were also burned as fuel in the poorest households. It was as late as the mid 19th century that kerosene came to be used as a major fuel for lamps in both private homes and factories.
Gas for common lamps also became an important part of a flourishing fuel commerce, and later on, coal and petroleum entered the race for supremacy. Nevertheless, all such illumination elements are history if we think of what the discovery of electricity meant for our society. First of all, lamps are now an element of interior decoration, just as they used to be part of the religious service in the past. Functionality and artistic perspective meet together in the most harmonious of ways, allowing color, shade and intensity combinations to add subtlety and warmth to our homes.
The great controversy concerning lamps is now revolving around the type of energy-saving properties they share or not. Thus, the more revolutionary fluorescent lamps are considered environment friendly as compared to incandescent bulbs, and this means a lot on a planet where the energy use has reached unprecedented rates. Modern lighting systems and halogen lamps for instance are included in the same range of non-polluting items, since they generate only full-spectrum light, and not heat. The average consumer will not only save some money from the energy bill, but will equally contribute to the wide effort of keeping global warming under control.