MSSU Archives & Special Collections Exhibits: Carbide & Sunshine Lamps

Digital exhibits created by the MSSU Archives and Special Collections department.

Carbide Lamps

When working in the mines, miners have to wear helmets with a light source to help them see. In this collection, the primary lamps seen are carbide lamps. Carbide lamps don’t emit carbon dioxide and have a light source equivalent to around 4-6 candles. Miners had to refill their lamps every four hours or it would burn out. These lamps were most popular until the 1930s.

Federal Mining and Smelting Co 1950

Forty miners gather for a picture outside of a Federal Mining and Smithing Co. mine on July 27, 1950 wearing carbide lamps. 

Sunshine Lamps

Before Carbide lamps, miners would wear Sunshine Lamps. These lamps had an open flame that emitted from the top of their helmets. These lamps primarily burned Sunshine Wax, made by the Standard Oil Company. Sunshine wax was made with normal wax paraffin and a small amount of mineral oil mixed in. Sunshine lamps could burn other fuels such as lard or fish oil, but they were designed to burn Sunshine Wax.

Sunshine Lamps

A group of miners gather underground for a photo wearing sunshine lamps. 

This site is maintained by the librarians of George A. Spiva Library.
If you have a question or comment about the Library's LibGuides, please contact the site administrator.