Before Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach invented the gas mantle in the late 1800’s, open flame was the best method of creating artificial light. Von Welsbach’s new gas mantle created bright, incandescent light when lit. Throughout his scientific career, he had studied rare earth elements, and through countless experiments discovered that he could create light by soaking a cotton material with a mixture of magnesium oxide, lanthanum oxide and yttrium oxide, then lighting it with a flame. These first gas mantles gave off a green tinted light and were not of much value. After more experimentation, von Welsbach discovered that thorium, mixed with cerium dioxide emitted a much cleaner, brighter, whiter light, as well as improving the strength of the mantle. While the basic science behind gas mantles is still the same, gas mantles today use safer chemicals and have eliminated thorium, which has been considered a possible health concern.
Gas mantle lighting was originally used in Europe and North America for lighting up the city streets. Gaslights with mantles eventually made it possible for people to improve lighting in their homes, and work night shifts at factories and workshops, which contributed to the industrialization boom of the late 1880’s and early 1900’s. Wider application of gas mantle lighting included signal lighting for railways and navigating ships.
In 1914 William Coffin Coleman introduced the Coleman lantern, eventually including models featuring one or two gas mantles. For decades outdoor lanterns depended on mantles being secured with tie-on strings, which were difficult to use in cold and dark outdoor situations.
It wasn’t until 1991 that George Kinzel patented the Warkinz “Quick Clip®” gas mantle, adding a metal wire clip to the gas mantle for quick, easy installation under the worst conditions, revolutionizing the industry.
Today, Warkinz popular line of gas mantles, known for quality, longevity and brightness, includes the Quick Clip® for lanterns, and porcelain ring connections for gaslights. They are used in outdoor gaslights for steady, dependable, charming lighting; indoor gaslights for cabins, cottages and homes that don’t depend on electricity; and in outdoor lanterns for the bright lighting that is favored by sportsmen and campers around the world.