Torch Fuels

Torch fuels, also called lamp oils, are often used in the summertime to light patio torches or decorative candles. Ingesting torch fuels can lead to severe injuries.

In May 2013, the Poison Control Center received five calls about potentially toxic exposures to these lamp oils, reports Jeanette Trella, PharmD, managing director of the Poison Control Center. Two toddlers were hospitalized — one in an intensive care unit — and one adult drank some of the oil by mistake.

Torch fuels often come in bottles that can easily be mistaken for apple juice or another drink, especially by curious young children who can't read the warning label.

Lamp oils are often used around tables where food and drinks are served. Ingesting even a small amount of these hydrocarbon chemicals can cause excessive drowsiness, lung injury, difficulty breathing and even death.

Keeping your family safe from the dangers of torch fuels

The Poison Control Center suggests that families use alternative types of decorative lighting and keep liquid torch fuels out of their homes.

If torch fuels are used, the Poison Control Center offers these tips to prevent poisoning injury:

  • Never use torch fuels or lamp oils near an area where food or drinks might be served.
  • Store torch fuels out of reach, out of sight, and out of mind of young children.
  • Make sure to only buy bottles of torch fuels with a child-resistant cap, and make sure to replace the cap securely after each use.

If you are concerned about a potentially toxic exposure to torch fuels or to any other medicine or chemical, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate assistance and advice.

Reviewed by The Poison Control Center on October 01, 2013