In the carbon arc the arc proper gives out but a small percentage of the total amount of light emitted. In order to obtain a light in which more of the source of luminosity is in the arc itself, experiments have been made with the use of electrodes impregnated with certain salts, as well as with electrodes of a material different than carbon. The result of these experiments has been to place upon the market the flaming arc lamps and the luminous arc lamps - lamps of high candle-power, good efficiency, and giving various colors of light. These lamps may be put in two classes: One class uses carbon electrodes, these electrodes being impregnated with certain salts which add luminosity to the arc, or else fitted with cores which contain the required material; the other class covering lamps which do not employ carbon, the most notable example being the magnetite arc which uses a copper segment as one electrode and a magnetite stick as the other electrode.

Flaming arcs of the first class are made in two general types: One in which the electrodes are placed at an angle, and the other in which the carbons are placed one above the other as in the ordinary arc lamp. The term luminous arc is usually applied to arcs of the flaming type in which the electrodes are placed one above the other. The minor modifications as introduced by the various manufacturers are numerous and include such features as a magazine supply of electrodes by which a new pair may be automatically introduced when one pair is consumed; feed and control mechanisms; etc. The flaming arc presents a special problem since the vapors given off by the lamp may condense on the glassware and form a partially opaque coating, or they may interfere with the control mechanism.