if you use oil, buy the best kerosene. To test it, place a small quantity in a tea-cup, and if it does not easily ignite when brought into contact with a lighted taper or match, it is good; poor oil will ignite instantly. Keep oil in a ten-gallon can, with a faucet at the lower part, so as to draw off into a smaller can or lamp-filler; set the large can in a cool, dark place; keep all the articles used for cleaning, filling, and trimming lamps by themselves. For these purposes provide an old waiter (to hold the things), a lamp-liller, pair of scissors or a lamp-trimmer, box of wicks, soap, washing soda, and several soft cloths and towels, also a wire hairpin with which to keep open the vent in the burner. When lamps need an extra cleaning, add one tablespoon soda to a quart of water, being careful that none of the bronze or gilding conies in contact with the soda. The wick should touch the bottom of the lamp and be trimmed square across. When the wick becomes too short to carry up the kerosene, and if you have not time to put in a new wick, a piece of cotton rag pinned on below will prove a good feeder. When the burners of lamps become gummy and prevent the wicks moving freely, boil them up in suds over the fire a short time, and they will become entirely clean and work well. Lamps may become incrusted inside with settlings from the oil, and ordinary washing will not remove it. Take soap-suds and fill the lamp about one-third full, then put in a little sharp sand, and shake vigorously. A few minutes will remove every particle of settlings. Always fill the lamps every day and in the day-time; never fill a lamp after dark near a lighted lamp. When lighting a lamp turn the wick up slowly so that the chimney is gradually heated. When taking a lamp from a warm room into a cold one, first turn down the wick; do not fill too full, as the heat expands the oil and drives it out making the lamp dirty and dangerous. Never light or burn an almost empty lamp, as the empty space is nearly always filled with a very explosive gas. Before putting out a lamp turn it down until the wick is below the top of tube; as if left above it the oil gradually works out through the wick and runs down over the burner and lamp. Turn the flame down low, and wave a fan, book, or paper across the top of the chimney. Blowing down a chimney is very dangerous when a lamp is nearly empty and turned up high. Never start a fire with the oil. Buy the best lamp chimneys by the dozen. The best are cheapest, and it is convenient to have fresh ones on hand when one is broken at an inopportune time. A piece of sponge fastened on the end of a stick or wire is the best thing with which to clean lamp chimneys. Or, hold them over the nose of the tea-kettle when the kettle is boiling furiously. One or two repetitions of this process will make them beautifully clear. Of course they must be wiped upon a clean cloth.
Fill new tin pans with boiling water (having a little soda in it), let stand on a warm part of the range for a while wash in strong soap-suds, rinse, and dry well. Scouring tins very often with whiting or ashes wears them out; if properly taken care of, washed in suds and thoroughly dried, they will not need scouring.
Boil ashes or a bunch of hay or grass in a new iron pot before cooking in it; scour well with soap and sand, then fill with clean water, and boil one or two hours. To remove the taste of wood, first scald the vessel well with boiling water, letting the water remain in it till eold; then dissolve sal-soda or soda, (two pounds to a barrel of water.) in lukewarm water, adding a little hit of lime to it, and wash the inside of the vessel well with this solution; afterward seald it well with plain hot water, and rinse it with cold water before you use it. Knives for the table should never be used to cook with; those for the former purpose may be a cheap plated set for every-day use, and should be kept-, by themselves, and never allowed to be used in the kitchen. Never place a range or cooking stove opposite a door or window if it can be avoided, as any draft will prevent the oven from baking well.
A necessity in the kitchen, because a great protection against clothes taking fire, is a large kitchen apron made full length with bib, and sleeves if wished, the skirt to button close around the dress-skirt. A wooden mat (made by laying down six pieces of lath eleven inches long, one inch wide, and an inch apart, and nailing across these, at right angles, six other similar pieces, about the same distance apart) is a great protection to the kitchen table, which should be of ash. Hot kettles and pans from the stove may be set on this without danger, as the construction of the mat secures a circulation of air under it.
It is the "little foxes that spoil the vines" in the kitchen as well as elsewhere - the neglect of little things causes loss of time, patience and money. In building fires concentration is the important point: 1st, the fuel should be concentrated, that is, put together in a compact heap; and 2d, in a place on the grating where the draft can be concentrated upon it These two points gained it is an easy matter to produce- a brisk fire. When the kindling, which must be dry and in sufficient quantity, is well started, the wood or coal, as the case may be, is so put on that the draft and flame will pass directly through the fuel. In starting a fire, all depends upon having the conditions right, and great loss of time, and even patience, is incurred if they are not provided. Always have wood in the box. This can generally be done without taking special time for it, by remembering to bring some in when you pass the wood-pile without any thing in the hands. See that the wood-box is full at night, and the shavings and kindlings in their place. In the morning empty the ash-pan, or, better still, clean your stove or range at night. This can always be done, except in case of late suppers. When supper is ready, and there is no further use for the fire, open the oven doors, take all the covers partly off the holes, and by the time the supper dishes and needful work in the preparation for breakfast is done, if the fire has been properly attended to, the stove will be cool enough to clean out, which should be thoroughly done, removing all the ashes or cinders from every part of it. This is a very particular work, as the corners often secrete quite an amount of ashes that must be removed if you would have a perfectly cleaned stove. Rap on the sides of the pipes, to dislodge the soot and ashes that collect there, sweep all out with a long-handled brush-broom and the stove is ready to receive the shavings, kindlings and wood for the fire.