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lighthouse image Lights of the Coast
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In the Limelight ...common fuels and lightsources

When one is said to be "in the limelight", it is meant that they are the center of attention. This phrase comes from the early part of the nineteenth century when limelight was used in both theaters and lighthouses alike to create a bright, attention-getting light by burning lime with an oxyhydrogen flame.

Today, we have many more sophisticated ways of supplying energy to our lights of the coast, such as solar panels and fuel cells. However, throughout the centuries, many different fuels and light sources have been used to bring a guiding light to those at sea. Some of the more commonly used fuels and light sources include:

  • fires built on hill tops or on raised platforms
  • candles
  • sperm whale oil, fish oil, lard, rapeseed oil, mineral oil, coconut oil, etc.
  • natural gas
  • petroleum vapor burner using paraffin
  • vaporized kerosene
  • acetylene
  • diesel-electric generators for filament lamps
  • gas turbines
  • solar panels - photovoltaics
  • fuel cells