The kerosene stove is one of the traditional Javanese kitchen utensils which was also used several decades ago, at least before 2000. Even though its existence is now much reduced compared to 10 years ago, in its time, oil stoves occupied an important position as a kitchen utensil, especially in urban areas and some rural communities in Java.
Before the gas stove boom appeared, almost all city dwellers used various types of oil stoves. Likewise for rural communities, especially from the rich, such as village officials, traders, also use oil stoves a lot. Oil stoves were very widely used at that time, because the price of kerosene was still affordable, especially for the lower middle class in urban areas or the upper middle class in rural areas. At that time, the price of kerosene was still subsidized by the government.
However, after the policy of converting kerosene to gas, the kerosene stove was abandoned. Because the policy was accompanied by the revocation of the kerosene subsidy which automatically made the price increase three times or more. Moreover, at the beginning of the implementation of the conversion policy, the government provided free stoves, hoses, and gas cylinders. In addition, the price of gas is set to be cheaper than the price of kerosene.
It can be said that the fate of the oil stove is more tragic than the more ancient traditional stoves, such as cool, luweng, brazier, and dhingkel. The stove was almost extinct in a matter of years. However, there are still those who use oil stoves today, even though the number of users is very rare, one of which is batik craftsmen.
Oil stoves are still used by batik artisans to cook “night”
They still maintain the oil stove on the grounds that they can regulate the amount of flame used for cooking “night”, the material for making batik. However, the oil stove used is a small oil stove. Even though the actual use of kerosene stoves increases their expenses – because the price of kerosene is much more expensive than before – but what choice should be made so that the process of making batik, especially hand-drawn batik, survives.
The potential for the extinction of kerosene stoves among batik artisans is even brighter nowadays, especially by the presence of an electric stove for cooking “night” (a kind of candle) as a substitute for an oil stove. It’s true that only a few batik craftsmen use this modern stove, but it could be that there will be more users if the economic calculation is cheaper than oil stoves.
The oil stove is used to cook rice. Now only memories
The oil stove as a traditional kitchen tool (for now) is almost certainly no longer used by the Javanese people, except for certain purposes, such as for batik purposes and as a museum collection. Even though it is no longer used, at least the public needs to know that the oil stove was once victorious.
When the oil stove was still victorious, it was easy to find an oil stove in almost every grocery stall or traditional market. Even malls and supermarkets also sell various types of oil stoves starting from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of rupiah. The stove material is made of “blek” or a kind of thin aluminum to an iron plate that uses a glass tube.
The stoves are imported from household scale stove companies to factory outputs. One of the famous brands of oil stoves at that time was “Butterfly”. I don’t know, after the policy of converting oil to gas, where did the stove craftsmen go? Maybe they switched professions.
In general, home-made (simple-made) oil stoves consist of several parts, namely the tube, wick, wick holder, nest, pull, and stove body. The oil tube is at the bottom, where kerosene is stored as an energy source.
The oil tube is connected with a wick holder at the top, which can be opened and closed. In this section there is a small hole where you can pour kerosene into the tube. The wick holder consists of dozens of small circular holes and rises up to a height of about 10 cm. Place the wick as a place to place the axes until they touch the kerosene in the oil tube. While the upper wick is poked out slightly as a place for the flame. The wicks at the top are surrounded by nests, so that the flame is stable and does not get hit by the wind.
Then, the nest consists of 3 pieces, on the inside and the middle, both flanking the wick of fire. Both nests are made with small holes to fill all the circular areas. The goal is for fire circulation and so that the color of the fire can be blue so it doesn’t cause soot on the pan and the like. The outer nest is made tightly closed, not perforated and usually the aluminum layer is thicker than the two hollow nests. The pull serves to increase or decrease the fire. If it is pulled up, the fire will be bigger, if it is pulled down, the fire will be smaller. This pull is connected to the plate where the wick is in the oil tube. The body of the stove, usually connects all the parts from the feet to the top where to put things for cooking (pots, kettles, pans, or the like).
Those are a few traditional kitchen tools in the form of an oil stove that once adorned the kitchens of Javanese people. Unfortunately now it is very rarely found in various places. Museums, could be one place to collect these traditional kitchen tools.