Kerosene has been a trusted fuel since the 9th century. It is reliable and clean burning and can be easily stored. Many homes still utilize kerosene today for their heating or in oil lanterns for emergency lighting needs. In fact nearly twenty billion barrels of kerosene are used annually around the world.

With so much kerosene consumption on a global level it is surprising that many people do not know the basics on usage and storage of this popular fuel. Lets’ delve into some basic information about kerosene and discuss how to store it, what it is used for and a few other interesting facts regarding this non-viscous substance.

Does Kerosene Evaporate?

So the answer is…..not really. Kerosene does not evaporate under normal maintained temperature conditions. You’ll find that if you spill kerosene in your yard or on your patio, it will smell like kerosene for a VERY LONG TIME. You may scrub it, hose it down, and wait it out, but it won’t evaporate. (So be careful when pouring your kerosene!)

Kerosene should always be stored in a clean and tightly sealed container. The container will need to allow some room for air circulation. One study did produce results of minimal kerosene evaporation but only after being exposed to extremely high temperatures and under immense pressure.

How to Clean Up Spilled Kerosene

If you do happen to spill kerosene, there are a few things you can do to clean it up. First you want to have kitty litter on hand like this one. You first step is to absorb as much of the spilled kerosene as possible. Spread an amble amount of kitty litter over the kerosene to absorb it. Leave it be until it has had enough time to absorb. You can then sweep it up and discard in a plastic garbage bag. Repeat this step until the spot where the kerosene spilled is dry.

Next you want to clean the spot. Use a laundry detergent powder. Let this absorb into the spot as well to make sure all the moisture is pulled out of the spot. Then you’ll want to scrub this area as best you can to really get the detergent into the spot. Use a brush to help you. You can also wet the brush if you want to scrub. If not, just sweep up the detergent and discard in a plastic bag.

Use an absorbent rag to place over the spot to absorb any additional moisture. To help with the smell, use baking soda, scented dish soap, or even cinnamon to help combat the smell.

Different Kerosene Uses

Kerosene is often referred to a paraffin or lamp oil. Previously it was also referred to as coal oil but this term is not used anymore.

Kerosene is a highly flammable liquid but has often been considered a reliable fuel source. This popular fuel has been used in heating, lighting, and rocket fuel, transportation, cooking, in chemistry and for other household remedies. One popular remedy is to use it when cleaning bicycle and motorcycle chains prior to reapplication of proper lubrication.

Kerosene has been used for years to light homes and cook meals. The Amish rely heavily on the use of kerosene on a daily basis to provide light to their homes. Amish do not believe in using electricity so kerosene is the only way for them to illuminate their houses during the evening hours.

It is popular among artists for thinning oil based paints. And was used in the mid-20th century as an inexpensive tractor fuel.

Kerosene Use Today

Today, many homeowners will keep kerosene lanterns available for power outages. This is because kerosene has a long shelf life. Kerosene is also affordable so these are great alternative option if you can’t get a generator but want to keep some “lights on” when the lights go out.

Today roughly 1.2 million 45 gallon sized barrels of kerosene are used each day across the world. This equates to nearly 20 billion barrels of kerosene used on an annual basis.

How long does Kerosene last?

By adding a fuel stabilizer to kerosene its shelf life can be prolonged indefinitely. However, under normal situations it has a shelf life of two to five years. The fuel stabilizer should be added once a year to maintain the integrity of the kerosene.

How to Store Kerosene

It is imperative that the kerosene be properly stored in a temperature controlled environment. It must also be stored inside a clean and secure container. This will help maintain the integrity of the fuel. So make sure to clean the storage container before using it.

The best method for utilizing kerosene for heat or light is to pour what you need for a limited amount of time. This will remove the worry involved in decomposition of aging and forgotten kerosene. Since the fuel can begin to break down and bacteria can grow, you should not leave kerosene in a heater or light for more than 3 months

When storing kerosene you should avoid using a red container. These containers are symbols of gasoline storage and can easily cause confusion. Use a blue container that has a tight seal but still allows proper ventilation. Properly label the container so it is not confused with any other chemical and store out of direct sunlight.

Kerosene Storage Tips

  • Don’t store in a red container – red is typically used for gasoline
  • Keep out of direct sunlight
  • Make sure it’s in a temperature controlled area
  • Only pour out what you need
  • Don’t leave kerosene in heaters or lamps for months on end

Can Kerosene freeze?

Kerosene does not freeze. Kerosene is valued for its molecular stability. Many people find it extremely useful because it will not react to cold temperatures until the -40 degree Fahrenheit range. And even at this point it will only become slightly sludge like. Most regions do not reach these excessively cold temperatures. Because of its stability in freezing points it has been used for a wide range of uses from cooking to rocket fuel.

How Kerosene is made?

Kerosene is created by separating the molecules that comprise crude oil. It is the result of hydrocarbons that boil at a temperature between 302°F and 527°F. The technical term for this process is referred to as fractional distillation. The residue left behind is a clear liquid that has a density of 0.81 g/cm³.

Early reports date the use of kerosene all the way back to the 9th century. It has managed to exist with the times and became more popular when advancements were made in the distillation processes.

Fun fact: It was finally trademarked in 1854 by a man named Abraham Gesner; his trademark included capitalizing the letter “K” in the name of Kerosene.

Kerosene vs Diesel

There is a substantial difference between kerosene and diesel. Kerosene burns much cleaner than diesel fuel. Diesel lets off a distinct scent when it is burning but kerosene burns clean with little to no scent.

Kerosene has a lighter viscosity value than diesel. Because of this higher viscosity the kerosene will burn at a higher temperature within an engine.

And because kerosene doesn’t freeze, kerosene is often mixed with diesel fuel because of its cold weather benefits. A ten percent mixture of kerosene into the diesel will lower the cold filter plugging point. Because kerosene burns cleaner than diesel fuel it can also lower the emissions produced.

Can you mix Kerosene and home heating oil?

You can mix kerosene and home heating oil. The product of a 50/50 mixture is referred to as blended heating fuel. Blended heating fuel can withstand cooler temperatures than home heating oil and is more cost effective than straight kerosene. Blended heating fuel must be stored outside in a container that is sheltered from any environment elements.

How to Dispose of Kerosene Lamp Oil?

You may be looking to get rid of some kerosene lamp oil in your home. But where can you safely dispose of it? There are a few things you can do to ensure to dispose of it properly.

  1. The first option is use it up safely if possible. Use your oil lamp until the kerosene or lamp oil is completely used up. That will ensure the least amount of waste. For some this may not be an option. However if you only have a little lamp oil left, it can definitely be possible.
  2. If you definitely need to get rid of your lamp oil, the next step would be to call your local municipality to see if there is a hazardous waste disposal program. Many towns or cities will have protocols for who to call with explosive or dangerous material. For example, you may be instructed to call the local police or fire department.

You should never pour oil down the drain or dump in the garbage. This is because oil for lamps is very flammable and also contains many chemicals not suitable for our water system.

Regardless of the place you dispose it, you should always transport the kerosene lamp oil safely. Do not leave it in the lamp and transport it. Try to put the oil in a sealed container. To be safe you can place it in multiple bags to ensure there are no spills or leakage.