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This article is about the fuel used in lighting and cooking. For the band, see Kerosene (band) For the tractor fuel known as "power kerosene", see tractor vaporising oil. For the lubricant, see mineral oil.

Image:Kerosene lamp.jpg

Kerosene or paraffin oil (British English, not to be confused with the waxy solid also called paraffin) is a colorless flammable hydrocarbon liquid. For other uses see kerosene Disambiguation.



Kerosene is obtained from the fractional distillation of petroleum at 150°C and 275°C (carbon chains from the C12 to C15 range).

Typically, kerosene directly distilled from crude oil requires some treatment, either in a Merox unit or a hydrotreater, to reduce its sulfur content and its corrosiveness. Kerosene can also be produced by a hydrocracker, which is used to upgrade the parts of crude oil that would otherwise only be good for fuel oil.

Kerosene was first refined from coal by Atlantic Canada's Abraham Gesner in 1846, founding the modern petroleum industry in the process. Gesner went on to establish his Kerosene Gaslight Company to market kerosene around the world in 1850. Polish chemist Ignacy Łukasiewicz discovered the means of refining kerosene from the less expensive seep oil in 1856.


At one time it was widely used in kerosene lamps but it is now mainly used in aviation fuel for jet engines (more technically Avtur, Jet-A, Jet-A1, Jet-B, JP-4, JP-5, JP-7 or JP-8). A form of kerosene known as RP-1 is burned with liquid oxygen as rocket fuel. These fuel grade kerosenes meet specifications as to smoke points and freeze points.

Its use as a cooking fuel is mostly restricted to some portable stoves for backpackers and to less developed countries, where it is usually less refined and contains impurities and even debris. It can also be used to remove lice from hair, but stings and can be dangerous on skin.

As a heating fuel, it is used in often portable stoves and is sold in some filling stations. It is sometimes used as a backup heat source for emergencies in the U.S. and deaths occur annually from mishandling by inexperienced users. The use of portable kerosene heaters is not recommended for closed indoor areas without a chimney due to the danger of buildup of carbon monoxide gas.

Kerosene is widely used in Japan as a home heating fuel for portable and installed kerosene heaters. In Japan, kerosene can be readily bought at any filling station or be delivered to homes.

It is also used as an organic solvent.

Kerosene is often used in the entertainment industry, as a fuel for fire dancing. Kerosene is not an appropriate fuel to use for indoor fire-dancing as it produces an unpleasant odour which overwhelms the audience. Methanol is a much better alternative. If the performance is outdoors however, kerosene is fine to use and makes quite a spectacular display.

More ubiquitous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, kerosene space heaters were often built into kitchen ranges and kept many farm and fishing families warm and dry through the winter. At one time citrus growers used smudge pots fueled by kerosene to create a pall of thick smoke over a grove in an effort to prevent freezing temperatures from damaging crops. "Salamanders" were kerosene space heaters used on construction sites to dry out building materials and warm workers. Before the days of blinking electrically lighted road barriers, highway construction zones were marked at night by kerosene fired pot bellied torches. Most of these uses of kerosene created thick black smoke because of the low temperature of combustion.

A notable exception, discovered in the early 19th century, is the use of a mantel above the wick on a kerosene lamp. Looking like a delicate woven bag above the woven cotton wick, the mantel was a residue of mineral material which glowed white hot as it burned the volatile gases emanating from the blue flame at the base of the wick. These types of lamps are still in use today in areas of the world without electricity.

In a survival scenario, up to two tablespoons of Kerosene can be ingested to stop intestinal worms from food borne illnesses. In the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the firemen use kerosene to aid them in burning books.

Common names

External links


da:Petroleum de:Petroleum es:Queroseno eo:Keroseno fr:Kérosène id:Minyak tanah it:Cherosene he:קרוסין la:Petroleum nl:Kerosine ja:ケロシン no:Parafin nn:Parafin pl:Nafta pt:Querosene ru:Керосин fi:Petroli sv:Fotogen vi:Dầu hỏa