About Kerosene

Kerosene is combustible oil that was developed in the 19th century. Back in the day, it was used to fuel outdoor lamps. Today it is used to fuel outdoor lamps but also indoor heaters with proper ventilation.

Kerosene is a clear, low-viscosity liquid distilled from petroleum and comes in several grades. Only 1-K kerosene, however, has been graded for at-home use in products like indoor space heaters and outdoor-only lamps.

This fuel comes with a lot of pros but also many cons so read on and see if storing Kerosene as one of your emergency fuels to aid with both indoor heat and outdoor lighting is something you may want to do.

There are two popular uses of kerosene fuel: indoor heating and outdoor lamps and lanterns.

Indoor Heating

Kerosene heaters are the primary source of home heat in many countries. In the United States, they are used as supplemental heat or a source of emergency heat.

There are three types of kerosene heaters and portable units are available in each, namely Forced Air, Convection, and Radiant.

There are three types of kerosene heaters. Portable units are available in each:

Forced Air: These units heat the air and then force it out, much like a furnace does. It can heat up to 2,000 square feet but they run loud. They require electricity to run the fan, so are not suited for power outages unless they are powered by a generator.
Convective: These units produce an evenly dispersed 360-degree heat for spaces up to 1,000 sq feet. They usually feature a built-in thermostat to temperature control the area. They run quietly.
Radiant: These units produce localized heat, warming what’s right in front of the heater. Is not suitable for heating a large space evenly but are great for targeting localized areas or smaller spaces.

Newer models include safety features such as an automatic shut-off switch that will turn the heater off if it tips over. If you are interested in using a kerosene heater in your home, make sure to purchase a new one. Use of proper ventilation is a must. See manufacturer's instructions.

How much do I need?

Portable units typically hold 2-5 gallons of fuel. They can run 6 to 14 hours on one tank. Variables include the type of heater used and the heater’s settings. Fuel will run out sooner if the unit is set at higher settings for longer periods of time.

Outdoor Lamps and Lanterns

1-K Kerosene can also be used to fuel outdoor lanterns made specifically for this type of fuel. It fuels the lantern’s wick and produces the clear, bright, yellow flame that kerosene lanterns are known for. They are used for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities because they provide excellent and reliable lighting and are easy to use. They come in different sizes, have adjustable wicks, and adjustable control knobs so you can control the brightness.

A good candidate for an outdoor kerosene lantern would be a home that uses kerosene anyway or stores it for emergency home heating use. Kerosene lanterns are designed for durability and make a solid addition to your emergency preps.

Battery-powered lanterns are also great to have on hand as well. Remember fuel redundancy is key.

How much do I need?

A kerosene lamp producing 37 lumens for 4 hours per day, consumes about 6 pints of kerosene per month. Variables include the brightness output and how many hours per day the lantern is used.

  • 1-K kerosene is readily available and incredibly cheap.
  • kerosene burns several times brighter than standard lamp oil which makes it a better choice for outdoor use.
  • Great for indoor heating if proper ventilation is used.
  • Can be stored safely in 5-gallon containers or 55-gallon barrels.
  • If used in a lamp or any cooking device like a camp stove, it must be used outdoors only.
  • Like most other fuels, it can be dangerous if stored improperly.
  • Rotation can be a hassle every 6 months. Some say it lasts longer so do your research and do what you feel is best.
Use Restrictions & Requirements
  • Use only certified 1-K grade kerosene
  • Kerosene lamps cannot be used indoors
  • Kerosene heaters can be used indoors only with proper ventilation. Lack of proper ventilation can be life threatening.
  • Adhere to all safety instructions from the manufacture
  • Before purchasing, check the legal limit on the amount you are allowed to store in your location.
  • Store only 6 months at a time
  • Do not store kerosene from season to season, especially left inside the kerosene heater over the summer.
Use of proper fuel containers
  • Store kerosene in a certified blue container specifically intended for kerosene use only.
  • DO NOT mix kerosene and gasoline or try to store or use them interchangeably as they are not at all the same thing, and combining even small amounts can significantly increase the risk of fire or explosion.
  • Store only in containers that have not already been previously used with gasoline as doing so presents a risk of explosion.
  • Improper containers, such as metal containers, used drums, plastic jugs, or gasoline containers, will contaminate kerosene. This will degrade your wick and heater and potentially harm you. The best way to increase longevity is to always keep your container sealed.
  • Label the container properly. You want to make sure that it doesn’t get mixed with gasoline or another type of fuel.
Storage Conditions
  • Store in a well-ventilated area.
  • To avoid ignition, avoid heat, sunlight, open flame, hot surfaces, sparks, welding, and excessive temperatures (cold or hot).
  • Make sure the container is sealed properly. The quickest way to degrade kerosene is in an open container, which allows for oxidation and water contamination.
  • Keep storage cans full. Empty or partially full product containers or vessels may contain explosive vapors.
Shelf Life

Properly stored kerosene may be stored up to 5 years. Some recommend that it be rotates at 6 months after which time it has a chance of breaking down.