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Kerosene is the perfect fuel for a wide range of industries, it’s also one of the most popular ways for off-grid homeowners in the UK to heat their homes. In fact, back in 2011, a study conducted by Off-Grid Energy found that 1.6 million UK households were using kerosene to heat their homes.
Even with its widespread popularity for both domestic and commercial use, many customers are still unsure about many aspects. So we’ve put together this handy FAQ on kerosene to help answer many of your questions.
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Kerosene is often referred to as a number of different names. You may have heard it being called heating oil, lamp oil, coal oil, burning oil, boiler fuel, 28 second, paraffin, kero or boiler juice. But they all refer to the same oil.
Kerosene is a combustible hydrocarbon fluid that’s derived from petroleum. It’s fast-burning and is an easily ignitable hydrocarbon fluid that powers heating systems. It’s the most common form of fuel used to heat homes off the grid in the UK. The fuel is largely versatile which can be used for a wide array of applications in many industries.
Kerosene’s uses vary significantly. From heating oils to industrial procedures that require low sulphur fuel such as jet fuel, heating oil or fuel for cooking it is a safe and efficient option to achieve great results. Its clean burning characteristics maintain a high heat output at lower costs. It’s a major component of the fuel used to power planes.
A use of kerosene that you might not be familiar with is to clean bike chains of old lubricant oil before relubrication.
Kerosene doesn’t gel in the cold like diesel fuel does. Its flashpoint is between 37 – 65°C and its freeze point depends on its grade – commercial aircraft fuel is standardised at -47°C.
Kerosene is commonly used in aircraft thanks to its number of attributes such as:
A lot of people think kerosene is exactly the same oil as paraffin, however there are a few very subtle differences. Depending on their use, additives are often added. Kerosene has a particularly strong odour whereas paraffin contains additives to reduce the scent. Additives are also added to kerosene for it to be used in home barbeques and the pharmaceutical industry.
Around 1.2 million barrels of kerosene are consumed each day. A barrel holds 205 litres so that means a hefty 246,000,000 litres!
Absolutely! Due to its clean-burning nature, it’s low carbon monoxide risk and lack of fuel vapour man it will never explode or cause a fire. What’s more, if installed in the correct manner, it won’t output any dirt and it’s odourless.
It’s produced by a process known as fractional distillation. Petroleum is extracted from under the earth’s surface and separated into different fuels including butane, petrol, kerosene, diesel, fuel oil and lubricating oil. Through separating these compounds which make up crude oil, the process then allows the clear and thin oil, kerosene to be extracted.
It doesn’t, unless there’s been an accidental release from domestic dwellings or businesses. Kerosene has no natural sources.
The word ‘kerosene’ derives from the Greek word κηρός (keros), which means wax. This is thought to have been from the waxy material that was initially salvaged from the distillation process.
Kerosene has been around since 1846 and was first used to provide light in oil lamps. In 1851, Kerosene Gaslight Company was the first company to distribute it as a commercial and domestic fuel. Back then, it was seen as the most important refinery product, but following the introduction of electricity in 1921, oil lamps were no longer a key form of light so their use died down.
The 20th century then saw millions of homes being connected to natural gas which then brought back the need for kerosene to heat homes off the grid, as fuel in jet engines and as a solvent.
Its colour varies, sometimes dye is added to distinguish it against red diesel. But generally speaking, it’s a clear, thin liquid with a density of approximately 0.81 gram per cubic centimetre.
Although kerosene burns relatively cleanly, it gives off fumes and has a typically unpleasant odour.
If you breathe in fumes or drink the vapour, you may experience dizziness, headaches, vomiting or even worse, lung damage. Likewise, repeated skin exposure may result in a rash. That’s why it’s so important to store and handle it safely. We provide kerosene barrels to enable safe storage onsite.
It depends entirely on the type of engine. Kerosene can typically burn in most diesel engines without causing significant damage, however it wouldn’t be very efficient to do so.
You can buy small quantities such as a 205-litre barrel if you don’t have the space for storage or bulk orders right up to 36,000 litres and more which will save you money in the long run.
To avoid your kerosene becoming contaminated, it must be kept away from direct sunlight and in a cool and dry area that is well-ventilated. We have a wide range of plastic and steel storage tanks and ancillary products which ensure safe storage and handling.
We also offer premium kerosene which has less odour, is more efficient and has a higher heat output for the price.