9 Things You Didn’t Know About Kerosene

Hi and welcome to our first installment of ‘things you didn’t know’! This month we’ll be looking at some interesting kerosene facts.

Each month, we’ll take a close look at one of our products or services and give you some facts and valuable information which we believe you won’t already know. It’s something we hope you’ll find interesting, helpful and entertaining.

Before we begin, let us give you a brief introduction to kerosene. What is kerosene, what is kerosene used for and how is kerosene produced?

Kerosene- Once upon a time

What is Kerosene?

Kerosene is a flammable liquid which is used in many industries and homes around the world as a fuel for light, heat and power. It is generally non-viscous and clear, however viscous substances such as wax and other thicker substances can be made from kerosene.

Kerosene is also known as paraffin or kero. It is an incredibly versatile fuel which can be used for lots of varying applications. Since the earliest records of distillation in the 9th-century, kerosene has managed to stay with the times, especially with the help of those who have discovered improved methods of distilling it and helped shape kero into such a robust and reliable fuel which we have at our disposal today.

What are the uses of kerosene?

Kerosene’s uses vary dramatically from fuel for oil lamps to cleaning agents, jet fuel, heating oil or fuel for cooking. It can be used safely and efficiently to get great results in many areas. There are few oils which can be used in such a wide range of applications and its low cost makes kerosene a very popular oil among many people. Uses of kerosene are generally popular for heat and power, but as you can see, kerosene is capable of more than just those two functions. We’ll cover more useful applications of kerosene in this post.

How is kerosene made?

The production of kerosene is a straightforward process nowadays. Kerosene is produced by separating the compounds which make up crude oil. This process is known as ‘fractional distillation’ and leaves a clear and thin oil which is roughly 0.81 g/cm³ (gram per cubic centimetre) in density. The actual density of kerosene is 0.82 g/cm³ and 0.8 g/cm³ for paraffin. However, because the two oils are practically exact matches, it’s best to find a happy medium and 0.81 g/cm³ is that figure.

So, why does the density of kerosene matter to us? The greater the fuel density, the greater the mass of fuel that can be stored in a given tank and the greater the mass of fuel that can be pumped from a given pump. This is important to many people who work in industries which rely on fuels like kerosene and the fine calculations needed to get the most out of weight and power.

We imagine only smart cookies to be reading a post like this and so you probably already know most of the kerosene facts above, but here are:

9 things you may not know about kerosene…

9 Things You Didn't Know About Kerosene

Why is it called kerosene?

The word Kerosene has been around many years and it’s because the name is derived from Greek: κηρός (keros) which translates to wax. The waxy substance that was initially retrieved from the distillation process would have been enough to give its maker this name.

Who invented/discovered kerosene?

The discovery of kerosene was many moons ago and the first person to record the distillation process was a famous Persian scholar named Razi (Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi)

The name Kerosene was registered as a trademark by Abraham Gesner in 1854 before it evolved into a generic trademark called kerosene. What’s the difference? Well, Gesner named his oil Kerosene with a capital K whereas the generalised version had no capital.

How much kerosene is used worldwide?

The total amount of kerosene consumption for all purposes throughout the world is roughly 1.2 million barrels per day. A barrel holds 45 gallons or 205 litres, equating to approximately 54,000,000 gallons and 246,000,000 litres respectively. That’s a lot of kerosene! Our orders rarely exceed a 36,000-litre tanker. (which is still a lot of kerosene).

Over the course of a year, the world’s total kerosene usage is approximately 19,710,000,000 gallons – just short of 20 billion gallons!

Is Kerosene The Number Two Fuel?

With so much kerosene used worldwide on a daily basis, it would be quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it is the number one fuel. However, there is a kerosene which is a more viscous paraffin oil which is used as a laxative! Waxatives anyone…?

You Said ‘Eat It’… No, I Said ‘Heat It’

Is kerosene toxic/dangerous to humans?

Only a complete fuel would eat or drink kerosene purposely! Ingestion of kerosene is harmful and can be fatal. Kero is sometimes recommended as an old folk remedy for killing head lice, but health agencies warn against this type of kerosene use due to the risk of burns and serious illness.

Because of kerosene’s hatred towards all living things it has been found to be an effective pesticide. It is effective at killing a large number of insects, notably bed bugs and head lice. It can also be applied to stagnant waters in order to kill mosquito larvae. It smothers the insects’ tracheae with a thin film of paraffin, which prevents the exchange of oxygen. It must really bug the mosquitos!

Is kerosene a good cleaning agent?

Another fact about kerosene which you may not know is that It can be used to clean bicycle and motorcycle chains of old lubricant oil before relubrication. It works really well and makes the job easy. It has great properties as a barrier fuel too and can be used to separate fuels so that they don’t become contaminated when pumping through a hose.

Kerosene uses in the entertainment industry

Kerosene is often used in the entertainment industry for fire performances such as fire breathing, fire juggling and the art of fire dancing. It’s one of the more dangerous uses for kerosene! Remember though, kerosene is toxic to humans, so here is some good advice on what fire breathing fuel is the least toxic.

Rocket Foals…

Kerosene is the real rocket fuel

Horses are powerful animals and horsepower is a great way of emphasising the power generated by engines. Rocket fuel kerosene (namely RP1 type kerosene fuel) is used in jet engines as a rocket fuel by mixing it with oxygen. The power created from this type of fuel mix is incredibly large. One example is the use of kerosene in the lift-off of Saturn V. The take-off for this particular rocket generated roughly 217 million horsepower. Imagine that in your car! A car that gets 30 miles to the gallon could drive around the world around 800 times with the amount of kerosene fuel the Saturn V used for the lunar landing mission.

Do people still use kerosene for light fuel?

Yes, they do. While it’s obviously not as common as it used to be, there are still many people who use kerosene for lighting purposes. Even the Amish, who generally avoid the use of electricity, rely on kerosene for lighting at night.


As you can see from the facts above regarding various applications for kerosene, it’s a remarkable fuel which has certainly stood the test of time. It can be used for cleaning, powering rockets and even entertaining people on the stage. What’s more, it’s super cheap!

We hope you have learnt some new facts about kerosene with our ‘things you didn’t know’ post. We hope you’ll join us next time for another instalment of TYDK!

Reliable Kerosene Supplier

If you’re interested in buying kerosene oil and would like to purchase your fuel from a reliable kerosene supplier, please click here to go to our kerosene fuel page!