Can You Use Kerosene Instead of Heating Oil?

A close up of a gas stove with blue flames for kerosene home heating.

Homeowners who use heating oil to keep their families warm and safe during the winter must ensure their oil tank is full throughout the season. When an oil tank runs empty, the furnace stops running, the line from the tank draws in air, and the house’s interior temperature begins to drop. While many heating oil suppliers offer emergency deliveries, these are often more expensive than regular services. Additionally, your line between the tank and furnace may need to be bled to remove the air inside, which will cost an additional fee.

So, what do you do if you realize that your tank is on the verge of running empty and you can’t schedule a residential heating oil delivery for several days? Kerosene may be an option if you find yourself in this bind.

What’s the Difference Between Heating Oil and Kerosene?

To address the question of whether you can substitute kerosene for home heating oil, you must first understand the difference between heating oil and kerosene. Both products are made using a refining process that takes crude oil from the ground and turns it into the fuels and products that consumers use every day. Because of this, kerosene is quite similar to home heating oil and can be used in a traditional oil tank.

The reason people generally don’t use kerosene as their primary source of heating fuel is its cost. One of the most significant benefits of kerosene is that it is refined further than heating oil, which means that it burns cleaner and is more efficient. However, this comes with a heftier price tag, especially when using it to heat your home for months at a time.

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Another key reason that homeowners avoid kerosene for home heating purposes is its flammability. Kerosene has a flashpoint of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and will ignite when it reaches this temperature. This is much lower than heating oil, which has a flashpoint of 140 degrees and will not catch fire in a liquid state.

What Should I do If I Run Out of Oil?

If you find yourself with an empty oil tank, don’t worry. The first step you should take is to call your home heating oil supplier and order heating oil. It’s best to opt for an emergency delivery, if possible, but be aware that this might come at a higher cost. If you choose to wait until your oil company’s regular delivery schedule, you can use kerosene to keep your home warm in the meantime.

The next step is to go out and buy kerosene to refill your tank. Be sure to use a container that’s safe for holding and transporting flammable fuels. You can usually buy these containers in sizes up to at least five gallons, so, to avoid making multiple trips, opt for the largest one available.

After you purchase your kerosene, bring it home and transfer it to your oil tank. The best method for heating your home this way is to turn the furnace off before you add the fuel. Once the kerosene is in the tank, let it sit for about 10 minutes before restarting the boiler. This gives any sediment or contaminants time to settle to the bottom of the tank. Then, restart the furnace and continue to keep an eye on the fuel level while you wait for your delivery.

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Of course, no matter what home heating issue you run into, it’s always best to reach out to your local home heating oil supplier for advice. These companies can answer all of your questions and guide you to the best solutions for your problems.

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