Kerosene is one of the most versatile hydrocarbon heating oils.  Used in ancient China, and first distilled in the 9th century, it replaced whale oil in the 19th century and was used primarily in hurricane lamps. Here is a guide to the different types of kerosene used today. 

What Is Kerosene?

Kerosene is a heating oil derived from fossil fuels. It’s extracted from refined petroleum through a process called fractional distillation.  It can also be extracted from wood, shale, and coal. It ignites at 428 degrees Fahrenheit and is commonly used to fuel portable heaters and appliances like stoves and refrigerators. 

What Are the Different Grades?

heating oilThere are two main grades of kerosene: type 1-K and type 2-K. Type 1-K is generally used in lamps and heaters. It contains .04% sulfur by weight and is safe to burn indoors. Type 2-K can only be burned in appliances with a flue. It creates highly-flammable soot and buildup, and the appliances must be cleaned often to remove the residue.

How Can You Safely Use & Store This Fuel?

Improperly maintained kerosene heaters can produce high levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Kerosene appliances should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Always use the manufacturer’s suggested heating oil fuel type—usually Type 1-K—for your kerosene-powered devices.

Stored kerosene can develop condensation, which forms a sludge from bacteria and mold. It’s best not to store more kerosene than you will use in a 3-month period. If the kerosene goes bad, you can remove the sludge and mix the old fuel with new fuel. Pour the old kerosene into a separate container until you see bubbles at the bottom of the old container. Strain the old kerosene through coffee filters to remove the sludge.

Avoid storing the fuel in red containers, because they are known as gas containers. Only use opaque plastic containers designed for storing kerosene.


Since 1901, residential and commercial customers have relied on Monroe Oil Company for their kerosene needs. They are experts on kerosene safety and will deliver the fuel whenever you need it. For more information about their heating oil services, visit them online or call (585) 244-4080.