Can I Use Diesel in a Kerosene Heater?

Thanks to kerosene heaters, we get to enjoy warmth during those cold winter days. These heaters have been around for many years now, yet their improper use can lead to serious problems.

Presently, there are millions of units in use, but because of improper use or failure to replace or repair the units, there are many accidental fires caused by these.

Proper use of a kerosene heater

After buying a new kerosene heater, what do you do next? Take the heater out of the box along with the warranty and instruction manual, both of which you should keep safe for future use as well.

If the manual is in a foreign language, it's recommended to have someone explain to you how the particular model of heater works, at least for the very first time. To help you out, here are some basic guidelines:

Get your kerosene supply

Remember that this is a kerosene heater, not a diesel or gasoline heater, therefore, you must buy kerosene. Never use gasoline or diesel, otherwise, you suffer the consequences.

It's important to use kerosene that's no more than three months old. If you have leftover kerosene from a few months ago, don't use it as this might damage your heater or worse, start a fire.

You can purchase kerosene in most gasoline stations or in some home improvement or home goods stores. Keep it in a storage container that is exclusively for kerosene.

Store the kerosene properly

You shouldn't keep your kerosene outdoors. Keep it in a storage closet that's well-ventilated and away from the elements and away from your home.

Fill the tank

Some models have a removable tank for the fuel. Make sure you have turned off the heater before filling or refilling the tank. Also, make sure it has already cooled down completely since you turned it off.

Prepare some paper towels or rags, a bucket, and a siphon pump. Remove the tank and bring it outside with the jug of kerosene. You won't have to breathe the kerosene fumes when you fill the tank outdoors or worse, spill some of the stuff on your floor.

Practice safety

After filling, place the tank inside your heater. Wait about two minutes or so to let the kerosene enter the heater before starting. Remember that the heater heats you up, it's not a dryer where you put your wet clothes underneath. If you have to, get a portable clothing rack and place this at least one meter away from your heater.

Turn on the heater

Like many machines already in your home, kerosene heaters also have an "off-on" button. Some heaters can play music to inform you that it has already heated your room to the temperature you desired.

You can then press a button to keep it on or turn it off. Others have on their displays the current temperature of the room. You can adjust either to decrease or increase the temperature by using the + or - buttons.

The dangers of using diesel in a kerosene heater

A kerosene heater draws off or wicks up the kerosene. This makes it evaporate and burn. Diesel fuel can also wick, but it doesn't evaporate well. This is one reason why there are no carburetors that use diesel fuel. Here are some of the dangers you should know if you use diesel fuel in your kerosene heater:


  • If you pour diesel fuel on the ground and throw a lit match on it, the fuel won't ignite. To make it burn, you have to spray it into very small droplets or a fine mist. This is the reason why almost all diesel is fuel-injected. With diesel, you burn the wick that isn't meant to burn. Another thing to consider is the particles released in the exhaust when you burn diesel. These are toxic and might end up causing you a lot of harm.


  • With kerosene, it burns fairly clean while diesel doesn't. The only time it can burn the cleanest is with compression ignition since this happens outside of the engine. Some consider burning diesel indoors as your heat source a very slow type of suicide.

Also, when using a kerosene heater, there will be a minute amount of carbon monoxide created. This, of course, is extremely toxic. Therefore, when you use a kerosene heater, make sure that there is plenty of air coming into the space you're heating.

Carbon monoxide can be dangerous for you because it replaces the oxygen in your blood. Carbon dioxide also becomes dangerous when it replaces the oxygen in the air.

Other safety tips to keep in mind

Here are more safety tips to follow when using a kerosene heater:


  • The primary and most significant thing to remember is to perform the refilling of your kerosene heater outside. Turn the heater off, carry it outside your house, and refill it there.

  • Never store the kerosene container in the same room where you use the heater. Keep your supply in the shed, a trash can or a small enclosure placed away from or outside of your home.

  • Make sure that you don't turn on the heater until you're done cleaning or removing any fuel spillage. Also, you should have already properly ventilated the room before turning on your heater. This should be strictly done, especially if the spillage occurs inside the home.

  • Aside from carbon monoxide, burning kerosene also produces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. These gases may potentially cause eye and lung irritations.

  • Use rubber gloves when filling your tank because kerosene fuel might also cause irritation on your skin.

Despite all of these warnings, you can still, for the most part, feel happy owning a kerosene heater. All you have to do is to follow these safety instructions to the tee. You can treat it as though it is your own wood-burning stove or fireplace.

Having one will serve as an excellent source of emergency or supplemental heat when such situations arise. Since this type of heater is usually portable, you can bring it along when you go camping or use in buildings like sheds or barns.

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