Can Kerosene Heaters Be Used Indoors?

The cold weather that has enveloped most of the world has compelled people to stay indoors with a comfortable and convenient way of relishing heat by using extraordinary measures to heat the entire house. Instant warmth is provided with already mounted efficient radiators activated on innovative technology. During the winter season, the markets introduce state-of-the-art modern electric heaters that are highly energy-efficient and well-appointed with different heating capacities. However, before purchase, it is imperative to eyeball deeply into essential aspects that include safety concept, price range, and the amount of energy investment that does not cause excessive pressure on the utility bill. Among the latest technology, kerosene heaters are found in portable households and operated with kerosene heating devices. Typically, they are found in Japan and used in the United States and Australia as an additional heat source during electricity outages. The kerosene heater is energy efficient and produces about 3.3 and 6.8 kilowatts of power.

Kerosene Heaters

Kerosene heaters are considered highly convenient because of their known compactness. Homeowners utilize them as a temporary or additional heat source to keep them warm without heating the entire house. There are contemporary models equipped with high safety features, but even then, kerosene heaters are believed to be precarious for prolonged use. As per the recent analysis conducted by National Fire Protection Association, continuous use of kerosene heaters and wood stoves comes with a significantly higher fire risk than central heating and space heaters.

What is a kerosene heater?

A kerosine heater represents a portable, unvented, kerosene-fueled heating device. Heaters worked on the principle of circular fiberglass and a cotton wick in the burner and placed above the tank equipped with 1K kerosene. The functions and operations of a kerosene heater are parallel to a kerosene lamp. The kerosene is then taken from the tank through a capillary motion. After letting the wick, the kerosene is provided with heat and transformed into gas, converted to heat air through convection. To mitigate the side-effects and consequences, the hazards have been diminished by allowing electricity to switch on the fan, which pushes the warm air out the heater causing the room or the area to warm quickly.

The contemporary models of kerosene heaters have modified settings to lessen the hazards. They are now equipped with a thermostat that allows them to be controlled. Most of these heaters operate without electricity and are incorporated with a piezoelectric battery fused igniter that provides the heater without using matches. The heater can be switched on manually if the igniter stops working.

Can Kerosene Heaters Be Used Indoors?

Technically, one can use kerosene heaters indoors. Still, while kerosene heaters are designed for significant space heating, kerosene heaters can be highly troublesome and hazardous if used in a small room. The heaters produce so much carbon monoxide. Even in large spaces, one must be vigilant and watchful of the heater. Various precautions to take when using this type of heater indoors:

  • Always ensure that the heater’s placement is not close to things that can catch fire from the heat because kerosene heaters may pose a fire threat.
  • Be sure to have the heater serviced as often as possible and clean.
  • Keep the kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room to avoid issues with the carbon monoxide levels it will produce.
  • Also, make sure to store the heater in a place that will not create heat that will ignite the kerosene.
  • If, when turned on and the heater goes off due to kerosene running out, allow it to cool down before attending.
  • Never mix different types of fuel (kerosene and petroleum); use the right one for the suitable heater.
  • Do not allow children near a heater.
  • Call a good maintenance company if any damages occur or want the heater checked.

How Much Kerosene Does a Heater Use?

Depending on the size and the duration of usage for the heater, one might make constant daily trips to the kerosene dealer. One large heater operating up to 15 hours a day can take up to 14 gallons of kerosene a week. This roughly translates to about 2 gallons a day, although smaller heaters with smaller tanks hold as much as 1.2 gallons a day.

Does Kerosene Go Bad?

Yes, kerosene may go wrong. Kerosene is made up of very harmful chemicals. But over time, the substances lose effectiveness and cannot be used for anything. Condensation, after a while, can be one culprit for getting kerosene wrong. One might also notice mud in the kerosene from bacteria breaking it down. Direct exposure to sunlight may also be another factor that leads to lousy kerosene, which can lose its usefulness. Unused kerosene may span up to three to five years without going bad.

Do Kerosene Heaters Smell?

No, a perfectly designed kerosene heater does not smell or give out smoke even while operating. But, it may smell when the kerosene heater has run out of kerosene or been turned off for a long time, and the kerosene is not used.


The dangers of kerosene heaters

  • Possibility of large-scale fires

If proper precautions are not monitored, and the heaters are mounted near the furniture or other objects that have the potential to catch fire, a massive fire could explode. Therefore, these heaters are recommended to climb safely and incredibly far away from combustibles and flammable items. Fire outbursts are likely if the wrong fuel is added to the heaters.

  • Burns

A massive fire upsurge could cause Burns after the kerosene heater has contacted combustible items, liquid, or clothing. When manually igniting the heater, necessary pre-emptive care should be followed to ensure safety standards and avoid possible injuries to children and pets.

  • Risk of suffocation

Kerosene heaters drink oxygen as it is the primary ingredient of their function. However, if there is a lack of ventilation and the heaters are located in small rooms with no fresh air and oxygen, there is a chance of asphyxiation. Lack of adequate ventilation and oxygen level in the area could result in all-out combustion of fuel and production of carbon monoxide at a large scale. The higher quantity of carbon monoxide is highly poisonous and, if inhaled in intense amounts, could lead to death and other fatal accidents.

  • Unfiltered air

Other than the accumulation of poisonous toxins such as carbon monoxide, these heaters are known to disseminate other air pollutants, subsequently increasing air toxins levels in the air. In addition to carbon monoxide, they produce nitrogen and sulfur dioxide, adversely affecting human health. Inhaling these contaminants can force severe menaces on expectant mothers and individuals with heart diseases.

Suppose kerosene heaters are preferred in your household. In that case, you need to understand and apply the manufacturer’s instructions and other safety measures to combat the potential side effects and risks. It should also be noted that some states have prohibited the prolonged use of kerosene heaters and are restricted within specific areas.

  • Warning signs

During the process, a well-operated and manufactured kerosene heater will work professionally with no toxins, pollutants, smoke, and pungent smell. However, a typical smell associated with kerosene heaters may be expected and acceptable. A strong and highly pungent odor is observed if they are turned on and off and are out of fuel. Therefore as per the safety instruction and manual, it is imperative to check the fuel gauge frequently. According to the fire protection establishments, there is no need to turn on the kerosene heaters and sleep with the heaters on. It is hazardous as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and a mix of other pollutants could lead to death without warning.

gold ira scams  buyer beware

How to Stop Kerosene Heater From Smelling?

To stop the kerosene heater from smelling, you may:

  • Use only 1-k kerosene: Two grades of kerosene, 1-k & 2-k. 1-k kerosene may be purer and less toxic that does not emit a strong odor, unlike the 2-k grade. If one uses contaminated fuel or fuel that may not be recommended for the heater, one will experience kerosene smells throughout the house.
  • Clean out and dispose of old kerosene: While one might want to keep old and used kerosene for reuse purposes, it is essential to clean out and dispose of it because old kerosene can produce a strong smell that can also be harmful when inhaled for a long. Important to always get fresh and new kerosene in heaters and even cookers. The best way to keep the heater clean is to clean it out after each use if used frequently, or at least once a month if the heater is not in constant use.
  • Keep the heater in a well-ventilated space or room: Keeping the heater in an enclosed room lacks ventilation is very harmful. Aside from the carbon monoxide causing not escaping and creating odor, it will also be inhaled by household members, which will be hazardous health-wise.
  • Stabilize the burner in the heater: the burner in the heater must be sitting flat before being turned on; if not, the burner will produce a lot of smoke and horrible smells.
  • Always clean the tank: Leaving kerosene in the tank without use tends to cause a smell, especially if someone takes the tank out and puts it into storage at the end of cold seasons. The old kerosene needs to be removed and disposed of using a small amount of fresh kerosene to clean the tank’s inside and drain that out before storing.
  • Adjust, clean, and replace wick over time: Over time, dirt tends to stick to the wick, and carbon accumulation might form, so it is necessary to clean the wick from time to time. But if and when the wick gets too dirty, essential to change it completely.

Depending on the type of heater used, suitable to trim the wick to the correct height over time. After every use of the heater, get a wet rag and wipe the wick to remove any dust that may have settled. This is important because if too much debris is on the wick, it will lead to the inability of the wick to soak up the fuel effectively and lead to an odor coming from the heater.

How Does a Kerosene Heater Work?

A kerosene heater is a portable heater that uses kerosene as fuel. To use a kerosene heater, an individual has to fill the machine with kerosene and light the wick (depending on the heater, one may choose to light the wick manually or electrically) to heat the kerosene until the kerosene vapors into gas. This gas is heated and spreads into the atmosphere, creating hot air.

Does Kerosene Produce Carbon Monoxide?

Yes, kerosene does produce carbon monoxide. Although kerosene heaters are very efficient while burning fuel to produce heat, low levels of certain pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, are produced. An individual should be careful when burning kerosene because kerosene consumes oxygen and produces carbon monoxide. If a person uses kerosene indoors, the individual should ensure proper ventilation.

Low levels of these pollutants may be harmful, especially to individuals with chronic respiratory or circulatory health problems.

Below are precautions when operating a kerosene heater.

  • Avoid operating your heater near flammable objects or furniture, drapes, large amounts of dust, or combustible fuels. Place a kerosene heater at least three feet from combustible materials.
  • Take children and pets at a safe distance from operating heaters.
  • Avoid moving a heater while in use.
  • Avoid leaving a burning heater unattended. Extinguish a heater when leaving or going to sleep.
  • AVOID USING GASOLINE or any other combustible or low-quality fuels.

How does Long Will Kerosene Heater burn?

A kerosene heater may burn for over 6 hours. However, a high-powered kerosene heater that offers a robust 140,000 to 180,000 BTU heat output can heat an area of up to 4,200 square feet for ten to twelve hours on a full fuel tank.

How High Should the Flame be on a Kerosene Heater?

A kerosene heater has a tiny window that allows people to gauge the flame level in the burn chamber. The flame should be a height of o.5inches. A person can know this by looking at the window of the heater, a disk can be seen, and the flame level of the kerosene heater should slightly rise above the disk. If the flame is far below the disk, the flame may not burn properly and can produce more carbon monoxide. A kerosene heater allows users to adjust the level of the flame.

How to Change a Wick in a Kerosene Heater?

The wick is enclosed in a chamber of the kerosene heater. For a person to change the wick, the individual will need to disassemble the top chamber of the kerosene heater and carefully remove the wick assembly from the heater. To change a wick in a kerosene heater.

  • Remove the wick from the wick assembly by folding the wick inside and pull out.
  • Discard the condemned wick properly inside a plastic bag and throw it away
  • Install the new wick and make sure the wick is fitted in properly
  • Replace the wick assembly with the kerosene heater and make sure the assembly is fitted
  • Once the wick is fastened, reinstall the kerosene heater chamber and make sure it is screwed on tightly.

How Often Should You Change the Wick on a Kerosene Heater?

The wick of a kerosene heater should be changed yearly. The wick absorbs liquid fuel by capillary action to be burned, and over time, the wick builds up tar and carbon, which may degrade the wick’s efficiency, leaving the wick for a new replacement.

How to Store Kerosene?

Kerosene is a highly flammable liquid that should be stored tightly in a metal container and kept in a cool, dry place that is well ventilated. The container holding the kerosene should be kept away from direct sunlight as kerosene gives off vapor that may combust at temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit if exposed for an extended period. The container storing the kerosene should be well labeled and marked to notify other individuals that the container contains kerosene fuel. Do not store the kerosene inside the lamp or heater as the kerosene may spoil inside them. The best and safest way to store kerosene is to keep it in a plastic container that is appropriately sealed.

Do You Need Ventilation When Using a Kerosene Heater?

Yes, always use a kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room. Kerosene, when burnt, produces gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide; these gases can pass into the lungs and are toxic. It may be essential to use a kerosene heater in a ventilated space. If the room isn’t ventilated or has no passage for airflow when the kerosene heater is used, the gases will release and cloud up the room, making it hot, stuffy, and choking.

Besides the danger of harmful gases being released, a kerosene heater used in a closed space may prove uncomfortable with the heat temperature and lack of air. An individual may suffer from headaches, high body temperature, and hyperventilation.

Can You Leave a Kerosene Heater on all Night?

No, leaving a kerosene heater all night may not be safe. This can be a safety hazard, and very wise to turn off the kerosene heater when not in use because there is a high chance of a fire outbreak. The kerosene heater produces carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can kill a person. Do not leave a kerosene heater on all night.

Are Kerosene Fumes Flammable?

Yes, kerosene fumes may be highly flammable, which should make an individual cautious when handling kerosene. Kerosene will catch fire if exposed to high temperatures or a heat source. It may combust and cause an explosion. When storing kerosene, advised keeping the kerosene in a metal container in a cool, dry area away from direct heat and sunlight.

Are Kerosene Fumes Harmful?

Yes, kerosene fumes are harmful. Inhalation of kerosene fumes could result in dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches after a short period. Inhaling kerosene fumes could cause neurological or kidney damage in the long term. Breathing in large amounts of kerosene could also result in coma, loss of muscle control, and heart and lung problems. So, while kerosene might be safe to touch, it is toxic to inhale or ingest and can be hazardous.

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From a Kerosene Heater?

Yes, a person may get carbon monoxide poisoning from a kerosene heater, mainly when operated improperly. Carbon monoxide is produced through incomplete combustion of the fuels. Breathing in carbon monoxide fumes stops the body from using oxygen correctly, harming the brain, heart, etc. Individuals with health problems like heart and lung disease may be at higher risk.

Always operate a kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room to lessen the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a kerosene heater. Airflow with a cracked window or door can protect from toxic fumes accumulation.

Can You Smoke Near a Kerosene Heater?

No, they are not recommended to smoke near a kerosene heater. For a better statement, you should never risk smoking near a kerosene heater because the flammable chemical vapors in kerosene are not associated with the liquid part. Instead, the flammable vapors from the kerosene are significantly high to cause a fire. Hence, prohibited to smoke near a kerosene heater.

Is Kerosene the Same as Diesel?

No, kerosene is not the same as diesel. Although kerosene and diesel can be called byproducts of crude oil, but have different physical and chemical properties. Some of the crucial differences between kerosene and diesel are:

  • The constituent molecules differ in the number of carbon chains. The carbon chains in kerosene are from C12 to C15, while the carbon chains in diesel are from C16 and above. Kerosene has a few hydrocarbons and a lower boiling point than diesel; that’s why kerosene may be extracted first and diesel immediately after. Both kerosene and diesel fuels can get mixed with additives to aid quality before use.
  • The withdrawal of diesel and kerosene is made after the oil refinery, part of the molecular components of crude oil by complex and straightforward hydrocarbon chains.
  • Diesel may be reddish, but kerosene is colorless.
  • Kerosene can be used in home heating and cooling systems.
  • Kerosene can release more soot than paraffin, mostly in lamps, while diesel can be used in automobiles as a better option than gasoline because of low CO2 emissions.

Will a Kerosene Heater Run on Diesel?

Yes, you may use diesel in your kerosene heater. Kerosene heaters can be used with many different fuels like diesel. The application of pure vegetable oil can be used. Using diesel in a kerosene heater may not be suggested but may be used only during an emergency.

Can You Clean a Kerosene Heater Wick?

Yes, you can clean a kerosene heater wick. If the wick has black tar accumulation, the wick needs to be cleaned or replaced. Wicks can be better cleaned after a dry burning. Frequently take out carbon accumulation with a brush or comb. Avoid using something stiff or rigid because it could affect the wick.

If a wick may be old, damaged, or worn out, replace it with a new wick. Avoid storing old wicks from previous times.

In cleaning a kerosene heater wick:

  • Ensure no tar is remaining on the wick by burning until dry.
  • Please switch off the heater and leave it to cool.
  • Please take off the kerosene tank and store it safely without flame exposure.
  • Lengthen the wick to a greater length.
  • After lengthening the wick, switch on the light at the end of the wick to allow burning (this will let any residual tar burn out)
  • Now, take off the wick entirely from the tank. Position the wick in a not-so-deep plastic container to lay flat.
  • Put in enough wood alcohol to cover the wick entirely and allow it to relax for a few minutes.
  • Allow the wick to dry completely before placing back in the kerosene heater.
  • Fill up the kerosene tank and begin use.

Do Kerosene Heaters Use Electricity?

Yes, kerosene heaters can make use of electricity, but kerosene heaters, in general, do not require the use of electricity. The thermostat-controlled operation is used in kerosene heaters. Although, many kerosene heaters may not require electricity to function because these heaters carry a battery-operated ignitor to turn on the heater without the aid of matches.


How to ensure kerosene heater safety?

Kerosene heaters are not recommended, but they can still be practiced and utilized by staying vigilant and reinforcing stringent rules for indoor use. Regardless of the simplicity and traditionality of the kerosene heaters, posing safety guidelines should be the top priority. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, these heaters should be kept at a minimal distance of at least 3 feet away from all sorts of objects. Avoid covering the heater with any paper, plastic, or fabric cover. The kerosene heater should not be r mounted on tables or other furniture pieces. If they are located at a height, there is a possibility of tipping over, which causes contact with another flammable object.

Furthermore, regardless of size, the room should be well ventilated with an adequate supply of fresh oxygen. Try opening a window or indoor doors to keep the transference of air in motion. Always keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher handy to instantly address fire situations.

A kerosene heater fuel tank can hold 2 gallons of kerosene. Once it is in operation mode, the heater can heat the room instantly. If the settings are tuned to maximum, the room can be heated for 4 to 5 hours.

Mark Brown

Mark Brown

Mark Brown is a construction engineer from California who has been working as an independent contractor and writer for the past 15 years. From 2022 onwards, Mark has also been contributing author of home repair articles at Read more on Mark Brown's biography page. Contact Mark:

Inflation Is Eating IRA/401(k) Savings! How to Protect Your IRA/401(k) in Bad Times?


Recent Posts