Can diesel fuel be used in a kerosene heater? Risks and benefits (2023)

Kerosene is one of the most common and popular fuels around the world and is regularly used in heaters, stoves and more. While it's not quite as popular in North America as it used to be, it's still a reliable standby for several types of portable heaters.

Can diesel fuel be used in a kerosene heater? Risks and benefits (1)

Of course, every prepper wants to have a good supply of kerosene on hand to keep their stoves going, but what happens when the kerosene runs out?

Some people say that it is normally possible to use diesel fuel as an alternative to kerosenekerosene heaters. Is it true? Is this possible? Can diesel really be used in a paraffin heater?

Yes, diesel fuel can be safely used in a kerosene heater with just a little bit of isopropyl alcohol added.

This is definitely great information to know as it gives you more flexibility in using the same device, whichever it is.

It turns out that kerosene in itself is really just a form of diesel fuel and that easily explains why regular diesel fuel, also known asNo. 2 diesel, still works in a kerosene heater.

Of course, there's a lot more you should know before you try this yourself, so keep reading and I'll tell you all about it...

Why burn diesel in a paraffin heater at all?

The simplest answer is that you just ran out of kerosene fuel. Having alternative types of liquid fuel for every kind of vehicle, tool or device is only a good thing when it comes to preparedness.

Just as some generators can accept both gasoline and propane, or even additional fuels, it's good to know that you can rely on a diesel as a backup to your usual supply of kerosene.

(Video) Secret to using Diesel in a Kerosene Heater

From a performance point of view, there is no good reason to use diesel instead of kerosene.

Diesel doesn't give off as much heat as kerosene although they are very close and it tends to produce a bit more smell and alsoburn wicksfasterthen kerosene.

But make no mistake, your heating works normally and safely and you will definitely stay warm!

Is it safe to use diesel in a kerosene heater indoors?

Yes, it is safe to use diesel fuel in an indoor kerosene heater if the heater is otherwise used in a safe manner.

Diesel does not make any heating system more or less safe in any given environment. Put another way, as long as you've taken all reasonable precautions to provide ventilation and prevent accidental fires, you can safely use diesel fuel in your indoor kerosene heater.

But the reverse is also true. If you use your kerosene heater in an unsafe manner, in an unsafe location or at times of increased fire risk or poor circulation, using diesel will not make it any safer...

What kind of diesel fuel can be used to replace kerosene?

You can use regular No. 2 diesel fuel, the type commonly used in motor vehicles. Preferably use high-quality ultra-low sulfur or ULSD diesel.

If you've been researching this topic for any length of time, you've probably come across at least one or two sources urging you to seek No. 1 diesel for use in kerosene stoves thanks to its superior performance characteristics.

I don't want to be the one to let the cat out of the bag, but No. 1 diesel is really just kerosene!


That is indeed why it works so much better in a kerosene heater, but this is not a difference so great that you would have to go out of your way to find No.1 diesel.

If you have it on hand, great, but if not, you can just use regular diesel from the pump with a simple additive that we'll get into in a moment.


How do you use diesel in a paraffin heater?

You use diesel fuel in a kerosene heater exactly the same way you would use kerosene. All safety, handling and refueling procedures are exactly the same.

However, there is one thing you should add to the diesel to ensure even combustion and proper operation.

That additive is a common 91% isopropyl alcohol. And it takes very, very little, too: you need to add about 5 ml of isopropyl alcohol to every pint of diesel fuel before using it to fuel your kerosene heater.

Just add the isopropyl alcohol, stir vigorously for about a minute, and then you're ready to use it in your stove. That is it!

Can all types of kerosene heaters use diesel fuel?

Yes. All types of kerosene heaters, whether portable or not, radiant or not, can safely use diesel fuel as described above. Torpedo-style kerosene heaters included, but they may require additional maintenance after using diesel. See below.

Do you need to modify a heater to accept diesel?

No not really. Any functional and well-maintained kerosene stove can use diesel fuel as described above without any modifications to the stove itself, nor should you attempt to modify it outside of normal function!

That is much more likely to introduce an unsafe condition than using the diesel itself.

(Video) Propane vs Diesel Multi Fuel Heater

That said, you can get slightly better performance and longer life from your kerosene heater if you swap out a fiberglass wick for a cotton one.

Fiberglass wicks tend to attract moisture and char significantly faster than cotton wicks when diesel fuel is burned.

But again, the difference is marginal in the scheme of things and fuses are quite cheap and easy to replace, so you don't have to fiddle with them if you don't want to or if you're short on time.

Do you need to do something about your heating after burning diesel in it?

No. Usually not anyway. Any kerosene stove that burns diesel as fuel will still be ready to accept kerosene in the future when more is obtained. There are no special adjustments that need to be made in any way after using diesel.

That said, certain types of kerosene heaters, and torpedo heaters in particular, can have a tendency to clog and get dirty if you use diesel fuel that has not been properly mixed with isopropyl alcohol.

This may make your next scheduled service interval a little trickier, but that's the worst that can happen.

What are the advantages of using diesel fuel in a paraffin heater?

The biggest advantage of using diesel as opposed to kerosene in your kerosene heater is that diesel is often significantly cheaper, even when you factor in the small cost of alcohol to cut it. In many places, diesel is also more widely available than regular kerosene.

And of course, if you don't have kerosene, the fact that you have diesel means you're still doing business rather than running out of gas!

What are the disadvantages of using diesel fuel in a paraffin heater?

There are not many drawbacks to using diesel fuel in your kerosene heater. We have already mentioned most of them.

(Video) Are kerosene heaters safe to use indoors?

Ideally, you should use diesel fuel with a cotton wick as mentioned above, as cotton wicks last longer and work slightly better compared to fiberglass wicks.

You'll also have to deal with some dirtier heating with certain designs, especially torpedo heaters.

This isn't much to worry about at the time, but it does make maintenance a bit more annoying. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of using diesel is that diesel, unlike real kerosene, smells significantly worse.

You will definitely notice an increase in odor, even though the total emissions will be pretty much the same, assuming the heater is working properly.

And then there's the fact that diesel doesn't give off as much heat as kerosene, although this difference is so small it's virtually unnoticeable under normal conditions.

By postCan diesel fuel be used in a kerosene heater? Risks and benefitsappeared first onSurvive Sullivan.

Door: Tom Marlowe
Title: Can diesel fuel be used in a kerosene heater? Risks and benefits
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Post Date: Mon, May 22, 2023 16:00:00 +0000


Did you miss our previous article...


Can diesel fuel be used in a kerosene heater? Risks and benefits? ›

You can actually use off-road diesel in your kerosene heaters. In fact, diesel burns very well in your regular kerosene heater, but can come with the risk of reducing the life of the wick. As a temporary replacement though, diesel works just fine.

Is it better to burn diesel or kerosene in a heater? ›

Efficiency Issues. Even though diesel has more energy than kerosene, it isn't always the most efficient fuel to run in a kerosene heater. The first reason is that kerosene is generally more refined and burns better. Likewise, diesel does not always combust completely and thus is less efficient.

Is it safe to use a diesel heater indoors? ›

In addition, gasoline- or diesel-powered generators and appliances can produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide and should never be operated inside the home or garage.

What is the best fuel for a kerosene heater? ›

The only fuel approved for indoor kerosene heaters is K-1 kerosene. K-1 kerosene is most commonly found at local convenience stores and service stations. Only buy kerosene that is rated K-1. Lesser quality fuels will produce odor and may cause other problems.

Can you use ultra low sulfur diesel in a kerosene heater? ›

Ultra-low sulfur dyed diesel works in virtually all home heating and space heating equipment that uses kerosene. You won't have to replace your equipment or alter it to enjoy the benefits of ultra-low sulfur dyed diesel.


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