Kerosene, also known in the world as paraffin oil, is a derivative of coal or petroleum. Kerosene is a fuel with a long history. Today it is used for running portable stoves and heaters, but it can be used to run some engines and is the primary fuel for jet engines.
Kerosene is very stable and can be stored for long periods of time if it is to be used for light, heat, or cooking. It must be stored in containers rated for kerosene, which are legally required to be blue in many states.
Kerosene is a very versatile fuel with many uses, here are a few.
- Cooking - Multi-fuel and dedicated kerosene camp stoves are a choice of backpackers and campers. Multi-fuel stoves are a good choice for PAW preparedness.
- Heating - Kerosene heaters are still common in some parts of the world but they should be used indoors with caution as they are a source of carbon monoxide. Burning kerosene also produces water vapor. The water vapor produced is just over one gallon per gallon of kerosene burned. The heat energy contained in the water vapor is not recoverable unless the water condenses. Thus, water vapor buildup in the enclosed home can create problems with condensation, molds and mildew. And, if the relative humidity rises above 50 percent, the air temperature required to achieve equal comfort also will increase, requiring the use of more fuel.
- Lighting - Kerosene lamps were the death of the whaling industry due to it burning brighter and being cheaper to produce. Kerosene lamps are still available. Lamp oil is only a purer form of kerosene designed to burn cleaner. Therefore in an emergency hurricane lamps and oil lanterns can burn kerosene instead.
- Operating Engines and Appliances - Kerosene is mainly used in fuel for jet and turboprop engines in aviation (Avtur, Jet A, Jet A-1, Jet B, JP-4, JP-5, JP-7 or JP-8). Finding other engines that use kerosene is possible. There are some appliances, such as refrigerators and deep freezers, that use kerosene. (The self-sufficient Amish, which do not use electrical appliances, use kerosene appliances.)