Kerosene Heaters - Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions = HEATERS

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(This page is a work in progress and the subjects are not in any specific order.)

 

1.  Red Dye Kerosene

Question.  "There appears to be some confusion about using red dyed K1 in wick-type heaters. I have two Sengoku heaters and two Aladdin lamps which I use every winter and have always used clear K1. The clear K1 is no longer easily available in my area so I am considering switching to red K1. Some say the red dye will clog the wicks, others say there will be no problem. What is the REAL truth about this and have tests been done? Just bought a HMN-110 (w/ OS-65B wick) and the instructions say use either clear or red. Your take on this?" Al L.

Answer:  The red dye can cover many sins of adultered kerosene.  All product warning labels must be written by  product liability lawyers because there is no shortage of Darwin Award Candidates in this world.  Most red dye kerosene is pretty good except for the dye itself.  The HMN-110 has a very tall catalytic converter burner unit and can burn good red dye kerosene without an aroma.  Other radiant heaters in this class include the Corona SX-2e and the Aladdin TR2000 & TR3000.  Many older heaters were made to burn Japanese kerosene cleanly, but Japanese kerosene is more refined than American 1K clear kerosene, and they struggled to even burn clear kerosene  without an aroma:  an example would be the KeroSun Radiant 8 heater. 

The truth is that red dye kerosene is harder on wicks than 1K clear kerosene.  It requires more frequent dry burns of the wick to burn off tars and residues as well.  A heater that normally has a wick last an entire heating season on one wick will often require two wicks per season.  Given that red dye kerosene is generally at least a dollar per gallon less expensive than clear kerosene and it is not uncommon to burn through at least 100 gallons of fuel per heater per season, a wick costing $15.00 including shipping can save $85.00 per year in fuel costs, so the cost of an extra wick per season is a very reasonable tradeoff and definitely cost effective.

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2.  California Kerosene

Question. I am noticing that the heater in my garage doesn't feel that great unless you are very close to it, I have it adjusted just right, nice blue flame, it just doesn't seem to heat well, I wonder if it's because it's a shorter model at 17" high as opposed to the taller 21" high models. What do you think. And thanks for all the work and an informative website, it's fantastic. Regards Richard

Answer. Kalifornia kerosene has a flashpoint of 170 F. Traditional kerosene has a flashpoint of 104 to 107 F. There simply isn't as much heat produced per gallon as there used to be. Sunnyside brand kerosene is still sold in some Ace Hardware stores and a few other outlets in California that seems to have escaped the notice of the bureaucrats in Sacramento and does work well in heaters. Some red dye kerosene is also very good, though red dye kerosene can be a problem in some flame spreader heaters like your Aladdin Blue Flame. The only solution I know of is to try various brands of kerosene until you find one that works better in your heater. That would be less expensive than moving to a State that does not want to protect you from yourself in Big Brother fashion.

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3.  Perfection-type heater burning poorly

Question: Good evening. I have a Sears M 155.70011 kerosene heater that I just cannot seem to get running properly. I received it some time ago, and it was quite rusty. It had also been painted with paint not suitable for high temperatures. I sanded everything, repainted it with high-temp paint, and cleaned all of the parts to the burner assembly. I installed a model 500 wick that I ordered from you, but I just cannot seem to get the heater running properly. It constantly smokes. It will set off the fire alarm within minutes of bringing it into the house. Is there anything that I could possibly do in to get this burning properly?

Answer:  Flame spreader designs like your Perfection clone have three critical factors: Good fuel, good wick and a good airflow. I am assuming you are burning 1K clear kerosene and you have a good wick. That leaves airflow because without a proper mixing of air with the fuel the result is incomplete combustion and smoke and smells. The usual culprit is the airflow to the inside surface of the wick.

Check to make sure the draft tube in the center of the font and burner are clear and clean. The heater cannot sit on a shag rug and have an uninterrupted airflow through the center draft tube.

Make sure the INSIDE of the flame spreader is clean and all of the small draft holes in the top of the flame spreader are clear. You may need to boil the flame spreader in detergent water, rinse and clean with brushes to get it clean.

Make sure the inside of the circular tower is clean and polished. That tubular section of the heater is the chimney, just as with a center draft lamp. If the inside surfaces are rough and dirty then heated air cannot pass up quickly and bring in more fresh oxygen to the flame.

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4.  Radiant 10 Manual

Question:  Toyotomi's website shows a manual for K, L, and M but not for H, I, J. or a through J.  Will the one available work?

Answer:  KeroSun had new model numbers for virtually unchanged heaters. Often only the wick was changed. One model would have 2 tails, the next 3 tails, then 4, and back to 2 tails again. Same wick! But each model number often had its own wick number. The idea was to generate a revenue flow to the dealers after the heaters were sold as nobody else could figure out their model numbers. It got so complicated that it was a contributing factor to KeroSun going bankrupt and Toyotomi to begin selling the same heaters under the Toyoset and Toyostove labels.

The Radiant 10 was sold just before KeroSun/Toyotomi started making heaters with taller catalytic converters, their heaters having been designed for the more refined kerosene sold in Japan. Their main competitor, Corona, was making heaters with taller catalytic converter burner units and were therefore cleaner burning. The new heaters were copyrighted `'Double Clean.'' `DC' heaters were twice as clean burning, but that was not an engineering breakthrough, it was copyrighted marketing terminology. They were cleaner burning, not cleaner than Corona, but cleaner burning than their own previous heaters!

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5.  HMN-110, wick #4E.

Question:  I noticed the wick has resistance when turning it off it doesn't seem to be as smooth as the original as far a sliding down.

Answer:  The wick has to be really pressed into the barbs on the wick sleeve.  The CTN-110 was copied from the Corona SX-2e, but it had clips to hold the wick in place.  The SX-2e was copied from the Aladdin TR2000 which had holes in the wicks for brackets to hold the wick in place.  Those were needed because the single lever design of the heater meant the wick was slammed down and had a tendency to slip.  The CTN-110 uses a conventional wick but with a thick inner cloth band to grab the barbs to hold it securely in place, so the wick must be pressed into the barbs.  If the wick is not impaled on the barbs then the effect is for the wick to be too thick, which makes it more difficult to move AND the compression effects the capillary action of the wick. To make it easy to do, put the wick in the wick sleeve so the installation line is just above the top of the wick sleeve, then with the wick sleeve in the riser mechanism turn it upside down and lower the wick over the center draft post. Gently press the wick into the hollow air draft pillar all around to push the sharp barbs into the wick.  Then lift it off, turn right side up, and install normally.

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6.  Breathe Easy Catalytic Filter

Question: Hey Miles, question about the "Breathe Easy" Platinum Catalytic Filter. How long do they last? I'm assuming it's a simple oxidation catalyst that uses the platinum to turn CO into CO2 and steam. As such, no part of the screen is consumed by the reaction - so it's not really a filter, but a true catalytic converter. With proper care they should last indefinitely? Am I on the right track here?

Answer: I do not know how long the Breathe Easy lasts as I have only tested them for about 8 years.  Your assumption is correct about the screen not being consumed by the reaction, but it is a relatively fine screen and does act as a filter to trap large soot particles if someone adjusts their wick entirely incorrectly. Lasting indefinitely would be dependent upon the quality and thickness of the platinum coating.  I have no way of measuring the thickness of the platinum but it cannot be too thick or we could not afford them.  Platinum can also be brittle and break off the underlying metal mesh if bent or flexed significantly.  I have no way of determining if that could occur when used by someone else.

NOTE:  THE BREATHE EASY CATALYTIC FILTER IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE.  I sold them all.

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7.  Spring tension on wick knob fouled up.

Question:  The knob now won't freely adjust the burner.  It's locking on the emergency latch and it won't let me turn it CCW unless I hold down the latch.  I can turn CW which is loading up the spring. 

Answer: 

Somehow you got the ‘escapement’ lever fouled up on the winder.  Remove the cabinet and follow along the wick raising shaft as it proceeds toward the wick.  You should see a large gear wheel mounted on that shaft.  On the bottom of that gear wheel is a lever that engages a tooth on the gear wheel.  When you wind up the wick the spring is compressed.  Look at the back of a pocket watch and you will see the same ‘escapement’ system in operation, every second the lever flips up and then falls into another notch. (Click the photo to enlarge.)

Hold the wick knob and release the escapement lever ("stopper" in illustration above) by pulling it down.  Then let the knob slip in your hand when you slightly release grip pressure.  When the spring is completely unsprung, turn it two turns to the right, engage the escapement lever, hold the lever with your left hand, and crank the wick knob up to maximum wick height.  Individual heaters vary but it will be some form of this procedure.  Then check the tension on the spring so that when the tip-over switch will snap the wick to the bottom.  If there is too much tension, unwind the tension one turn.  Too little tension, wind it up a turn.

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8.  Ventilation

Question:  I know you are in the business of selling wicks and not answering random questions, but your page contained so much information I thought you may be able to help. I have purchased a Sengoku CTN-110 kerosene heater to heat the first floor (around 350 sq. ft.) of a townhouse, in roughly the center of this space is a fireplace I do not use (wood is expensive and the clean-up is a bear) but which is fully functional. If I placed the heater in front of the fireplace and opened the damper, would that give me the proper ventilation I needed to operate the heater safely, or would it be preferable to open a window?

Answer:  The open damper would provide the exhaust air to eliminate any very slight fumes during start-up and shut-down. But a chimney is for air exiting the house, not entering. Heater safety involving slightly opening a window is NOT for any other reason than bringing in fresh air to replace that consumed by the burning heater. In fact, a window should be cracked for exactly the same purpose when burning the fireplace! Modern, fully sealed houses like modular homes are required by code to have a separate, outside source of oxygen plumbed into a vent just for the heater or fireplace, for example.

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9.  Pinned wick installation problem.

Question:  I noticed that the knob to raise the wick for use was quite stiff. I then hit the anti-tip device & nothing happened, but it let me manually turn it off. I took it apart, checked everything & it was in working order. I found that when I place the wick in and over the metal column it rides against is when it gets "tight".  Stan K in MD

Answer:  You have a pin hanging up.  The pins go through three sleeves.  The inner sleeve has holes, the middle sleeve has angled slots and the sleeve you cannot see, the most outside of the 3 sleeve, has holes for the pins.

When you raise the wick with the wick knob the outer sleeve is raised straight up.  The middle sleeve translates that motion to a sliding, turning motion that slows down the upward movement and allows more precise control over the wick height.  The wick sleeve you remove and into which you place the wick has holes for the pins so the wick can be retracted under spring pressure. 

When a pin is hung up and not passing through the outermost sleeve, the pin presses on that sleeve and in effect increases the diameter of the wick/sleeve combination and results in the stiffness and jamming you have experienced.

The trick is to install the wick with the pins through the holes in the inner sleeve, insert that sleeve into the burner assembly, then while holding the wick pins with your hand inside the wick, slowly turn the wick raising knob.  You will feel each pin 'snap' into place as it goes through the outer sleeve.  Then the wick will move freely.

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11.  Uneven burning, flame spikes, odor

Question: My Prusman is emitting foul odors and my eyes are stinging inspite of having changed wick. I'm not sure if the issue is the wick placement or the catalytic converter allows too much air due to misalignment. The flame seems to move when I move the converter from side to side...

Answer: You have an air leak under the catalytic converter burner unit causing incomplete combustion, the clue being the flame moves with the converter.

The air leak is between the catalytic converter burner unit and the `seat' it simply sets on. The `seat' is die stamped and generally flat although it is possible for a match head or a spot of tar to elevate the burner to cause the air leak. Much more probably is the base of the burner unit not being level. It can be flat sanded. The illustration at the link below is for a radiant heater but the principle holds for convection heaters as well.
http://www.milesstair.com/regular_maintenance.html#Flame_Spikes
 

12.  Flame dwindling in convection heater

Queston: I'm finding that the wick is not keeping a good flame after the tank gets a little less than half full. Before that point I get a really high flame which I adjust with the knob.

Answer:  The usual cause of fuel starvation is a little moisture in the wick. It can take as little as a teaspoon of water to completely inhibit capillary action; a half teaspoon of water can greatly inhibit capillary action. That moisture can occur through simple condensation of the addition of emulsified water droplets when the first container is poured from a tank after a night with high humidity.

The principle solution is to add 1/3rd teaspoon of 91%+ alcohol (any type) per gallon of fuel. Rubbing alcohol cannot be used as it is 70% alcohol and has already absorbed 30% water. http://www. milesstair. com/Mr. Funnel. html#Emulsified

This particular condition has been a real problem since Congress mandated low sulfur crude oil be used for diesel fuel, leaving the high sulfur, really rank crude oil to be refined for kerosene.  The problem of flame dwindling is more in bottom-tank convection heaters because the fuel level drops as the fuel is consumed.  Radiant heaters have a constant height of fuel beneath the wick; as a result fuel starvation is more pronounced and can be observed when the heater has been burning for a very short period of time.

13. Flame dwindling in radiant heater

Question: You recommended a heater for me that I bought last winter and we absolutely love it. I'm having a slight problem though and wanted to see if you can help. The heater starts fine and has a nice blue flame initially but after running a few minutes, the glow begins to dwindle and the element starts turning black at the top. Do you think I need a new wick? It's a Heat Mate HMM-110.  Jason.

Answer: Dwindling flame is almost a certain indicator of water in the wick.  The water is heavier than kerosene, clogs the capillary fibers, and not enough fuel can pass up the wick to sustain a burn.  When the heater is not burning the wick can become saturated with fuel and start normally.

Response:  It's working great! This is the first treatment and it's improved to near perfection! Take a look-- last night, the glow was about 1/3 of what it is now. Remarkable. Now, I should probably order a filter to filter what's left in the big canister, right?  Jason

14.  Stuck wick knob on Aladdin Blue Flame heater.         

Question:  The wick knob is frozen on the Aladdin Blue Flame heater I inherited from my grandmother.  Help!   Dan in Texas.

Answer: The wick knob on an Aladdin Blue Flame heater is actually the head of a thick bolt.  That bolt goes into the tank and screws into a nut mounted on one end of a lever.  The other end of the lever is close to the draft tube and has attached to it the two arms that raise and lower the wick. That lever is a fulcrum, like a child's swing (upside down), with the knob bolt at one end and the two lift levers at the other end. The pivot point is close to the middle and is held in place by the screw you can see between the knob and the tank.

If the knob is frozen then the threads on either the bolt or the nut on the lever inside the tank are stuck or turned too far and that makes it stuck.  You cannot reach that nut by any normal means.

First, see if the two levers that raise and lower the wick are free to move.  If they are jammed then the lever cannot move and that will give the appearance of the knob being stuck precisely because it cannot move if the other end of the lever cannot move.

Second, if the lift wick levers are free and not jammed, see if you can get ahold of the bolt UNDER the plastic knob with some kind of water pump pliers of vice grips to see if you can free up the bolt.  If the bolt will not move because it is rusty from long term storage in a humid environment, dribble some penetrating oil down the bolt and wait awhile while it works, then try again.

None of those parts are available now, so try not to ruin them!

18.  Recommendations for a kerosene heater?

Question: I'm looking to purchase a kerosene room heater. What are your top three recommendations for kerosene heater's?

Answer:  My top two are the CTN/HMN-110 radiant heater because it is more efficient and provides more uniform heating to use one or two radiant heaters spaced in different rooms
(or widely separated) than one large convection heater.

 
Third place would be a large convection if you live in a northern clime where temps can drop to zero for days on end, the C20000, C20000A, CV-2230 = HMHc-2230 = KH-250 = Mega 230 = CV-23K, all the same heater sold under different brand labels.
 
In really cold areas the best utility and even heat possibilities are from using a radiant and/or a convection depending upon the ambient temperature.  Kerosene heaters must be operated at near maximum output all the time, so the only way to cut down the heat is to use a smaller heater, or conversely, add a second heater on really cold days.  The savings in fuel consumption alone offsets the additional smaller heater over the course of a winter or two.

19.  All-cotton wicks for modern catalytic burner heaters

Question:  Hello looking the an all cotton wick for my dura heat 2304 (pinned).

Answer:  There are no all-cotton pinned wicks.  I make all-cotton wicks for many heaters but not pinned wicks.  All pinned wicks are used in catalytic burner heaters.  The heat generated at the top of the wick with a catalytic system consumes cotton very fast, and being a pinned wick there is no way to adjust the wick up to compensate for that wick height reduction. Burning diesel fuel, even with alcohol added, clogs the wick and ruins capillary action.  Adding some alcohol helps raise the flame temperature and burns the tar deposits off the top of the wick but cannot completely compensate for the decreased capillary action caused by the oily component in diesel fuel. 

20Question:  Is there anything I can do to remove the rust from inside the tank of a kerosun radiant 10 tank?  There is a large amount of loose red rust in the tank and I am wondering if it worth my time to clean it out.

Answer: The rust came from leaving the tank with fuel in it.  Any type of fuel, clear or red dye, will permit water to enter the tank via humidity being absorbed by the wick.  Water is heavier than kerosene and separates, laying in a layer at the bottom of the tank and causing rust.  The fuel keeps the water from evaporating. 

You can save the radiant tank by pouring half a cup or more of steel BB's into the tank, the same cheap BB's sold at most hardware stores.  Then shake the tank.  The BB's will knock off the rust scale and it can then be flushed out by rinsing with kerosene.  Refilling with clean kerosene will inhibit future rust formation and storing the tank `'dry'' will also help.

If a small rust pin hole leak develops it can be plugged using J-B Kwik Weld.

21.  Question:  Hello Miles, you have so much great info!  I have a question. I'd like a convection heater that is capable of occasionally heating a three season room (400 sq ft) in the winter.

Answer:  The shape of the room and ceiling height makes a big difference in heating requirements. For occasional heating and utilitarian heating for emergencies it is generally better to use a radiant heater. The radiant will produce heat that will heat YOU while also producing convection heating that slowly heats up the air temp to acceptable levels. A long, narrow room or one with high ceilings is particularly well suited to two radiant heaters, one at each end, as when the room ambient temperature is comfortable one of the heaters can be shut off.

A very large 20,000 BTU/hr convection heater will do the job, but because they cannot be turned down that large heater becomes overkill once the room is warm. http://www.milesstair.com/kero_heaters. html#RADIANT

22. Question:  I have stored the heater in my basement unused for 6 or 7 years with 1/2 tank of fuel.  The basement is fairly constant temperature and the storage room is dark, etc.   We went to use the heater and it fired right up, ran fine, but then after a couple of uses it was hard to light.

Answer:  The heater should be stored bone dry, meaning the tank should be empty and the wick ''burned dry.''   Capillary action in a wick works both directions; it wicks fuel up from the tank to support a flame but it also wicks moisture from ambient humidity down into the tank when just sitting still and not being used.  Fuel stored in a heater also induces condensation. 

Old fuel stored in a heater which is not contaminated with water is exposed to the atmosphere because the wick is always exposed at the top.  That old fuel will burn poorly and with a distinct aroma.

Water is heavier than kerosene and will inhibit the capillary action of fuel.  The wick can be saturated in fuel and light and burn normally for a few minutes, then the flame will dwindle because the capillary action is insufficient to sustain a decent burn.

To regain adequate use of the heater the tank should be emptied completely, rinsed with fresh fuel, drained again, and then almost pure isopropyl alcohol (91% to 99%) used to absorb any remaining moisture in the tank.  More information on this process is answered here  > http://www.milesstair.com/Mr.Funnel.html#Emulsified

"Storage" means over the summer or for several months, not for several weeks during infrequent use.



 

For more information on burning diesel, and some all-cotton wicks, click here.

 




 

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Center Draft Wicks - Wicks available only from this Wick Shop. #0L, #1B, #1M, #1R, #2L, #2R, #2 P&A, #2B, #3L.

Flat lamp wicks and

Kosmos Lamp Wicks

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & parts

Lamp Chimneys:

Center Draft Lamp chimneys in borosilicate glass from Junior "Tiny" to Mammoth lamps.  #0M, Rayo Jr., 2 1/2", 2 5/8", 2 15/16", 3 1/8", 4", 4 1/2"

Standard glass lamp chimneys & Kosmos chimneys

Globe Vulcan (Central Vulcan) Chimneys - 18''', 24''' & 30'''

Fabulous "Sans Rival" borosilicate chimney for 14''' Kosmos lamps

Student Lamp Sans Rival Chimney with 1 7/8" fitter!!!

Angle Lamp chimneys

Sonnenbrenner Lamp Chimneys

Lamp Chimneys - Dimension of nominal base diameter by make, model and "line".

Information on lamps:

Aladdin Lamp History

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & Chimneys,

Aladdin - Exploded burner views

Beginning Lamp Restoration

Center Draft Kerosene Lamps
(Photos, information and history, etc)

Center Draft Lamp manufacturers and brand names

Kosmos-Brenner lamps

Photos of restored center draft lamps 

Victorian Era Student Lamps

USE, CARE and WICKING of CENTER DRAFT LAMPS

Early American Metal Font & Specialty Lamps

Flame Spreaders and "Smoke Consumers" from Alex Marrack

  • Vulcan, Imperial, Veritas, Belgian, Hinks, Messenger's, Young's Court, etc.

    Articles by Alex Marrack:

Home Page

Site Index

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Kindler Wicking For Oil Stoves & Ranges

Kerosene Heaters

Alphabetical list of most kerosene heaters and the proper wick, & cart checkout.

List by wick number and the heaters that fit them. (A helpful guide for buying on eBay)

Measurements needed if you have an unlisted heater.

Care and Maintenance of Kerosene Heater Wicks

Installing Kerosene Heater Wicks - generic for unpinned wicks

Owner's_Manuals & information for many kerosene heaters

Kerosene Heaters - General types, how they work, recommendations for some good ones - and those I would avoid.

Economic Benefits of Kerosene Heaters

Kerosene Heater Safety

Regular maintenance   

Troubleshooting kerosene heater common problems

Breaking In New Kerosene Appliances

Burning Kerosene Heaters at Night

WATER IN KEROSENE causing "dwindling" and poor performance.

Flame Spreader Heaters and Lamps -
A Century of Excellence

Kerosene Heater Carts -
why carry your heater around?

Kerosene Fuel Primer 

Sweet Smelling Kerosene

Kerosene tank cradles (photo) Building a Cradle

HALLER "ORIGINEEL" STOVES

KEROSENE HEATERS MADE IN THE NETHERLANDS

Beatrice Boiling Stoves & Mini kerosene heaters you can make

Sad Iron stoves; Wicks & Installation instructions

Wicking For Oil Burning "WICKLESS" Stoves & Ranges

Photo Album

Photos of Wicks

Mail Order Form

Kerosene Stoves, Lanterns and Ovens

Kerosene Stoves -

 Recommendations on different models 

Kerosene Stove Maintenance and Storage
  


Butterfly A-822, 22 wick
, all-aluminum premium stove.   

Butterfly #2487, 16 wick stove Butterfly #2412 Pressure Stove; instructions for virtually any pressure stove.

Butterfly #2418 Double Burner Stove; good with any gravity flow stove.

Butterfly #2421 Oven for Kerosene Stoves

Butterfly #2641, 10 Wick Stove -
the least expensive emergency stove.

Butterfly #2698 Cook Stove -

THE Best Heavy Duty Cook Stove.

 
Butterfly #828R Pressure Lantern;
same for most pressure lanterns.

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