Unique Specialty wicks
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      Wicks for virtually every heater, stove and lamp made since 1850


Kerosene defined - Red Dye Kerosene - Mineral Spirits - High Sulfur Kerosene - Jet Fuel - Water in Kerosene - Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil - Kerosene Storage - Large Storage Tanks - Possible tax rebate for home use of clear kerosene

Burning diesel fuel in kerosene heaters using All-cotton wicks. Click here.

I have received many reports of flame "dwindling" or poor performance of heaters.  This is caused by poor capillary action, the result of water in the fuel: It only takes a teaspoon of accumulated water to saturate the cotton lower portion of a wick.  Click here for the solution.


Handling kerosene means some will get on your hands, and it has a distinctive aroma.   Because kerosene is an penetrating oil, regular detergent often does not completely eliminate the aroma.   Thick, cheap hair shampoo, or a women's facial cleanser, will dissolve the kerosene quickly and easily.  Any lingering kerosene aroma can be removed by using the new "hand sanitizer," which is an emulsified solution of glycerin, alcohol and water.  When your hands are still damp and rinsed from using the shampoo, put on some "hand sanitizer," rub your hands together, then rinse and dry, leaving your hands smelling nice and fresh.  A bit of trouble, but necessary for those of us using kerosene heaters.

Daily reminders by our benevolent leaders on every danger imaginable has created a population afraid of almost everything. So it is with those new to kerosene as a fuel and kerosene-fueled heaters and cookers. But kerosene products have been around for over a century and are safe to use with only the usual precautions required for anything that generates heat.

Abraham Pineo Gesner (May 2, 1797 - April 29, 1864) was a Canadian physician and geologist who invented kerosene. Although Ignacy Lukasiewicz developed the modern kerosene lamp, starting the world's oil industry, Gesner is considered a primary founder. Gesner was born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. He died in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Gesner's research in minerals resulted in his 1846 development of a process to refine a liquid fuel from coal. His new discovery, which he named kerosene, burned cleaner and was less expensive than competing products, such as whale oil. In 1850, Gesner created the Kerosene Gaslight Company and began installing lighting in the streets in Halifax and other cities. By 1854, he had expanded to the United States where he created the North American Kerosene Gas Light Company at Long Island, New York. Demand grew to where his company's capacity to produce became a problem, but the discovery of petroleum, from which kerosene could be more easily produced, solved the supply problem. Abraham Gesner continued his research on fuels and wrote a number of scientific studies concerning the industry including an 1861 publication titled, "A Practical Treatise on Coal, Petroleum and Other Distilled Oils," which became a standard reference in the field. Eventually, Gesner's company was absorbed into the petroleum monopoly, Standard Oil and he returned to Halifax, where he was appointed a Professor of Natural History at Dalhousie University.[4][5]

John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company controlled 4% of the kerosene market in 1870, refined from crude oil.  There were still many regional refineries up until about 1900, but most of them were squeezed out of the market and absorbed by Standard Oil's intense anti-competitive actions.  Even though refined from crude oil, the kerosene was still made to replicate the burning characteristics of coal oil.  And coal oil quality varied by the coal from which it was produced, and the early crude oil refineries also produced "kerosene" of varying quality and burning characteristics.   

"Coal Oil" virtually ceased to exist.  Lamps were still known as "oil lamps," of course, because they had been designed to burn coal oil.  Coal is a mineral, and by crushing and steaming the coal, the "essence" of the coal was obtained, it's "spirit," in the form of an oil.  And that became mineral spirits, a vastly more pure product for use in wick appliances.  If from low sulfur content coal, it became "Low Odor Mineral Spirits."  The Amish still use nothing but Low Odor Mineral Spirits in their center draft lamps.  (Note:  Home Depot is selling "Green" Mineral Spirits.  That junk is milky, not clear, and burns horribly.  It is NOT clear Low Odor Mineral Spirits.)

On Jan. 15, 1885, Leonard Henkle patented the flame spreader which would make possible the efficient use of center draft lamps.  The Henkle patent was purchased by Charles Upton. By the summer of 1884 Upton had standardized various sizes of lamps (0, 1, 2 and 3) and was selling lamps made for him by Edward Miller under the trade name Rochester Lamp Company.  Those lamps were designed to burn coal oil - Low Odor Mineral Spirits.  They had metal fonts with a center draft tube which cooled the fuel as they burned.

In 1888 the Cleveland Foundry Company was formed. They manufactured a line of oil lamp stoves, along with many lamp companies such as Bradley & Hubbard and Miller. In 1894, the plant started producing portable heaters.  These heaters used the "store lamp" wick that had been standardized by Rochester in 1884. In 1901 Francis Drury approached John D. Rockefeller of Cleveland, owner of Standard Oil Company. At the time Standard Oil was delivering kerosene to homes and businesses for use in kerosene lamps. Rockefeller knew that with use of the Drury Stove the demand for this kerosene would increase substantially and it did. Rockefeller selected the company to design, develop and manufacture for it a complete line of stoves which were to be sold under the name "Perfection" to dealers by a group of 300 Standard Oil salesmen. This arrangement was continued by other oil companies.

By the early 1900's, Standard Oil Company had a virtual monopoly on kerosene production.  Desiring to branch out with a lamp to burn their "new" kerosene, they purchased the rights to sell an existing Bradley & Hubbard lamp.  Introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the Standard Oil "Perfection" lamp looked promising, and the following year saw sales of the lamp renamed "Rayo" at Standard Oil distributors.  (The "Perfection" name was owned by the Cleveland Foundry Company, which is why the name was changed to Rayo.)  Production of the Rayo lamp continued at the B&H factory in Meriden, CT until the great flood of August, 1955 totally destroyed the river-front factory. 

The widespread use of internal combustion engines in automobiles and trucks actually started  during WW I.  Refineries began extracting more gasoline from crude oil and the leftovers were made into kerosene.  The quality and volatility of kerosene dropped considerably.  The KeroSafe advertisement from 1918 shown at right mentions that problem.

Click photo ^ to enlarge.

So, we have center draft lamps designed to burn coal oil, are called "oil lamps," and now were burning Standard Oil's "kerosene."  Note the very careful wording - "center draft lamps."  Low Odor Mineral Spirits should not be used in lanterns or flat wick lamps - just larger metal fount center draft lamps designed in the 1880's.  The Aladdin mantle lamp was not designed until 1907 and was intended for use with kerosene.  See more on Low Odor Mineral Spirits below.

Propaganda.  For a hundred years or more, we have been conditioned to believe that kerosene "oil" lamps  are supposed to burn "kerosene."  And for the past 25 years, another layer of propaganda would have us believe that only $20 per gallon "Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil" should be burned in lamps.  Bullpucky. 

Kerosene is NOT like gasoline: it is a lubricant, not corrosive, not volatile, and extremely stable in storage. The specific gravity of kerosene is about 0.8, and its ignition point is more than 104 F. If you throw a match into a pool of kerosene it will put out the match. You can hold a match right up to the edge of a teaspoon half full of kerosene and it will not ignite (try that with gasoline and you will need to grow new eyebrows).


kerosene or kerosine, colorless, thin mineral oil whose density is between 0.75 and 0.85 grams per cubic centimeter. A mixture of hydrocarbons, it is commonly obtained in the fractional distillation of petroleum as the portion boiling off between 150 C; and 275 C; (302 F; 527 F;). Kerosene has been recovered from other substances, notably coal (hence another name, coal oil), oil shale, and wood. At one time kerosene was the most important refinery product because of its use in lamps. Now it is most noted for its use as a carrier in insecticide sprays and as a fuel in jet engines.

Noun 1. kerosene - a flammable hydrocarbon oil used as fuel in lamps and heaters
coal oil, kerosene, lamp oil
fuel - a substance that can be consumed to produce energy; "more fuel is needed during the winter months"; "they developed alternative fuels for aircraft"
hydrocarbon - an organic compound containing only carbon and hydrogen
paraffin oil, paraffin - British usage

Kerosene may be safely stored in plastic containers, oil drums, old diesel tanks -- just about anything that doesn't leak. Kerosene should be stored in blue containers, as red indicates gasoline. Kerosene does expand and contract slightly with ambient temperatures, so steel tanks should be vented or have some "head space" left in the tank. Plastic containers are designed to have room for expansion, so they may be filled to the lowest edge of the fill hole safely.

Ideally, kerosene should be stored under cover in a ventilated tank. Five gallon kerosene containers should be on secure shelving in an outside shed or barn - never in sunlight, as that quickly degrades the kerosene. Obviously you should not store flammable liquids in the home, as that would violate every fire insurance and code regulation that exists and a few new ones as well.  To emphasize a point, kerosene containers should be blue so they cannot be confused with gasoline containers, which are red.

The grade of kerosene required by modern kerosene appliances is No. 1-K, which can be either red or clear. The red dye was added by a Clinton Administration edict in July, 1998, so people using kerosene to fuel their diesel engine vehicles would be easy to spot by the police for not paying the road tax on motor fuels. Sure. Like a cop is going to siphon fuel out of your tank to check what color it is.  It is just one more idiotic, unconstitutional edict (see the Tenth Amendment) we are stuck with.   [A reader in Holland told me the police actually DO set up roadblocks and check the fuel color to make sure the road tax has been paid, so I guess we are lucky so far.]

While on the subject of governmental interference, I should mention that we get the crud now for kerosene. When the fed burrorats insisted on low sulfur diesel for 18 wheelers, the govt workers forgot they cannot regulate nature or the market place. It's not like some bureaucrat can turn off the sulfur content of North Slope oil, nor is it likely that it would go unused because of the high sulfur content. So the market switched products to match the whims of the politically correct bureaucrats. Now, diesel engines get the sweet, light low-sulfur diesel (and they could not care less), while we get to burn high sulfur kerosene in our homes. And it's not just kerosene. Home heating fuel is now high sulfur crud. So instead of 18 wheelers belching sulfur dioxide, now it is emitted by every home in America that heats with oil. The amount of "oil" consumed remains the same, the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted remains the same, but enviro wacko's can marvel at how they changed things and "reduced emissions" when in fact the net effect is zero.  Marvelous.

Red dye or clear...is there a difference?  Yes. Without a doubt.  Red dye kerosene is usually delivered in bulk quantities by a fuel oil supplier, and is known in the trade as #1 stove oil.  Clear 1-K kerosene in bulk quantities is very difficult to find in many areas of the country, AND it often costs at least a dollar a gallon more than red dye #1 stove oil (kerosene).   There is no free lunch.  The red dye kerosene requires more frequent dry burns, and in heaters with a short catalytic burner unit it does not burn as cleanly.

Adding an eyedropper full (1/3rd teaspoon) of 91%+ alcohol per gallon of red dye kerosene helps to keep the wick cleaner.  It may well shorten the life of the wick a little, but the savings in price compared to 1-K clear makes that a small cost indeed.  Pure alcohol is available in most hardware stores - look for Shellac thinner or Denatured Alcohol.

If you are using kerosene only for lamps, clear 1-K kerosene can be purchased in hardware stores for $8 or more per gallon -- but you will not be using enough of it to make much of a difference in cost.  The clear will burn cleaner in lamps then red dye kero, and the wicks will last longer.  

NOTE:  I have absolutely no agenda on lamp fuels.  You can burn whatever the heck you wish to burn in your lamps.  Some people seem to think that one fuel is so vastly superior to all others they will aggressively attack all other fuels.  I refuse to engage them, nor will I get into a debate on the merits of their position.  The information on this page is strictly my opinion.  My only goal is clean burning, long wick life, and safe burning conditions.  If you wish to burn expensive "Liquid Paraffin" and ruin the capillary action of the wick, or burn 1K kerosene and have rapid charring of the wick and therefore short wick life, that is fine with me - I will  happily sell you new wicks.  But I like long wick life, a bright light, as little charring of the wick top as possible, with a safe and inexpensive fuel.  You may do as you wish as it is your lamp, your wick and your responsibility.  Peace be with you.  Go with God.  Whatever happens it ain't my fault.

The best fuel for metal font center draft lamps in my opinion is Low Odor Mineral Spirits, as it costs less than 1-K clear kerosene and burns unbelievably cleaner, so clean the wicks seldom even need to be trimmed.  Some specialty center draft wicks are made for me in low quantities and are thus expensive, so this is an important factor!  In center draft and Kosmos lamps (with metal fonts), you will be amazed at the quality of the burn and the lack of any char on the wick.  Unlike kerosene which precipitates paraffin, Low Odor Mineral Spirits are absolutely pure and leave a font perfectly clean and clear.  I was tipped on this fuel by the Amish, who have used it for decades for their "kerosene" lamps.   I purchase Low Odor Mineral Spirits from my local True Value Hardware store, item #507327. I order a 6 gallon case and receive it a week later, for which I receive a 10% discount. The cost the last time I purchased some (September, 2011) was $6.89 per gallon.   Note:  Low Odor (or "Odorless") Mineral Spirits can be used as a paint thinner for oil based paints and thus the container is often marked "Paint Thinner, Low Odor Mineral Spirits."  There are 39 varieties of paint thinners but only one Low Odor Mineral Spirits.  Some paint thinners are quite volatile:  please do not get "creative" and assume that anything which will burn is a suitable fuel for any lamp under any condition.  There is a reason why center draft lamps have metal founts - to dissipate heat properly and avoid excess fuel temperature and thus volatile vapors.

Note: There is a vast difference between center draft lamps and flat wick lamps and lanterns!  Center draft lamps were precision made, so there is little wick gap and thus few vapor fumes escape past the wick.  Flat wick lamp burners were always cheap, with excess wick gap and often a vent for fuel vapor directly to the top of the burner.  Center draft lamps always have a metal fount that dissipates heat.  Use only 1K clear kerosene in flat wick lamps.

Dietz-style lanterns have flat wicks and tubes along the sides which recycle the hot exhaust from the top of the lantern back into the fuel fount, raising the fuel temperature and lowering fuel viscosity, causing excess volitility. Woody Kirkman does not recommend Mineral Spirits in Dietz lanterns.  Woody is the undisputed King of lanterns - please take his advice.  DO NOT USE MINERAL SPIRITS IN FLAT WICK LANTERNS OR LAMPS!



  • Boiling point

  • Flash point

  • Vapor Pressure


  • Kerosene K-1, Jet A, B, A1

  • 320-572F, 160-300C

  • 100-106F, 38-41C

  •  0.1 PSIA @ 100F

  • *1

  • Kerosene K-1

  • 300-580F, 149-304C

  • 100F, 38C

  • 0.4 mm Hg @ 68F 20C

  • *2

  • Kerosene K-1

  • 304F, 151C

  • 100F, 38C

  • 5 mm Hg @ 70F

  • *3

  • Kerosene K-1 Low Sulfur, #1 Fuel

  • 350-550F, 177-288C

  • 123F, 52C

  • 1 mm Hg @

  • *4

  • Kerosene Low Odor

  • 347-617F, 175-325C

  • 100F, 38C

  • 1 mm Hg @ 68F, 20C

  • *5

  • 1-K Kerosene (Marathon)

  • 360-550F

  • 120-190F

  • 1-10 mm Hg @ 100F

  • *6

  • Kerosene Low odor, #1 Fuel Oil

  • 347-615F, 175-325C

  • 100F, 38C

  • 1 mm Hg @  68F

  • *7

  • Low Odor Mineral Spirits

  • 310-358F, 154-181C

  • 103F, 39C

  • 1.3 mm Hg @ 20C

  • *8

  • Odorless Paint Thinner

  • 354-372F

  • 120F

  • 1 mm Hg @ 68F

  • *9

  • EZ Odorless Mineral Spirits

  • 340-400F, 171-204C

  • 120-130F, 48.8-54.4C

  • 2 mm Hg @ 68F

  • *10

  • ShellSol D43

  • 300-415F, 149-213C

  • 115-123F, 46-50.6C

  • .05-.5 kPa @ 20C

  • *11

  • Odorless mineral spirits

  • 354-372F

  • 120F

  • 1 mm Hg @ 68F

  • *12

  • Mineral Spirits Rule 66

  • 310-390F

  • 105F

  • No data

  • *13

  • OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits)

  • 354-372F

  • 120F

  • No data

  • *14

  • Low Odor Paint Thinner

  • 304-401F, 151-205C

  • 107.6F, 42C

  • 2.2 mm Hg @ 20C

  • *15

  • Odorless mineral spirits

  • >316F

  • 107F

  • No data

  • *16


*1         http://www.carsonoil.com/graphics/msds/MSDSJetFuel.pdf (Tesoro)

*2         http://www.hess.com/EHS/msds/Kero_Dyed_9912_clr.pdf (Amerada Hess)

*3         http://www.arfarfarf.com/msds/000006.php (Spectrum Chemical Mfg.)

*4         http://www.spragueenergy.com/documents/MSDSKerosene.pdf (Spargue)

*5         http://www.ertco.com/msds_redspirit.html (Mallinckrodt Chem)

*6         http://www.mapllc.com/msds/0121MAR019.pdf (Marathon)

*7         http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/k2175.htm (J.T. Baker)

*8         http://www.dick-blick.com/msds/DBH_01032.pdf (Crown)

*9         http://www.sunnysidecorp.com/MSDS/pdf/msds705.pdf  (Sunnyside)

*10       http://www.eezimmermanco.com/MSDS/E-Z%20ODORLESS%20MINERAL%20SPIRITS.pdf  (Zimmerman)

*11       http://www.wescoweb.com/Wesco105MSDS%20D43.pdf (Shell) (Solvent Naphtha, medium Aliphatic)

*12       http://avogadro.chem.iastate.edu/MSDS/msds805.pdf  (Sunnyside)

*13       http://www.mapllc.com/MSDS/0248MAR019.pdf (Marathon)

*14       http://www.proschoice.com/OMS.pdf (Chemical Technologies International) (Upholstery cleaner)

*15       http://intranet.risd.edu/envirohealth_msds/PhysicalPlant/RecochemOdourlessPaintThinner.pdf (Recochem) (Canada)

*16       http://www.wmbarr.com/msds/QKSP94005.pdf  (KleenStrip)

 An example of an odorless paint thinner product in the US: http://www.sunnysidecorp.com/gold.htm



Jet A fuel is extremely close to kerosene and burns well in kerosene heaters, and therefore is the fuel of choice for those who heat with kerosene heaters in many remote areas of Canada and Alaska.  In northern climes, anti-icing additives are often added at the pump nozzle instead of being pre-mixed with the fuel:  Don't get the additives when obtaining Jet A for kerosene heater use.  NOTE:  Jet A is not the same as JP-4.  Do not use JP-4 in a kerosene heater.  www.csgnetwork.com/jetfuel.html

Diesel fuel burns with fumes and smoke, carbons up the wick very quickly, and ruins wicks incredibly fast.  Most lots of #1 Stove Oil are red dye kerosene, but some can have a little light oil from previous use of the fuel dealer's tank, burn with fumes and carbon the top of the wick faster. 

Examples are in order.  My Valor Valmin is a flame spreader design heater.  Burning 1K clear kerosene, the cotton wick needs to be trimmed and cleaned often, and there is a mild though distinct aroma of kerosene when it is burning.  When burning Low Odor Mineral Spirits, there is no aroma at all and the wick never needs to be trimmed or cleaned.  My Aladdin TR2000 is a catalytic converter type heater with a fiberglass wick, and just happens to be a design that is hard on wicks.  Burning 1K clear kerosene, the wick needs to be burned dry after about seven tanks of fuel.  Burning #1 stove oil (red dye kerosene), the wick needs to be burned dry every three or four tanks of fuel burned.  Burning Low Odor Mineral Spirits, the wick may need to be burned dry after three or four months of daily use - maybe, as it shows no signs of tar or degradation of capillary action after two months of daily use burning Low Odor Mineral Spirits.

All "wickless" oil stoves and ranges, which actually have edge-burning wicks, will have vastly cleaner burning characteristics and longer wick life if nothing but Low Odor Mineral Spirits are used in them, particularly now that product liability lawyers have destroyed the asbestos industry and fiberglass edge-burning wicks are the only wicks available.


Kerosene stored in a plastic container should be used within a year.  Kerosene stored in a metal container or tank in a rain-proof shed or underground can be stored for DECADES.  Jet fuel is literally stored for decades in underground concrete tanks bigger than football fields and then used in hundred-million dollar aircraft without a problem.  Mineral Spirits stored in the original container - out of sunlight - will be perfectly good after years of storage.


Kerosene heaters burn at 90% or greater efficiency and at 90% or greater maximum setting, so the "flame front" is just above the top of the wick and tar ball deposits build up more slowly.  Using clear 1-K kerosene, the wick in a kerosene heater may only have to be "burned dry" once or twice a month, and it was common for wicks to last for several years. When burning red dye #1 stove oil, the wick must be "burned dry" to remove tar deposits once a week or so, and wicks can last for only a season or two, depending on the wick and catalytic converter design. There is no doubt: burning 1-K clear kerosene instead of #1 stove oil in a kerosene heater  is more convenient and results in a longer wick life.  

Now we must consider the economics involved. The most economical method of heating is with kerosene space heaters -- if #1 stove oil is purchased in bulk, delivered to your tank.  On January 14th, 2003, I had red dye #1 stove oil delivered to top up my tanks because I knew we were going to war with Iraq, and oil prices would be skyrocketing.  It cost me $1.29.8 per gallon, for a total price of $176.65.  I could have had clear 1-K kerosene delivered instead, but the cost would have been $2.34 per gallon, or $318.24.  In one-half of one winter heating season, I saved $141.59 by using red dye kerosene!!! 

On March 11, 2003, a friend in New Jersey told me that clear 1-K kerosene was available there in bulk for $1.60.  Almost made me cry, as that is about half the current price of red dye kerosene in Oregon.  Obviously, there are regional price differentials that you should factor into which fuel to burn.  My personal cut-off level would be about 25 cents per gallon more for 1-K clear, strictly from an economic point of view.

In October, 2011, the cost of #1 Red Dye stove oil is $4.29 per gallon, the cost doubling in two years of the anti-oil agenda of the Obama Administration.


In some areas kerosene is actually getting cleaner, while other areas are not so lucky.  When the sulfur content is very high, as from kerosene refined from Alaskan crude, a white powdery residue can be found on the catalytic converter of radiant heaters and the top plate of convection  heaters, as shown at right.  The steel catalytic converter is from an Aladdin Tropic, sitting on the top plate of a KOGY 100 convection heater.  The white powder is rather obvious.  Heaters with short catalytic converters cannot handle high sulfur kerosene without a distinctive aroma when burning.  It is best to avoid such fuel if possible.  Click to enlarge.


Fuel dye in North America

In United States of America, the Environmental Protection Agency mandates use of a red dye to identify high-sulfur fuels for off-road use. Solvent Red 26 is used in the United States as a standard, though it is often replaced with Solvent Red 164, which is similar to Solvent Red 26 but with longer alkyl chains. The Internal Revenue Service mandates use of the same red dyes, in fivefold concentration, for tax-exempt diesel fuels such as heating oil; their argument for the higher dye content is to allow detection even when diluted with "legal" fuel. Detection of red-dyed fuel in the fuel system of an on-road vehicle will incur substantial penalties.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_dyes

(From Ray Wassell, 2.4.2012)

Sunoco has on their kerosene pumps "Ultra Low Sulfur less then 10ppm. Required for all vehicles 2007 and later". I believe it's taxed but will have to double check. I know it's $4.75 a gallon and has a very slight yellow tint. I wouldn't have noticed the color except I put some in a clear bottle to fill a lamp. I have tried it from 2 local stations and both had the yellow tint. 

 Hess labels their pump "Low Sulfur Kerosene. Less then 500ppm Sulfur. Undyed and untaxed. For Nontaxable use only". It used to say "Federal law prohibits use in vehicles 2007 and later" but that wasn't posted thursday when I went last. I can't exactly remember what the new shorter label said in it's entirety. Next time I'll take a picture.
You can only get untaxed, undyed kero from a "registered ultimate vendor" (irs term)with a blocked pump. Here's some info I found about "blocked" pumps:
Blocked pump. A blocked pump is a fuel pump that meets all the following requirements.
  1. It is used to make retail sales of undyed kerosene for use by the buyer in any nontaxable use.
  2. It is at a fixed location.
  3. It is identified with a legible and conspicuous notice stating, "UNDYED UNTAXED KEROSENE, NONTAXABLE USE ONLY."
  4. It meets either of the following conditions.
    1. It cannot reasonably be used to dispense fuel directly into the fuel supply tank of a diesel-powered highway vehicle or train.
    2. It is locked by the vendor after each sale and unlocked by the vendor only in response to a buyer's request for undyed kerosene for use other than as a fuel in a diesel-powered highway vehicle or train.



Use at your own discretion only.

Our concern/question is about fuel or lamp oil. I have been looking for a source for the low odor mneral spirits and came across several web conversations that have me concerned. One in particular was on the website- http://www.lanternnet.com/faqs.htm. The statement was made that Mineral Spirits (paint thinner) should NOT be used in any wick lamp or lantern. As I read on the site included a statement from Fil Graff (Sec of International Guild of Lamp Researchers) and Tony Batts (General Mgr of Aladdin Mantle Lamp Co). Here is what they said:

Fil Graff, the Secretary of the International Guild of Lamp Researchers, wrote the following words on the topic: On Dec. 22, 2000 @ 18:57, Fil Graff (fgraff@comcast.net) wrote: . . . . For heavens sake, if you are playing with fuels, stay in the same petrochemical CLASS as the originally recommended fuel! NO MINERAL SPIRITS in a kerosene lamp! That is NO, none, not ANY! The "burns hotter" may be a problem in soldered burners, but the real problem is volatility and flash point. You do NOT want a possible font ignition from heated fumes! If you cannot get road-taxed kerosene (it isn't red!)or Sunoco's "1-K", then try the Clearlite. It too burns hotter than kerosene, but at least is in the same volatility range, and therefore reasonably safe. I use it in Aladdins and other flat wicks, replacing the Champagne-priced odorless Ultra fuel I used for years, but have abandoned because of outrageous prices.

Tony Batts, General Manager of the Aladdin Mantle Lamp Company, recently e-mailed me: "Woody, You are most correct, we would never recommend the use of mineral spirits or paint thinner in Aladdin lamps, lanterns, or any flat wick lamps. Believe it or not we still occasionally get calls from folks who have heard the its okay to use mineral spirits in their lamps. Thanks for helping clear up this myth! With kind regards, Tony"


"Very few people know that common jet fuel is nothing but more highly refined (read: cleaner) kerosene. It works wonderfully in kerosene heaters, stoves, lamps, and lanterns. I'm an old retired aircraft mechanic and I've handled thousands of gallons of jet fuel. At airports large enough to service jets, you will find that jet fuel is very commonly available. Since the large fuel tanks and fuel trucks at an airport are "sumped" almost daily to remove moisture that can collect at the bottom of a tank, the few gallons drained off frequently is considered waste or close to it. Ask the right people and you might be able to get a few gallons for free. Just check it for a layer of water at the bottom in case it's present."  Woody


Well I have certainly learned my lesson (finally) about bad fuel. When I got my Sanyo heater (for $25 delivered!) it came with half a tank of fuel in it and another half full gallon jug of kero. The kero in the jug was yellow and both it and the fuel in the tank stunk like old mineral spirits/Varsol - so thoroughly oxidized. So I wisely drained the kero from the tank and rinsed it a couple of times with red dye (which I was going to use as the fuel) and then put it in use. All was well, other than the red-dye issue. Fine.

But now I had 3 litres of oxidized kero left over. I decided I didn't want to waste it and so chose to use it in my outdoor lamps which are of somewhat lower stature than my others (which I would not leave outdoors all year!). Also they are lamps I have lots of wicks for - Dietz-type lanterns, one older DHR trawler lamp (20''' matador burner) and a DHR 14''' (Gaudard burner) reflector lamp. I reasoned that any nasty emissions from the oxidized fuel would do no harm outside. And I reckoned only a tank or two each would use up all the evil fuel and do relatively little harm to the lamps.

The lesson? I have had to replace EVERY single wick that touched that fuel! Even in the lamps that saw only one tank of it! None saw more than two fills total. The wicks either started to jam in their burners or produced huge carbonised tips, the lamps have either burned unevenly, or when I took the burner out to refuel, have had globs of jelled fuel hanging off the bottom of the wick. Ugggh! From one font of bad fuel! Okay, next time it goes to the Household Hazardous Waste without even a second thought. I wouldn't even want to put my paintbrushes in that stuff

Okay, stop laughing and don't you dare say "Well I told you so, how many times?!!"! But feel free to use my horror story on your web site if you want!    Peter in Canada   October 8, 2012

QUESTION from reader Michelle:


This "kerosene" issue gets really complicated.  Not only are there regional issues of availability, but I'm fighting a hundred years of corporate propaganda. 

Regional.  In many areas of the East and South, 1K clear kerosene is sold bulk (your container) very inexpensively at many service stations.  Sometimes it feels like everybody in Connecticut and Pennsylvania heats with kerosene heaters, and their prices for 1K clear are very low.  Just across the state line in Massachusetts, it is literally against the law to use a kerosene heater to heat a home!  In many remote areas of Canada and Alaska, jet-A is available, but kerosene is not.  Here in SW Oregon, we cannot obtain 1K clear kerosene except at hardware store prices of $11.95 a gallon (or worse), as the pipeline from the Cherry Point refinery near Seattle ends at Eugene.  So for inexpensive fuel for our kerosene HEATERS, red dye #1 stove oil is the only viable choice at $3.24 per gallon. 


Perhaps one of the biggest jokes in the world is "Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil," priced at about $20.00 per gallon.  As few people these days have any familiarity with the history of lamps, their design, or their fuel, they actually buy "Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil" to burn in kerosene lamps.  The lamps were all basically designed before 1890 to burn coal oil, so they are still called "oil lamps" even though coal oil was replaced by kerosene well over 100 years ago.  But some marketing genius realized that kerosene is called "paraffin" in England, but by that name is a solid waxy substance in the US, so why not call clear kerosene "Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil" and fleece the unwary?  It worked!  I purchase gallons of Low Odor Mineral Spirits at a True Value hardware store for $5.89 a gallon.  They sell "Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil" for ten times as much profit, so they have the necessary incentive to fleece the unwary who believe advertising propaganda.


Water can contaminate kerosene, saturate the cotton bottom portion of heater wicks, and then the stoves do not work correctly.  You can remove water by pouring it through a chamois cloth, or with the use of a proper filter.  If kerosene is cloudy, that is water contamination.  The fuel tank of the heater must be emptied and rinsed thoroughly to eliminate any remaining water.  Don't forget the sump under the wick on side-tank radiant heaters! 

Remember that the capillary action of wicks is virtually destroyed by water...cotton in particular will absorb water, then the lighter kerosene is denied a capillary "path" to the top of the wick. Performance (clean, odor free heat output) is seriously degraded by even a little water in the kerosene. To circumvent that problem, add a half eyedropper full of 91% to 95% alcohol to the tank of fuel before the wick is "burned dry." [But remember you can't "burn dry" cotton wicks such as the Perfection 500!!!] The alcohol will absorb the water and burn it off with the kerosene. The alcohol burns at a higher temperature than kerosene, so red dye kerosene will burn cleaner with alcohol or "Wick Cleaner." If a fiberglass wick is saturated with water, it is best to remove the wick and wash it with alcohol (and  air dry) before reinstallation in the appliance.  The same alcohol trick can be used to clean the wick if the wick becomes saturated with diesel or oil by mistake [No guarantees, though. The wick may well have to be replaced.]. If you are using red dye kerosene, using an eyedropper of alcohol every tank full (or using wick cleaner) will keep the wick from needing to be burned dry as often.  Pure alcohol is not that hard to find...it's in almost every hardware store, sold as Shellac Thinner.  It's wood alcohol, so don't let anyone drink it or they will go blind!  Pharmacy stores sell 91% to 99% isopropyl alcohol and it is excellent for absorbing water.  (Rubbing alcohol is 70% water and has already absorbed 30% water so it should not be used.)

Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) (99.9%) liquid is a high purity, multipurpose cleaner and solvent. As a cleaner, it is fully miscible in water and most organic fluids. Since pure alcohol is anhydrous (without water), it scavenges water off surfaces, trapping the water in the IPA solution as an azeotropic mixture. This helps to dry surfaces thoroughly.  Rubbing alcohol is generally 70%, meaning it  has already absorbed 30% water, and thus is far from ideal to use in trying to absorb yet more water from kerosene.  Many pharmacies sell small bottles of 91% alcohol and it is quite inexpensive and excellent for absorbing water in kerosene.

A standard heating oil filter can usually be put on a kerosene storage tank, but the filter is only for sediment - not water.  If an in-line filter is used, a shut off valve should be placed on the tank side of the filter, so if the filter becomes clogged, the valve can be shut and the filter replaced without draining the tank!  The fittings for most common oil filters are only 3/8" diameter, and the fuel must flow through felt filter itself, so do not expect a fast flow from gravity flow systems.  Even though the flow is slower than an unimpeded 1/2" or 3/4" pipe or hose, the filter does its job and eliminates the grit and sediment that may (nay, does) accumulate in the tank.

I now have these filter funnels in stock!

I have been using one of these marvelous MR. Funnel filter funnels for at least 9 years.  This filter funnel will prevent untold problems with wicks in both heaters and lamps.  Removes 'free' water and dirt from your fuel before it gets in your tank and wick. Filters water and solids down to 0.005-in while you refuel. Filter screen in the funnels is made of stainless steel coated with Teflon. The funnel and filter are designed to have the dirt and water that cannot pass through the filter collected in the bottom receptacle. No cleaning or replacements needed.

Note that this filter is NOT magic!  It collects 'free water' and debris.  Free water is the collection of water molecules in the bottom of gas cans, tanks, or drums formed when fuel is stored. The RFF filter will not remove emulsified water. 

Emuslfied water can be removed by adding a little almost pure alcohol to the fuel - no more than 1/3rd CC, 1/3rd teaspoon, PER GALLON, directly into the fuel in the heater.  Denatured alcohol, pharmacy alcohol of 91% to 99%, whatever, will absorb its volume in water, mix it with the fuel and burn it off.  Adding more than 1/3rd cc of alcohol per gallon will raise the flame temperature: add more and the temperature is raised sufficiently to begin to melt the fiberglass fibers or burn cotton fibers in cotton wicks.  In other words, if you have a teaspoon of water in the tank of your heater, you will need to treat at least three tanks of fuel to absorb that teaspoon of water.  Simple math:  1/3 x 3 = 1.   Methyl, ethyl, isopropyl, it does not matter.  What matters is the PERCENTAGE of alcohol.  Rubbing alcohol is 70% - it has already absorbed (been mixed with) 30% water, so you would not want to, nor could you expect, rubbing alcohol to absorb very much more water. 

"Impervious Safety Oil Can"  (Click on the images to enlarge in a new window)

"Impervious Safety Oil Can" sold a century ago for refilling lamps.
Owned and photographed by
Rob Hazelton


COMMENT FROM A READER on kerosene tax rebate, Dec. 23, 2009


I received your package of wicks today. Thanks for the quick shipping.

I was speaking with my kerosene retailer today. There is a $.243 per gallon Federal Tax on undyed Kerosene. This is because the federal government considers kerosene a motor fuel. Apparently years ago large trucking outfits would mix kerosene with diesel and put in in their trucks in the winter to prevent gelling. So now the government taxes the fuel up front so they don't lose this revenue stream.

However the federal government does make provisions for people using kerosene for home heating purposes. If you fill out and submit Form 4136 Credit for Federal Tax paid on fuels, you will receive a rebate or tax credit for this tax. You will need to keep an accurate accounting of the amount of gallons used and receipts for all purchases, should you get audited.

You may also be entitled to rebates on state taxes (if they were collected) depending on the state and it's particular laws.

Now Kerosene is looking more attractive as a fuel for my home heating needs.

Maybe you could get something on your website, so that kerosene users are aware they can get a rebate?   Philip P., NY


A few weeks ago, I emailed you about a problem I was having with my heater. You concluded that there could be water in the sump, and you gave me instructions on how to deal with it. I want to thank you for your help. You were 100% correct. I pulled about 3 ounces of water from the sump. I have a Toyostove DR-86. It isn't hard to get at the sump. I took the whole stove apart and cleaned everything, and then I did the alcohol treatment. After that, I dissassembled everything and just put the stove parts on my bench for a week and allowed everything to dry out. I assembled the stove today, and it works great. Excellent flame and no sputtering or odor. Thank you.   Phil F., Pa.


Standard oil tanks are oval and hold 220 gallons. The fitting on the front bottom is for 3/8" threaded pipe. The felt filters for sludge and some water are also 3/8" pipe thread, so it is relatively easy to attach them and have filtered fuel (Many hardware stores sell fuel oil filter units for about $20). To make filling kerosene containers easier, a 3/8" to �" adaptor is placed on a 3/8" pipe leading to the edge of the tank, so a boiler valve with 3/4" garden hose threads on the outlet can be used. Then a short length of clear �" hose can be made and attached to the boiler valve, and bottles or other containers filled directly without spilling.

There are fittings on the bottom corners of the tanks that take 1 1/4" pipe for legs, but they are relatively fragile. The tank can be sat on the legs, but it can't be rocked upright on them, so it must be carefully lifted, and that means two strong men. I had only me, so I used pulleys, levers, winches, etc, to carefully lift and move the tank over the holes I dug for the legs...and still it was hard.

I used 2 foot long pipe legs. The fittings are 2 inches above the bottom of the tank. I dug 6 inch deep trenches for each set of legs, put a 1 inch piece of concrete in the holes for the legs to stand on, and then took 1 gallon tin cans with both ends cut out, slid them up over each leg, taped them up in place, then lowered the tank into the trenches. Then I leveled the tank so the legs were solidly on the bottom (but level with a �" drop toward the outlet end), filled the trenches with concrete, then worked the gallon cans down about an inch into the concrete and filled the cans with concrete too. That made the legs very strong, anchored securely, and with the concrete extending up the pipe legs for about 8 inches, even the pipe legs are strengthened. The outlet valve is about 16" above ground level, so filling small containers is easy.

Most oil tanks are installed lower than that for gravity feeding into a basement. I installed mine high enough to fill a tall bottle with kerosene right from the tap I put on after the filter.

I cleaned the inside of the tank by using a pressure sprayer and diesel, spraying through the bungs on top of the tank, and draining it out by removing the bung at the bottom, right behind the 3/8" outlet on the end. What little diesel remained is not enough to contaminate 220 gallons of kero.

Then I had the local oil company come out and deliver me 220 gallons of #1 Kerosene stove oil, not furnace oil or #1 diesel, and it had the red dye, of course. It works perfectly. I use it in all of my kerosene heaters, and it burns perfectly.


It is sometimes possible to find other old tanks which are perfectly useable for kerosene storage. They may be of an odd shape, but they can be used with a little ingenuity. I found two old Mack truck saddle tanks, each holding 110 gallons. They made fine storage tanks after some modifications and building cradles to hold them. To get the kero out, I removed the 3/4" drain plug at the bottom of one end and replaced the plug with a boiler valve, then made up a short hose from clear 1/2" tubing and a garden hose female replacement end, and that makes filling bottles or jugs very easy indeed (see below, barely visible on end of tank at left).

All of the tanks I use were old, a little rusty, did not leak - and were free. I cleaned the outside of the tanks with rags and solvent, applied a thin film of Ospho to neutralize the rust, let the Ospho dry in the sun for a day, then painted the tanks with an automotive (metal) paint. New tanks cost about $1.00 per gallon...$220 for a 220 gallon tank, and they still need installation. If you have the time and inclination, free tanks are worth the effort and trouble.











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



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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A "Mr. Funnel" filter is excellent for removing water from kerosene.  Water often condenses in large fuel tanks, accumulating on the bottom of the tank. The filter is used when filling smaller containers from a storage tank.  The purpose of this product is to remove solid contamination down to 0.005" and free water. Free water is the collection of water molecules in the bottom of gas cans, tanks, or drums formed when fuel is stored. The RFF filter will not remove emulsified water. 

Emuslfied water can be removed by adding a little alcohol to the fuel - no more than 1/3rd CC, 1/3rd teaspoon, PER GALLON, directly into the fuel in the heater. 

I have the smallest size Mr. Funnel filter in stock.  Click here.


Lamp Wicks:

Center Draft Wicks - Wicks available only from this Wick Shop.

Flat lamp wicks

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & parts

Lamp Chimneys:

Center Draft Lamp chimneys
from "Tiny" Junior to Mammoth lamps.

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

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

Standard glass lamp chimneys

Sonnenbrenner Lamp Chimneys

Information on lamps:

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

Photos of restored center draft lamps 

Care, Feeding and Restoration of Center Draft Lamps (and wick installation for many)

Center Draft Lamp manufacturers and brand names

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

Early American Metal Font & Specialty Lamps

Aladdin Lamp History

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & Chimneys,

Aladdin - Exploded burner views

Kosmos-Brenner lamps and wicks

Flame Spreaders and "Smoke Consumers" from Alex Marrack

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

    Articles by Alex Marrack:

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