8 facts you probably didn’t know about kerosene

Wednesday, 30th November 2016

It is estimated that around 1.5 million UK homes rely on domestic heating oil, otherwise known as kerosene. However, despite so many using heating oil to heat their homes and AGAs, many of us know so little about this type of fuel.

WP Heating have compiled a list of interesting facts and trivia about kerosene, giving us all a little more knowledge about the fuel that has such a big influence on our lives.

  1. A fuel of many names
    While most of us refer to it as heating oil or kerosene, there are in fact many different names which refer to this fuel. They include; 28 second, boiler fuel, burning oil, boiler juice, paraffin, kero and even the alternative spelling, kerosine, are all different names to refer to kerosene.

    The word ‘kerosene’ actually derives from the Greek word κηρός (keros) meaning wax. It is understood that it got its name from the waxy substance that was initially retrieved from the distillation process.

  2. How is kerosene made?
    Nowadays, producing kerosene is a quite straight forward process. In a process called fractional distillation, it is produced by separating the compounds which make up crude oil, leaving a clear and thin oil.
  3. Kerosene is older than you may think
    The process of distilling crude oil into kerosene was first written about as far back as the 9th century. However, the production of kerosene has been ongoing since 1846, with Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner showcasing a new distilling process. The first company to distribute it to industries and homes was Kerosene Gaslight Company in 1851.
  4. Domestic kerosene lamps were very popular
    At one time, the UK widely used this flammable liquid as home lamps and lanterns. As you can imagine, this was a massive fire hazard and in 1880, nearly two of every five New York City fires were caused by defective kerosene lamps.

    However, even today, kerosene still provides a source of lighting for many in less-developed countries, or in areas without electricity. However, many use a gas mantle mounted above the wick of a kerosene lamp. Interestingly, portable and installed kerosene lamps and heaters are still widely used in Japan!

  5. The world consumes a lot of kerosene
    Worldwide, it is estimated that our kerosene consumption amounts to roughly 1.2 million barrels per day. With a barrel holding 45 gallons (205 litres), this equates to approximately 54 million gallons (246 million litres) a day. Over a year, that could be roughly estimated to nearly 20 billion gallons used worldwide!
  6. Heating oil is the cheapest form of energy
    The Federation of Petroleum Supplier (FPS) recently announced that heating oil is the cheapest form of home heating, costing nearly half than its nearest alternative, gas heating. The latest figures show that average heating oil prices have fallen every quarter for the last three years.
  7. Kerosene can do more than heat homes
    Very few oils have such a wide range of applications like kerosene, which explains its popularity and heavy use worldwide. For example, kerosene is used as jet fuel, powering jet engines of aircrafts and even some rocket engines. Rocket fuel kerosene was used to lift off Saturn V during the 1960s and 1970s, generating roughly 217 million horsepower!
  8. Kerosene fuels fire performances
    You’ll often see fire breathing, fire juggling or poi, as well as fire dancing performers using kerosene to heat up their acts. Obviously, this is one of the more dangerous uses for kerosene and we wouldn’t recommend trying it out unless you’ve had professional training. Remember, kerosene is toxic to humans!

Kerosene is a remarkable fuel which has stood the test of time, with people finding new uses for it throughout the years, maintaining its popularity and use. However, even if you don’t have a rocket to fuel, and don’t fancy giving fire breathing a go, WP Heating are on hand for all your home heating oil needs. To discuss your heating oil requirements, contact a member of our team on 023 8089 7841 or email sales@thewp-group.co.uk.