Signs That Your Kerosene May Have Gone Bad

Storing fuel always brings up a common question…how long will it last? Storing kerosene is no different!

A good rule of thumb is kerosene will last for 5 years. It can grow biological material in it which can clog fuel systems and it’s possible for water to be introduced to it which will degrade it. If you have doubts, strain the kerosene through a filter prior to using it.

A lot of people have used kerosene older than 5 years with no problems, me being one of them.

Does Kerosene Expire?

Yes, eventually it will go bad.

If you go on Google and try to find out how long kerosene is good for, you’re going to run into a huge range of times presented as fact. Some will say 1-3 months, some say a year and others say all the way out to 20 years!

I’ve personally used kerosene that was close to 6 years old and not stored in any special way. I poured it into my heater, fired it up and it worked without any problems. It really is a great preparedness fuel.

Kerosene is good for at least 5 years. I would feel fine using it well after that, but if you’re worried about it you can always just buy new fuel.

How Do You Know if Kerosene is Bad?

Kerosene is less likely to go bad than gas or diesel. It doesn’t have a tendency to absorb water from the air like gas does so it doesn’t need to have fuel stabilizers added to it.

When kerosene goes bad, it will start to turn cloudy or have a yellow appearance. You may also be able to see some sludge starting to grow within the fuel. This is most likely biological material.

Most heater manufacturers recommend that you don’t use any kerosene that looks like this. If you’re worried about damaging your heater, you shouldn’t use the kerosene. If it’s an emergency, you can pour the kerosene through some kind of filter to remove any physical impurities.

If kerosene starts to smell like diesel or gas, then it’s probably bad and should only be used as a last resort.

How Can You Make Kerosene Last Longer?

Extending the shelf life of kerosene is much easier than trying to extend the shelf life of gasoline.

Kerosene is naturally less susceptible to water absorption than many other fuels. It can be stored in metal or plastic containers at almost any temperature.

Cooler temps are arguably better than warm temperatures because they help to inhibit the growth of biological material that can form in the kerosene. This sludge can gum up fuel systems and make it less effective.

If you see sludge growing in your kerosene, you can filter it and mix it with new kerosene to freshen it up. You can do the same thing if it starts to get cloudy or opaque.

Where Can You Buy Kerosene?

If you’ve been using kerosene for a long time, this may seem like a strange question. If you’ve never used kerosene before, then it’s probably one of the first questions that you ask.

Most hardware stores and Walmarts sell kerosene. You can also find gas stations that sell kerosene. The pump is usually closer to the building but it’s not a given that every gas station will have kerosene. Just call before you drive out there or look online.

How to Dispose of Kerosene

Once you have decided that your kerosene is bad or that you no longer need it, you’re going to have to dispose of it. Fuel is considered a hazardous material so you can’t just dump it where ever you want to get rid of it.

The best way to dispose of kerosene is to bring it to a recycling facility in your area that accepts old fuel. You can either call your local city office or look online.

There are some cities that run household hazardous waste collection points all year. Others just do it during certain times of the year or during specific events throughout the year.

Keep these things in mind when disposing of hazardous waste:

  • Do not mix fluids – Always keep fuels as pure as you can. If you show up to a hazardous waste collection facility with mixed fuels, they may not accept them.
  • Keep fluids in the original container – Hazardous waste in its original container is much easier to dispose of. The original label helps the facility know exactly what they’re dealing with.
  • Gas stations and auto shops may take your waste fuel – Some gas stations and auto shops will accept your old fuel if you call ahead. It may take some time, but you can probably find one that will take your old kerosene if you call around.

If there is absolutely no alternative, you can resort to letting the kerosene evaporate. Only use this method as a last resort and for small quantities of kerosene!

Open the container in a well-ventilated area away from kids, pets and any flames. Placing the container under a cover that allows for airflow but keeps people and animals away is best.

Once the fuel is gone, wrap the container in several trash bags and throw it away.

Can You Use Kerosene Inside?

Yes! Kerosene used to be used all over as one of the primary ways to heat homes. It’s still the main way that homes are heated in some parts of the world. It’s also been used to light lamps indoors all around the world.

The ability to burn kerosene inside with a minimal amount of fumes is what makes it so great as a preparedness fuel. As long as your heater is well maintained you shouldn’t have to worry about anything. I always make sure that I have a decent carbon monoxide detector close by because that’s just about the only thing to worry about with a kerosene heater.

Can you Leave a Kerosene Heater on all Night?

Just because you can use kerosene inside doesn’t mean that it’s okay to leave a kerosene heater on unattended. Kerosene heaters are really safe and you shouldn’t stress too much if you’re using one, but there is always the chance that something could go wrong.

Heaters of all kinds are one of the major causes of fires during the winter. You should never leave one running when you’re asleep or away from the house.

It’s better to come home to a cold house than to risk coming home to no house at all.

If you can’t make it through the night without the heater because it’s just too cold, then you should get up periodically, run the heater for a little while until the room starts to warm up and then turn it off again. It may make for some long nights but it’s better than risking a fire while you’re asleep.

Related Questions

Can you use diesel in a kerosene heater? Yes, diesel can be used in a kerosene heater, but it can ruin the wick. To make sure that the diesel burns as cleanly as possible, mix in some diesel fuel additive or 90% pure isopropyl alcohol. Only burn diesel fuel in your heater in an area like a garage where you can get decent ventilation.

Can kerosene fumes kill you? Kerosene heaters consume oxygen as they burn. If you use them in a small room they can reduce the oxygen in the room to dangerous levels. They can also produce carbon monoxide. Always have a carbon monoxide detector close by when you’re using one.

How long can K1 kerosene be stored? A good rule of thumb is k1 kerosene will last for at least 5 years. It can grow biological material in it which can clog fuel systems and it’s possible for water to be introduced to it which will degrade it. If you have doubts, strain the kerosene through a filter prior to using it.