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Kerosene, also known as paraffin, lamp oil, and coal oil (an obsolete term), is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is derived from petroleum. It is widely used as a fuel in industry as well as households. Its name derives from Greek: κηρός (keros) meaning "wax".


Kerosene is composed of carbon chains that typically contain between 10 and 16 carbon atoms per molecule.


Kerosene is a low viscosity, clear liquid formed from hydrocarbons obtained from the fractional distillation of petroleum between 150 and 275 °C, resulting in a mixture with a density of 0.78–0.81 g/cm3. Heat of combustion of kerosene is similar to that of diesel fuel: its lower heating value is 43.1 MJ/kg (around 18,500 Btu/lb), and its higher heating value is 46.2 MJ/kg (19,900 Btu/lb). Kerosene is miscible in petroleum solvents but immiscible in water.

Kerosene will burn in air if preheated above 65 °C, releasing carbon dioxide, water and lots soot.


Kerosene is sold in many hardware stores.


Kerosene is best bought than extracted from petroleum.


  • Fuel
  • Store alkali metals



Ingestion of kerosene is harmful or fatal. Kerosene is sometimes recommended as a folk remedy for killing head lice, but health agencies warn against this as it can cause burns and serious illness.


Kerosene should be stored in closed bottles, in a cool, well-ventilated area, away from any heat, fire or spark sources. Like other petroleum mixtures, it does not store well over long periods of time. Kerosene older than one year needs replacement or purification.


Kerosene should be burned outside, in an incinerator or in an engine.

See also


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