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12-18-2007, 11:58 PM #1
Kerosene vs Diesel - What's The Difference?
I heat my shop with a bullet style kerosene heater and unfortunately they keep plowing under the older gas stations and building shiny Wawa's and Lukoils in their place. Problem is none of the new shiny stores sell kero.
Some old-timers say that I can run diesel in my heater... They say it's the same stuff.
Anyone here a fuel expert?
Is Diesel the same stuff as kerosene?
I've seen K-1 in both red and clear.
I've seen K-1 in "not low sulfer - could contain greater than 500 ppm sulfur) and unspecified
I've seen diesel in "low sulfur" (less than 15ppm) and unspecified.
Used to be easy... Kero was cheaper than gasoline and was available at every corner station. Now it's more than a gallon of gas and I've got to drive ten miles just to get a can full.
12-19-2007, 12:21 AM #2
I have used diesel in my heater but it stinks big time! I don't know about sulfur, it was about 4 or 5 years ago..............John
12-19-2007, 12:31 AM #3
We've run hundreds of gallons of diesel through our heater with no problems whatsoever, but it does stinks pretty bad. Can tend to give you a bit of a sore throat & cough too. What I've heard people say is that kero is simply more refined, but I can't tell you for sure. I know that some biodiesel blended in sure helps the smell of the unburnt fuel, but haven't run any through the heater yet to know its effect.
12-19-2007, 12:59 AM #4
Diesel has more BTU as I understand it than kero. In fact kero is part of the winter blend for winter fuel for diesel fuel As I understand it
12-19-2007, 01:03 AM #5
Don't have an answer, just a question. I wonder if using this years new ultralow sulpher diesel fuel would ease the smell and fumes from running diesel in the kerosine heaters?
12-19-2007, 01:12 AM #6
both products are now ultra low sulfur to avoid damage to 2006 and newer truck emission systems, but kero has a lower flashpoint than diesel, therefore diesel won't burn as cleanly in your kero space heater.
Since diesel engines can run on Kero, kero and diesel are taxed at the same rates to prevent evasion of taxes, and can contain as high as $.70 per gallon tax, depending on state and local tax rates.
some paint supply stores sell Kero in 5 gallon pails for use as thinner.
If you use more than that, check with your local heating oil suppliers, some of them may run a kero truck. you can have them fill some 55 gallon drums.
local gas stations may charge a premium since they have to maintain the equipment and storage tank for a low volume seasonal product.
12-19-2007, 01:27 AM #7
In a 5 gal can of diesel put in a pint of isopropyl alcohol in with it, make the diesel burn with much lass of a stink. We used to do this and it worked well.
12-19-2007, 03:44 AM #8
Kero, also known as #1 Diesel, actually has higher BTUs than #2 Diesel, or fuel oil, or home heating oil, or Jet Fuel.
Formerly sold as "Water White K-1" fuel oil, probably because of the Kerosun heaters everybody bought 20 years ago or more. Stank to high heaven when they ran low.
Kero has less paraffin than regular diesel, so doesn't gel as quickly, to plug fuel filters on diesel vehicles. Is used to "winterize" diesel.
VW-Audi says to mix up to 30% regular gasoline to the fuel in their diesel engined cars for cold weather operation. Know, though, that you will lose fuel efficiency by doing so. Gasoline is even lower in heat value than #2 Diesel.
Short story, it ain't the same thing. It is cruder, less distilled. I have no idea how tall a cracking tower is, but gasoline is probably 1/4 of the way up, volatile but not much energy, diesel 1/2 way up, less volatile, but with more energy, kerosene, farther up, less volatile yet, with even more energy per gallon. What in the world could the stuff that is in the top quartile of the tower produce?
Nitrous oxides and the like?
I leave that to you to ferret out.
Checked on the above. One site gives 135,000 BTU for Kero, 140,000 for #2 feul oil, diesel.
I should have remembered that from the Diesl Audis I ran years ago, start better with kero added, in really cold winters, lower fuel mileage.
Still, it stinks way less. I use it in my parts washer. Spilled Diesel on a jacket sleeve, once, half a dozen washings, it still stank.
Last edited by gmatov; 12-20-2007 at 12:03 AM. Reason: Checked my figures
12-19-2007, 07:40 AM #9
Bunker C and asphalt.
12-19-2007, 09:57 AM #10
Kero is #1 fuel oil, diesel fuel is #2
Difference is the parafin/ wax content or long chain hydrocarbon molecules 10-18 molecules per chain for thicker oil products.
kero has less heat per gallon than #2 diesel, kerosene burns much cleaner with less BTU per gallon,
Kerosene and jet fuel are the same thing just filtered better.
Kero is added to diesel in the winter to lower the cloud point or the temp that the parafin in the diesel starts to solidify.
12-19-2007, 10:13 AM #11
12-19-2007, 10:48 AM #12
Jet Fuel can be bought at small airports. Call and ask about prices first. last i bought was about the same a sGasoline.
12-19-2007, 10:50 AM #13
i know someone that uses central heating oil in his jet heater ...no trouble at all ...no strink either .
all the best.mark
12-19-2007, 11:01 AM #14
So it seems that the bottom line is that they are NOT the same stuff, and while diesel should work fine in my bullet, it burns less clean and smells worse than kero.
I've seen kero on the shelves in the big box stores in one gallon cans for like three times the price of a gallon at the few stations who do still carry kero. It's not in the paint section though, as it's intended to be burned, not intended to be used to clean brushes. With that in mind, I hadn't thought about paint stores having it available for cleaning. If I get the chance, I'll stop in and check on that.
12-19-2007, 11:31 AM #15
The link you found and shared is a terrific summary and picture - thanks!
I found two other links, one of which may answer George's question about what ends up at the top end of a crude tower, at:
George, it's mostly methane, ethane, propane, and butane, plus a small amount of other low-molecular weight items. Pentane's high vapor pressure helps winter starting, and it gets put in gasoline in the winter, not sure how they get rid of it in the summer. Stuff coming off the top of the column either ends up being processed for sale, burned for fuel value, or sent to the flare stack.
I was curious if mineral spirits might be able to be burned in a heater. So we might wonder where mineral spirits comes out of the crude tower. I'm glad you asked. It's between kero and gasoline. Gasoline's boiling point is 40-200° C, mineral spirits are 150-215° C, and kero's is 175-275° C. Regular mineral spirits are mostly C10, with some C9 and C12, plus aromatics (xylene and trimethyl benzene). Odorless mineral spirits have the aromatics removed. May be a bit too volatile (and hence not safe!), but may be another alternative. Anyone tried this?
12-19-2007, 12:42 PM #16
You realy shouldn't breathe the fumes from either, the home central heat type that are vented outside are better, quieter and safer, they seem to run on keru, heating oil, diesel, and we even mix our waste oil in with what ever type we find cheaper. We bought ours used with a bad fan motor for 50 bucks. it sits in the shop with no ducting, just a filter. Works great, no fumes.
12-19-2007, 12:53 PM #17
You don't need to know what the difference is between fuels. What you want to know is what works and how well.
I have been using Diesel #1 RED for years in my heater. Works fine, doesn't stink and costs just a bit more than water.
RED is tax free and is used only in off road applications. That means farming mostly so the place to get it is a supplier of fuel to farmers. We call it tank wagon service. Look around your area and there probably will be a source. I go to a pipeline terminal here in town and pick up 30 gallons at a time. I have to wait till afternoon when the delivery trucks return to have them fill my cans.
BTW, #1 red works fine for machining aluminum. It's also good for cleaning machinery.
Note of interest. #1 red will run fine in diesel engines but in this state if you are caught with red fuel in your tank like in Monopoly--- go directly to jail and pay a big fine.
12-19-2007, 01:16 PM #18
Go to your nearest small general aviation airport and by whatever type of JP the are using nowdays. Used to be JP8 when I was buying it. JP is just super pure kerosene with anti icing inhibaters. Burns clean, no smell.
12-19-2007, 07:10 PM #19
12-19-2007, 07:30 PM #20
home heating oil is about the same as diesel and stinks like crap.
diesel, jet fuel , used motor oil and the like work just fine in their intended heaters-
baffle-exchangers , where the soot and filth never touches the air you breathe...but is
instead exhausted outside via a chimney.
i have a reddy-heater(turbo) 125k btu which i use sparingly. i've tried heating oil and diesel in
a pinch and had to leave the shop.....it was awful .sooty and stunk to high hell. plain k1 smells bad enough.
don't kill yourself to save .10 cents or have to drive a bit further.
does anyone know the shelf life of diesel? does it separate like gasoline does ?