A Brief Summary of Kerosene

Kerosene is an interesting fuel with some unique properties. It’s also incredibly versatile, and alongside being a fuel, has been used as a pesticide, a cleaning agent, and for pyrotechnics. Kerosene is also very popular, with around 1.5 million homes using kerosene for heat or light in the UK, roughly 5.6% of the 26 million UK homes disconnected from the main energy networks.

How Is Kerosene Made?

Kerosene is created through a process known as fractional distillation. This is a fairly simple process that involved separating crude oil into its separate compounds, leaving the least dense substance, a clear oil, in a layer on the surface.

Who First Created Kerosene?

A famous Persian (modern-day Iran) scholar called Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi wrote the earliest known written account of how to produce kerosene. Razi most likely was not the first to do so, but no earlier records exist. Razi described two methods for producing kerosene in his journals.

How Was Kerosene Named?

The name kerosene is derived from the Greek “keroselaion” meaning wax-oil. It was coined by a Canadian geologist, Abraham Gesner, who demonstrated what he called a new process to produce lamp oil to the public in 1846. Eight years later, in 1854, he’d register a trademark on the name “kerosene”.

How Much Is Kerosene Do We Use?

Although kerosene has died down in popularity in modern times, with a huge majority of homes connected to main gas and electricity networks, the world still uses an unbelievable amount of kerosene every day! As a planet, humans burn though 1.2 million barrels of kerosene a day, the equivalent of 246 million litres. An oil tanker only holds 36,000 litres, so that’s a lot of kerosene!

What Other Uses Does Kerosene Have?

Kerosene is a versatile substance, and has found historical usage as a pesticide, to remove headlice, and to kill bedbugs. It can also be applied to stagnant water to kill mosquitos and other larvae. Kerosene is also hugely popular in the entertainment industry for use in fire shows and pyrotechnics. It’s viscosity is perfect to soak into tools like fire poi or fire staffs, and ensures no dripping fuel flicks into the audience.