Heating Oil Vs Kerosene

Oil based products have a history of providing light and heat to homes and businesses all over the world. Today, fuel oil furnaces are a common, reliable, and safe way to heat your home or building. 

If you have a heating system that burns oil, you should make informed choices about what kind of oil you burn. Here is some information about heating oil and kerosene, which should help this decision.

Heating oil and kerosene are both petroleum based. Just like gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel, these oil products start out as a crude oil. To create these different oil products, crude oil is heated and pumped into specialized distillation towers where it separates into different petroleum components known as fractions.

Heating Oil

Heating oil, also known as diesel oil or gas oil, is similar to diesel fuel. Home heating oil is often denser than typical diesel fuel, but both can technically be used to fuel diesel engines. Heating oil is readily available, so it tends to cost less than other types of oil, which makes it ideal for home and business owners on a budget. Heating oil is also safe to store, and unlike gasoline the oil product cannot catch fire or explode unless it is heated to its flash point at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, when it vaporizes into the flammable gases that heat your furnace. Whilst heating oil is safe to store, provides long lasting heat, and is relatively cost effective, it sometimes contains impurities such as sulphur, which may cause hazardous fumes when the oil is burned.


Kerosene is also known as paraffin or lamp oil, and kerosene lamps are sometimes still used in place of electric lights. Kerosene has a higher viscosity and lower density than typical heating oil, which means it has a lower flash point. Kerosene gives off flammable gases when it is heated to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which does make it a slightly greater fire and explosion risk than heating oil. Due to its lower viscosity, kerosene also doesn’t gel during the winter months like heating oil might. This makes it an ideal fuel for homes and businesses that have an outdoor fuel tank as part of their heating system.