How to Clean a Kerosene Heater Wick

Written by lisa parris
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The wick is an a vital component of your kerosene heater. Without a wick, your heater is nothing more than an overpriced gas tank. One major aspect of wick care is cleaning or dry burning. Follow the steps to clean the wick and keep your kerosene heater running smoothly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wet cloth
  • Wood alcohol

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  1. 1

    Determine the source of the wick's problem. If you have trouble raising or lowering the wick or if you see bits of tar on it when the flame is extinguished, your wick has fuel deposits. If you have trouble lighting the wick, it won't stay lit or if your heater simply won't warm up, you have a wet wick.

  2. 2

    To remove fuel deposits from your wick, remove the heater from your home and place it inside a garage or another covered but otherwise open space.

  3. 3

    Extinguish the flame. If the fire will not go out, you may need to suffocate it. Do this by completely saturating pieces of heavy cloth with water and placing them over the heater.

  4. 4

    Remove the cloths and allow the stove to cool.

  5. 5

    Disconnect the catalytic converter and drain the fuel from the tank. Advance the wick and remove the top portion, leaving the remainder of the wicking material intact.

  6. 6

    Reassemble the heater, leaving the fuel tank empty. Advance the wick to its greatest recommended height and light it.

  7. 7

    Allow the wick to burn until all the fuel within it is gone and the flame burns out.

  8. 8

    Remove moisture from a wick by adding ¼ tsp of pure alcohol to the heater's fuel tank. You can find pure alcohol in your hardware store's paint thinner section. It may be labelled Wood Alcohol. This is not rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Allow the kerosene/alcohol mixture to sit for 30 minutes, and then drain off the fuel and light the wick, allowing it to burn until it extinguishes itself. The alcohol will attract the water prior to being used for fuel, pulling the moisture out of the wick.

  9. 9

    Fix a wick that has been totally saturated with water by removing it from the heater and rinsing it in pure alcohol. Allow the wick to air dry before reinserting it.

Tips and warnings

  • It's easier to clean a wick if you spot the trouble early. Check your wick every time you use the heater.
  • Kerosene that contains red dye soils the wick much faster than clear kerosene.
  • Keep the wick out of the wind when performing a dry burn, as the flames may be weak as the process comes to an end.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area, as the dry burning process can create unpleasant fumes.
  • Do not dump cold water onto your heater to extinguish the flame. You may cause the material to warp, crack or break.

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