How to Dry Burn Kerosene Heaters

Written by kenneth crawford
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How to Dry Burn Kerosene Heaters
Dry burn your kerosene heater wick to keep the heater working efficiently. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The wick is the heart of a kerosene heater. The condition of the wick determines the efficiency of the heater. One way to clean a kerosene wick or determine if it requires replacement is to dry burn the wick. Dry burning allows all of the fuel absorbed in the wick to burn off, and removes the tar build-up on top of the wick. If tar remains on the wick or the wick appears to be thin and ragged at the top after dry burning, it is time to replace it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wooden matches

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  1. 1

    Take the kerosene heater outside or in a well ventilated room. Dry burning a wick creates excessive soot, fumes and smoke.

  2. 2

    Remove the fuel tank from the kerosene heater, if your heater has a removable tank. Most kerosene heaters that have removable tanks have an access door that simply opens up. The removable tank has a handle to grab to pull the tank out of the heater.

  3. 3

    Rotate the wick adjuster knob clockwise and raise the wick as far as possible. You cannot use the automatic igniter when dry burning because the top of the wick is beyond the reach of the igniter.

  4. 4

    Open the front grate of the kerosene heater. Some grates simply pull open while others require you to squeeze the ends together slightly with your fingers to unhook the retaining pins from the heater body.

  5. 5

    Remove the glass chimney from the wick area. Light a match and hold the flame to the top of the wick until it ignites. Place the chimney back over the wick to reduce some of the soot. Allow the wick to burn completely dry, which may take up to two hours, depending upon how much kerosene is in the sump below the wick.

Tips and warnings

  • Most wicks contain fibreglass. Do not dry burn solid cotton wicks. They only burn up, resulting in soot and burnt cotton all over the inside of the heater.
  • Dry burn wicks after every 30 gallons of kerosene you burn to keep the tar build-up to a minimum.
  • Dry burning creates abnormal amounts of soot and smoke. Never dry burn inside the house and never leave a dry burning kerosene heater unattended.

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