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Kerosene: the advantages & disadvantages

Updated February 21, 2017

Kerosene is a liquid fossil fuel that was once the most-used kind of fuel for lighting before the introduction of electricity. It is still used in parts of the world that occasionally suffer a shortage of electricity. Made from the refinement of crude oil, it is also known as paraffin and combustible oil. The fuel has its advantages, including cost and relative safety.

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Environmental Issues

One advantage of kerosene is its safety. It is a fuel that produces less fumes in its paraffin form -- therefore it is considered environmentally more friendly than coal and wood. Despite this, it does emit some poisonous gases -- these include nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide. All three of these can cause damage to the body if breathed in. Because of this disadvantage, kerosene is best used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas.


Kerosene is a non-corrosive fuel, safe to store for a long time. Because of this safety, there are options for storage containers. From metal oil drums to strong plastic bottles, these containers can hold kerosene safely. However, choose metal containers can that resist rust.


Another advantage of kerosene is its long shelf life. Depending on what kind of container in which it is stored, kerosene can be kept in storage for a year (in plastic containers) to 10 years (in metal containers in rainproof conditions). Conditions have a large effect on its shelf life. For best results, store kerosene in controlled conditions away from rain and sunlight.

Uses in Different Countries

Kerosene is easy to ignite. All it takes is a matchstick. This is especially useful in countries that don't have reliable sources of electricity and are prone to blackouts. Because kerosene-fuelled devices such as lamps can work independently, they provide a useful source of light and heat when other sources are unavailable.

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About the Author

Born in London, Malachi Lloyd Green has been writing since 2004. He has had a number of articles published online with Search Sciences and GettingPersonal.co.uk. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in economics and politics from the University of Kent.

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