How To Clean A Kerosene Wick [4 Of The Best Ways]

Kerosene heaters are portable devices that can effectively warm up a room. Proper use of the appliance requires appropriate care and maintenance. We have researched how you can clean a kerosene wick to keep the heater at its full operational capacity.

The best way to clean a kerosene wick is through dry burning, which involves burning the fuse without fuel. The process will eliminate any accumulated residue and result in more effective ignition and combustion. Scraping off excess carbon with a brush is necessary once the tank load of fuel is consumed.

Other ways to clean the wick include the following:

  • Brushing the wick
  • Regular cleaning using a slightly damp cloth
  • Trimming overused portions

This article focuses on the best ways to clean a kerosene wick, how to know when it is necessary, and when you should replace the wick. Read on to find out more!

rustic board light antique old kerosene lamp wooden background, How To Clean A Kerosene Wick [X Of The Best Ways]

How To Clean A Kerosene Wick

There are several ways of cleaning your wick if you don't want to replace it with a new one.

Dry Burning

The first method is dry burning, which must be done outside due to the production of hazardous fumes. Continue burning until the fuel tank is empty, and allow it to burn completely dry.

After that, allow it to sit for an hour before lighting the wick again. Doing this will burn off all the creosote and ensure a clean burn.

It is advisable to perform dry burning every time the tank is empty. This way, the wick is always clean after full use. Additionally, dry burning strengthens the fiberglass of your wick, extending its life and reducing odor.

Regularly Clean The Wick With A Slightly Damp Cloth

The second alternative is to regularly clean the wick of the kerosene heater with a lightly dampened cloth to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated. 

Clean The Wick Using A Brush

The third alternative involves using a brush to scrape the wick until the dark area has been removed and it is clean. You can then wipe it once again with a lightly damp cloth.

Trimming The Wick

The last option is cutting off the overused portion. You can clean the cotton wick by trimming the top half inch off.

Watch the video below for more details.

When Is It Necessary To Clean A Kerosene Wick?

Cleaning the wick of your kerosene heater is essential for multiple reasons, which we will discuss below. 

Wick Is Difficult To Ignite

The accumulation of carbon deposits on the wick can make it difficult to ignite. This is because of improper use and appliance maintenance. The chemical cannot pass through all the substance build-up.

Wick Becomes Rigid And Hard

The wick becomes rigid and hard because of the accumulated carbon and tar on the surface. This could happen because of improper placement of the wick inside the kerosene heater or because the fuel has been contaminated with water.

Flame Is Extinguished Too Often

The wick may be old or overused if the flame is extinguished often. Try dry-burning. However, if cleaning the wick does not fix the issue, then it is time to purchase a new one as a replacement.

Thailand lantern light kerosene lamp light old style

Strong Odors Develop

A kerosene heater emitting a foul smell is a cause of concern. Strong odors may develop for several reasons, including low-quality fuel, dirty wick or burner, and improper placement of the wick.

Immediately turn the heater off. Replace the tank with K-1 kerosene—pure kerosene with low sulfur content. This way, the appliance will only burn cleaner fuel.

The wick and burner may also need to be cleaned or replaced. In other cases, the wick may be placed too high. Fix its placement and see if the issue is resolved.

Unit Produces Low Or Little Heat

An unclean wick will not generate enough flame to provide warmth inside a living area. Tar and carbon deposits tend to accumulate on the surface, resulting in decreased fuel burning.

Black Smoke Is Produced

Your kerosene heater might be producing black smoke for several reasons, such as using the wrong fuel, installing an incompatible or dirty wick, and incorrectly positioning the heater's chimney.

To resolve the issue, make sure the fuel you are using is K-1 kerosene, clean the wick or replace it with a wick compatible with your heater, and adjust the positioning of the chimney.

Check out this K-1 Kerosene on Amazon.

How Do I Know If My Kerosene Heater Needs A New Wick?

old kerosene lantern hanging on wooden

Here are the possible reasons that you should replace a new wick for your kerosene heater

  1. The wick might get thin from overuse, which prevents it from producing more flames.
  2. If the wick emits harmful fumes and a terrible odor, you should replace it.
  3. You should change your wick since low-quality fuel makes it easy for it to become contaminated.
  4. If the flame is jagged, uneven, or won't rise half an inch over the burn plate, replace the wick.
  5. If it takes a while for the burn to get to its natural position, you should replace the wick.

Check out this kerosene heater wick on Amazon.

What Is The Fuel Consumption Of A Kerosene Heater?

Fuel consumption will depend on the fuel tank size. A kerosene heater with a large fuel tank can contain 15 gallons, and a small fuel tank can contain up to two gallons.

The area's size will determine the capacity. Kerosene heaters typically range in BTU from 10,000 to 200,000. Always measure the length and width of the space where the heater will be placed. Afterward, multiply them to determine the area in square feet.

One of the considerations about getting a kerosene heater is the size of the tank to know the maximum runtime and the fuel capacity.

A single fuel tank can provide up to nine hours of heating. With a larger tank, you can fill it with more fuel and operate for longer.

Check out this 1-K Heater Fluid on Amazon.

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From a Kerosene Heater?

photo wick on type stove that need to clean

Improper usage of kerosene heaters is a safety hazard. Carbon dioxide, sulfur, and nitric oxide are emitted and will cause considerable damage to your health if you're exposed for prolonged periods.

Safety Tips And Proper Usage


  • Use only K-1 kerosene fuel.
  • Place the heater at least three feet away from combustible material.
  • Leave the windows and doors slightly open.
  • To avoid hazardous gases, always clean your wick or replace it.


  • Never operate a heater near anything that could catch fire.
  • Avoid moving the heater while in use.
  • Do not leave your heater unattended.
  • Avoid overfilling the heater.

How To Properly Maintain A Kerosene Heater

Regular use of a kerosene heater necessitates a time-sensible cleaning approach. Proper maintenance is necessary to maintain the heater's full operational capacity.

Aside from the wick, several other components of a kerosene heater are required to be cleaned and maintained.

Clean The Fan Filter

The fan filter can be located at the backside of the heater. It is essential to regularly inspect the component for any dirt and dust buildup.

You can use a duster or paintbrush to remove accumulated dirt and grime. If the filter is too dirty, you can soak the material in a basin with a detergent solution and water. Rinse afterward.

Use Kerosene To Clean The Oil Filter

Oil filters should not be cleaned using soap and water as these will damage and probably destroy the component. The filter is situated inside the heater tank and above the oil plate.

Prepare a basin or bucket filled with new kerosene. Dip the oil filter onto the container. If the kerosene pours out easily towards the bottom, then the filter is clean. Otherwise, accumulation of dirt and grime will cause the substance to drip slowly.

Cleaning The Oil Plate

Use a siphon to pump and remove excess kerosene from the plate. Wipe the surface using a dry paper towel to remove dirt and debris. Like the oil filter, the oil plate should not be cleaned with water.

Wiping The Heater's Exterior

After cleaning the main components, you may wipe the heater's exterior using a damp cloth.

In Closing

rustic board light antique old kerosene lamp wooden background

A kerosene wick requires regular dry burning to remove accumulated tar and carbon deposits. Remember to perform this task once the tank load of fuel is consumed. We hope the article helped you with the proper ways of cleaning your kerosene wick.

You might also find these topics informative:

Can You Sleep With A Kerosene Heater On?

What Causes Black Smoke From A Kerosene Heater?

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