What Color Should A Kerosene Heater Flame Be? [& Troubleshooting If It Is Different Than It Should Be]

Kerosene heaters can be a primary or supplemental heating source for your home. Regardless of its purpose, it should combust fully to avoid the accumulation of dangerous gases indoors. So you may wonder, what color should the flame of a kerosene heater be? We researched this question and here is what we found. 

A kerosene heater that is burning properly should create a clearly defined, blue flame with a tiny bit of yellow shining toward the tip. But, if your heater produces a sooty flame, then it means that the gas didn't fully combust. 

Additionally, if the gas heater's pilot light is predominantly yellow, orange, red, purple, or green, inefficient combustion is occurring as other condensates burn alongside the methane. These condensates may contain potentially dangerous substances including dust, rust, tar, or oil. You should give your HVAC technician a call when this happens.

Keep reading as we discuss what the above-mentioned flame colors mean and the risk that other flame colors pose. Additionally, we'll talk about what to do when your heater produces other colors aside from blue. We'll also share some factors that you should consider before choosing a kerosene heater for your heating system. Lastly, we'll give you tips to safely operate a kerosene heater. 

an old kerosene primus in dust and cobwebs with a burning fire, What Color Should A Kerosene Heater Flame Be? [& Troubleshooting If It Is Different Than It Should Be]

What Does A Blue Flame In A Kerosene Heater Indicate?

Paraffin heater starting up with a blue flame

The color blue indicates complete combustion in a flame. This shows that there is no wasted or unburned gas, proving that the gas is being burned effectively.

You obtain the most heat output from your gas and consume less gas to generate heat with whatever device you're using when there is total combustion.

Additionally, you reduce or stop carbon monoxide production.

Why Is It Unsafe When Your Kerosene Heater Flame Produces Other Colors Aside From Blue?

Flame of a kerosine heater

You have a combustion issue that has to be handled by a specialist if your flame is yellow or orange or if you notice pops of yellow or orange. Long streaks of any hue, including yellow, orange, or green, indicate that a professional HVAC specialist needs to adjust or clean your furnace.

The primary risk of faulty combustion, in addition to wasted fuel, increased energy costs, and greater soot is the increased carbon monoxide (CO) output of the combustion process.

Carbon Monoxide

CO is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that can cause headaches, nausea, hallucinations, blackouts, and even death. The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are sometimes compared to the flu.

Over 400 Americans each year die from unintended CO poisoning, and more than 20,000 Americans seek medical attention for CO leakage, according to the CDC.

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How Should You Maintain Your Kerosene Heater To Produce Blue Flame?

The wicks require frequent maintenance. The kerosene heater is set up outside and allowed to burn until the fuel runs out using fiberglass wicks. Tar and other accumulated residue are burnt off the wick.

If the heater is usually run 24/7, this should be done at least once a week. The heater should never be run dry while using cotton wicks to clean them. Instead, cleaning is done by wiping the top of the wick with a paper towel to get rid of any leftovers. The wick will ultimately lose its effectiveness and require replacement.

Additionally, observe the manufacturer's instructions, especially the bit about ventilating the heater. Maintain a window left open or allow a door to a nearby room open to promote airflow and proper ventilation.

You must make sure the place is properly ventilated because kerosene burns while consuming oxygen, especially in cramped areas like garages and work sheds. Use mechanical ventilation to eliminate airborne contaminants and bring in fresh air by keeping a window cracked.

What Are Some Hazards A Kerosene Heater Poses?

Black kerosene heater in a white background composition

Here are some of the safety hazards of having kerosene heaters: 

  • Kerosene heaters typically do not have venting systems, thus all combustion byproducts are released into the home's air. Low concentrations of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are among them.
  • More pollutants will be released by a kerosene heater if it is not correctly calibrated, fueled, or maintained, especially because of incomplete combustion. It is extremely dangerous to use a kerosene heater in a poorly ventilated home.
  • The quantity of carbon monoxide increases quickly if oxygen is burned more quickly compared to the time the additional atmosphere can enter space to replace the destroyed oxygen. Any individual in the room will perish from the toxic gas since carbon monoxide cannot leave.
  • Kerosene heaters, like other heaters that burn organic fuel, have the potential to run out of oxygen and produce dangerously high levels of soot and carbon monoxide. Asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning could occur if you don't follow safety precautions.
  • Additionally, the heater's hot surfaces present a fire and burn risk. In areas where flammable gases might be present, like in a garage, the open flame creates an explosive risk. Poor performance, a fire, or an explosion could result from the use of tainted or unsuitable fuel. The usual dangers are present when storing kerosene and refueling the heater.
  • Extra soot may be produced by using impure fuel. It is forbidden in many countries to pour gasoline or petroleum into unapproved containers like kerosene bottles because there is a risk of explosion when even small volumes of the fuel are combined with it.

What Factors Should You Consider Before Buying A Kerosene Heater?

Before deciding to buy a kerosene heater, take a look at these factors that you must consider first: 

Heat Capacity

No heater can adequately heat an entire house. A good guideline is one or two rooms. To determine the heater's BTU output, carefully review its label.

Only Use Listed Heaters

Verify the heater's design and safety features have been evaluated by one of the top testing facilities, like UL.

Heater Condition

Heaters that are secondhand, used, or repaired could be risky investments and fire hazards. Buy the owner's manual or operating instructions together with any used or rebuilt heaters.

Other things to consider include the state of the grill enclosing the heating element, the fuel gauge, the ignition system, the fuel tank, and the tip-over switch.

Additionally, look for a seal from a reputable safety laboratory (UL).

Safety Elements

Confirm whether the heater has a built-in igniter or relies on a match to light it. A heater needs to have an automated shutoff. If the heater is knocked over, request that the dealer demonstrate its safe use.

How To Ensure The Safety Operation Of A Kerosene Heater?

To reduce the risk of fire and potential health impacts from indoor air pollution, heed these safety suggestions:

Buy & Use The Right Fuel

Use only 1 K-grade kerosene that is water-clear. Never use gas. Kerosene and gasoline are not the same things. Kerosene can be far more likely to catch fire or explode when combined with gasoline, other volatile fuels, or solvents.

Make sure you utilize the kerosene pump rather than the gasoline pump when purchasing kerosene at the pump. For kerosene, some gas stations have separate islands. To reduce the likelihood of kerosene contaminating gasoline, certain oil firms have also set up quality control processes.

You need to buy kerosene of the 1-K grade from a vendor who can attest to the authenticity of the product. Some states have created kerosene quality assurance systems that are run by the public and commercial sectors.

A possible health danger arises from the emission of more contaminants into your house in grades other than K-1. The dealer must attest that the product sold is 1-K grade kerosene because several grades of kerosene can appear to be identical.

Store Kerosene Properly

Never store kerosene in a gasoline can or a can that has previously held gasoline. Always store it in a separate container made specifically for kerosene. By doing this, you can prevent accidentally utilizing tainted fuel or incorrect fuel. Containers for kerosene are often blue, while those for gasoline are typically red.

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Add Fuel To The Heater Outdoors

Inside the house, never refill the heater. Only fill the tank after turning off the heater and allowing it to cool down outside, away from combustible things. When the heater is hot or running, avoid refueling it.

Never overfill the fuel tank past the "full" indication. The area above the "full" indication is there to allow the fuel room to enlarge while the heater is running without producing leaks.

In Case Of Fire, Turn Off The Heater Immediately

Avoid moving or carrying the heater if a flare-up or uncontrollable flame occurs. This can worsen the flames. To turn the heater off, turn on the manual shut-off switch if it is there.

If this doesn't put out the fire, you should leave the house right away and dial the fire department. Install at least one smoke detector close to every sleeping area or on each floor of the house as an extra safety measure.

Regularly Maintain Your Heater

By correctly using and caring for your portable kerosene heater, you can lessen your exposure to indoor air contaminants. Even though portable kerosene heaters burn fuel very effectively to provide heat, they still produce small amounts of some pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.

Low levels of exposure to these pollutants may be dangerous, especially for people who already have a chronic respiratory or circulatory health condition.

In Conclusion

The blue flame of a Kerosene heater.

Almost all gas heaters, including kerosene heaters, should produce blue flames. This means that the heater completely combusted the fuel of your heater. This also ensures that you are safe from the dangers of inhaling dangerous gases like carbon monoxide. 

If you enjoyed this article, you can check out other related posts here: 

How Much Kerosene Does A Heater Use?

Gas Heater Not Working But Pilot Light On - What Could Be Wrong?

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