What Happens When A Kerosene Heater Runs Out Of Fuel?

Kerosene heaters are a great thing to have in case of an emergency. But what happens when they run out of fuel? Let's take a look to see if kerosene heaters can be dangerous.

When a kerosene heater runs out of fuel, the wick can continue to burn, which can be a fire hazard. Additionally, kerosene heaters produce carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous if it builds up in a confined space. It is vital to take extra precautions and have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home if you plan on using kerosene heaters.

Kerosene heaters can be a great way to stay warm during an emergency, but it's important to use them safely. In this article, we will discuss the risks of a kerosene heater when they run out of fuel. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about kerosene heaters, so read on!

Is It Okay To Run A Kerosene Heater Dry?

Kerosene is a type of fuel made from petroleum. It is often used in lamps and lanterns because it burns brightly and produces little smoke. Kerosene heaters in some countries are used as a main source of heat.

Black kerosene heater

In the United States, they are typically used for emergency situations. For example, if the power goes out during a winter storm, people may use kerosene heaters to stay warm. Kerosene heaters can also be used outdoors for camping or other activities.

Kerosene heaters work by igniting the fuel with a wick. The heat from the burning kerosene is then distributed through the metal body of the heater.

However, when kerosene heaters run out of fuel, they don't completely turn off. Instead, the wick continues to burn, which can be a fire hazard. Having any furniture or other flammable objects at least 3 feet from the heater is vital.

Additionally, kerosene heaters produce carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas. It can be dangerous if carbon monoxide builds up in a confined space.

That's why taking extra precautions is essential when using kerosene heaters. Make sure to open doors and windows for ventilation and install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Nonetheless, when done properly, running a kerosene heater dry is a good way to clean the wick. Once the kerosene has burned off, you can dip the wick in denatured alcohol to clean it. After that, you can relight the heater with fresh kerosene.

Running a kerosene heater dry must be done outdoors and with extreme caution. Make sure to follow the instructions in your heater's manual.

Can You Run A Kerosene Heater At Night?

Burning kerosene heater at night

To keep you and your family safe, it is best not to run a kerosene heater at night. As we mentioned before, kerosene heaters produce carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous if it builds up in a confined space.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, and you may not realize you are being poisoned until it is too late. That's why it is essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Even then, we recommend not running your kerosene heater at night while you are asleep.

In addition, leaving a kerosene heater running at night increases the chances of a fire. When a kerosene heater is unattended, you can't keep an eye on it to make sure it is running safely.

We know it can be tempting to use a kerosene heater at night to stay warm, but it's not worth the risk. Play it safe and use another form of heat, such as electric blankets or space heaters.

What Are The Dangers Of A Kerosene Heater?

What are the dangers of a kerosene heater

There are several dangers associated with kerosene heaters. We have covered some of the most important earlier, but here are other dangers to be aware of:


While it may seem dramatic, explosions from kerosene heaters do happen. This can be caused by being knocked over, using the wrong fuel, or improperly igniting the wick.

First, using gasoline instead of kerosene can result in an explosion. Gasoline has a lower flash point than kerosene, so it ignites more easily. If you accidentally use gasoline in your heater, get out of the area immediately and call 911.

Next, if a kerosene heater is knocked over for any reason and it touches a flammable object, it could explode.

That's why it is crucial to keep the heater on a level surface and away from anything that could catch fire. In addition, keep children and pets away from kerosene heaters to prevent them from accidentally tipping them over.

Last, if you accidentally ignite the fuel when trying to light the wick, you could cause an explosion.


Another danger of kerosene heaters is asphyxiation. This can happen if the heater is left on in a confined space without proper ventilation.

As they burn, the oxygen in a room is used up and replaced with carbon monoxide. If there isn't enough ventilation, the carbon monoxide can build up to toxic levels.

Other Air Pollutants

In addition to carbon monoxide, kerosene heaters can produce other harmful pollutants. For example, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter can all be emitted from kerosene heaters.

These pollutants can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma. In addition, these pollutants can be dangerous to pregnant women, the elderly, and young children.


Patient's hand and thumb with heat blister and injuries

Coming into contact with a kerosene heater can cause severe burns. The heater itself can get very hot, and the fuel is also flammable. If you spill kerosene on your skin, it can cause severe burns.

With these hot temperatures, clothing can easily catch on fire if it comes into contact with the heater. That's why keeping flammable materials, such as blankets and curtains, away from kerosene heaters is essential.

How Long Will A Kerosene Heater Run?

Depending on the quality of the kerosene, a full tank of fuel can run a heater for 6-10 hours. Typically, a kerosene heater has around 2 gallons of fuel.

However, the length of time the heater can run also depends on what setting it is on. For example, if you have the heater on the highest setting, you may only get 5-6 hours of use.

On the other hand, if you have the heater on a lower setting, it may run for 8-10 hours. Check the manufacturer's instructions to see what the different settings are and how long they will run for.

Is It Better To Run A Propane Or Kerosene Heater?

There are benefits and drawbacks to both propane and kerosene heaters. Propane heaters will emit a clean burn and be more accessible. For example, you can find propane tanks at most gas stations.

Plus, propane is typically less expensive than kerosene. However, kerosene emits a strong amount of heat which can be beneficial in a power outage.

However, both types of fuel need to be used in a well-ventilated area to avoid asphyxiation.

Can You Use Diesel In A Kerosene Heater?

Diesel can be used in a kerosene heater, but it is not recommended. Diesel has a higher viscosity than kerosene and will clog the wick more quickly.

This will result in the heater not working as efficiently and could cause damage to the heater over time. If you must use diesel, make sure to clean the wick more often than you would with kerosene.

Nonetheless, in an emergency situation, diesel can be used in a kerosene heater if necessary.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Kerosene?

Kerosene transferred into a plastic container

If you want to stock up on kerosene for emergency purposes, you need to know how long it will last. Kerosene has a shelf life of 5 years if it is stored properly.

To extend the shelf life, store the kerosene in a cool, dry place. In addition, make sure the containers are tightly sealed to prevent evaporation. Also, keep your supply of kerosene out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources.

By following these storage tips, you can ensure that your kerosene will be usable when you need it.

Can I Store A Kerosene Heater With Fuel In It?

White kerosene warming stove

When you aren't using your kerosene heater, you may be tempted to just leave the fuel in it. However, this is not a good idea.

Leaving fuel in the heater will cause water and dirt to build up, which can clog the wick. This can also cause mold to develop. As a result, you may have irreversible damage to your heater.

To avoid this, make sure to empty the fuel from the heater before storing it. If you spill any fuel, make sure to clean it up immediately. You don't want any risks of fires or explosions.

Final Thoughts

While they have their benefits in emergency situations, kerosene heaters can be dangerous. They need to be used with caution in order to avoid any accidents. By following the tips above, you can use your kerosene heater safely and effectively.

Made it to the end? Here are other articles you might find helpful:

How To Tell Kerosene From Gasoline [Quickly And Easily]

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

Your Kerosene Heater Flame Is Too High, Too Low, Or Uneven? Here’s Why & What To Do?

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