Can a car engine run on kerosene?

Ah, the good old talk about using kerosene as car fuel. It never seems to lose its magic, doesn't it? Okay, we'll steer clear of corny intros (what a lie!). Anyway, many folks are typing this question into their search bar: can a car engine run on kerosene? Today, we'll try to uncover the truth!

Also, what kind of fuel is kerosene? What's it used for? Where can we buy it? These are all questions we'll tackle in the text below. Therefore, stick around for some valuable info (as always, here at GasAnswer).

Yes, a car engine might run on kerosene. However, that doesn't mean you should sip kerosene in your gas tank. It will most probably damage your engine and its components. 

You can't really say you've mastered a subject by simply reading the snippet. That being said, nothing should keep you from reading the whole thing!

Table of Contents

What is kerosene?

Before we tackle the main question (can a car engine run on kerosene?), let's consider the basics first. Therefore, we must ask: what is kerosene? Let's find out!

Here are some facts that will help us define this commonly-used liquid:

  • It's sometimes spelled as kerosine. 
  • Also, it's sometimes called paraffin (paraffin oil). 
  • Kerosene is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid. 
  • Of course, it's commonly utilized as fuel. 
  • Kerosene is usually pale yellow or colorless. 
  • It has a smell that certain folks find pleasant (just like gasoline).
  • We get kerosene from the process of petroleum refinement. 
  • You'll typically find kerosene powering lamps or furnaces, as well as jet engines. 
  • Lastly, you're able to use it as a solvent for greases and insecticides. 

That's about all that you should know for now. We won't fall into the trap of getting ahead of ourselves. Anyway, shall we consider some other basic info?

Is kerosene harmful to humans?

Since kerosene is a household fuel, it's important that we consider its effect on humans. As we've said, many folks commonly use kerosene as lamp fuel. So, is kerosene harmful to people? Here's what some new research studies have found:

  • Household usage of kerosene is sometimes associated with impaired lung function. Also, there have been some data linking it to asthma, and even – cancer. Lastly, we can also mention the increased susceptibility to certain infectious diseases. Tuberculosis is one of them. 

However, you'll want to take this info with a pinch of salt, as they say. Why? Well, because repeated studies show some certain inconstancies. Now, if you were to drink kerosene, you could experience various unpleasant symptoms. We're talking about stomach cramps, drowsiness, diarrhea, unconsciousness, and so on.

Our suggestion is that you steer clear of inhaling kerosene (more than it's necessary). Of course, drinking it should be out of the question, too. Safe storage of kerosene is also a necessity. Speaking of safety, here's how to safely dispose of gasoline.

Where can I buy kerosene?

We'll be short there since this answer doesn't require much explanation. You can buy kerosene at some of your local hardware stores or gas stations. You can even purchase it directly from the supplier. Also, want to earn money for gas or kerosene? If so, sign-up right here.

Okay, that should've done it for the basics. Let's consider whether kerosene is also harmful to your trusty vehicle. In other words, let's find out if a car engine can run on kerosene.

A picture of a car engine which can't run on kerosene.

Can a car engine run on kerosene?

So, you've thought about sipping kerosene inside your car's fuel tank? If so, let's find out whether that's a good idea or something you should avoid!

Here's the simplest answer you can find: yes, you can, but it will ruin your vehicle's engine. In the following lines, we'll show you a scientific explanation of why using kerosene to run your car is a BAD idea. Trust us, you don't want to experiment with using kerosene inside your fuel tank. Unless, of course, you want to do some intentional harm to your vehicle. Anyway, let's see what's all the fuss about!

First, we'll have to consider what both liquids (gasoline and kerosene) consist of:

  • Gasoline is a combination of C₄ to C₁₀ hydrocarbons.
  • Kerosene is a combination of C₁₀ to C₁₆ hydrocarbons.

Therefore, they don't share a common flash point. A flash point is defined as the temperature at which they release flammable vapors. Also, they don't have the same boiling point. Here's the difference in degrees:

  • Gasoline has a boiling point of about 85°C. Its flash point is at about -45°C (or -49°F).
  • Kerosene has a boiling point above 150-300°C. Its flash point is somewhere between 37°C (99°F) and 65°C (149°F).

Why should this concern us anyway? Here's the thing: a gasoline engine will send a spark into a mix of air & fuel vapors. Now, you can actually set it up to use kerosene, but the liquid will need to release flammable vapors. As we've said kerosene won't do that until the temperature's between 37°C (99°F) and 65°C (149°F).

Okay, so what?

Let's imagine kerosene being injected into the piston as a liquid. Now, some of it will actually burn. However, the unburnt liquid will stick to cylinders, pistons, and rings. Some will, of course, leave your car as smoke, out the exhaust.

Here's another issue: kerosene's got an octane rating of about 25. Gasoline is usually somewhere between 87-93. Therefore, kerosene is prone to pre-ignition.

In other words, the fuel will ignite before the spark plug fires. This will result in extreme temperatures and pressures. Eventually, such a scenario will cause your pistons to melt or burn. Oher pistons will push the overheated ones to compress the mixture even more.

All in all: a car might be able to run on gasoline, but you should definitely avoid putting it inside your fuel tank. Okay, so now that we've figured out what you should do, let's consider some other pieces of valuable info!

What engines use kerosene?

Okay, so you'll want to know that zero car engines use kerosene. We've kinda figured that one out already. However, did you know that kerosene is used to power jet engines inside aircraft? Also, kerosene is used to power certain rocket engines, in its highly-refined shape (RP-1).

You must be wondering why jet engines use kerosene instead of gasoline. Here's our answer:

  • Kerosene has a much lower freezing point. Needless to say, aircraft fly at bone-chilling temperatures. Therefore, kerosene does a better job at "trying not to freeze".
  • Kerosene has a higher flash point. We've already talked about this above. Anyway, because of its higher flash point, kerosene proved to be much more efficient.
  • Kerosene has a lower viscosity rating. In other words, it's less thick or gummy than gasoline. It won't have any trouble passing through your aircraft's engine & components.
  • Kerosene costs less. Since airplanes need a lot of fuel (especially commercial ones), we have to consider the cost. Kerosene is much cheaper than gasoline. Among other things, that makes it an obvious choice for aircraft owners.

Now that we've talked about common kerosene usage, shall we consider its shelf life? Without further ado, let's see just how long will kerosene last!

How long will kerosene last?

You'll want to know that kerosene, once stored in an approved container, can last up to 5 years. That is its so-called shelf-life. Also, its original packaging will do the trick. Anyway, it's not hard to see that kerosene's able to last more than gasoline. Here's an article about the latter.

Here's the thing: as kerosene "grows old", condensation will add water to it. Eventually, bacteria & mold will appear and create sludge. That will break down the fuel. However, one shouldn't worry too much about this. Five years is a solid life expectancy for fuel, right?

Also, you're able to prolong the shelf life of your stored kerosene. How? Well, you can simply add some kerosene stabilizer to it.

Let's see if there's something else that we can mention in the final chapters of this text.

Can you mix diesel and kerosene?

As a matter of fact, you're able to mix diesel and kerosene. You'll be able to gain something from the mixture, too. Otherwise, why would anyone do it? Anyway, here's why people mix diesel and kerosene. The latter helps diesel battler colder temperatures during winter.

How do you mix the two? Well, the general rule of thumb is that a mixture should have 10% of kerosene. They say that in colder climates, the mixture might be more cost effective than using a cold flow polymer.

Also, speaking of diesel, here's whether red diesel will stain your clothes.

Can you mix engine oil with kerosene?

Last but not least, let's whether you're able to mix engine oil with kerosene. Our answer reads: NO. Nope, you shouldn't mix the two, and here's why:

  • Such action will result in unsafe emissions. 
  • It will do some good damage to your engine. 
  • Your engine will most probably experience unpredictable heat. 

All in all: steer clear of mixing engine oil & kerosene.

Final thoughts on running a car engine on kerosene

That's about it for today's topic, folks. Now you know that you shouldn't run a car engine on kerosene. Also, you've found some pretty useful info along the way. Anyway, if you're on the lookout for more interesting topics, visit our blog page.