Kerosene is a hydrocarbon fuel distilled from petroleum. The term kerosene was trademarked in 1854, but has since become a generic term much like the word "zipper." Also known as paraffin in some parts of the world, the fuel is used for heating, cooking and as a component of jet engine fuel. Kerosene's chemical and physical properties make it different from other fuels.
Appearance & Smell
Kerosene is a odorless liquid at room temperature with a clear to pale yellow color. However, when kerosene burns it gives off a strong smoke odor.
At room temperature, kerosene has a density of 0.80 grams per milliliter. the density increases as temperature decreases. At 59 degrees Fahrenheit, the density can increase to 0.94 grams per milliliter.
Although kerosene is insoluble in water, it does mix with other petroleum solvents.
Kerosene boils at very high temperatures ranging from 347 degrees to 617 degrees Fahrenheit. The range is dependent on air pressure.
Flash point is the minimum temperature at which vapors of a liquid will ignite. A substance with a low flash point is easier to ignite than one with a higher flash point. Kerosene's flash point ranges from 100 degrees to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the pressure the kerosene is under. At sea level kerosene's flash point is 149 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature at which a substance will ignite on its own at normal air pressure is the autoignition temperature. This temperature for kerosene is 444 degrees Fahrenheit.
About the Author
Based in Portland, Ore., Tammie Painter has been writing garden, fitness, science and travel articles since 2008. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as "Herb Companion" and "Northwest Travel" and she is the author of six books. Painter earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Portland State University.