Where To Buy Kerosene (For Heaters, Lanterns, & More)
When it comes to fuels used in heating, few are as rarely used as kerosene. We all use natural gas or oil to heat homes. Sometimes, we might use a butane torch to fuel a campfire or a propane BBQ. But kerosene? Well, it’s a little more niche than most other gasses out there. However, if you need kerosene, you are going to have to find it fast. Where can you even buy it, though?
There are several major types of stores that might stock kerosene near you. The most common places to find kerosene include:
- Hardware Stores
- Auto Shops
- Gas Stations
- Big Department Stores
Like with all fuels typically used in emergencies, it’s better to know where to buy them before you need them. This guide will help you understand where you can get kerosene near you.
Which Stores Stock Kerosene?
Kerosene suffers from a problem that few other fuels have. This is a rarer fuel than most, primarily due to a lack of interest. So when you’re looking for it, prepare to occasionally hear that it’s not carried by local companies. With that said, there are some places that still offer it fairly frequently.
Hardware stores are, without a doubt, the place to go and get some kerosene for your home. All major “big box” home improvement stores, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware, stock kerosene. To get it from one of these stores, just tell a sales rep that you’re looking to buy kerosene.
Don’t like chatting with a store clerk? Unfortunately, talking to a rep sometimes is mandatory. Due to the statutes and laws in certain states, you may have to talk to a salesperson in order to access kerosene. It’s considered to be a major fuel, so you have to be over 18 to buy it in some areas.
This is the most reliable way to get kerosene. Most places also offer up a wide variety of different quantities, which makes it super convenient for people who need unusual amounts of the stuff.
This might throw some people for a loop, but it’s true. Some auto shops carry kerosene as a part of their services, however this is more of an exception rather than the norm. This is usually a better bet when it comes to finding a place that sells kerosene cans. Big box stores like O’Reilly Auto Parts won’t carry the fuel itself, though.
With that said, it’s not unusual to hear of smaller names in the auto scene carrying kerosene fuel. It’s better to call ahead to find out whether or not this is an option for you. If it’s not, you still might want to stop by to get a kerosene can for fueling elsewhere. (They’re the blue ones.)
With no surprise to anyone, gas stations are some of the more reliable places where you can buy kerosene. However, there’s a catch. While you can almost always find both gas and diesel at these stations, kerosene is more dicey. Not all gas stations carry it, though there are some that make a point of doing so. The most likely chains to carry kerosene near you include:
If you are planning a camping trip, it may be a wise idea to look for one of these gas stations nearby. Like with other options on this list, it’s smart to call ahead. Not all gas stations in these chains will carry kerosene, so you don’t want to drive up to a place only to get disappointed.
Big Department Stores
No, we don’t think that Macy’s will be able to fill up your kerosene canister. We do, however, want to point out that certain Wal-Marts, BJ’s Shopping Clubs, and Sam’s Clubs carry kerosene. These big box stores are pretty famous for holding just about everything in their stocks, which is a huge boon for people who want rarer fuels like this.
Of course, the same rule applies as it would to go to a gas station. If you want to make sure that you are able to pick up the kerosene when you need it, check the store’s site and see if it is stocked locally. A phone call can help you figure things out too.
This is a little bit dicey, but believe it or not, it’s possible. Kerosene is one of those materials that is risky to ship from place to place. Though it’s risky, most online stores will allow you to buy kerosene online. It’s even available on Amazon, so getting it shipped to you won’t be too big of an issue.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that you will have an easy time with this. Along with having to wait for the kerosene to be shipped to you, you also have to remember that there often can be a serious upcharge on the kerosene in question. Amazon’s kerosene prices, for example, are often an order of magnitude higher than what they would be at the gas station.
How Much Does A Gallon Of Kerosene Cost?
Kerosene is often comparable in price to other major fuels like gasoline and diesel. At the time of this writing, most kerosene can be obtained for $2.75 to $3.50 per gallon at a typical gas station. Pre-filled canisters of kerosene can be more expensive. Most canisters filled with kerosene will cost between $10 to $15 when bought from a typical store.
If you are ordering kerosene off Amazon or another similar platform, be aware that you may face serious upcharging. It’s not unusual to see single gallon jugs of kerosene priced for as much as $20 to $55 on Amazon. As a result, it makes sense to try to buy from other platforms unless you are desperate for kerosene.
Why Is Kerosene So Expensive?
There are a number of reasons why kerosene is so expensive. In the past, the primary reason why kerosene meant feeling pain at the pump was due to the creation process. However, kerosene is now cheaper to make than diesel, making that reason obsolete. The bigger issue is the demand.
Over the past 20 years, the demand for kerosene plummeted. It’s still dropping, too. Due to a lack of demand, kerosene started to get pushed to the side. This means that it’s starting to cost more to store it and advertise it than it once did, and people are less likely to buy it. To recover the operating costs, kerosene sellers have to jack up the price a bit.
Do You Need A Kerosene Canister For Kerosene?
Absolutely. On a federal level, there is a law that mandates that you need to carry kerosene in an approved, safety-grade canister. If you are buying a prefilled canister, then the container that you have is already approved for a single-use. If you need to get one of your own, look for a K-1 kerosene container.
Most kerosene containers are color-coded. Just like how regular gas cans are red, kerosene containers are blue. By choosing a color-coded carrier, you avoid making the mistake of using the wrong fuel in the wrong place. Since they are made to be tip-proof, they also can prevent you from having to clean up kerosene spills from the carpet.
Since kerosene canisters are pretty important to have, most places that sell kerosene will also sell approved canisters. The only exceptions to this rule are gas stations, since they are primarily fuel-only areas.
What Can Be Used Instead of Kerosene?
With the high price and uncertain availability of kerosene, there are some instances where you may need to seek out an alternative. Plus, burning kerosene releases emissions and lamps can have undesirable impacts on indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are substitutes for kerosene that can be used solely for lighting purposes, for jet fuel, and some alternatives that work for both.
However, if you are looking for a kerosene heater substitute, don’t try it. Much like you shouldn’t use kerosene in a propane heater, you shouldn’t use anything as a swap here.
Kerosene Lamp Substitutes
If you are looking for a way to light a kerosene-powered lamp, you may be in luck. Generic lamp oil can replace the kerosene in a pinch. Although lamp oil is generally more expensive than kerosene, it burns cleaner and produces fewer odors.
Citronella oil can also be burned in wick lamps, but generates a large amount of smoke and soot, and is only appropriate for outdoor applications.
Synthetic kerosene can be distinguished in three ways, based on the raw material used in its construction: coal to liquid (CTL), gas to liquid (GTL), or biomass to liquid (BTL). While synthetic kerosene has the same energy content and safety qualities as petroleum, it is only permitted for commercial aviation as a blend.
It is also sold for lamps under a number of brand names and is commonly used as an alternative to petroleum kerosene since it has less of an odor.
Bio-fuels come from feedstock like algae, soybeans or rapeseed and have a lower energy content than kerosene. They also have a comparatively high freezing point, which limits the possibility for high-altitude flights. Bio-fuel, when it comes to jet fuel, is appropriate for blending but cannot be deemed an alternative itself.
With bio-diesel lamps, only bio-diesel that is packaged for lamps should be used. These lamps are not suitable for use with the type of bio-diesel you get from a gas station pump.
What is the Difference Between Kerosene and Diesel?
While both diesel and kerosene are both heating fuels that are created during the process of refining crude oil, there are distinct differences between the two. The main differences relate to the ways in which these fuels are used. Kerosene is generally used in producing heat and light, as an ingredient in jet fuel and also as a fuel for cooking in many developing countries.
Diesel fuel, on the other hand, is used to fuel a wide variety of vehicles, like trains, trucks, and some automobiles. It can also be used to produce electricity as a heating oil in diesel-powered generators.
Does kerosene or diesel burn cleaner?
Much to (not) many people’s surprise, kerosene actually remains cleaner than diesel in terms of burning. The reason why diesel tends to be more popular is that it carries more heat per gallon than kerosene. More people tend to prefer burning kerosene, though, simply due to the high sulfur content that is found in diesel.
Both kerosene and diesel have their own scents when burned. It just so happens that diesel smells worse.
Is kerosene cheaper than electric?
Currently, kerosene is the cheaper way to power a heater when compared to electricity. According to the most recent studies, it will cost around $70 less to heat a heater through the use of kerosene than it would with electricity over the course of a single year. However, you shouldn’t let this cost statistic be the reason you go with one or the other.There is a lot of reason to believe that the price of kerosene will be increasing over the next decade. Besides, getting kerosene is not exactly the easiest thing to do. Between the convenience and price fluctuations, it’s pretty easy to see why electricity is one of the better options.
Is it safe to burn kerosene indoors?
It depends on the heater. In many cases, it is a completely safe thing to do. However, fire risks and carbon monoxide are issues you need to wait for. Always keep an eye out for important safety aspects and follow the safety instructions that your kerosene burned came with.To ensure that you keep your area carbon monoxide-free, make sure your home remains well-ventilated. While you don’t need to open a window in most cases, keeping an eye on the carbon monoxide detector and turning on vents makes a lot of sense.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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