Can I Use Diesel in a Kerosene Heater?

Yes! You can run Diesel in a Kerosene Heater. But be aware of these facts and be careful!

Running out of kerosene fuel for your kerosene heater during the cold season can be a real pain, especially if you’re bugging in. If you have diesel stocked up and you’re in a pinch, you might question if you can safely use diesel as an alternative for kerosene. 


To answer the question, yes! Diesel can be safely used as an alternative fuel for kerosene heaters. However, there are a few factors to using diesel which require you to to set safety measures. Failing to do so can simply turn comfort into disaster.

Things you have to take into account:

  •         It depends which grade of diesel you will be using;
  •         You must use some diesel additives;
  •         You must use the correct type of wick.

Before We Dig Deeper, How Are Kerosene and Diesel Fuels Made?

Diesel and kerosene fuels are both made of crude oil, which is extracted from beneath the earth’s surface. It is then shipped off to refineries, in which it will undergo a distillation process to produce diesel, kerosene and other chemical extracts.  The crude oil will be heated up until it reaches its boiling point, giving rise to vapor. The vapor will be captured in another tank to turn into a new liquid through the process of condensation. It’s just like experients science class in 7th grade. Or that TV show Moonshiners! Moreover, in producing different types of fuels, the vapors will be heated up in varying temperatures and then again be captured in a different tank—a continuous cycle for different distillates of crude oil.

Grades of Standard Diesel

Diesel fuel, which some people referred to as ‘diesel oil’, is measured by its cetane, in which the higher the Cetane Index of the fuel, the more volatile it is.

Diesel fuel is commercially available in two grades:


Diesel #1 (or 1-D)

Using diesel #1 often leads to best results as it is deemed to be relatively the closest to kerosene which makes it the best kerosene alternative. Among other grades/types, this one burns the cleanest. However, this type of Diesel is more expensive and provides less energy compared  “2-D” type Diesel fuel. 


Diesel #2 (or 2-D)

Diesel #2 is often used for vehicles and is available at most gas stations . It provides a high amount of energy and serves as a great fuel in heavy duty and everyday use. However, the downside to using #2 is that it transforms into a thick gel when the temperature drops, which often leads to hard engine starts and possibly more issues. Thus, this may not be a viable option during the cold season.


Diesel Additives

By using diesel additives, you can prolong the diesel engine help it to burn cleaner. It will also result in diminishing the tendency of getting your wick damaged since diesel burns at higher temperatures than kerosene.   

The most common diesel additives are:

  •         Kerosene
  •         Kerosene Additives
  •         Isopropyl Alcohol

For isopropyl alcohol additives, check the label as directions can vary. As for the kerosene, add it to the diesel fuel in a kerosene-to-fuel ratio of 1:3 to 1:5.

The Bottom Line

Although it’s doable in a pinch, Diesel as an alternative fuel for kerosene is not recommended. It’d be wiser to stick with kerosene for your kerosene heaters and the use of diesel should only come as an absolute last resort. If you plan on using diesel, just always keep in mind the factors and the safety precautions that you must follow.