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Diesel Fuel And Kerosene Heaters: How To Keep Yourself Warm In An Apocalypse

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When everyone starts to prepare for a world emergency and shifts into SHTF mode, everyone immediately jumps to thinking about food, water, and protection. While these things are important, it’s important to also remember heat and how you are going to stay warm when the power is out.

Staying warm is often overlooked when it comes to surviving in an apocalypse. It’s usually not until those chilly nights kick in when people realize they need to find a heat source.

Prolonged exposure to cold can result in hypothermia, and will affect your brain so you can’t keep a clear head or think properly in a dire situation. This is why finding a heat source is a vital part of survival – without one, you could end up weak and ill even if you have plenty of food, water, and weapons.

Your first instinct may be to throw on some extra clothes and tough it out, but sometimes, layering up and staying under lots of blankets isn’t enough – and building a huge bonfire?

Fires require a lot of fuel and room to build, plus you have to be sure you know how to control one and can put it out quickly if it begins to get out of control, otherwise you risk losing your shelter to fire.

So if blankets are not enough, and fires are too dangerous, then what else can you use?

Well, how about a kerosene heater?

Kerosene heaters are handy little things that are used across the world to keep homes warm during the colder seasons, but they obviously are going to require some sort of fuel to keep them running.

So what happens if you can’t find or run out of kerosene? Can you use another fuel like diesel to power your kerosene heater?

To answer all your questions about heat sources in a world meltdown situation or even just a really long power cut, here is some useful information about kerosene heaters that may just help you out in the future.

Kerosene Heaters: What Are They And Why Are They So Important?


Kerosene heaters are one of the best known kinds of heaters out there. They are sometimes called paraffin heaters, and are used in countries like Japan as a primary source of heat in homes. In countries like the US or Australia, they are kept in some homes as a backup heat source during power outages.

You can fire one up in an emergency and it will keep you warm until it runs out of fuel. Kerosene heaters are also portable and small enough to move around with ease, so they can be kept in storage easily until they need to be pulled out for use.

So how do they work?

Well, a kerosene heater operates much like a kerosene lamp just on a much larger scape. It features a wick made from fiberglass or cotton that is integrated into a burner unit mounted above a fuel tank.

The wick draws the fuel (most commonly kerosene, hence the name kerosene heater) and when it is lit, the wick heats the fuel until it turns into a gas. The gas is then burnt to heat up air. This hot air is what heats up your room and keeps you warm.

What is great about kerosene heaters is that they don’t need electricity to function. You can purchase ones that require electricity to power a fan or an ignitor, but they are not necessary for the heater to do its main job.

A fan only helps a room warm up quicker by forcing the heated air out, and the heater can be ignited using matches rather than by using a battery-operated ignitor. This is why kerosene heaters are kept as an emergency source of heat – even when the power is out, you can still fire up a kerosene heater and keep your home warm without the need for electricity.

This is why kerosene heaters are ideal for apocalyptic events. If the world falls apart and all power sources shut down or fail, then you can still turn to this nifty piece of modern equipment to keep yourself warm.

All you need to worry about is fuel.

Kerosene heaters obviously run mainly on kerosene, an oil that is derived from petroleum. It is a widely used fuel in not only heaters, but in jet engines as well. It is a flammable liquid, but is less volatile than other fuels like gasoline, which makes it safer to handle and store.

However, in an apocalyptic situation, it is harder to source. You can probably find some at a gas station or in some specialized stores, but as kerosene is mainly used for heating purposes, it is not widely available in every single store.

If you are thinking of purchasing a kerosene heater to use as your emergency heater, then it may be worth stocking up on some kerosene as well – but if you ever run out and can’t find any kerosene, what other fuels can you use instead?

The answer is diesel.

Diesel: What It Is And Where To Find It

Diesel fuel is a fuel that is specifically designed to power diesel engines. It is available in many different types, but the most commonly found diesel fuel is derived from petroleum – just like kerosene.

It is more difficult to light when compared to fuels like gasoline, and dropping a match in diesel will only cause the match to go out. Diesel fuel must be heated for it to be able to catch fire, making it a rather safe fuel to handle and store.

This is why diesel is used in diesel engines – diesel engines do not have a spark plug to ignite fuels with flame, and instead use intense pressure to ignite fuels like diesel.

So can you use diesel to power a kerosene heater?

The answer is yes – diesel can be used instead of kerosene in a kerosene heater. Diesel and kerosene are actually very similar, with one main difference being that diesel takes longer to heat up and burn than kerosene does.

Diesel is an ideal substitute to kerosene, as you can probably find diesel fuel in diesel cars or at your local gas station. It is more widely available than kerosene, and is actually cheaper to purchase right now. But this doesn’t mean you should use diesel when kerosene is available – it is always recommended that you use kerosene, and diesel as a last resort.

This is because using diesel in your kerosene heater does damage the wick. Because diesel does not combust very well and does not always evaporate quickly, this means that the fuel will not travel up the wick nearly as fast as kerosene does.

Your wick will burn itself for longer, and will need replacing more frequently than when you use kerosene. Also, diesel does not burn as cleanly as kerosene does, meaning that carbon will build up on your wick and also add to how often you need to replace the wick.

The smoke from burning diesel is also dark colored and produces by-products like carbon monoxide and other by-products that can harm your eyes and lungs. Kerosene does not have this issue, which is why it is the ideal fuel.

So constantly using diesel in your kerosene heater does come with its disadvantages, but when push comes to shove, you need a heat source during those tough times. Using diesel in your kerosene heater means that you can keep on surviving for a longer time, at least until you find some more kerosene to use.

This is also what makes a kerosene heater such a great choice to use as a heat source during the apocalypse. You can use it without electricity and also by using an alternative fuel, making this versatile heater a must-have in your end-of-the-world bunker.

How To Burn Diesel In Your Kerosene Heater

So what should you do if you run out of kerosene and all you have is diesel to power your kerosene heater?

The first thing you need to do is to prepare your diesel and your heater.

Diesel can be made to burn quicker and correctly by adding additives. This will help keep your wick in better shape for longer. To achieve this, you can use diesel additives like isopropyl alcohol or kerosene itself. Using kerosene as an additive to diesel instead of just using kerosene itself helps your kerosene stock to last longer.

When using isopropyl alcohol, check that it is 91% pure or higher and add approximately 5 millimetres for every pint of diesel fuel you will be using. If you are using kerosene as an additive, fill up the heater’s tank ¾ quarters with diesel and then the rest with kerosene. This method will save you using a lot of kerosene while still having the same effect.

If you are burning diesel in your kerosene heater, then you may want to switch your fiberglass wick for a cotton one. Cotton wicks don’t last as long as fiberglass, but they are the better choice when it comes to burning diesel fuel.

The burning edge can be trimmed away easier when it is filled with carbon and stops working, so you can just chop the charred top off your wick and get back to lighting your heater. With fiberglass wicks, the top cannot be trimmed off.

Before you start up your heater, let the wick soak up the diesel for about half an hour before you try to ignite it. Lighting a wick before it has had time to soak up diesel means that you will only be damaging the wick itself without producing any heat. Make your wick last longer by letting it soak so when you do go to light it, you are burning fuel and not the wick alone.

Once you have lit your wick, your kerosene heater should work as usual – this time just burning diesel fuel instead of kerosene. You will probably experience some smoke and odor when you first fire up the heater, but as kerosene heaters are unvented, they will release all the gasses they produce straight into the room they’re in.

Make sure you have your kerosene heater running in a well ventilated room. This may seem counteractive, but it helps reduce the possibility of gasses like carbon monoxide from building up in the same room. You can still sit near the heater and be warm while not putting yourself at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

With your kerosene heater running well and you are feeling warm and toasty, you may be tempted to fall asleep while the heater is still running. This is not recommended at all – really, you should not be sleeping with any kind of electrical objects left alive or any flames still burning.

If something goes wrong while you are sleeping, then that just puts you in serious danger. The same goes with your kerosene heater – turn it off just before you go to sleep and then turn it back on when you are awake. Never sleep with your kerosene heater still running, as you won’t be awake and able to sort out any potential issues.

So, remember to use your additives to get the best use out of your kerosene heater and to be sensible when using it. Be smart, and you’ll be perfectly safe using a diesel-fueled kerosene heater in any situation.

Storing Diesel and Kerosene

Storing Diesel and Kerosene

If you are thinking of stockpiling diesel or kerosene in preparation, then here are some tips that will help you.

First, kerosene and diesel can degrade and spoil overtime so for the best possible quality of both, only start stockpiling when things begin to go downhill or refresh your stockpile every three months. This can be expensive but if everything goes crazy over night, then at least you are ready and prepared from the very beginning.

When storing kerosene, make sure you keep it in a sealed plastic or metal container that is properly labeled. Store the kerosene in a secure location that is weatherproof and away from direct sunlight.

Also keep your kerosene away from other heat sources or flames. If kerosene is heated for a prolonged period of time, it may combust in the containers and cause a fire.

The same goes when it comes to storing diesel fuel. Make sure you store your diesel fuel in properly sealed containers that are clearly labeled, and store the containers away from heat sources and sunlight.

Correctly storing your fuels will greatly reduce the risk of an uncontrolled fire from breaking out, saving you a lot of stress and money and, potentially, your life.


So – have you decided on if you want to use a kerosene heater as your primary heat source in an apocalypse? They are used as heaters and emergency back-ups all over the world, making them a smart choice.

Luckily, you can also use diesel as a substitute fuel as long as you use the appropriate additives and take good care of your wick. This is what makes them so useful to survivalists and what makes them the best heat source for you to use when it’s time for the end of the world.