Gasoline vs. Kerosene

What's the Difference?

Gasoline and kerosene are both commonly used fuels, but they have distinct differences. Gasoline is primarily used as fuel for automobiles and small engines, while kerosene is commonly used for heating, lighting, and cooking. Gasoline is a lighter fuel, derived from crude oil, and is highly flammable. It is known for its high energy density, making it efficient for powering vehicles. On the other hand, kerosene is a heavier fuel, also derived from crude oil, and has a lower energy density compared to gasoline. It burns at a higher temperature and is less volatile, making it safer for indoor use. Overall, while both fuels have their specific applications, gasoline is more commonly associated with transportation, while kerosene is used for various household purposes.


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Chemical FormulaC8H18C12H26
ColorClear, colorlessColorless to pale yellow
Density (g/mL)0.71-0.770.78-0.81
Boiling Point (°C)Approximately -40 to 205Approximately 150-300
Flash Point (°C)-4538-72
UsageUsed as fuel for internal combustion enginesUsed as fuel for jet engines, heating, and lamps
Octane RatingTypically 87-93Not applicable
Energy Content (MJ/L)Approximately 34.2Approximately 35.8
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Further Detail


Gasoline and kerosene are two commonly used fuels that have distinct properties and applications. While both fuels are derived from crude oil, they have different chemical compositions and are used for various purposes. In this article, we will explore the attributes of gasoline and kerosene, including their chemical makeup, energy content, volatility, combustion characteristics, and applications.

Chemical Makeup

Gasoline, also known as petrol, is primarily composed of hydrocarbons with 8 to 12 carbon atoms per molecule. It contains a mixture of alkanes, cycloalkanes, and aromatic compounds. On the other hand, kerosene consists of longer hydrocarbon chains with 12 to 16 carbon atoms per molecule. It is mainly composed of alkanes and may also contain small amounts of aromatic compounds.

Energy Content

When comparing the energy content of gasoline and kerosene, it is important to consider their respective densities. Gasoline has a lower density than kerosene, which means that a liter of gasoline contains less energy compared to a liter of kerosene. However, gasoline has a higher energy content per unit of volume due to its higher volatility and ability to vaporize more easily.


Gasoline is highly volatile and evaporates quickly at room temperature. This property makes it ideal for use in internal combustion engines, where it needs to vaporize easily for efficient combustion. On the other hand, kerosene has a lower volatility and does not evaporate as readily as gasoline. This characteristic makes kerosene more suitable for applications that require a slower and more controlled combustion process, such as in jet engines or lamps.

Combustion Characteristics

When it comes to combustion, gasoline and kerosene exhibit different characteristics. Gasoline burns more easily and rapidly due to its higher volatility and lower flash point. It produces a higher amount of heat and releases energy quickly, making it suitable for powering vehicles and small engines. Kerosene, on the other hand, has a higher flash point and burns more slowly and steadily. It produces a more controlled and sustained flame, making it suitable for applications that require a longer burning time, such as in heating systems or lanterns.


Gasoline is primarily used as a fuel for automobiles, motorcycles, and small engines. Its high energy content and volatility make it an efficient choice for internal combustion engines, providing the power needed for transportation. Additionally, gasoline is also used as a solvent in various industries and as a raw material in the production of chemicals.

Kerosene, on the other hand, finds its main applications in aviation, heating, and lighting. It is commonly used as jet fuel due to its slower combustion rate and higher flash point, which ensures safe and controlled combustion in aircraft engines. Kerosene is also used as a heating fuel in homes and commercial buildings, providing warmth during colder months. Furthermore, kerosene lamps are still used in areas without access to electricity, providing a reliable source of light.


In conclusion, gasoline and kerosene are two distinct fuels with different attributes and applications. Gasoline, with its lower density, higher volatility, and rapid combustion characteristics, is primarily used as a fuel for vehicles and small engines. On the other hand, kerosene, with its higher density, lower volatility, and slower combustion rate, finds its main applications in aviation, heating, and lighting. Understanding the unique properties of these fuels allows us to utilize them efficiently and safely in various industries and everyday life.

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