Kerosene vs. Paraffin Oil

What's the Difference?

Kerosene and paraffin oil are both commonly used as fuels and have similar properties, but there are some key differences between them. Kerosene, also known as jet fuel, is a refined petroleum product that is primarily used for aviation purposes. It has a higher flash point and lower viscosity compared to paraffin oil, making it more suitable for high-temperature applications. On the other hand, paraffin oil, also known as mineral oil, is a byproduct of petroleum refining and is commonly used as a lubricant, coolant, or fuel for lamps and heaters. It has a lower flash point and higher viscosity compared to kerosene, making it more suitable for low-temperature applications. Overall, while both kerosene and paraffin oil have their specific uses, their varying properties make them better suited for different applications.


AttributeKeroseneParaffin Oil
Chemical CompositionHydrocarbon mixtureHydrocarbon mixture
ColorClear, colorlessClear, colorless
OdorCharacteristic petroleum smellCharacteristic petroleum smell
FlammabilityHighly flammableHighly flammable
ViscosityLow viscosityLow viscosity
Boiling Point150-300°C300-400°C
Common UsesJet fuel, heating oil, lampsLamp oil, fuel for small engines

Further Detail


Kerosene and paraffin oil are two commonly used fuels that have various applications in different industries and households. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both kerosene and paraffin oil, highlighting their similarities and differences.


Kerosene, also known as paraffin oil, is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid derived from crude oil. It is primarily composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms, with a general formula of CnH2n+2. The specific composition of kerosene can vary depending on the refining process and the source of crude oil. On the other hand, paraffin oil is a more generic term that refers to a group of liquid hydrocarbons derived from petroleum or shale oil. It consists of a mixture of alkanes, cycloalkanes, and aromatic hydrocarbons.

Physical Properties

Both kerosene and paraffin oil are colorless liquids with a relatively low viscosity. They have a characteristic odor and are highly flammable. Kerosene has a boiling point range of approximately 150-300°C (302-572°F), while paraffin oil typically has a lower boiling point range of around 100-250°C (212-482°F). Due to their low viscosity, both fuels flow easily and can be used in various applications.


Kerosene is widely used as a fuel for jet engines, heating, and lighting. It is commonly used in aviation as Jet A-1 fuel, providing the necessary energy for aircraft propulsion. In households, kerosene is often used in lamps and stoves for lighting and cooking purposes. On the other hand, paraffin oil finds applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and industrial sectors. It is used as a base for ointments, creams, and lotions due to its emollient properties. In industries, paraffin oil is utilized as a lubricant, coolant, and solvent.


Both kerosene and paraffin oil are highly flammable substances. They have relatively low flash points, which means they can ignite easily when exposed to an open flame or spark. However, kerosene has a slightly higher flash point compared to paraffin oil, making it slightly less volatile. This attribute makes kerosene a safer option for certain applications, such as heating and lighting, where controlled combustion is desired.

Environmental Impact

When it comes to environmental impact, both kerosene and paraffin oil have their pros and cons. Kerosene combustion releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. However, modern kerosene burners and heaters are designed to minimize emissions and improve fuel efficiency. On the other hand, paraffin oil is known to have a higher carbon footprint due to its production process and the extraction of petroleum or shale oil. Additionally, improper disposal of paraffin oil can lead to soil and water pollution.

Storage and Handling

Both kerosene and paraffin oil should be stored and handled with care due to their flammable nature. They should be kept in well-ventilated areas away from open flames, sparks, and heat sources. It is essential to use appropriate containers that are specifically designed for storing flammable liquids. Additionally, proper labeling and safety precautions should be followed to prevent accidents and ensure the safe handling of these fuels.

Availability and Cost

Kerosene is widely available in most regions, especially in areas where it is commonly used for heating and lighting purposes. It can be purchased from gas stations, hardware stores, and other fuel suppliers. Paraffin oil, on the other hand, may be less readily available and more commonly found in specialized stores or online retailers. In terms of cost, both fuels are generally affordable, with prices influenced by factors such as crude oil prices, transportation costs, and local market conditions.


In conclusion, kerosene and paraffin oil are two versatile fuels with various applications. While they share similarities in terms of composition, physical properties, and flammability, they also have distinct attributes that make them suitable for different purposes. Understanding the similarities and differences between kerosene and paraffin oil is crucial for choosing the appropriate fuel for specific applications, considering factors such as safety, environmental impact, and availability.

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