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Kerosene in the survival situation

July 23, 2012


Kerosene (or ‘paraffin’ in the UK) is a great fuel source to consider not only for major emergency conditions but also as a back-up for typical power failures.  I would recommend 15 gallons minimum of kerosene for your beginning survival fuel stockpile. TEST a small quantity of this source in your kerosene lamps or cook stove or heaters  to see if it stinks up your house excessively BEFORE you buy this much. This may make plain the difference in performance and smell while using the stuff, between using the 1-K ‘red’ stuff and the ‘clear’. The red is commonly #1 stove oil and can be purchased in large quantities from your local fuel oil dealer. The clear kerosene can be purchased from some gas stations or hardware stores. It will be more expensive at the stores by the bottle, than buying five gallons at a time from the gas station. The clear product is preferred in all our applications discussed here as it burns cleaner, has less odor and requires less maintenance of the heater and lamp wicks. You may also find small bottles (1 quart or so) on sale sometimes at Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store. If it’s truly a good price, grab some. It’s not going to go bad from age.

The advantage of having kerosene as a fuel, is that it can provide your heat, light, and cooking. Kerosene has been used since the middle 1800’s and is used as the main source of fuel by millions of people around the world. It is much safer to use than gasoline, natural gas, or propane all of which can explode or burst into flame from a mere spark. It is derived from a lubricant and isn’t volatile or corrosive. Kerosene is also easily and safely stored in either plastic or metal drums, away from your house in a secure outbuilding. Also, store it in blue containers. Diesel fuel in green, while red is reserved for gasoline. You’ll want to know which fuel can you’re grabbing before you pour any into whichever engine, lamp or vehicle you might be trying to fill.

I suggest having 3 or 4 kerosene lamps. Possibly you could use lantern hangers from the ceiling or on the walls, if you have that type kerosene railroad style lantern with the wire handle. You can use the typical cheap glass kerosene lamp you can find all over discount stores for table top use or you could use the ‘railroad’ lanterns inside or outside. However, if you want a somewhat safer upgrade, I suggest the Dietz number 80 or the Feuerhand German made lantern

It looks like a railroad lantern. The large tank base helps keep the lantern from being accidentally tipped over.  The number 80, possibly the original model, reportedly has a tip over safety feature to extinguish the flame in about 10 seconds. There is a YouTube video of this feature in action.

I can’t say if the current Chinese production has that safety feature, but at least they would be more resistant to tipping over than a typical glass table top oil lamp.

Extra safety measures like this would be an excellent idea in deteriorated society conditions as the response time from the fire department may be more in hours or days than today’s few minutes. The Dietz is now made in China (what isn’t now days?)

Get several spare wicks for each item. Spares will be mighty handy.  I also recommend the purchase a funnel filter to remove water and debris as you fill your storage cans or your appliances. These funnels would also be great for filtering fuel scrounged for your bug out vehicle.

I would avoid using kerosene lights and especially heaters or cook stoves for any length of time in an almost air tight small room due to the carbon monoxide risk. This would be the scenario if the room was sealed up tight, say for a pandemic or radioactive fallout. Modern kerosene heaters are supposed to have ‘safety devices’ on them that prevent oxygen starvation (death), but lamps and stoves do NOT. Don’t want to risk it, myself.

As I mentioned, store ALL fuels AWAY from your house, in either a secure outbuilding or under a shed if your area appears safe enough for it not to be stolen when you’re not looking. Allow me to illustrate, with more of my fantastic art work, how you might construct a useful bulk storage unit, using some stout lumber and scrounged 55 gallon drums.

And the corner details, you stagger long ‘carriage head’ bolts through the 6×6 leg posts and tighten securely. 



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