Informational Guide

Is Diesel Possible In a Kerosene Heater?

Flammable heating options are popular in and around the home. Get the right fuel by learning if diesel works in a regular kerosene heater.

by Josh M

A kerosene heater is a great alternative option for heating your home with a small heater. They work even when the power goes out since they don’t rely on electricity for fuel.

If you have a kerosene heater at home, you might be wondering what some alternative fuel options are. Many people wonder, “can you use diesel in a kerosene heater?”- the answer is yes! You can do this.

Diesel and kerosene are both fuels that come from crude oil. Diesel has redder color, while kerosene is usually colorless but may have dye added. There are also some differences in how they’re used.

Kerosene is usually the choice for heating. Diesel is the better choice for cars and is often used as an alternative to gas. However, due to their similarities, you can use diesel in your kerosene heater!

Kerosene & Diesel Differences

Pros & Cons of Using Diesel In a Kerosene Heater


When you switch to diesel, you save some money- it’s much cheaper than kerosene. Diesel costs about half as much as kerosene. Plus, diesel doesn’t produce as much smoke and provides you with an even heating in your room. It’s also easier for people to find in their area.


You should only burn diesel as a short-term solution. It’s not as effective, and the burn is a bit cooler. Unfortunately, this can cause the wick to run out or build up carbon quicker. When that happens, it’s time to replace the wick again.

What Type of Diesel Can Be Used In Heaters?

Number one diesel is the best option for heating your home. You also want to add some kerosene to the diesel, if you have any left. This helps with the wick. When mixed with isopropyl alcohol, diesel burns very similarly to kerosene- the two come from the same materials and are very similar overall.

Number one diesel is closer to kerosene than number two diesel is. You should always choose number one. Number two is denser and won’t be as efficient in your kerosene heater. Number one diesel is also the better option for the winter and works in the cold.

How To Use Diesel In Heaters (Safe Alternative For Kerosene)

Preparing the Diesel

Before you can use it, you need to prepare the diesel. Make sure it’s number one diesel, which is closer to kerosene. It also burns cleaner and offers a good amount of heat. You want to make sure you store it in the proper yellow container. The best option would also be ULSD, which can last about a year in storage.

Using Additives

Next, make sure that you use the right additives. They help diesel burn better and make it safer for your wick. Mix five ml of 91% isopropyl alcohol into each pint of diesel you’re using. You can also add in a small amount of kerosene to the diesel.

Choose a Cotton Wick

Cotton wicks are much better when you need to burn diesel. They won’t last you quite as long as the fiberglass wick, but they burn diesel very well. When you notice damage to the wick, you also should be able to cut it off and continue burning it.

Learn more about lighting kerosene heaters here.

Use With Ventilation

You need to make sure you’re using the wick in a well ventilated area. Burning diesel creates carbon monoxide and other toxins that you should never breathe in. You’ll need to keep the windows and doors open when using it- or you could run the heater outside.

Can You Mix Diesel & Kerosene For Heaters?

You can mix the two forms of gas together for heaters. However, diesel doesn’t wick as well as kerosene. By mixing the two together, you make the fuel wick better- allowing it to burn in your heater.

When mixing, you want to keep the ratio at 1:3 – one part kerosene for three parts diesel. This ensures that you have just enough for the fuel to wick, even if you don’t have enough kerosene to run the heater.

These two fuel types are very similar to each other. Although, diesel does tend to burn cooler than kerosene. Mixing the two together should help with that.

Many people choose diesel when they run out of their kerosene supply, which is likely to happen in the long winters. You can find diesel at your local gas station, so it’s a likely alternative fuel source for anyone.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Does burning diesel in a kerosene heater smell?

Yes, it’s definitely much stronger than burning kerosene! However, you should still receive the same levels of heat from burning this other fuel type.

Is it safe to burn a kerosene heater indoors?

No, you’ll need to ensure that you’re in an area that offers the proper levels of ventilation. They emit toxic fumes, which can harm you when you’re in an area without any airflow.

Can you sleep with a kerosene heater on?

You never want to leave a kerosene heater unattended. You could suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning or other conditions. It’s best to turn it off at night or when sleeping.

What will you do if you spill the diesel?

Act as soon as you make a spill. Start by sprinkling absorbent over the fuel and let it work. Then, carefully sweep up the powder. Make sure the diesel is disposed of properly and doesn’t travel into drains or ditches. Also, never dispose of it in a sewer.


Overall, you can use diesel in your kerosene heater! Make sure you use the proper mixtures and always keep an eye on it.

Consider using other heating solutions that do not use electricity:

Best Propane Gas Heater
Best Pellet Stove Heater
Best Oil Filled Heater
Best Gas Fireplace

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.