More than any other fuel, Kerosene has the broadest legal definitions. Functionally, kero and naphtha cover the entire spectrum of liquid petrol chemicals. This makes it very difficult to know exactly what it is that you have when you get a bottle of “kerosene”. Also, kero is often mixed with other petrol products that are left over from primary fuel productions making it, generally speaking, the dirtiest fuel available and the least consistent. However, modern chemical processing can allow refineries to “crack” the kerosene molecule into two or more shorter chain molecules making it a legal naphtha mix. Longer chain molecules that would normally become grease can also be cracked down to workable kerosene molecules with surprising results.

Artificial kerosenes are made precisely this way. They are either cracked from very long molecules or “hydrogenated” aromatics. The results are aliphatic mixes without the need to strip out the undesirable molecules. Some of these are refined into “paraffins” but most are sold as aviation blends.

Because of this variability, it’s hard to put a pin in the flash point and other specifics of this fuel. In general, it has a “class II” range, or it’s flash point is generally somewhere between room temperature, and the highest human survivable temp. This makes Kerosene, typically, much easier to light than lamp oils, but a little harder to light than naphtha.

Despite it’s characteristic smell, it is a favored fuel of spinners. Almost as long burning as lamp oil, but much easier to get burning, if you pick the right fuel. Cleaner selections like Crystal K or other synthetics produce less soot than most brands, similar to lamp. Often, this type of fuel is simulated by mixing lamp oil and white gas in various blends.

The North American Fire Arts Association