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What is kerosene used for?

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Quick Answer

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, kerosene is used for burning in lamps, domestic heaters and furnaces. It is also used as a fuel or fuel component in jet engines and to dissolve certain greases and insecticides.

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Full Answer

The Encyclopedia Brittanica states that kerosene is sometimes spelled kerosine and is also referred to as paraffin, paraffin oil, or coal oil. It is a flammable, oily liquid and is either pale yellow or colorless and is characterized by an unpleasant odor. Kerosene is derived from petroleum.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica notes that kerosene was first manufactured in the 1850s from coal, tar and shale oils. Kerosene was the major refinery product of the time because of its use in lamps. However, the invention of the electric lamp reduced its value for lighting, and the automobile made gasoline the dominant petroleum-based product. However, kerosene remains a common heating and cooking fuel in many parts of the world in addition to being used as a fuel source for lamps.

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, kerosene is also used on a commercial level. Standard commercial jet fuel is essentially a high quality, straight-run kerosene product. Also, numerous military jet fuels are made up of blends based in kerosene.

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