A Perfection kerosene heater works by using a flame spreader wick to move kerosene from the tank to the top of the fabric where it burns, in a similar fashion to a kerosene lamp. This circular cotton wick allows air to circulate inside and outside of the fabric.
The flame spreader wick is essential to early kerosene heaters. Flat wicks limit the amount of oxygen available to the flame. If the user of a kerosene lamp turns a flat wick higher to increase the size of the flame and the light the lamp produces, the limited oxygen supply causes the lamp to smoke. The first flame spreader wicks allowed lamp users to increase the light from a kerosene lamp by improving the oxygen supply. The Perfection Stove Company used this same technology to produce kerosene heaters and cook stoves that allowed the user to adjust the flame height by increasing or decreasing the length of the circular wick.
These stoves provided an easier way to cook than wood. The uniform consistency of kerosene made it easier to control oven and burner temperatures. Kerosene lights and stoves using flame spreader wicks were common in rural areas of the United States before electricity became widespread, beginning in the 1930s.
World War II delayed the spread of electricity, but by the mid-1950s, most homes had power and replaced kerosene stoves with electric ones. Production of Perfection Stoves ended in the 1980s.