Does Kerosene Go Bad, and How Long Does It Last?

Kerosene is a flammable petroleum-based liquid. It serves various functions, but it is typically used on camping trips and in homes as fuel for lights or heaters. 

You might want to keep some extra kerosene at hand, but perhaps you’re worried whether it can go bad if you don’t use it right away. So, does kerosene go bad? And, if it does, how long can you store it before that happens?

Does Kerosene Go Bad?

Yes, kerosene may go bad after some time. When stored properly, kerosene has two to five years of shelf life. The catch here is the word “properly”; if you don’t store your kerosene properly, it might last considerably less than two years.

How Long Does Kerosene Last?

If you search for how long kerosene lasts on Google, you’ll come across a wide variety of answers. Some may claim 1-3 months, some will say a year, and yet others will say up to 20 years!

As a rule of thumb, kerosene will last for about five years. Molds and bacteria can make their home inside improperly stored kerosene and break down the fuel molecules. If you have some kerosene stored and are unsure about whether it has given shelter to microbes, run it through a filter before using it.

Secondly, when exposed to water, kerosene becomes diluted and loses its efficiency to produce heat, making it a poor fuel choice. 

How Do You Know If Kerosene Is Bad?

When kerosene becomes stale, it becomes murky or yellow. You can also see mold forming inside the can of kerosene. Don’t use kerosene if it has mold or bacteria inside it. You can salvage some of the kerosene in this situation by pouring it through a filter.

If kerosene begins to smell like diesel or gas, this is another sign that it has gone bad and you should not use it.

kerosene bottle

How Can You Extend The Life Of Kerosene?

Unlike many other fuels, kerosene is less vulnerable to water absorption. You may keep it at virtually any temperature in metal or plastic containers. 

Typically, kerosene is sold in special cans for storage, but even an opaque, plastic container is good enough to keep it safe from water and bacteria. You can find these plastic containers at any hardware store. Just make sure that the container is airtight so that it generates minimal condensation inside of it.

It is better to store kerosene in a cold, dry place. And if you are concerned, you can add a bit of fuel stabilizer once a year to your kerosene container – this will make sure that your fuel is protected for years to come.

Can You Use Stale Kerosene?

You can reuse bad kerosene, but it is no longer an effective fuel. You will have to remove the bacteria, mold, and sludge from the kerosene.

The sludge accumulated in bad kerosene can be filtered using a coffee filter. If water collects in the kerosene due to condensation, you can always separate the two because the water will collect at the bottom (because kerosene is less dense than water).

Whatever remains after this filtering process could be usable as fuel but may not be very efficient.

How Should You Dispose of Stale Kerosene?

If your kerosene has gone bad, you should make sure to dispose of it because even stale kerosene can be a fire hazard.

Since you cannot dispose of kerosene the same way as other waste, the easiest method is to bring it to a local recycling facility that accepts old fuel. You can call your local city office or go online and find facilities that accept stale kerosene near you.

kerosene lamp

Tips to Dispose of Bad Kerosene

  • Don’t mix fluids when disposing of hazardous materials like kerosene. Mixing fluids is not a good idea – keep your fuels as clean as possible. If you bring mixed fuels to a hazardous waste collection site, they may refuse to accept it.
  • Keep fluids in their original containers – hazardous waste is considerably easier to dispose of when kept in its original container. Thanks to the original label, the facility can identify what they’re working with.
  • Some gas stations and auto shops may accept leftover kerosene if you call beforehand. It may take some time, but if you ask about it, you should be able to locate someone that will accept your old kerosene.
  • Allowing the kerosene to evaporate is another option if you have no other way to dispose of it. This procedure should only be used as a last option and only for modest amounts of kerosene!

Related article: Best Non-Electric Space Heaters

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, kerosene can last two to five years if stored in a cool, dry, and airtight plastic container. You can add to its shelf life beyond this by mixing a bit of fuel stabilizer every year. Finally, it is crucial to follow the tips mentioned above when disposing of kerosene that has gone bad.

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