Letter: Kerosene Heater Question

Hello Mr. Rawles , Mr. Latimer and survival blog readers.

In a few days I will buy a kerosene heater to use this winter in the house I was wondering if a wood stove heater fan will work on this type of kerosene heater? I would love to see the comments . Thank you – Ohio Man.


  1. Hi there Ohio Man. Good question. If you mean the new electric blowers, then no I would not. If you are speaking of the heat dependent fan that sits on top, then again, I would not. If you choose to do so, be careful to not over heat the fan. They can easily be damaged by to hot of a surface. They rely on hot/cold gradients: meaning the main part heats and then cool air flows from behind passing through the grid. the small element wire and metal plate can be cooked. I did so by placing mine in the middle of the stove top rather to a side and it magically stopped working for good. Extra care needed.
    JP in ME

  2. I have always wanted one of these, but I’m not willing to pay the $8.00/gallon for K-1 fuel. Anyone have any ideas where to buy bulk Kerosene? When I was a kid (60+ years ago), you could find it at every “service station” around and it was $0.25/gallon. Now the only place I see it is in “big box” and sporting goods stores.

    1. Availability may depend on the part of the country. In the Northeast, many people use home heating oil and have large tanks that must be refilled. The companies that sell heating oil also sell propane and kerosene. I haven’t noticed it at gas stations, but I haven’t really looked, either. The current price around here for bulk kerosene delivery is about $3.29/gallon.

    2. In the Midwest you can find kerosene at some gas stations and on occasion at a hardware store or lumberyard. I have a small stockpile but haven’t bought any for a couple of years. It was around $4 bucks a gallon then. Price the value of silver dimes and multiply by 2 1/2 (.25/gal) and $4 isn’t a bad price.

  3. I have experience with two of these heaters. One in the 80’s and one a few years ago were purchased by other people to heat enclosed space where we worked. The fumes were so bad in both cases that they were trashed. I do not recommend this type heater for an enclosed space! An LP gas heater certified for indoor use would be a better choice. An LP gas dealer may be a source. Large builder supply stores carry heaters that attach to 20 lb LP cylinders. Be extra careful using these type heaters as they are a source of ignition. I lost a five year old grand daughter a few years ago from a candle left unattended after an ice storm knocked out power for several days. Be safe.

    1. I’ve got several of these heaters, and have used them without incident for many years. Used properly, they throw a TON of heat! The fume issue is a direct result of cranking the flame up too high. If there is ANY smoke coming from the heater, back off on the flame.

      ANY heater should be considered a source of secondary ignition, and must be given due respect.

      Unfortunately, I have no ready source of cheap kerosene. Where I live, it’s sold at hardware stores, for around $7.00/gallon; ironic, since kerosene requires minimal refining!

      I feel your pain. I lost my first love to a house fire sparked by a shorted light on a “real” Christmas tree. Indeed… be safe!… God bless…

  4. We have been using this type of heater for many years and love it. There is a slight ‘learning curve’ to using it and minimizing any odor and this site is an excellent resource: http://www.milesstair.com/ Scroll down a little past all the info on wicks to see other the resources. I am not affiliated with that site in any way except that I had read a lot of it years ago when we were just getting started with our kero-stoves.

  5. I have one of these branded Kerosun. I bought it several years ago for my trailer during the sometimes cold Canadian winters.

    Do light them outside using a butane BBQ lighter, rather than the built in lighter. Let them come to a full burn outside, before bringing them in. Most of the fume problems were related to this start up phase.

    Once inside, you need to make sure that you have enough fresh air coming in… open flames do require oxygen to burn cleanly. You also need to keep your wick clean, relatively free of carbon, in order to get a clean burn.

    Whenever you run an open flame inside, you can expect that over time you will have a lot of humidity to deal with. This is true whether you run kerosene fuel or propane LPG. It is simply a byproduct of combustion.

    I have since installed a propane furnace. This has a direct air intake from outside, and vents waste gasses outside as well. It comes on using a thermostat. It is very convenient, without the humidity issues. However, it is also noisy, propane is a nuisance to transport, and in this locale, regulations require an all too frequent replacement of containers … at significant cost.

    The other option I was considering was a wood stove. The heat is dry. The fuel is generally available everywhere. However, it is sooty and requires frequent stoking to keep an even heat.

    There are no perfect answers. But a properly maintained kerosene heater can be made to work with few issues.

  6. I agree use propane, the unit mentioned above is a catalytic heater


    I’ve used a couple over the years, one on a boat and another in a cab over camper, they are quite fuel efficient.

    As to the fan, I would put an item in front of this heater to absorb the heat and aim the fan to blow on that object.

    1. Depends on the temperatures you expect. We took a catalytic in our camper on a late season trip up the old Alcan in ’76. Watched the flame slide off the bottom, turned it off for safety. Found out when we got back that they are only good down to something like +20 deg F, useless below that. Sort of like a heat pump, which works fine until you have cold weather.

  7. We have and used a Kerosun heater for many years. Like anything you have to use common sense when using this heater. We now have a woodstove and the Kerosun is used as a backup heater now occasionally. When using a kerosene heater, you need to open two windows across from each other or in different rooms you are heating about a 1 1/2 inches to allow cross ventilation and we also placed a large pot full of water on top of the heater for moisture in the room because the heater will dry out your area you have the heater in. Just be safe and careful when using this type of heat.

  8. two small heaters are better than one large one. Son has the 22k and can only run it a few hours before driving you out because of the heat. Also by placing heaters at opposite ends of the house, you may not need the fan.

  9. Two small heaters are better than one large one. son has the 22k and after a few hours has to shut it down because room gets to hot. Also by placing at opposite ends of the house, you may not need the fan

  10. Have been using these heaters since 1983 and they are as safe as you want to make them! I don’t use K-1 I use Kero purchased from gas stations that sell it. At one time I used jet A or A-1 and that worked fine too! I have a wheeled flat stand I keep them on and light/extinguish them outside and carefully move them on the cart in and out of the house. We have never had any issues and they have come in handy during power outages. We also have 5 CO detectors around the house and the Kero heaters have never registered on them unlike the gas fireplace and kitchen stove. Not sure about the fan I will look into that!

  11. We have a Heat Mate 110 (10K BTU) that we use to supplement our unimpressive, ironically named heat pump. Properly maintained, especially the wick, it burns quite cleanly and odor-free. You must dry burn it about every 4-5 tank fulls to keep the carbon buildup to a minimum.

    Kerosene is not cheap ($5/gallon) but is a very stable, safe liquid fuel. I keep mine in a 55 gallon drum I steam cleaned.
    In cold (freezing) weather our little heater can maintain our 1,700sf home at about 70 degrees burning 1.25 gallons/day.

    For safety purposes, you should have a couple of larger fire extinguishers at hand as well as a smoke/carbon monoxide detector.

  12. There is too much essential information that is missing. What size and how many rooms, how cold does it get there, assuming this is supplemental heating, what is the main heating type, is there a cost/budget factor, length of daily use it will operate, are there CO and smoke detectors installed…

  13. I’ve first hand experience with both the Vulcan fan and the less expensive dual bladed fans. They’re both novel in their technology and of the 2 the Vulcan moves more air, however the volume of air moved by either is very negligible (my fans fail to deflect a piece of 20# bond paper when placed an inch or two from the blades). For the amount of money spent, neither are worth the money (the Vulcan worked for only one season and despite treating it like it was a fine watch, it has not worked since). Due to physics, most of the warmed air will rise to the ceiling faster than the fan(s) can push the air into the room. Save your money you might spend on the fans and Use it for insulation or warmer clothes.

    As far as the kerosene heaters, I’ve no knowledge of them other than the heavy scent of kerosene that permeates any room and clothing in which they’re used.

    Sorry if this is disappointing, but I wish I would have invested my own $$$ into another, more prudent, means of keeping warm.

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