Kerosene stoves are a good option due to the long (5+ year) storage life of kerosene, fuel safety and efficiency. Kerosene produces carbon monoxide when burned. We do not recommend using kerosene stoves or heaters indoors for this reason. If you choose to use indoors, make sure that you have adequate ventilation – at least 2 windows (on opposite sides of the room) open 1-2 inches at a minimum. Better yet, just use them outside, or in a ventilated garage, and don’t risk filling your lungs with carbon monoxide.
Kerosene stoves come in two main types, pressure and wick. The pressure stove burns the kerosene vapor. I have found the wick stoves to be easier to use and more reliable. That said, Jonathan really likes the pressure stove better. I do the cooking so we have both kinds. I prefer to use the Sockwick stove personally because it is so simple to use. Experiment and see what works best for you. Do not purchase a stove and tuck it away for an emergency. Practice with it to ensure it is the best option for your family.
This pressure stove will burn 3.5 hours on one quart of kerosene with a maximum heat output of 9,000 BTUs. Pressure stoves burn kerosene vapor, not liquid. To do that, the stove needs to be preheated so that when the pressurized fuel is released up to the burner, it gets hot, changes to a gas, and the gas is then burned.
The preheating process requires a couple teaspoons of denatured alcohol. Fill up the little brass cup near the top of the stove with the alcohol, light with a match, and let it burn until the flame is almost ready to go out. Then start pumping the stove. This will cause the pressure to begin to build in the fuel tank, which will cause the kerosene to work its way up the center of the stove to the burner. The burner will be very hot, so the kerosene will boil and kerosene vapor will begin to come out of the top of the stove. The flame from the burning alcohol will ignite the kerosene vapor.
This wick stove’s fuel is fed from a bottle through a pipe, then a valve, into the burner. The valve controls the flame height and heat output. Maximum output is around 7,000 BTUs.
The stove pictured at the top of this post is called a “Sockwick” stove because the wick resembles a large, woven sock with the toes cut out. It is basically the same wick you would see in a large kerosene heater. This is a sturdy stove with an easily adjustable flame and a sealed fuel tank (some stoves have fuel “pans” that hold the fuel, but tipped, the fuel can spill out.) It is simple to use. You light the wick and it works until you extinguish the flame. If you choose this stove for emergencies, make sure to order a few extra wicks to keep on hand as well. The Sockwick will burn for 13 hours on one gallon of kerosene. The maximum output is 9000 BTUs.
Sometimes, you really want to be able to bake and a stove just isn’t enough. This is a cool option. It does not create it’s own heat but can be used on any hot surface to bake. You can use it with a butterfly kerosene stove, wood stove, camp stove, etc. It is a 14 inch cube but due to door opening it will accommodate up to a 10″ x 10″ pan. We have not tried this one yet. It is on our wishlist. Please let us know how this oven works for you.
Kerosene has a recommended shelf life of 5 years – Quality fuel stabilizers, such as PRI-D, may be added to extend the useful life indefinitely. It is a safer storage fuel because it is an oil and is not as explosive as some other fuels.
Store in appropriate containers. Some recommend storing in metal containers. However, kerosene has a high moisture content and may rust through metal containers. Store in blue plastic containers designed especially for kerosene. Consider purchasing a fuel funnel which has the capability of removing excess water and debris from stored fuel.
Store fuel in cool area – avoid wide temperature swings. Best stored away from the home. Never store fuel in any building that you can not afford to have burn down!
Kerosene produces deadly carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas), nitrogen dioxide (which may cause throat and lung irritation), and sulfur dioxide (which can impair breathing) as it burns. Use kerosene in a well-ventilated area only!