Oil delivery in process (C) Daniel FriedmanHeating Oil & Fuel Oil FAQs

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Questions & answers about the properties of heating oil & related petroleum-based fuels:

FAQs on the types of heating fuels & other petroleum based fuels such as kerosene, diesel fuel, home heating oil. Page top photo: the oil truck delivery driver from Poughkeepsie's Bottini Oil is listening at the vent pipe for an indoor oil tank. He's taking trouble to avoid over-filling a tank that has no tank alarm-whistle, thus avoiding an oil spill.

This article series answers most questions about all types of heating systems and gives important inspection, safety, and repair advice.

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FAQs about the Properties of Various Heating Oil Products & Other Petroleum-based Fuels

Oil delivery truck (C) Daniel FriedmanQuestion: ok to use kerosene mix in my oil burner?

(Jan 14, 2012) Bildak said:
#6 oil is not used for asphalt paving. it was used to power steam ships of all types. Asphat [asphalt] is made from crude oil that has most of all it's higher viscosity products removed, naptha, gas oil, kero, lighter grades of fuel oils, etc.

(Jan 27, 2012) chata said:
I live in a mobil home and was wondering is it safe to go from Dyed ULSD heating oil to kerosene. My outside still has a little of the ULSD in it.



Mobile home owners / occupants whose oil storage tank is above-ground outdoors and who live in an area subject to cold weather will commonly ask the oil company to deliver a kerosene-fuel-oil mix in order to avoid waxing or gelling of their heating oil - a condition that leads to loss of heat, frozen pipes, etc. It's a normal change.

Question: diesel fuel colours red vs green

(Feb 14, 2013) Anonymous said:
what is the consumption of red diesel verses green diesel

please answer me on

Question: is it safe to buy cheap home heating oil?

(Feb 15, 2014) JM said:
Is there a danger in purchasing cheaper home heating oil? Is the quality of all oil the same?


Great question.

With just a few exceptions all no. 2 home heating oil will be the same in a given community. In fact often the different oil delivery ompanies are taking oil out of a common storage depot tank.

But on occasion a company may pick up,water in their fuel, depending on conditions at the depot or how they maintain their delivery fleet. And regrettably in a few cases we read about deliberate fraud - companies selling a mix of crud or used oil in the mix. Generally in a given community oil prices vary in a fairly small range. If there is a big discount I'd want to do some further checking - if it sound stop good to be true, it's probably risky. Companies vary as well in reliability of delivery and in offering - or not - maintenance and emergency service.

When I was servicing my own equipment I just watched my oil tank gauge and ordered when needed from whoever offered the lowest price that day.

Now I prefer reliable deliveries from an oil company who offer reliable delivery, competent service techs, and whose price, if not the absolute lowest, is competitive.

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How much should you pay for professional services

To read a well stated view from John Ruskin about the hidden costs of paying either too much OR too little.

Question: is it ok to use #1 or #2 diesel fuel in a portable kerosene heater?

(Feb 26, 2014) Anonymous said:
hello can you tell me if i can use #1or#2 diesel instead of kerosene in a portable heater its hard to find kerosene at our hunt camp and i dont like transporting gallons of kerosene from our house in back or our truck thank you

Reply: no


The best explanation of the different fuels & oils is in the article above, but it may be so long you didn't see the answer to your question.

No. 1 fuel oil is about as close as you'll get to Kerosene - quoting from the article above

Kerosene is #1 oil which has been filtered to clean it up. Sold at ridiculously higher prices in stores as "lamp oil" this material may have deodorants or fragrances added. A traditional name for kerosene is "coal oil", though it is in fact a petroleum product and is not made from coal.

#1 fuel oil is more refined than #2 oil, has a lower pour point (or gel point or waxing point), is less viscous, has a higher septane rating and contains fewer BTU's per gallon than #2 heating oil.

Don't use No. 2 in your kerosene heater.

Question: neighbour complains about a leak in my oil tank; I drained the tank but he worries about an explosion

(Dec 20, 2014) Nick Pritchard said:
My neighbour is complaining about a small leak I had in my tank, I've drained the tank but he is claiming that heating oil is so inflammable that he cannot switch his shed light on for fear of an explosion, Is he correct?


Probably not, Nick - that is, liquid heating oil is hard to ignite. You could throw a lit match into a bucket of heating oil and it would not ignite.

But heating oil fumes may indeed be combustible and could ignite, as occasionally happens.

Details about the combustibility of hating oil fumes are at

As you've emptied the oil tank, if you complete the abandonment of the tank properly there should be no remaining hazard and no risk to your neighbour.


Question: how much kerosene and other oils are in #1 fuel oil?

(Jan 10, 2015) Garrison said:
What is percentage of Kerosine and other oil(s) in Fuel Oil #1?

Reply: none

Strictly speaking, none. These are separate fuels that come out of the refinery at different grades. Of course for anti-gelling purposes a heating oil supplier might supply a kerosene mix for people whose oil storage tanks are located outdoors in cold climates.

Question: sisters debate benefits of ordering #1 vs #2 fuel oil

24 Feb 2015 Peggy said:
Having discussion with sisters regarding grades of home heating fuel oil;we get #1;last time had to get #2 from different company but was assured it wouldn't gel;but what is different grades and blended hating oil


Peggy unless you're running commercial or other special heating equipment, home heating systems that use oil typically use either No. 2 fuel oil or for folks using an outdoor above ground oil storage tank subject to gelling, they have the oil company either use an additive at each tank fill-up or they order a kerosene mix.

Question: difference between #2, #4 and #6 heating oils?

(June 24, 2015) Richard Thorsen said:
What's the difference between #2, #4 and #6 heating oils?



HEATING OIL TYPES & PROPERTIES defines and describes the differences between No. 2, No. 4, and No. 6 heating oils. Please take a look and let me know if that article is unclear.

Question: using a heating oil additive vs. kerosene at a mobile home

(Nov 1, 2015) Paul said:
I live in a mobile home in New Hampshire, When I bought the trailer the oil tank was full of kerosene, with the price so high can I use #2 heating oil or diesel and just add an additive?


Yes, Paul, but be sure that you read the additive instructions so that you are putting in enough additive to treat the volume of oil in your oil tank - otherwise the risk is waxing, no oil flow, and loss of heat.

Anonymous said:
Thanks Dan, I had heard that the diesel burns a little quicker than #2 and Kero. I will make sure to add the recommended amount. Thanks again!

(mod) said:
Diesel fuel is essentially the same as No. 2 home heating oil but includes a dye and is not intended for home heating use and usually will cost more at the pump. You're better off getting a delivery of heating oil or oil and kerosene mix.


Question: using stove oil in a furnace - is furnace oil OK?

(Nov 3, 2015) Garry Fry said:
I use stove oil in my furnace, would there be any problem adding furnace oil as it is cheaper ?


I"m not sure what you mean by "stove oil" - if you mean kerosene, and if you are using a conventional oil burner operated furnace, no. 2 home heating oil would be less costly; changes or adjustments may be needed at the burner including nozzle size, oil pressure, or other details.

Question: OK to use jet fuel to heat my home?

(Feb 22, 2016) Becky said:
Can Jet Fuel be used in an outside Oil Tank to heat a home?


Becky, from the textbook description of Jet Fuel as "cleaned up filtered kerosene" a simplistic answer is yes. I wouldn't do it. You're buying a more expensive fuel (unless some fool is stealing it), and as it's somewhat improved I think the oil burner might need a little adjustment.

Generally we do not use straight kerosene in an oil burner tank for home heating appliances, though the oil company might deliver a kerosene MIX in which a percentage of kerosene has been added to the heating oil to lower its gel or waxiing or pour point for outdoor oil tanks.

Question: sources of air in the oil piping

(Apr 26, 2016) Anonymous said:
Were is the air coming from ? We have two side by side 275 USG Roth tanks inside, with one line off a tee which runs through the spin on filter then into the Riello 40 F-3 burner (pump). The burner keeps shutting down after a few hours at best. We replaced the pump, nozzle, piping, filter assembly & filter, and we still keep getting lots of air when we (each time) bleed the line to try and restart the burner.

The piping on the two tanks had a check valve / safety pressure relief valve but the replaced piping has neither. The burner ran fine for the 3 years the new home owners had the property. They switched delivery suppliers and that is when the problem began.

We hooked up a direct line from one tank through the new spin on filter and to the pump. This did NOT resolve the problem of air I the line and the burner kicking off.

We did however run a direct line from a 10 USG container of automotive diesel fuel; the burner runs fine, and there is no air in the lines.

Can you please offer some ideas?? I think I got a load of bad fuel; and/or there is air because the check valve (one way valve)was taken out? I would get the #2 HO tested but I have not found a place in Rhode Island.
Thank you,
Thank you, Alex



If you are asking about air in an oil line, there is probably a leak in your oil piping; it's under suction when the fuel unit is running.

Question: oil company spilled 20 gallons inmy basement

(Apr 26, 2016) ALEX AKA ANONYMOUS said:
I live in Rhode Island; a new company came to make a #2 home heating oil delivery. They spilled some 20 usg in my basement. They cleaned it up and gave me 20 USG in containers to "make up" for the spilled oil. Since that time, and at 1/4 of the fuel left in my Roth tanks, my Riello 40 F-3 burner has been shutting down.

I have changed out the entire line to the burner; but each time I bleed the line there is a high amount of air. I found sludge in the tank. I also got the burner running from a 10USG container of #2 diesel fuel from my service station. What are the State and or Federal requirements of a dilivery truck spilling oil as they did?? My family had to smell this fuel for weeks. thx Alex



When an oil tank runs low on oil and is re-filled, sludge and crud in the tank may be stirred up, resulting in clogs at the oil filter or screen in the fuel unit. Ask for a check of and cleanout of the oil filter, fuel unit strainer, and also,if needed, the oil lines themselves.

About the fuel smell, the cleanup success depends on what got oil-soaked and what was done about it. After cleaning it may be possible to seal the porous surface that otherwise will continue to smell.


Question: getting rid of water in the fuel

(Nov 17, 2016) James. said:
How do we remove water from our kerosene jug we use to fill up our kerosene heater. Please send to our G mail listed with name. Thanks


Please search for WATER in the OIL TANK to see details.

Question: agitate water for an alcohol still?

(Nov 25, 2016) Luigi said:
We have a copper still immersed in an oil jacket that we use for heating alcohol for distillation. We are using a 'Perfect HT5' heating oil. The oil has apparently 'cracked' after only approx. 10 distillations. The manufacturer of the oil, distributed by BP advised us that the oil has become contaminated by the air that is pushed out and drawn in as through the breather pipe as the oil is expands and contracts.

They have advised us to seal the breather pipe and to put in an expansion header tank instead to create a positive pressure from above and also to not allow any contamination of air in the oil.

Now, we have been advised from another source, an engineer, to put an agitator in the oil tank to create circulation of the oil. Is this necessary - this would create some serious, costly modification on the still? Advice would be appreciated!

My email - - thanks



Stills are beyond my expertise but we'll keep your question and email visible so that another reader might give more advice.

Question: total-loss house fire after a heating oil delivery

2016/12/19 Jlewis44047 said:

I had purchased 400 gallons of home heating oil. Right afterward I started to blow black sout out the exhaust stack. I made adjustments and it started to go away. Had called a furnace tech too look at the furnace but the house caught on fire and we lost everything. I need to find out if the fuel sold was bad. What can I do?


J Lewis

I'm sure sorry that you suffered a house fire and significant loss.

If the house and fuel and tank were burned, I'm doubtful that it'd be possible to say much about the specific fuel that was delivered to you unless the very same oil tank and load of fuel is still available for testing. Even then conditions and oil quality would perhaps be different than when your oil was delivered, as I'll elaborate.

I can only offer general comments. An on-site forensic expert would have to examine the fire, case history and other data to form an informed opinion about your specific fire. And that's of course difficult and limited too if much of the evidence is now burned and gone.

Lots of defects and combinations of defects can cause a house fire with or without an oil burner malfunction, or a malfunctioning oil-fired heating system can combine with an unsafe chimney to cause a house fire.

IF the oil burner was operating normally before the oil delivery, and
IF the system had not totally run out of oil and thus shut-down for lack of fuel (a situation that would create different operating problems at the oil burner),
AND noting that you saw black smoke at the chimney top when the burner re-started
THEN examples of what could go wrong include

- delivery of improper fuel or sub-standard fuel (a few oil companies have been found delivering recycled or used oil mix or other defective product but if that were the case for your home, then it would be very likely that other consumers receiving deliveries from the same truck on the same day after your delivery would also have experienced oil burner problems)

- delivery of fuel with a high water contamination level - this can happen if a truck is filled when the depot tank is either low or if the depot tank has just received a delivery of heating oil (stirring up water in the depot tank)

- delivery of fuel into an empty or nearly-empty residential oil storage tank (compare the 400 gallon volume you received to the rated capacity of your oil storage tank) can stir up water in the tank or sludge in the tank bottom, either or both of which are likely to cause improper oil burner firing including a bad flame and smoky operation.

- defective safety controls at the oil burner that failed to shut-down the burner when the flame was very smoky are a likely factor in the case you described.


The article series below describes the differences among these various diesel fuels, oil fuels & heating oil fuels, arranged in our list from "lightest" to "heaviest" are in the types of hydrocarbon chains that are distilled out of the crude oil during refining (and also that some of these fuels may contain other additives.

Heating Oil Articles


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