How to Light a Kerosene Heater

Written by: Paul Cathro

Updated on: February 16, 2022

A kerosene heater might not be as simple as plugging in a heater, but with this simple guide, you’ll have your heater running in no time!

lighting a kerosene heater

While some people prefer the idea of a plug-in heater or central heating system, owning a kerosene heater actually has a number of advantages.

Firstly, if you live in an area that is prone to storms or power cuts, your normal heating will be affected, leaving you suffering in a cold home. Something which is especially worrying for the elderly or young children. A kerosene heater, though, can easily be used in a power cut to help keep the family warm.


Another advantage of a kerosene heater is that it can help keep your heating bills down. During the winter months, many of us heat our full homes, which can be a costly affair. However, if you are only prone to using one or two rooms in your home, you could save yourself money by using a kerosene heater.

Instead of heating the full house entirely, set your heating low and use a kerosene heater in the room you’re using.

Sounds like a pretty sound investment, doesn’t it? Of course, unlike central heating, where you simply switch a button on, learning how to use a kerosene heater can be a little complicated at first. With this handy guide, though, you’ll soon be an expert.

Recommended Article: Considering getting a new kerosene heater? Don’t miss our massive guide!


How to Start a Kerosene Heater

Follow these steps and you’ll be warm in no time!

Choosing Your Fuel

Before you start your kerosene heater, you’re going to need to add fuel to it. Normally, kerosene heaters take a grade of fuel known as 1-K kerosene. This grade has been formulated so that your fuel will burn without smoke and with no unpleasant smell.

You should always check your user’s manual before you buy fuel, though. Some models of kerosene heater may require a different grade, and you should always follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer.

Kerosene is widely available, with just about every home hardware shop stocking the fuel. You can buy both red-dyed and water-clear types of kerosene, it doesn’t matter which you pick, both are safe to use in heaters in the home.

Adding Your Fuel

Once you have the appropriate fuel, look for the fuel cap on the bottom of your heater. This cap should unscrew counterclockwise and will have a cord attached, preventing you from removing the cap completely and losing it.

Then, slowly add the kerosene into your heater using a manual siphon pump – which should be provided with your fuel. You should do this slowly, keeping an eye on the fuel meter to prevent overfilling.

It’s advisable to fill your heater outdoors and, if you spill any fuel, be sure to wash down the area and change your clothing immediately.


How to Light a Kerosene Heater

If this is the first time you’re using your heater, leave the wick to soak in the fuel for at least an hour before you light it. To make sure your wick is soaking properly, ensure it is fully submerged in the fuel by turning the wick knob entirely to the left.

If you think the wick needs replaced, then check out our guide to doing this procedure quickly and easily.

Again, be sure to read your user’s manual before lighting for the first time. Although most manufacturers will recommend 60 minutes, your heater might suggest a longer soaking time.

When you wick has soaked, turn the wick knob again, this time by moving right into the “on” position. This will raise the wick to the correct level for burning. Then you can either light your heater with the ignition button or with a match.

  • Using the Automatic Ignition Button

The automatic ignition button is located on the bottom of most heaters and looks like a small horizontal lever. By pushing this lever down, the heater will spark an internal ignitor, which is closely placed to the soaked wick. This spark will ignite the kerosene fumes beside the wick, when you see the ignition, release the lever immediately.

  • Using a Match to Light Your Heater

You can also light your heater manually by using a match. To do this you’ll need to open the burn chamber, which is usually above the wick knob at the front of the heater. To open pull the handle forward and the door will swing open.

There should be a burner knob, which you need to pull up to expose the wick. You can touch the wick with your lit match to ignite. There is a risk of burning with this method, so you may want to use extra-long sticks. It’s also advisable to light your match before exposing the wick for ease.


Getting the Correct Flame Height

You want the flames to be a height of around 0.5 inches, which you can see from the window in the burn chamber. If the flame is too strong or weak, turn the wick knob clockwise to raise or anticlockwise to lower it.

It’s important to keep your flame at the correct level for safety reasons. If your flame is too high, you may end up with a large amount of soot or smoke. A low flame is especially dangerous, as this increases the chances of a fire being caused or even carbon monoxide poisoning.

Turning Off Your Kerosene Heater

Turning your heater off is another process that can feel complicated at first, but with practice, you’ll soon be doing without thinking.

To start, move your wick to the “off” position, but do not let go yet. You’ll want to press the shut-off button at the same time at you let go of the wick dial. This will ensure that your heater is definitely off. It’s important not to relight your heater for at least 10 minutes after it has been lit.

Having a kerosene heater in your home is a brilliant safeguard against power cuts, as you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your home will be warm even in the worst of storms. Even better, it could even save yourself some money!

Check us out on Facebook and Pinterest to see lots more awesome content like this!

About the Author Paul Cathro

Paul is an ex-HVAC engineer with 5 years 'in the trade'.

He acquired in 2022 and aims to make it the internet's most comprehensive HVAC resource for small homes in the next few years.

You can learn more about Paul's story here.

Browse his published work on the website here.

Connect with me:

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}