Kerosene is commonly used to heat homes but can also be used to power industrial and commercial engines. Kerosene is inexpensive, simple to use, and is considered one of the more sustainable fuel options. Also, kerosene can be used for short periods of time since it burns hotter and creates warmth faster.
Storing kerosene can be problematic. After about three months, it can break down, lose its flammable potency, and give room to harmful molds and bacteria. You should always make sure you don’t buy more kerosene than you need, but leftovers happen. Getting rid of your old kerosene is fairly simple—just be sure to do it the right way.
Identifying and Storing of Kerosine
It is advisable that you buy high-quality kerosene in small quantities and store it in its original certified container. If you change the kerosene container, it might get mistaken for another substance, which could be dangerous.
You should always store kerosene in a clearly marked container. Unfortunately, sometimes containers are not labeled properly or not labeled at all. If you have a can filled with a mystery liquid, verify that it’s kerosene before you dispose of it. Kerosene is clear and is usually pale yellow in color. However, some jurisdictions dye kerosene to differentiate it from other fuel types. Kerosene also has a distinct odor that helps with identification.
Since kerosene is a flammable liquid, it should be stored at room temperature and away from potential heat sources like the sun, hot water heaters, space heaters, furnaces, or ignition sources. This is especially helpful in the case of a spill.
If you have kerosene, make sure you keep it pure for disposal. Kerosene disposal often requires a trip to your local hazardous waste management site, and they usually won’t take kerosene unless it’s pure. Don’t mix your kerosene with gasoline, oil, or anything else.
Kerosene is highly flammable and contains toxins that can harm the environment. As such, you need to dispose of it properly, as you would with any potentially hazardous household chemical.
How Can I Safely Dispose of Kerosine?
Has your kerosene started to smell stronger or sour, changed color, or stopped burning as well as it used to? These are signs that it’s no longer fit for use. Unfortunately, it’s unsafe to pour spent kerosene down the drain or to bury it in the ground. If your kerosene is old or you no longer use it, here are some options to try.
1. Drop it Off at a Waste Disposal Facility
You can’t just set your kerosene on the curb with your other trash and hope it gets picked up; in most areas, it won’t.
If you decide that you want to dispose of your kerosene, you’ll need to find a household hazardous waste collection site sponsored by your local waste district. Check online to find the one nearest to you. This is the easiest disposal method because all you need to do is drop it off at the location, and they will take care of it.
You should first contact the service to confirm if they accept kerosene, and if they do, ask them if you will need to drop it off yourself or if they can pick it up from your location. If they don’t take it, they should be able to direct you to someone who can. Also, ask them if there is a disposal fee. There is sometimes a disposal fee for toxic waste, so it’s good to know beforehand.
It’s common for these facilities only to accept pure kerosene, so try not to mix it with anything.
2. Check If Your Local Gas Station Accepts Unwanted Kerosene
Most service stations (gas stations) accept used or unwanted motor oil, but some may also accept kerosene. Sometimes these businesses will take unwanted kerosene off your hands and dispose of it for you.
Machine shops often use kerosene to clean parts and may also be willing to add your kerosene to their existing waste. If you find a station that accepts kerosene, ensure you deliver it in a properly marked container so that it does not get confused for any other type of gasoline or oil.
It’s best to call service stations in advance to see if they accept kerosene.
3. Use It All Up or Donate It
When you use all of a product, there will not be any hazardous waste left over. This is why you shouldn’t buy a gallon of kerosene when you know you won’t be using the whole bottle. If you cannot absolutely use it up, then you should consider donating it.
Try contacting your neighbors, businesses, charities, and other local bodies near you to see if they need some kerosene. While you might not get money for it, it’s good that it’s going where it will be used. It’s always better to use kerosene than to have to dispose of it. Even better, put it to use before it goes bad.
4. Get Unused Kerosene Hauled Up on Collection Days.
To handle hazardous home garbage without damaging the environment, take advantage of communal waste pickup days. A local authority department often sponsors collection days. Search your neighborhood garbage collection day online to locate the date, drop-off location, and items the program will take.
5. Let it Evaporate
If you’re stuck with kerosene that you absolutely can’t give away, you can let it evaporate if you only have a little. Never try this with more than a liter, so you don’t risk polluting the air. This option should be your last resort. It’s not recommended, but it will work in a pinch.
To do so, place your kerosene can in a safe, open, and well-ventilated area. Choose a place where the kerosene won’t be disturbed by kids or pets who could accidentally touch or spill it. Take the cap off the kerosene can and replace it with a screen mesh so that nothing falls into the container. Leave the kerosene to sit open in this manner for a few days until it evaporates entirely.
When it’s entirely empty, triple wrap the container in plastic bags and throw it away or store it.
Safety Tips and Precautions
1. Kerosene bottles should be stored away from kids and pets to avoid spills or intake.
2. Never mix any other products with kerosene or use kerosene containers to store any other material, as this may result in dangerous chemical reactions.
3. Kerosene is categorized as hazardous waste and should never be treated like regular household trash.
4. Kerosene oil has a number of household uses, but it must be handled carefully due to its highly flammable and toxic nature.
5. Do not pour kerosene down the drain or flush it. This is because kerosene remains unchanged during sewage treatment and can end up contaminating rivers, lakes, and streams. This is also a huge threat to aquatic life present in these water bodies.
6. Do not throw kerosene away in public trash cans. An inflammable substance can cause fire and explosions and give off toxic fumes. Sanitation workers, janitors, and waste collection units can suffer a lot of damage due to this problem.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Locate a Local Hazardous Waste Collection Agency?
If you are unable to locate a hazardous waste collection center close to your location, you may always get help by contacting your neighborhood police station, fire department, or government agency.
They will be able to advise you on how to get rid of kerosene properly. Some fire stations could accept even undesired kerosene.
How Long Does Kerosene Last?
When kept in its original packaging or a designated container, kerosene has a shelf life of up to five years. Kerosene absorbs water from condensation as it ages. Mold and bacteria will turn the gasoline into sludge and break it down. Kerosene’s lifespan can be increased by yearly adding a fuel stabilizer.