Kerosene is frequently used in the winter time to prevent fuel gelling and to improve winter cold flow operability. A kerosene blended diesel fuel is a combination of #1 diesel fuel (kerosene) and #2 diesel fuel. The diesel fuel to kerosene ratio is usually found between 80:20, 70:30, 60:40, or 50:50.
Benefits of Kerosene
The main role of blending diesel and kerosene together is to improve cold flow operability. Kerosene has a much better cold filter plugging point (CFPP) than diesel fuel. This means that it can pass through a fuel filter at a lower temperature than untreated diesel. The rule of thumb is that for every 10% kerosene blended the CFPP is lowered by 3 degrees.
Disadvantages of Kerosene
It is almost always more cost effective to treat your fuel with a winter fuel additive than it is to cut your fuel with kerosene. All you have to do is determine the cost difference between diesel and kerosene, determine the ratio used (80:20, 70:30, 50:50, etc), and then calculate how much extra it costs to cut with kerosene. On the flip side, research a winter additive, find the treatment ratio, and calculate the cost on a cents per gallon basis.
Kerosene also contains less BTU’s (British Thermal Units) than diesel fuel. This means that using kerosene leads to reduced fuel efficiency and engine performance. Specifically, kerosene has a BTU content of about 130,000 per gallon while diesel has an average of 140,000 per gallon. This is about a 7.5% difference in power. Kerosene also has a lower cetane rating than diesel. Cetane rating is used to show the combustion speed of diesel fuel. Diesel fuels with higher cetane ratings have shorter ignition delays, which provides greater combustion and allows engines to run more efficiently. Lower cetane levels found in kerosene can lead to poor starting, delayed warm-ups and white smoke.
I mentioned it briefly above, but another thing to consider is that you are only getting 3°F of CFPP protection more for every 10% of kerosene used while diesel fuel additives can give you up to 40°F CFPP of protection.
Last, kerosene contains less lubricity than today’s diesel fuels. If you know anything about today’s diesel fuels, it’s that our low sulfur diesel (ULSD) does not contain the sulfur that it used to, which means less lubricity and more wear-and-tear one our engines. Our engine components – especially our rubber components – are already susceptible to early failure. Why would we want to add less lubricity than we already have by using kerosene? The alternative is that we can add a cold flow improver with lubricity enhancement. Many cold flow improvers include added lubricity packages as well.
Diesel fuel additives are the more economical alternative for engine operability in cold weather. They cost less, give more protection, and improve cold flow operability without sacrificing power and performance. Fuel additives also don’t lower lubricity and cetane levels like kerosene. Fortunately, there are a lot of diesel fuel additives designed for winter operability on the market, but it’s about choosing the one with the most benefits. The Fuel Ox manufactures multiple military-grade cold flow improvers that contain protections from contaminants such as water, bacteria, and asphaltenes. Feel free to check out our Products page or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.