It is commonly called paraffin (sometimes paraffin oil) in the UK and South Africa (not to be confused with the waxy solid also called paraffin 'wax' or just paraffin, or the much more viscous paraffin oil used as a laxative); the term kerosene is usual in much of Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
Kerosene is widely used to power jet-engined aircraft, but is also commonly used as a heating fuel. The heat of combustion of Kerosene is similar to that of diesel: Its 'Lower Heating Value' is around 18,500 Btu/lb, or 43.1 MJ/kg, and its 'Higher Heating Value' is 46.2MJ/kg.
Kerosene is a thin, clear liquid formed from hydrocarbons, with density of 0.78-0.81g/cm3. Kerosene is obtained from the fractional distillation of petroleum between 150 °C and 275 °C, resulting in a mixture of carbon chains containing 12 to 15 carbon atoms.
A Polish chemist, Ignacy Łukasiewicz discovered the means of refining kerosene from the less expensive seep oil in 1856.
The widespread availability of cheaper kerosene was the principal factor in the decline in the whaling industry in the mid- to late-19th century, as the main product of whaling was oil for lamps.
As a fuelEdit
Today kerosene is mainly used in fuel for jet engines (more technically Avtur, Jet A, Jet A-1, Jet B, JP-4, JP-5, JP-7 or JP-8). One form of the fuel known as RP-1 is burned with liquid oxygen as rocket fuel. These fuel grade kerosenes meet specifications for smoke points and freeze points.
In the mid-20th century, kerosene or "TVO" (Tractor Vaporising Oil) was used as a cheap fuel for tractors. The engine would start on gasoline, then switch over to kerosene once the engine warmed up. A "heat valve" on the manifold would route the exhaust gases around the intake pipe, heating the kerosene to the point where it can be ignited by an electrical spark.
Kerosene is sometimes used as an additive in diesel fuel to prevent gelling or waxing in cold temperatures. 
Heating and LightingEdit
At one time the fuel was widely used in kerosene lamps and lanterns. While replacing whale oil, it was considered as 'explosive as gunpowder' in 1880, 39% of NYC fires were caused by defective kerosene lamps. These were superseded by the electric light bulb and flashlights powered by dry cell batteries.
Its use as a cooking fuel is mostly restricted to some portable stoves for backpackers and to less developed countries, where it is usually less refined and contains impurities and even debris.
As a heating fuel, it is often used in portable stoves, and is sold in some filling stations. It is sometimes used as a heat source during power failures. The use of portable kerosene heaters is not recommended for closed indoor areas without a chimney due to the danger of build-up of carbon monoxide gas.
More ubiquitous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, kerosene space heaters were often built into kitchen ranges and kept many farm and fishing families warm and dry through the winter. At one time citrus growers used smudge pots fueled by kerosene to create a pall of thick smoke over a grove in an effort to prevent freezing temperatures from damaging crops. "Salamanders" are kerosene space heaters used on construction sites to dry out building materials and to warm workers. Before the days of blinking electrically lighted road barriers, highway construction zones were marked at night by kerosene fired pot-bellied torches. Most of these uses of kerosene created thick black smoke because of the low temperature of combustion.
A notable exception, discovered in the early 19th century, is the use of a mantle above the wick on a kerosene lamp. Looking like a delicate woven bag above the woven cotton wick, the mantle was a residue of mineral material (thorium dioxide) which glowed white hot as it burned the volatile gases emanating from the blue flame at the base of the wick. These types of lamps are still in use today in areas of the world without electricity.
In countries such as India and Japan, kerosene is the main fuel used for cooking, especially by the poor. Kerosene stoves have replaced the traditional wood-based cooking appliances that are unhealthy and inefficient. The price of kerosene can be a major political issue; the Indian government subsidizes the fuel to keep the price very low (around 15 cents/liter as of Feb.2007).
It is used as a solvent and in conjunction with cutting oil as a thread cutting and reaming lubricant. When machining aluminium and its alloys, kerosene on its own is an excellent cutting lubricant.
Wikipedia extract to define kerosene the fuel.For full article see below.
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