Kerosene is a burning fuel that has a very thin liquid profile. It is also naturally clear as water, but chances of regular folks seeing clear kerosene are rare since all commercial kerosene is dyed blue. What happens if you spill some of it? Does kerosene evaporate? I’m sure you want to know whether it will go away by itself or not.
Yes, Kerosene does evaporate at room temperature, thought a bit slowly. It will linger on the surface for a very long time unless you use proper cleaning techniques to remove it. It would also leave behind a strong kerosene smell.
So many people still use kerosene that it is only natural for spillage to happen every once in a while. Conventional cleaning methods might not work for kerosene, as its stench can be particularly hard to remove.
I’ll talk about how to dispose of kerosene and what you can do to clean it without waiting for it to evaporate naturally.
Properties of Kerosene
As I mentioned earlier, kerosene does not evaporate like water. You’ll end up playing yourself if you think a kerosene spillage will disappear after some time.
This stuff will linger and might leave harmful fumes behind. Aside from making things smell like kerosene, this fume will ignite at around 40-60ish °C since that’s the flashpoint of kerosene.
As for the smell, that is more tenacious than the spillage. It will linger even if you wipe the entire place clean multiple times.
On the bright side- the smell is not too strong, and some people find it pleasant. But it can still be annoying regardless. And that’s not even counting the potential health risks.
Kerosene has an auto-ignition temperature of 228 °C. Liquid kerosene will ignite without any spark or ignition source in normal air pressure at this temperature. You probably won’t have to see an auto-ignition happen unless you make too many wrong decisions in life.
You can not mix kerosene with water since it is an oil. Most oils are insoluble with water. But it does mix with other petroleum solvents. But mixing two different petroleum solvents is a terrible idea, so I hope you wouldn’t do that.
Can You Dispose of Kerosene By Letting It Evaporate?
Yes, you can dispose of bad kerosene by letting it evaporate slowly. Kerosene usually has an expiry date of around 5 years. It will become unusable for most people after that point.
You would need to find a suitable way to dispose of this stuff, as burning it or throwing it in a random dumpster would be highly irresponsible.
Your best option is to take that stuff to a fuel recycling facility. If you don’t know where one is, try contacting your local gas station or auto repair shop. There’s also a high chance that they will take it off your hand themselves.
But you can let it evaporate slowly if no other option is available to you. But never do that with more than a liter of kerosene, as it can poison the air. You still need to be careful with smaller amounts.
For example, you’d need to keep the container open in a well-ventilated area. The area should be out of your pet’s or children’s reach. Try to keep it in shade too. High temperatures might cause it to produce toxic and flammable fumes.
How Preserve Kerosene
Preserving kerosene is not that hard. You can easily keep the kerosene in usable condition well beyond the official expiration date.
The trick is storing it in a cool environment. That will prevent impurities from forming inside the liquid.
But that won’t stop the kerosene from going bad entirely. You might still notice some sludge forming at the bottom. That’s a sure hint that your kerosene is about to go bad. But you can prolong its life by filtering out the sludge from the liquid.
You could then try reusing the expired kerosene if the disposing methods sound dangerous.
You’ll need to mix the bad kerosene with good kerosene to make it work. But that will reduce the quality of the kerosene, and it would not burn as nicely.
You must also check the article on does kerosene goes bad.
How to Clean Kerosene Spillage
Cleaning Kerosene spillage is not particularly difficult, but you need to do it with the right cleaning tools.
Here are some ways to remove Kerosene from different surfaces:
The most common concrete surfaces people spill kerosene on are the basement or the driveway.
Kerosene is non-volatile, but it will stain just about any concrete surface. Therefore you need to start the cleaning process quickly before the stain settles down.
The first thing you’d want to do is drop some sand or cat litter on the spillage. That will soak up the liquid and prevent it from spreading. Let that sit till it soaks up all the liquid, and replace it with a fresh batch if there’s still more liquid.
You would then need to scrape all the sand and clean that place with the strongest detergent you have on hand. Do not use too much water, or the smell will spread more. Pat the place dry with a cloth. Repeat the process a few times.
Use a sponge or sand to soak the liquid off of the wood surface. Try to start covering the outer edges of the spillage first. That will prevent it from spreading further. It will go all over the place if you start from the middle.
Most furnished wood won’t handle strong detergent very well, so you would need something a bit softer.
I like using a mixture of water, dish soap, and white vinegar. Use a 2:1:1 ratio for the mixture. Then just use a dishcloth and gently wipe the affected area a few times.
Kerosene spillage on carpets can leave disgusting discolorations that do not go away easily. The first thing you should do is check whether or not your carpet is machine washable. Give it a standard wash if it is small enough.
For a non-washable one, you need to start by vacuuming any dirt or debris on it first. Let the stained area soak in sparkling water for about half an hour. You can use a mixture of baking soda and water to rub that down after it softens.
You can also rub the stain with some white vinegar. But apply it to a corner of your carpet first. That way you can check if your carpet has a bad reaction to it.
Kerosene is notoriously hard to clean from fabrics. But it is still doable with oil-removing cleaners. I recommend using dish soap, shampoo, or borax for the job, as they are usually better at dealing with oil than regular detergent.
The cleaning method would depend on the size of your stain. It’s always better to spot-clean if you can, as that will contain the spread of the smell.
But it’s not a viable option for a large stain. You could also use a washing machine and see if it removes the stain.
A grassy lawn or a backyard is probably one of the worst places you can spill kerosene. Kerosene can speed into the soil, unlike other surfaces. So the damage it can do is also high. Cleaning it is not easy, but there are ways.
First, use some sand or kitty litter to soak up as much of the spillage as you can. Then you want to take a shovel and dig the stained area. Scrape off around 3-4 inches of soil from the stained surface. That should remove most of it.
You will need to replace the soil and plant new grass there. You could try diluting the mixture, but then you’ll be left with a muddy lawn. So removing it is the safest and cleanest option.
6. Removing Lingering Smell
Now probably noticed that the steps above leave an unpleasant kerosene smell no matter how many times you repeat the process.
That’s because the kerosene smell will linger far longer than the stain. And you need a second step cleaning process to get rid of that stuff.
The easiest way to deal with the smell is to spray the area with undiluted white vinegar.
You can resort to this for most of the scenarios above. The only time you want to use other methods would be for clothes or fabrics. The undiluted white vinegar can harm them, so use baking soda instead.
Wet the stained area, sprinkle some baking soda, and let it foam up. Then you want to place that into the washing machine with regular detergent.
Alright, let’s do a recap of what I said earlier. Does kerosene evaporate? Yes, it does. Should you let it? Ideally, no. It is an air pollutant, so leaving it like that is dangerous. But you could dispose of a small amount of bad kerosene this way.
One more tip for disposing of kerosene is to keep it in its original container. The people who deal with this stuff can figure out what to do with it by looking at the container.