Biodiesel in kerosene heaters

Q. Very cool website and content! Could you comment further on you BioD heater? Many sources say kerosene heaters smoke and soot on BioD. How is it that yours does not ? Is that antique heater different than the modern ones ? Did you upgrade the wick ?

A. Using biodiesel in such heaters can be tricky. We found (after using them this winter) that when the temperature gets near or below 32 degrees the BioD has a hard time going up the wick, and we had to be careful not to burn the entire wick to a crisp (that’s when it smokes).

Biodiesel does not travel up a wick very well, like kerosene or heating oil will, so it can’t be used for ordinary wick lamps or stoves. However, tests have found that it will travel about 7cm up a wick but not more than that, and the wick should preferably be thick (about 1cm) and loosely wound — tightly-woven commercial wicks won’t work well. Biodiesel also might not work in heating furnaces or stoves, though some models work just fine, and others can be adjusted.

These old fashion heaters were pretty cheap (got them from Ebay) so we figured “why not try to see if they work.” Some types of wicks work better than others and not knowing which type of wick system these old heaters had, we thought it was worth a try. Generally short wicks with large loose fibers work best and you may have to mix kerosene with biodiesel to get a decent burn.

See this thread which talks about running kerosene heaters with biodiesel:

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