What is the Difference Between Gas Oil and Kerosene

Crude oil is a thick black liquid pumped from deep underground. It is not readily usable. Through refining, this liquid can be converted into various fuels. Some such fuels are gasoline, diesel, gas oil and kerosene.

What is the difference between gas oil and kerosene? Gas oil typically has slightly longer carbon chains and is a heavier fuel compared to kerosene.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Gas Oil  
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Kerosene
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Gas Oil and Kerosene
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Gas Oil and Kerosene
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Gas Oil and Kerosene
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Gas Oil, Kerosene

Difference Between Gas Oil and Kerosene - Comparison Summary

What is Gas Oil

Gas oil is a fuel derived from crude oil, a heavier fraction obtained during the refining process. It is composed of hydrocarbon molecules, which are chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Gas oil molecules are longer and more complex compared to those in gasoline. These features make gas oil less dense and less volatile than gasoline. Gas oil boasts a higher cetane number compared to gasoline, allowing it to combust efficiently under compression in a diesel engine without the need for spark plugs.

Gas Oil and Kerosene

Gas oil has many uses. It fuels generators, pumps, tractors, and other heavy machinery that require sustained power output. Gas oil are also useful in boilers for space heating due to its efficient combustion. Construction vehicles, forklifts, and other non-road vehicles often rely on gas oil for their power needs.

What is Kerosene

Kerosene is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid derived from petroleum. It is a mixture of hydrocarbons, which are molecules containing only carbon and hydrogen. There might be 12-16 carbon atoms in a molecule. Due to this, the boiling point of kerosene is around 150°C to 300 °C. Kerosene is either colorless or pale yellow, having a distinct odor. Alkanes (paraffin), cyclohexanes, aromatics, and alkenes are the main components in kerosene.

Alkanes are usually straight-chain or branched molecules with 10 to 16 carbon atoms. Their chemical formula is CnH2n+2, where n represents the number of carbon atoms. Cyclohexanes are hydrocarbon molecules with a ring shape. Aromatics are single- or double-ringed hydrocarbons that are present in smaller amounts and determine the burning characteristics. Alkenes are hydrocarbons with double bonds present in kerosene in lower amounts.


There are many uses of kerosene. Kerosene oil is mainly used in lighting in lamps. Kerosene heaters provide warmth in homes and other spaces. Moreover, kerosene has a solvent property. This is useful in industry to clean machinery, tools, and parts. It effectively cuts through grease, wax, and other petroleum-based residues. Furthermore, some types of jet fuel are actually highly refined kerosene itself. 

Similarities Between Gas Oil and Kerosene

  • Gas oil and kerosene originate from crude oil through a fractional distillation process.
  • Both contain hydrocarbon molecules with a range of carbon chain lengths.
  • Moreover, they burn readily in the presence of oxygen, releasing heat and energy.
  • Both require similar safety precautions due to their flammable nature.

Difference Between Gas Oil and Kerosene


  • Gas oil is a fuel derived from crude oil, a heavier fraction obtained during the refining process, while kerosene is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid derived from petroleum.


  • Gas oil typically has slightly longer carbon chains (C15-C18) compared to kerosene.


  • Kerosene is generally more volatile than gas oil.


  • Gas oil has a higher viscosity compared to kerosene.

Energy Density

  • Gas oil has a higher energy density than kerosene.


Gas oil and kerosene differ primarily in their chemical composition, uses, and properties. Gas oil, derived from a heavier fraction of crude oil, has higher viscosity and energy content. Kerosene is obtained from a lighter fraction and has a lower viscosity, burns cleaner, and is also used as a solvent.

FAQ: Gas Oil and Kerosene

1. Is kerosene a gas?

No, kerosene is not a gas. It’s a liquid at room temperature and pressure. Kerosene is a type of fuel we derive from petroleum.

2. Can you mix gas oil and kerosene?

Technically, you can mix gas oil (also known as heating oil) and kerosene, but it’s generally not recommended. Performance issues, potential damage, and safety concerns are the major considerations when mixing gas oil and kerosene.

3. What is gas oil used for?

Gas oil is used in off-road applications. In some cases, it can be used for non-commercial heating, like in backup generators for hospitals. It powers vehicles that don’t use public roads, like tractors, harvesters, and forklifts used in warehouses.

4. Can a gas engine run on kerosene?

A gas engine might run on kerosene, but it’s not ideal and can cause problems due to kerosene issues and incomplete combustion.

5. Why don’t cars use kerosene?

Kerosene has a higher boiling point compared to gasoline. Moreover, it might not burn as efficiently in a gasoline engine. This is why kerosene is not used in cars. 


1. “Kerosene.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Crude Oil Distillation-en” By Crude_Oil_Distillation-fr.svg: Image originale:Psarianos, Theresa knott ; image vectorielle:Rogilbertderivative work: Utain () – Crude_Oil_Distillation-fr.svg (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “CPCCT Kerosene 4L can 20161107” By Solomon203 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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