What is the Difference Between Paraffin and Kerosene

The main difference between paraffin and kerosene is that paraffin is a type of wax, whereas kerosene is a flammable liquid.

Paraffin and kerosene are hydrocarbon-based substances derived from petroleum. Both substances are flammable and serve as valuable energy sources, with distinct applications in various industrial and domestic settings.

Key Areas Covered

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

Key Terms

Paraffin, Kerosene

Difference Between Paraffin and Kerosene  - Comparison Summary

What is Paraffin

Paraffin refers to a group of saturated hydrocarbons primarily composed of straight-chain alkanes. These alkanes have a general formula of CnH2n+2, where n represents the number of carbon atoms in the molecule. As a result, paraffin is a subset of the larger alkane family, characterized by its saturated nature, meaning that it contains only single covalent bonds between carbon atoms.

The chemical structure of paraffin is relatively simple, consisting of long, unbranched hydrocarbon chains. These chains are composed solely of carbon and hydrogen atoms, with carbon forming four covalent bonds, and hydrogen forming a single covalent bond. The lack of double or triple bonds between carbon atoms distinguishes paraffin from unsaturated hydrocarbons like alkenes or alkynes.

Differentiate Paraffin and Kerosene

Paraffin’s straight-chain structure contributes to its physical properties, such as its relatively high melting and boiling points compared to more complex hydrocarbons. The absence of double bonds makes paraffin chemically stable and less reactive than unsaturated hydrocarbons. It also imparts a certain degree of flexibility to the molecule, allowing for a range of applications in different industries.

One notable characteristic of paraffin is its role as a major component in petroleum. It is derived from crude oil through refining processes, where fractions with varying chain lengths are separated. Paraffin finds diverse applications, including its use in candles, as an ingredient in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and in the creation of certain types of lubricants. Its chemical simplicity and stability make paraffin a versatile compound with various industrial uses, contributing significantly to sectors ranging from energy to consumer goods.

What is Kerosene

Kerosene, a flammable hydrocarbon liquid, primarily consists of aliphatic hydrocarbons derived from crude oil through a refining process known as distillation. The chemical nature of kerosene is characterized by its complex composition, typically containing compounds with carbon and hydrogen atoms arranged in straight chains, branched structures, and cyclic forms.

The main constituents of kerosene are alkanes, commonly referred to as paraffins, which exhibit saturated carbon-carbon bonds. These hydrocarbons provide kerosene with its energy-rich properties, making it a valuable fuel for various applications. The specific composition of kerosene can vary depending on its source and refining process, resulting in a range of hydrocarbon chain lengths.

Paraffin vs Kerosene

Aside from alkanes, kerosene may contain smaller amounts of alkenes (unsaturated hydrocarbons with double bonds) and aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene. The presence of these compounds influences kerosene’s combustion characteristics and its performance in different devices, such as lamps, heaters, and jet engines.

The molecular structure of kerosene allows it to undergo combustion reactions with oxygen, releasing energy in the form of heat. The combustion of hydrocarbons in kerosene involves breaking the carbon-hydrogen bonds and forming carbon dioxide and water as byproducts. This process is essential for the utilization of kerosene as a fuel for heating and propulsion systems.

In addition to its role as a fuel, kerosene serves as a precursor for various industrial chemicals. Its versatile chemical nature makes it a valuable raw material for the synthesis of solvents, waxes, and other hydrocarbon-based products.

Similarities Between Paraffin and Kerosene

  • Paraffin and kerosene are both hydrocarbon-based fuels derived from crude oil refining.
  • Both are commonly used as energy sources, with kerosene being widely used in heating, lighting, and as aviation fuel, while paraffin is used in candles and certain fuel applications.

Difference Between Paraffin and Kerosene


Paraffin is a mixture of saturated hydrocarbons derived from petroleum, while kerosene is a refined and purified form of petroleum.


Paraffin primarily consists of straight-chain alkanes, while kerosene is a mixture of hydrocarbons, including alkanes, cycloalkanes, and aromatics.


While paraffin is generally solid at room temperature, kerosene is liquid at room temperature.


Paraffin burns more slowly and at a lower temperature, whereas kerosene is highly flammable and commonly used as a fuel.


Paraffin is often used in the production of candles, wax paper, and certain types of cosmetic products, while kerosene is widely used as a fuel for jet engines, lamps, stoves, and heaters.

FAQ: Paraffin and Kerosene

Is paraffin and kerosene the same thing?

Paraffin tends to be a more refined and distilled version of kerosene.

What is paraffin used for?

Applications for paraffin wax include lubrication, electrical insulation, and candles.

What is paraffin made from?

Paraffin wax is obtained from petroleum by dewaxing light lubricating oil stocks.


In brief, paraffin and kerosene are hydrocarbon-based substances derived from petroleum. The main difference between paraffin and kerosene is that paraffin is a type of wax, whereas kerosene is a flammable liquid.


1. “Paraffin Wax.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 
2. “Kerosene.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Paraffin” By Gmhofmann – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “KeroseneGlassBottles” By Виталий Барсов – 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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