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Forums > Technical Discussion > straight dope on fuel safety

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Location: New York
Member Since: 12th Sep 2003
Total posts: 23
Posted:I'm new and months away from being ready to light up, but I'm already pretty confused by the inconsistency of fuel safety information I find.

The main fuel safety page linked to on the home page unequivically states "Kerosene is the safest fuel for all fire props" and goes on to explain how pretty much everything else, including kerosene based blends, is extremely dangerous(poisonous/explosive/both). Looking around the boards though, it sounds like almost no one actually uses pure kerosene. Why not? Do people just find a cleaner burn worth the added health and safety risks? I notice that some of the more safety-obsessed folks will say to always read the msds for everything you use, but in other posts the same people talk about using fuels which are carcinogenic and extremely toxic... If you read the msds, why are you using poisons anyway?

Also, pure kerosene seems to be a difficult product to find. Is that why few people seem to use it? Does anyone know a reliable U.S. supplier? A search of the formus for "kerosene suppliers" turned up nothing.


Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland
Member Since: 27th Jun 2001
Total posts: 3989
Posted:Because every fuel that burns is bad for you.

Kero is considered to be SAFER, not safe at all! Nothing is safe.

The reasons why kero is considered to be safer has very little to do with the fumes or it's toxicity, as they are all bad for you in this regard.

Also 'pure' kero is a misnomer, its a bunch of carbon molecules of roughly the same properties all mixed together, thats the way petroleum products are made. Looking at the MSDS, there is very little difference between 'pure' kero (aviation fuel) and normal kero and solvent 3440 special.

Kero is considered 'safer' as it has a higher flashpoint than a lot of other fuels, and it burns at a relatively 'low' temperature, compared to stupidly dangerous fuels like petrol, which tend to be much more carcingogenic too.

At no point should anyone in the world decide to spin fire thinking it is 'safe'. Pretty much every fuel that burns is toxic.

The fumes you breath in while dunking are toxic, the splashes you absorb through your skin is toxic, the substances given off when it burns are toxic and you will have a certain amount of ash in your lungs if your nose hairs don't filter 100 percent of it.

It's pretty much unhealthy the whole way, not even including accidents.

I'm not even sure why we do it really...

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Lasa'nta Dubh Mac Tire
Location: LA... Pine Oregon
Member Since: 9th Sep 2003
Total posts: 51
Posted:Kero i've seen to much. here is the US every time i go and buy fuel it's right there next to my stuff. it a white and purple can. and i use white gas just just it's brighter and dun smoke on the burn so. yea. just go look at like G.I. Joes of somthing.. in the campin' stuff

Nothing goes through the Lunitics dark mind... By his own Decaying HeartI love the little tacos... I love them goood G.i.rI'm gunna roll around on the floor for abit k? G.i.r

Location: Cornwall/ Brighton, England
Member Since: 27th Aug 2003
Total posts: 71
Posted:i have the same problem as you, so did an extensive search *mops brow* and found this... might help?



just looked and realised you've probably alreayd read these but i'll leave it here incase you havent. i think youve just got to read it all and hopefully in the end have enough info to be able to make an informed desicion.


HOP admin
Location: HOP
Member Since: 18th Nov 2003
Total posts: 984
Posted:quote:Originally posted by pyrate:
The main fuel safety page linked to on the home page unequivically states "Kerosene is the safest fuel for all fire props" Please be careful when quotes are done
the next sentence should be included with the above quote.
quote:KEROSENE (called paraffin in many places outside the U.S.) is the safest fuel for all fire props. That doesn't mean that it is safe, but it's safer than any other kind of liquid fuel. It is the least explosive of fuels.


"May your balls always burn"

Location: New York
Member Since: 12th Sep 2003
Total posts: 23
Posted:Thanks for the warnings, I appreciate what you're saying, but I'm talking about playing with fire... of course it isn't safe. I think my questions are valid though. Why don't more people use pure kerosene? Is it too hard to find? Do other fuels perform so much better that people think it's worth the added health risk?

Contrary to what some people have told me, the msdses I've been looking at indicate that a kerosene blend with naphthalenes is much, much more poisonous than aviation kerosene. (This lines up pretty well with the info on the fuel safety page.) I compared an msds for an aviation kerosene with one for a household kerosene blend... both can cause chemical pneumitis if you breathe them(very bad news), and both will make you sick if ingested, but only the latter mentioned central nervous system damage and convulsions as possible effects of ingestion, only the latter warned of a skin cancer risk from contact, and only the latter contained naphthalenes, which can cause coma or death by kidney failure when ingested. That's a pretty big difference in toxicity. Of course all these products are a bit different (read: please don't take anything I say here as fact, look at the msds for your own fuel your own self, and of course take reasonable precautions no matter how safe you think your fuel is.)

I read a lot of msdses today. I'm starting to really appreciate the wisdom of those who say to always read them. I'm also reassured by the consistency of the fuel safety page with the research I did. I'm still suprised by a lot of the fuel decisions people make. Maybe when I have more experience they will make more sense. On the other hand, maybe when I have more experience I'll still think they're nuts.

A couple things I wouldn't mind seeing on the fuels page: vegetable oils, e.g. canola oil, which I know some people use for blowing, and biodiesel, (which is usually very poisonous, just to disclaim pre-emptively;)

I know it's annoying when the newbie shows up with all the dumb ideas, thanks for bearing with me.

Fire By Riz tm
Location: tampa fl usa
Member Since: 31st Dec 2001
Total posts: 212
Posted:quote: pyrate
when it comes to fuel safety there are no dumb questions. We all have had to learn these things. Myself I am a white gas man even know it is one of the most expolsive fuels out there it has its good points easy to light ,burns bright,
burns semi clean,doesnt smell that bad ,evoprates fast doesnt fling through the air on fire the list goes on.best part if it does catch on fire it is the easyiest to put out because it burns. oxygen so fast.

reasons I dont like kero is mostly the odor it is too smokey to work with inside, it is messy and flings off your tools if lit still on fire.
if it does catch on fire it is very hard to fight the fire cause it uses oxygen so slowly it is very hard to smother it leaves way too much soot on my wicks and in my nose.

Lamp oil falls into the same feelings as kero
but it doesnt smell bad.

anything that burns is going to have bad fumes
and residues for the user to breath if you dont belivie me do a booger test .Spin with kero then blow your nose you get those nice yucky black boogers that crap has to go into your lungs. white gas isnt much better but to me the less of two evils.if you respect your fuel treating it as the possiable hazzard it is you will prob be fine with any fuel you choose to use.

It is my never humble opinion most fire people stay with what ever fuel they learnt with.and fuels are as much as a personal preference and a person choice as fire tools. that is why you hear so many different versions of "what is the right fuel"

The right fuel is the one you have educated yourself on how to use in the safest possiable manner.Go to your local fire dept telling them what you are doing I am sure one of thoose men wil teach you everything you need to know about that fuel.

the msds are great for info along with telling you what posions you will be breathing they also tell you what kind of equipment you need to handle that fuel on fire.

For finding pure kero hit up your local heating oil supllier.but make sure they dont sell you diesel . I beilive diesel is grade 2 heating oil kero is grade 1 . but dble check that with your supplier
hope this helped

I have been cursed with the imagination to envision it all

Location: New York
Member Since: 12th Sep 2003
Total posts: 23
Posted:quote:The right fuel is the one you have educated yourself on how to use in the safest possiable mannerThanks for responding to my questions. It makes sense to me that after becoming more familiar with various fuels, many of them can be used with a reasonable degree of safety.


Member Since: 27th Oct 2006
Total posts: 13
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