Posted:I've finally gone down to the local airport and purchased some jet fuel (aviation grade kerosene) for the purpose of fire spinning. I figured that I would relay my experiences to anyone else that wants to give it a go. First there is the issue of whether aviation grade kero is actually safer than other fuel. The stuff that I got was manufactured by Chevron. The MSDS can be found here. Unfortunately, the MSDS is pretty vague about how much naptha and benzene are in the fuel so it's hard to assess whether it is any safer than "ultra pure" lamp oil. I feel that one can safely say that jet fuel is probably the highest grade kero that one can buy and is generally cheaper at about $2 a gallon than anything else available.
To get the fuel, I used airnav to find an airport nearby that offers self service Jet-A. I drove down there in the middle of the night intentionally to avoid any traffic. Though I doubt anyone would particularly mind if someone is walking around on the tarmac, it can make pilots nervous. I pulled up to the pumps and to my chagrin discovered that the Jet-A pump uses a 3" wide oblong nozzle for which I had to fabricate a funnel to get fuel into my fuel can. I used the credit card terminal to pay for the fuel and also used a fictitious tail number when it asked for one. I'd avoid using a real tail number off a nearby airplane as this information is kept for the purpose of accident investigation. Note that the Jet-A pump is designed to fill up tanks that take hundreds of gallons, so it does begin to pump very quickly after the initial few seconds.
Jet fuel burns very much like any other kerosene, except that it's possibly smokier and stinkier than most. It burns just as brightly and just as long as one would expect. I've read an assertion that the ingredients used in kero to prevent it from being so stinky are toxic, thus jet fuel should be both stinkier and less toxic than other fuels based on petroleum distillates. For the purposes of comparison, I'd really like to see a copy of the MSDS for ultra pure lamp oil. I'll probably continue to use it, as I now have several gallons and it is quite cheap.
Posted:Quote: theres enough people with private jets who would also self-fill their tanks to merrit a self-fill jet fuel pump? Crazy.
Not really crazy. It's not just private jets that use aviation kero. The very smallest general aviation airplanes are those that run 100LL (leaded gasoline). Just about every other plane runs Jet-A. There are a lot of small prop planes that are "turboprops" which is essentially a turbine engine that spins a prop instead of producing thrust. In Europe, where Gasoline is three or four times more expensive than kero, diesel engines are becoming popular in small aircraft. Note that "diesel" refers to the type of internal combustion engine rather than the fuel, which is very similar to kerosene. These diesel engines primarily run on Jet-A and will also run on diesel fuel. Inevitably, 100LL will go away because of its impact on the environment. In fact, there is a congressional mandate to do so. There are unleaded alternatives to 100LL, but it is likely that the aviation industry will move towards Jet-A instead.
Posted:Just a follow up after using Jet-A for a while. It's difficult to believe, but it's actually smokier and stinkier than regular kerosene. So much so, that most people refuse to use it. Also, I can't reliably locate any from a manufacturer that doesn't include some form of naptha and benzene which are both carcinogenic. If one can find clear K-1 Kero for ~$2/gallon, I'd recommend that over Jet-A.