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Paraffin vs. Kerosene: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Paraffin is a white or colorless soft solid wax used in candles and lubrication, while kerosene is a flammable liquid hydrocarbon used as fuel in lamps and heaters.
Paraffin vs. Kerosene

Key Differences

Paraffin, typically a white or colorless soft solid, is used in a variety of applications such as candles, cosmetics, and as a lubricant. Kerosene, in contrast, is a light fuel oil obtained by distilling petroleum, mainly used as a fuel in aviation and domestic heating.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
The chemical composition of paraffin makes it ideal for use in producing a steady, smokeless flame when used in candles. Kerosene, due to its higher energy content and liquid state, is primarily utilized as a heating fuel and for jet engines.
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Nov 25, 2023
In the industrial sector, paraffin is often used for its waterproofing and insulation properties, particularly in making wax paper and other protective coatings. Kerosene's usage extends to being a solvent and a cleaning agent, due to its ability to dissolve oils and fats.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
Paraffin wax can also be found in food-grade applications, such as coating for cheeses and as a sealant for jars. Kerosene, being a refined petroleum product, is not suitable for any food-related applications due to its potential toxicity.
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In terms of safety, paraffin, particularly in its solid form, is relatively safe to handle. Kerosene, being a flammable liquid, requires careful handling and storage to prevent fires and inhalation hazards.
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Comparison Chart

State at Room Temperature

Solid wax
Liquid hydrocarbon
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Nov 25, 2023

Primary Uses

Candles, lubrication, cosmetics
Fuel for lamps, heaters, aviation
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Chemical Composition

Hydrocarbons with higher molecular weight
Distilled petroleum with lower molecular weight
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Safety and Handling

Relatively safe, low flammability
Flammable, requires careful handling
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Industrial Applications

Waterproofing, insulation
Solvent, cleaning agent
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Paraffin and Kerosene Definitions

Paraffin

Employed in therapeutic treatments like paraffin wax baths.
Her hands were dipped in paraffin for skin therapy.
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Nov 14, 2023

Kerosene

A flammable hydrocarbon oil used as fuel in lamps and heaters.
They filled the lamp with kerosene.
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Nov 14, 2023

Paraffin

Used as a lubricant in various mechanical and industrial applications.
The gears were lubricated with paraffin.
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Nov 14, 2023

Kerosene

Applied in various industrial cleaning and degreasing processes.
Kerosene effectively removed the industrial stains.
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Nov 14, 2023

Paraffin

Applied in cosmetics for skin-softening properties.
The lotion contains paraffin for moisture.
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Nov 14, 2023
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Kerosene

A liquid derived from petroleum, used as a jet engine fuel.
The airplane runs on kerosene.
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Nov 14, 2023

Paraffin

A white or colorless soft wax made from saturated hydrocarbons.
They used paraffin to make candles.
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Nov 14, 2023

Kerosene

Utilized as a solvent due to its oil-dissolving properties.
Kerosene was used to clean the grease.
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Nov 14, 2023

Paraffin

A waxy white or colorless solid hydrocarbon mixture used to make candles, wax paper, lubricants, and sealing materials. Also called paraffin wax.
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Oct 19, 2023

Kerosene

A heating oil used in domestic and commercial settings.
Their heater operates on kerosene.
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Nov 14, 2023

Paraffin

(Chemistry) A member of the alkane series.
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Oct 19, 2023

Kerosene

A thin oil distilled from petroleum or shale oil, used as a fuel for heating and cooking, in lamps, and as a denaturant for alcohol. Also called coal oil.
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Paraffin

Chiefly British Kerosene.
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Kerosene

A thin colorless to straw-colored petroleum-based fuel heavier than gasoline/petrol or naptha but lighter than diesel, used primarily as jet fuel but also for heating and lighting in some remote or impoverished areas.
The kerosene lasted all winter, so the furnace kept us always warm.
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Oct 19, 2023

Paraffin

To saturate, impregnate, or coat with paraffin.
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Oct 19, 2023

Kerosene

An oil used for illuminating purposes, formerly obtained from the distillation of mineral wax, bituminous shale, etc., and hence called also coal oil. It is now produced in immense quantities, chiefly by the distillation and purification of petroleum. It consists chiefly of several hydrocarbons of the methane series, having from 10 to 16 carbon atoms in each molecule, and having a higher boiling point (175 - 325° C) than gasoline or the petroleum ethers, and a lower boling point than the oils.
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Paraffin

(UK) A petroleum-based thin and colourless fuel oil.
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Oct 19, 2023

Kerosene

A flammable hydrocarbon oil used as fuel in lamps and heaters
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Oct 19, 2023

Paraffin

(chemistry) Any member of the alkane hydrocarbons.
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Oct 19, 2023

Paraffin

Paraffin wax.
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Paraffin

To impregnate or treat with paraffin.
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Oct 19, 2023

Paraffin

To embed in paraffin wax.
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Paraffin

A white waxy substance, resembling spermaceti, tasteless and odorless, and obtained from coal tar, wood tar, petroleum, etc., by distillation. It is used in candles, as a sealing agent (such as in canning of preserves), as a waterproofing agent, as an illuminant and as a lubricant. It is very inert, not being acted upon by most of the strong chemical reagents. It was formerly regarded as a definite compound, but is now known to be a complex mixture of several higher hydrocarbons of the methane or marsh-gas series; hence, by extension, any substance, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, of the same chemical series; thus gasoline, coal gas and kerosene consist largely of paraffins.
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Oct 19, 2023

Paraffin

From crude petroleum; used for candles and for preservative or waterproof coatings
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Paraffin

A non-aromatic saturated hydrocarbon with the general formula CnH(2n+2)
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Paraffin

British usage
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Oct 19, 2023

Paraffin

A substance used for making candles and sealing materials.
Paraffin wax sealed the jam jars perfectly.
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Nov 14, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can kerosene be used in all types of lamps?

Yes, kerosene can be used in most types of oil lamps.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is paraffin toxic?

Paraffin is generally non-toxic but should not be ingested.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is paraffin a natural substance?

Yes, paraffin is derived from natural sources like petroleum.
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Can paraffin be used for cooking?

No, paraffin is not suitable for cooking purposes.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is kerosene safe for indoor use?

Kerosene should be used with caution indoors due to its fumes.
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Nov 25, 2023

Does paraffin have a strong smell?

Paraffin typically has a very mild odor.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is paraffin the same as candle wax?

Yes, paraffin is commonly used in candle making.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is kerosene a renewable resource?

No, kerosene is a non-renewable resource as it is derived from petroleum.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is paraffin wax biodegradable?

Paraffin wax is not easily biodegradable due to its hydrocarbon structure.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can kerosene be used as a car fuel?

No, kerosene is not suitable for most car engines.
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Nov 25, 2023

Does kerosene produce smoke when burned?

Kerosene can produce smoke if not burned completely.
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Does paraffin conduct electricity?

No, paraffin is an electrical insulator.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can kerosene freeze?

Kerosene has a low freezing point but can thicken in extreme cold.
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Can paraffin be used as a fuel?

Paraffin is not typically used as a fuel due to its low energy content.
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Nov 25, 2023

Does kerosene evaporate quickly?

Kerosene evaporates slower than water but faster than oils.
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Is kerosene heavier than water?

Yes, kerosene is denser and heavier than water.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can kerosene be mixed with gasoline?

Mixing kerosene with gasoline is not recommended as it can be hazardous.
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Nov 25, 2023

Does paraffin expire?

Paraffin wax does not expire but can degrade over time.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is paraffin harmful to the skin?

Paraffin is generally safe for skin but should be used as directed.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can kerosene be recycled?

Kerosene can be recycled through proper refining processes.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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