Kerosene Heater Wick Questions

How should I handle my new kerosene heater wick?

It is important to soak the wick completely before lighting. We suggest allowing the wick to soak in the heater for no less than 60 minutes prior to the initial lighting. It is also important to observe this waiting period anytime a wick is permitted to burn dry. If a wick is ignited prior to properly absorbing kerosene, problems can occur that may only be corrected by installing a new wick.

When a wick is ignited prematurely, numerous air holes quickly develop within the capillaries causing a blockage that downgrades kerosene absorption. When this condition occurs, the point of vaporization is closer to the wick surface. As a result the vapors can cool as they rise rather than burning off completely. This causes a build-up of unburnt tar and carbon to collect on the burner tube and wick casing. This build-up will continue to deteriorate the performance of the wick and will cause smoking, odor, low burn problems, slow ignition and eventually heater failure if not corrected. ALWAYS ALLOW THE WICK TO SOAK COMPLETELY BEFORE IGNITING. It is also important that the fuel level in the heater is at a maximum. If you soak the wick in a tank that is less than full you may greatly increase the amount of time needed to soak the wick, because of the reduced amount of kerosene that is in direct contact with the lower section of the wick.

Why has my kerosene heater wick hardened over time?

Hardening of the wick can be caused by improper height adjustment and also by poor kerosene, specifically kerosene contaminated by water. Wick hardening is a result of unburnt tars and carbons collecting and crusting on the surface of the wick. When contaminated kerosene is used, the heater cannot burn the fuel completely, resulting in this crusting condition. This same condition occurs if the wick is installed too low or if the heater is operated lower than recommended. When the heater is operated at too low of a setting the kerosene cannot be properly gasified, and normal combustion cannot occur resulting in this crusting effect.

How often should I change my kerosene heater wick?

The American Lung Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (in a brochure titled “What You Should Know About Combustion Appliances and Indoor Air Pollution”) recommend you check and replace the wick yearly. You may have to change the wick more often if you use low quality fuel or burn your heater on too low of a heat setting.