How To Light A Kerosene Heater Manually

One of the most common ways to heat an area is with a kerosene heater. These devices offer a great deal of versatility and provide both warmth and light. 

Kerosene heaters work by burning kerosene to produce hot air that can be circulated through the room. 

There are many different types of these devices on the market, so you need to research before choosing one. One advantage of kerosene heaters is that it’s pretty simple to light them up. 

How to Light a Kerosene Heater Manually

To light a kerosene heater manually, turn the wick adjustment knob to the right and open the access door on the front. Lift the front of the wick ring, wiggle it from side to side a few times to allow the wick to soak in the full fuel tank. Click the electric ignition and wait until you see a small flame below the wick.

When you encounter power outages or happen to have some heating emergency, a kerosene heater can safely get you through such situations. However, it’s vital to ensure there is proper ventilation and safety when using a kerosene heater.

Most heaters on the market nowadays come with several safety features that you should consider before buying. You can light some of these heaters manually, while others come with an automatic ignition system. This section outlines how to light a kerosene heater manually and through an automatic ignition system. 

We’ll also look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the heater and other helpful information.

Here are some of the steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Have the Right Fuel

Before starting anything, you first need to consider the source of fuel that you want to use to power the fuel. For example, if you’re using a portable kerosene heater, there’s a high possibility that it runs on 1-K kerosene. This is a kerosene grade that doesn’t leave a noticeable scent in the air.

But this isn’t necessarily a rule of thumb. There are various models on the market, which means you might have a kerosene heater that uses other grades of kerosene fuel.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you go through the instruction manual carefully before filling up your tank.

The good news is that the water-clear and red-dyed types of kerosene are safer to use in many models in kerosene heaters. So if you want to buy the 1-K kerosene fuel, it’s easy to find it in most local stores.

Step 2: Remove the Fuel Cap

The fuel cap lies on the base of the heater in most kerosene heater models. However, there are several ways to remove it since it depends on the model.

For instance, some models have the fuel tank cap under a separate access panel. But the most common way is by opening it as you would a bottle.

On most of the portable kerosene heaters on the market, you can find the cap attached by a short cord. The main objective of the cord is to ensure you don’t misplace the cover.

Step 3: Pour the Kerosene Inside

After accessing the fuel tank, transfer the kerosene carefully from its container to the fuel tank. To properly do that, you need to insert the manual siphon tanks’ flexible tube in the fuel tank and the rigid tube into the kerosene container. 

After doing that, press the pump at intervals to start transferring the fuel into the fuel tank. As you do that, it’s crucial to avoid overfilling the tank as it can cause problems. I also recommend that you pour the kerosene outside your home to avoid any accidents. 

Step 4: Leave it for at least 1 Hour

When you leave the kerosene heater for at least 1 hour, you allow the Wick to soak as much as possible. This is most important because you’re using a wick. There is also usually a knob in the middle of the unit. 

You need to turn the knob to the “down position” to lower the Wick into the tank. This allows the Wick to site in the kerosene until all parts have been properly soaked. I highly recommend you go through the fine print with other steps to ensure you do everything correctly.

Ensure you read the manufacturer’s manual instructions before lighting it up, especially when you’re lighting it for the first time. Most manufacturers on the market recommend that you soak it up for at least 1 hour before using it. However, recommendations might differ from one model to another depending on your kerosene heater.

Step 5: Turn the Wick Knob to the “On” Position

After you’ve waited for one hour, the Wick will have soaked in enough kerosene. Therefore, go ahead and rotate the knob until the Wick is as high as it can go.

After that, light up the heater using a match or lighter. Or, if it has an automatic ignition knob, you can use that to light it up. 

How to Light a Kerosene Heater Using an Automatic Ignition System

If you have a kerosene heater with an automatic ignition system, below, we’ll outline the lighting process.

Step 1: Press the Automatic Ignition Lever

If your kerosene heater comes with an automatic ignition lever, the chances are that it is located at the base. It tends to take different forms – from a regular circular button to a horizontal button. All you need to do is press it down to activate it. Ensure it doesn’t move anymore. 

As you press it, the internal lighter will move close enough to the Wick soaked in kerosene to catch the fumes and then light up the device. After lighting your Wick, stop pressing the lever.

If your heater doesn’t light up, then confirm whether your igniter is misaligned. But you might require adjusting it manually before it resumes working usually.

Step 2: Adjust the Ring of Flame to ½ Inch

Turn the wick knob to the left or right until the flames reach the right height above the flame dispersal disk. Most of the kerosene heaters have a small window near the burn chamber, making it easy to check the flame height while the heat is lit.

You need to periodically check the flames to ensure they remain at the proper level. Keep in mind that turning the wick knob counterclockwise lowers the lit Wick turning it clockwise elevates it. Also, it’s not ideal for adjusting the flame height due to safety purposes. 

If the flames are too high, the heater could generate an excessive amount of smoke and soot. But if they are too low, it could increase the risk of an accidental fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Step 3: Rotate the Wick Knob Counterclockwise to Prepare to Shut Off the Heater

Once you’re done using the heater, try and twist the wick knob to the left but don’t release it. Turning the Wick to the left will lower the Wick to the correct height to put out the flames safely.

Step 4: Push the Shut-Off Button and Release the Knob to Extinguish the Heater

Hold the Wick in the down position, press and hold the shut-off button located to the left of the wick knob. Then, slowly let go of the wick knob until it returns to its neutral position. Perform these actions simultaneously to put out the Wick successfully.

After 10 or 15 seconds, open the door on the body of the heater to confirm that the flames have gone out. Ensure you wait at least ten minutes before relighting the kerosene heater after extinguishing it. 

How to Light a Kerosene Heater Using a Match

If your kerosene heater uses a match, here are some simple steps you should follow to light it up.

Step 1: Open the Door on the Body of the Heater

You need to open this door if you want to light the Wick. That’s because it offers access to the Wick. In most heater models, it’s located on the front panel.

Step 2: Use the Knob to Lift the Burn Chamber

Inside the hearer is a round metal knob attached to the bottom of the cage-like burn chamber. Use your two fingers to pull on this knob and raise the burn chamber to expose the wick underneath. You can use the knob as a handle anytime you need to change the position of the burn chamber. 

The burner knob is typically made of non-conductive metals. This means that it doesn’t get hot. Therefore, it makes it possible for you to handle it safely at any time. 

You should note that not all kerosene heaters come with doors or hatches. If yours doesn’t have that, you can find the burner knob outside the unit above the wick knob and shut-off button.

Step 3: Light a Match and Put it to the Wick

The third step is to light a match and place it on the Wick to ignite it. Ensure you’re careful to touch just the match to the Wick and not overextend your hand since it can lead to burns.

Step 4: Adjust the Height of the Flame

Finally, toggle the wick knob back and forth until the flames extend roughly half an inch beyond the flame dispersal disk. When you turn the knob to the left, it lowers the Wick, while turning it to the right raises it.

While doing that, don’t forget to close the door of the heater after the flames have reached the recommended height. What’s more, you should come back and check the flame height every hour. This is because the flames need to remain at about half an inch or 1.3 cm.

What is the Recommended Heater Flame Height?

Keep the Wick in mind when you’re looking to buy a heater; it needs to be between one-half and three-quarters of an inch. 

This is known as the recommended height. But this does not mean that your flame should always reach these heights.

Checking the flame often is also recommended to ensure it remains at the right height for safety reasons. Once you’re done using the heater, rotate the wick knob to the left to reduce the intensity of the flames.

How Long Will a Kerosene Heater Burn on High?

On high, a kerosene heater will burn for over 6 hours. You can also adjust the power setting to extend this time further. 

It can even burn for over 8 hours on a full tank. But keep in mind that low-quality kerosene may emit a bad odor after burning for long.

Why Kerosene Heater Wick Won’t Raise

There are several reasons why your kerosene heater wick won’t rise. These issues include:

It might be that the fuel is not being appropriately burnt, or it could be due to faulty ventilation in your house. 

There can also be issues with your chimney, which will lead to smoke emitting from the flue pipe and coming out into the room you use for heating.

If this continues, then there will likely be damage done to any furniture close by because of soot accumulation on them! So the first thing you should do is check if there is enough airflow around it.

You should also remove the cap on the fuel tank to see if it contains fuel. Refill the tank if kerosene is needed.

Replace the batteries for the igniter plug if the plug doesn’t glow when you push the igniter button. You can also replace the igniter plug if replacing the batteries doesn’t solve the problem. 

Turn the wick adjuster knob to lower the Wick for the ignite plug to touch the top of the Wick. 

Drain the fuel tank to remove the kerosene that may contain water. Remove the wick assembly and replace the Wick and then reinstall the assembly. Refill the tank with fuel. It should work fine now.

If all the above fails, contact a professional technician to come and look into the problem.

Here is how to replace wick in kerosene heater


As you can see from all the information provided about lighting a kerosene heater, it involves a lot. It also depends on the model you’re using and the lighting method you decide to use.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something from what we’ve discussed in this post. If you have any questions or feedback regarding our post, feel free to reach out through email. 

We will be happy to help you out however we can.