Petrol vs Kerosene: Understanding the Distinct Differences in Tabular Form

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The key difference between petrol and kerosene is that Petrol, commonly known as gasoline, constitutes a blend of hydrocarbons obtained through refining crude oil. On the other hand, kerosene, often referred to as paraffin, constitutes heavier fractions of hydrocarbons compared to petrol.

The other key difference between them is based on their carbon chain. Such that Petrol being the lighter fraction ranged from 5-10 carbon chains while kerosene ranged from 11-18 carbon atom chains.

Petrol and kerosene, both liquid fuels derived from hydrocarbons, exhibit distinct characteristics and serve diverse purposes across industries. This comprehensive comparison aims to delineate their differences in composition, boiling points, applications, and combustion properties, among other crucial aspects.

Petrol vs Kerosene

1.CompositionMix of hydrocarbons, lighter fractionsMix of hydrocarbons, heavier fractions
2.Boiling PointLower boiling point, therefore, evaporates quicklyHigher boiling point, therefore, slower evaporation
3.ColorClear or slightly tintedUsually colorless or slightly yellow
4.Combustion CharacteristicsQuick and explosive combustionSlower and less explosive combustion
5.Use in EngineUsed in gasoline/petrol enginesUsed in kerosene-based engines/appliances
6.ViscosityLower viscosityHigher viscosity
7.FlammabilityMore flammableLess flammable
8OdorStronger odorMilder odor
9.Energy ContentHigher energy content per literLower energy content per liter
10.ApplicationsPrimarily for vehicles, small enginesHeating, lighting, and aviation fuel

What is Petrol?

Petrol, also known as gasoline, is a refined petroleum product primarily used as fuel for internal combustion engines in vehicles. It’s derived from crude oil through a refining process that separates various components based on their boiling points. Composed primarily of hydrocarbons, petrol consists of molecules with carbon and hydrogen atoms.

It’s a volatile and flammable liquid that vaporizes easily at relatively low temperatures, making it suitable for engines. Petrol’s energy content, combustion characteristics, and ability to mix with air in an engine’s carburetor or fuel injection system make it an efficient fuel for powering automobiles, motorcycles, and other vehicles.

Its usage extends beyond transportation to include small engines in lawnmowers, chainsaws, and various power tools. Despite its widespread use, concerns about environmental impact, including air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, have led to efforts to develop alternative fuels and more efficient engine technologies to reduce reliance on petrol and mitigate its environmental effects.

What is Kerosene?

Kerosene is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid commonly derived from the distillation of crude oil. It’s a versatile fuel used for various purposes, prominently for heating, lighting, and as a cooking fuel. Composed primarily of alkanes, kerosene has a higher boiling point than gasoline but lower than diesel.

One of its notable uses historically was in lamps and lanterns before the widespread use of electricity for lighting. Today, it remains a crucial source of energy in many parts of the world where access to electricity is limited or unreliable. It’s also used as jet fuel in aviation and as a component in certain types of stoves and heaters.

Kerosene is known for its relatively clean-burning properties compared to other fossil fuels, emitting less soot and fewer pollutants. However, its use has raised concerns about indoor air quality and environmental impact, driving efforts to promote cleaner and more efficient energy sources in various applications.

Detailed Explanation of 10 Differences Between Petrol and Kerosene:

  • Composition: Petrol, commonly known as gasoline, constitutes a blend of hydrocarbons obtained through refining crude oil. It primarily consists of lighter fractions of hydrocarbons such as octane, heptane, and aromatic compounds. On the other hand, kerosene, often referred to as paraffin, constitutes heavier fractions of hydrocarbons compared to petrol. It contains compounds with higher molecular weights, such as alkanes, cycloalkanes, and aromatics, making it less volatile than petrol.
  • Boiling Point: One key distinction lies in their boiling points. Petrol exhibits a lower boiling point, making it evaporate more rapidly, particularly at normal atmospheric temperatures. This characteristic renders petrol ideal for quick combustion in internal combustion engines. Conversely, kerosene possesses a higher boiling point, leading to slower evaporation and a more gradual combustion process. This slower evaporation makes kerosene suitable for applications that require a steady and controlled burning rate.
  • Color: Petrol typically appears clear or slightly tinted due to its lighter composition. In contrast, kerosene is usually colorless or possesses a slight yellowish tint, resulting from the heavier hydrocarbons present in its composition.
  • Combustion Characteristics: The combustion characteristics of petrol and kerosene significantly differ. Petrol, with its lighter fractions, ignites more readily and undergoes rapid and explosive combustion, making it well-suited for internal combustion engines in vehicles and small engines. Kerosene, due to its higher molecular weight compounds, burns more slowly and less explosively, which is advantageous for applications requiring a more controlled and sustained flame, such as heating and lighting.
  • Use in Engines and Applications: Petrol serves as the primary fuel for gasoline engines in automobiles, motorcycles, and various small engines due to its quick combustion properties. On the contrary, kerosene finds usage in kerosene-based engines and appliances, such as heaters, lamps, stoves, and even jet engines in aviation.
  • Viscosity: The viscosity of a liquid refers to its resistance to flow. Petrol exhibits lower viscosity compared to kerosene, enabling it to flow more freely. In contrast, kerosene has higher viscosity due to its heavier fractions, resulting in a slower flow rate.
  • Flammability and Odor: Petrol is more flammable than kerosene, attributed to its lighter fractions and lower boiling point. Additionally, petrol generally possesses a stronger and more distinct odor compared to the milder odor of kerosene.
  • Energy Content: In terms of energy content per liter, petrol typically contains a higher energy content compared to kerosene. This higher energy content makes petrol more suitable for applications requiring high power output, such as in-vehicle engines.
  • Environmental Considerations: From an environmental perspective, the combustion of both fuels produces emissions. However, due to its rapid and explosive combustion, petrol combustion may lead to higher emissions of certain pollutants compared to the slower and more controlled combustion of kerosene.

FAQs related to Petrol vs Kerosene

1. Are there distinct environmental impacts of using Petrol versus Kerosene?

Answer: While both produce emissions, petrol’s quicker combustion may lead to higher emissions of certain pollutants compared to kerosene’s controlled burn.

2. How does the odor of Petrol differ from Kerosene?

Answer: Petrol typically possesses a stronger odor compared to the milder scent of kerosene.

3. Which fuel, Petrol or Kerosene, is more commonly used in aviation?

Answer: Kerosene is predominantly used as aviation fuel due to its controlled combustion properties.

4. Do Petrol and Kerosene differ in their transportation and storage requirements?

Answer: Petrol is usually transported and stored with stricter safety measures due to its higher volatility compared to kerosene.

5. How does the ignition process vary between Petrol and Kerosene?

Answer: Petrol ignites more quickly, requiring less energy for ignition compared to kerosene.

6. Can Petrol and Kerosene be used interchangeably in certain applications?

Answer: While some engines can tolerate either fuel to a limited extent, using the wrong fuel can damage engines or appliances designed for specific fuels.

7. Which fuel, Petrol or Kerosene, exhibits faster evaporation?

Answer: Petrol evaporates more quickly than kerosene due to its lower boiling point.

8. Are there notable differences in the handling and safety measures for Petrol and Kerosene?

Answer: Petrol usually requires stricter safety measures due to its higher flammability compared to kerosene.

9. How do Petrol and Kerosene differ in their suitability for cooking purposes?

Answer: Kerosene, with its slower and controlled burn, is commonly used in cooking appliances designed specifically for kerosene-based fuels.

10. Are there specific regulations or guidelines for the storage and handling of Petrol and Kerosene?

Answer: Yes, both fuels have specific regulations for their safe storage, transportation, and handling to prevent accidents and ensure safety.


In summary, while both petrol and kerosene are liquid hydrocarbon fuels derived from crude oil, their distinct compositions, boiling points, combustion characteristics, and uses set them apart. Petrol’s lighter and more volatile nature makes it ideal for quick combustion in engines, while kerosene, with its slower-burning properties, finds application in more controlled and sustained burning scenarios. Understanding these differences enables informed choices regarding their utilization in various industries and applications.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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