Kerosene was one of the first products to be distilled from petroleum. Over the years it has served several purposes and continues to be used today.
The earliest use of kerosene was for lighting, and it continues to be used for this purpose – mostly in the developing world.
Another long standing use for kerosene that continues is as a pesticide. In the late 19th and early 20th century, it was common practice to add a little kerosene to standing water. This would kill any mosquito larvae breeding in the water and was an important weapon in the fight against malaria and other diseases that can be spread by mosquitos. In modern times, a further problem has developed, as some species have developed a resistance to commonly used pesticides. In some areas people are once again using the tried and tested method of treating water with kerosene to wipe out mosquitos.
Glass cutters use kerosene to lubricate the wheel on a glass cutter and keep it spinning freely. Kerosene also helps ensure a cleaner cut and helps prevent sharp, dangerous shards from being flung up from the cutting surface. Kerosene is also used as a solvent in industrial products, like paint and pesticides, and as a degreasing agent in some cleaning products.
Kerosene is also used as fuel, notably in the aviation industry where it is sold as Jet-A fuel, a far cry from the days when it was used to power tractors – as seen in this video clip.