Are Coal Oil and Kerosene Oil the Same Thing?

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Sometimes the terminology used in relation to different fuel types and their raw materials can be very confusing. Take, for example, the terms “coal oil” and “kerosene oil.” Some people use these terms interchangeably, which just adds to the confusion. In fact, coal oil and kerosene oil are distinctly different substances, although they can both be used in similar ways as a fuel source.

In simple terms, the main difference between coal oil and kerosene oil is in their origins; coal oil is extracted from a type of soft, oily coal called cannel coal (or sometimes candle coal). Cannel coal is a specific type of soft coal that contains bitumen, a form of petroleum. It is from this substance that the coal oil is refined.

Kerosene oil, on the other hand, is refined directly from liquid petroleum (crude oil). Historically coal oil was sometimes referred to as kerosene, so older records and stories can cause confusion. In modern times, though, the term kerosene is generally accepted to mean an oily substance obtained during the refining and distillation of petroleum. In some countries, kerosene oil is also referred to as paraffin.

In recent times, there has been renewed interest in extracting fuel from coal rather than petroleum for environmental and cost reasons. There is particular interest in this process in parts of the U.S. as well as developing nations that have significant coal reserves but little or no petroleum of their own. The resulting fuel, however, is not the same thing, as coal oil is generally made from harder coals via a chemical process rather than distilled from soft, bituminous (black) coal.


If you are in need of kerosene oil in Hickory NC or would simply like more information, contact us at Bumgarner Oil. We have been servicing gas stations, commercial contracts, and residential homes since 1954, and would be glad to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call today!