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How to Dispose of Empty Kerosene Cans

Katherine Harder

If you use kerosene for heating, light, transportation, cooking or any other purpose, you should have a dedicated can or set of cans to store the combustible liquid.

Dispose of kerosene cans responsibly.

Once you have exhausted the fuel in your kerosene cans, you can store them in an outdoor shed or garage for future use, or you can give them away to someone else who uses kerosene. If neither option is viable, your last resort is proper and careful disposal.

  1. Use the remainder of the kerosene in your cans. Regenerate your old kerosene by adding some new kerosene to the can. Give contaminated kerosene to a local auto-repair shop for parts cleaning; the shop may accept your can, as well, which solves your can disposal problem.

  2. Return your large empty kerosene cans, such as drums, to your kerosene distributor. You may also be able to give your drums to a local drum reconditioner.

  3. Call the number on the label of your smaller cans and inquire about whether the company accepts used cans and, if they do, ask how to deliver those cans to them.

  4. Contact your city or county’s solid waste division. Ask if they have annual or semiannual “hazardous waste disposal” drives. Many areas collect local hazardous waste through this type of drive, and collection is usually free of charge. If they don’t, ask them about your local state, county and city regulations regarding kerosene can disposal.

  5. Place the empty cans in a well-ventilated area away from your home, children or animals. As a last resort, according to the Gas Sustainability website, you can allow any kerosene remnants to evaporate and then dispose of the container in a normal landfill.

  6. Tip

    Visit the Earth 911 website and enter “kerosene” and your zip code into the website’s search fields. Recycling centers for kerosene near your area will appear in the search results.


    Exercise caution when handling kerosene. Skin contact with kerosene can cause severe irritation, and inhalation can cause dizziness, headaches and, in extreme cases, coma.

    Keep kerosene in blue containers or containers marked with blue. This helps keep you and others from adding anything but kerosene to the can; gasoline, especially, is hazardous if mixed with kerosene.