How to Dispose of Kerosene
You should always try and make sure you don't buy more kerosene than you need, but leftovers happen. When they do, it's important that you dispose of extra kerosene properly. In most places that means taking it to your local hazardous waster disposal facility. You ca also give it away.
If you find yourself with some unwanted kerosene, you can't just throw it away or pour it down the sink. Kerosene is very flammable and contains toxins that can harm the environment. As such, you need to dispose of it properly as you would with any potentially hazardous household chemicals.
Identification and Isolation
You should always store kerosene in a clearly marked container. Unfortunately, sometimes containers are improperly labeled or not labeled at all. If you have a can filled with mystery gas, verify that it's kerosene before you dispose of it. Kerosene is clear and is usually pale yellow in color. Some jurisdictions dye kerosene, however, to differentiate it from other types of fuel. Kerosene also has a distinct odor that helps with identification.
If what you have is kerosene, make sure that you keep it pure for disposal. Kerosene disposal often requires a trip to your local hazardous waste management site, and they usually won't take kerosene unless it's pure. Don't mix your kerosene with gasoline, oil, or anything else.
Kerosene Disposal Options
You can't just set you're kerosene on the curb with your other trash and hope it gets picked up — in most areas it won't. Instead, you will have to call your local waste management authority and see if they will let you drop your kerosene off. If they won't take it, they should be able to direct you to someone who can. If you live in a rural area, your local waste management company may periodically provide special events during which you can temporarily drop off household wastes that they don't usually collect.
If your local household waste facility won't take your kerosene, ask around at gas stations and automobile repair shops. Sometimes these businesses will take unwanted kerosene off your hands and dispose of it for you. Machine shops often use kerosene to clean parts and may also be willing to add your kerosene to their existing waste.
Always call and ask if kerosene is accepted before you go. Doing so ensures that you won't be driving all over town with kerosene in your car. When you do transport kerosene, do so in a closed container and secure it so that it remains upright during the entire trip. Always stow flammable liquids in your trunk or truck bed during transport and never in the cabin with you.
Give It Away
The best way to dispose of kerosene is simply to use it. If you have no use for the kerosene you have, consider giving it to someone who does. Put up an online ad through Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, or a similar platform and offer your kerosene to anyone who needs it. Make sure you give it away and don't sell it: some states regulate who can sell flammable liquids.
Let it Evaporate
If you're stuck with kerosene that you literally can't even give away, you can evaporate the kerosene if you only have a little of it. This is absolutely, positively meant as an option of last resort. It's not recommended but it will work in a pinch.
To do so, place your kerosene can in a safe, open, and well-ventilated area. Choose a place where the kerosene won't be disturbed by kids or pets. Take the cap off the kerosene can and replace it with a screen mesh so that nothing falls into the container. Leave the kerosene to sit open in this manner for a few days until it evaporates. When it has, triple wrap the container in plastic bags and throw it away or store it until you need it again.
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Materials Management: Managing and Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste
- Earth911: How To Dispose of Kerosene
- Autoblog: How to Transport a Fuel Container
- National Library of Medicine: Kerosene
- Hazardous Waste Experts: How to Dispose of Kerosene and Other Old Fuels from Home or Business
Writing professionally since 2008, Michelle Miley specializes in home and garden topics but frequently pens career, style and marketing pieces. Her essays have been used on college entrance exams and she has more than 4,000 publishing credits. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting, having graduated summa cum laude.