Kerosene was used initially in lanterns for the purpose of lighting.
In countries such as India, kerosene is the main fuel used for cooking, especially by the poor, and kerosene stoves have replaced traditional wood-based cooking appliances. In Hindi, kerosene is called 'Mitti ka tel', meaning oil (out) of the earth.
In 1892, Frans Wilhem Lindqvist a factory mechanic in Stockholm, Sweden developed the first commercially manufactured portable indoor cooking stove called 'Primus'. The Primus employs a special burner where a tube is heated by lighting alcohol spirit. Together with partner J.V. Svensson, Lindqvist established the Primus brand of stove, which quickly developed into a worldwide market leader
Primus stove [Image source]
The kerosene burning Primus stoves and their imitators were made of brass, which had used a wick to supply liquid fuel to the burner by capillary action. The Primus burner vaporized the fuel in a loop of pipe which rose up from the fuel tank at the stove's base, and which was pre-heated with alcohol or methylated spirits before being combusted in the burner. Initial pressure is provided by a small, hand operated pump integrated into the stove's fuel tank. The flame on a Primus stove is adjusted by using the pump to increase the pressure in the tank to make the flame larger, or by venting the tank to reduce the pressure and make the flame smaller.
Before Primus stoves existed , kerosene stoves were constructed in the same manner as oil lamps, which use a wick to draw fuel from the tank to the burner and this process produces a great deal of soot due to incomplete combustion. The Primus stove’s design, which uses pressure and heat to vaporize the kerosene before ignition, results in a hotter, more efficient stove that does not soot. Because it did not use a wick and did not produce soot, the Primus stove was advertised as the first “soot less” and “wickless” stove.
The efficient Primus stove quickly earned a reputation as a reliable and durable stove in everyday use, and it performed especially well under adverse conditions and was used extensively by famous mountaineers on their expeditions too.
Primus-style stoves were made in a variety of sizes and styles, and many were designed to be disassembled for storage and transportation in a separate case.
During the late 1970s, kerosene wick stove was introduced in India.
There are two types of kerosene stoves - the wick type and the pressure type. Wick stoves can be with either multiple small wicks, or a single wick standing on its edge, or a standard heater-type circular wick.
In kerosene pressure stoves the generator is preheated by burning alcohol in a cup, then the stove is lit. Unlike the silent operation of a wick type stove, the pressure stoves produce quite a bit of noise when in use. Pressure stoves have no moving parts, except for the pressure pump. The burners are usually made of solid brass as they last long and function efficiently. Only kerosene is used as a fuel indoors as it produces almost no carbon monoxide on burning. The only problem with pressure stoves is keeping the jet clean, but that can be taken care of if the fuel tank is rinsed out once a year and only filtered fuel used.
Commercial stoves using kerosene have been manufactured in India to make the cooking process quick and convenient. These stoves are highly durable, extremely fuel efficient, and easy to maintain and are at times manufactured to suit customer requirements. These multipurpose commercial stoves are available with more than one burner like single burner stoves, 2, or 4 Burner Stoves, based on the customers needs. These are mainly used in hotels, Community Cooking Centres, large social gatherings like weddings, industry canteens etc.
Double burner commercial kerosene stove [Image source]
The percentage of households using kerosene stoves in their kitchens in India is shrinking. The users who do not need the portability of a kerosene stove and who are financially stable are moving towards LPG stoves.