Kerosene (or paraffin oil) is a mixture of volatile hydrocarbons having 10 to 16 carbon atoms per molecule. It is used as a fuel in jet engines, for heating and lighting, and as a solvent and paint thinner.
Kerosene boils between 150 and 300 degrees celsius.
From 1860 to the 1930s kerosene was used primarily for lighting; it replaced whale oil and candles. It was the major product of the oil companies before gasoline for automobiles became important around 1910.
The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989