Suddenly my gas range/stove emits a kerosene-like odor when I operate the stove, and especially when I operate the oven -- but our service is natural gas.

I called the local gas utility, and they sent a tech out. The tech said there were no leaks. He inspected all around the house, replaced the service meter (the old one was vintage 1981) and poked around with a sniffer to look for, I presume, underground leaks.

He asked if I had painted or cleaned anything lately. I haven't. No paint, no cleaners, etc. I did clean the range top about a week ago, but I used the same stuff I always use and have never had this gas-like smell before. Furthermore I have not cleaned the oven.

The scent is nauseatingly strong when I operate the oven, but still present when I only operate the range.

I read on some forums that the oven igniter might be bad, but all the stove burners and the oven light quickly as they always have.

  • 1
    How new is the appliance?
    – dbracey
    Aug 21, 2012 at 23:10
  • @dbracey 5 years. And never had a problem before now.
    – JeffG
    Aug 21, 2012 at 23:18
  • OP: "So, what happened is that under my kitchen sink, I had a very minor leak which lead to the bottom of a can of mineral spirits RUSTING OUT." - Please consider switching to Rick's answer.
    – Mazura
    Aug 3, 2018 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


For an accummulation of gas, you would smell rotten eggs. I suspect something spilled on the floor under the appliance, or something plastic fell back behind it.

  • Would the area underneath the range immediately get warm when a single stover burner, alone, was burning on med-low?
    – JeffG
    Aug 21, 2012 at 23:16
  • 1
    Perhaps something spilled or fell under the range-top cover. Often those lift up for cleaning access. How old is the appliance? Is it new or old? Do you have any other gas appliances that emit this smell?
    – dbracey
    Aug 21, 2012 at 23:19
  • It's a GE 5 burner sealed burner conventional oven/range. The cover seems immovable. I'm sure nothing was spilled. I'm starting to wonder if the gas company has increased the mercaptan levels.
    – JeffG
    Aug 22, 2012 at 1:24
  • 2
    You won't smell the mercaptan while the burners are burning - it gets combusted.
    – dbracey
    Aug 22, 2012 at 2:37
  • 2
    I'll mark this one as the correct answer because of misleading info in the question, and this one was sorta on the right track. So, what happened is that under my kitchen sink, I had a very minor leak which lead to the bottom of a can of mineral spirits RUSTING OUT. They were low-odor spirits, so only faint, but the entire area under the sink was wet with spirits -- even a sopping rag. I'm certain the volatile spirits which were concealed less than 6 feet from the stove must be to blame. I have cleaned out the area. Thanks for your help!
    – JeffG
    Aug 25, 2012 at 1:18

What is happening is called product of combustion. Somewhere around in the house or near the house someone used or opened some sort of stain, paint, varnish or comparable compound including cleaners. The molecules carry over and get mixed in with air and then burned off from open flame. If you light a candle or a lighter you will smell the same odor, although not quite as strong- the bigger the flame the stronger the odor. The odor will dissipate over the next few days until there are no more molecules from the source left in the air.

  • I agree with the answer here. I did some wood staining downstairs today and I noticed when I started cooking upstairs it smelled funny; not the natural gas smell, but rather something like burned stale fuel smell. Very interesting that these molecules will stick around in the air and then somehow get burned off by the stove burners. Thanks for the info!
    – user28523
    Dec 4, 2014 at 4:54
  • This explains my issue. I recently did some caulking and noticed a firestarter smell from the gas range around the same time. Oct 21, 2017 at 16:03
  • 1
    Thanks. We just renovated our kitchen and noticed a really strong kerosene smell when cooking after sealing our tiles/grout with some compound (we left it 24 hours before using the oven). We've also just noticed the smell when cooking a day after oiling the wooden worktops. Glad to know its just the vapour lingering in the air burning off and not that we have dripped some of these products on the oven!
    – BStone
    Nov 15, 2017 at 18:57
  • I just wanted to say this just happened to me, and this thread saved my sanity. We had sealed a tile backsplash a few days back, and BOOM our gas dryer started making a crazy lighter fluid smell on the next floor. Then we tried the stove on a hunch and the smells matched. We even called the gas company who said everything was fine. So THANKS, and yep it was the tile sealant days later, which had zero odor at that point, but still caused the issue when anything was burned in the house.
    – spozun
    Mar 22, 2019 at 18:28
  • Epiphany! This is the correct answer. In my case, I've been refinishing stair treads in my basement, and couldn't figure out why both my clothes dryer and oven suddenly spelled like airplane exhaust while in-use! Thank you!
    – itnAAnti
    Apr 22, 2020 at 0:23

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