Oil heaters use a compartment of oil to create heat. In radiator heaters, this oil is heated by an electric heating element. The oil carries the heat very well and can pass it through a series of metal panels or contact points and into the air, which warms the surrounding air effectively, making the oil radiator heater ideal for small spaces. However, dangers come with using oil to heat inside the house.
Oil does smell, and the smell may become especially noticeable when you refill the oil tank that the heater uses or if the tank spills or develops a leak. Oil fumes are not as dangerous as gas exhaust, which can contain deadly carbon monoxide, but they do often affect the health of those nearby. Depending on how sensitive people are, those exposed to fumes in an enclosed space can feel nauseous and develop headaches and stomachaches.
While the oil is not actually lit to produce heat for the radiator, it is still flammable, which increases the risk of fire in the room where the oil heater is used. Fires can occur when the oil is accidentally spilled or leaks from a crack into the floor. Not only can the oil ruin porous surfaces, it can also catch on fire if it is near the electrical element, starting a dangerous fire. Oil heaters can tip and cause a fire hazard; always ensure that the oil compartment is tightly sealed.
Oil radiators do not remove moisture in the air the way that some heaters, especially those that blow heated air, do. On one hand this is good for those suffering from dry skin, but on the other hand, dry air offers many health dangers too. Those suffering from allergies may find little relief from an oil radiator, and the combined moisture and heat can make nearby surfaces prime grounds for mold infestation, which is always unhealthy. Think twice about using an oil radiator in an environment that has high humidity.