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Fire Debris Using Chromatographic Techniques
Isolation and Characterization of Kerosene from
Fire Debris Using Chromatographic Techniques
Shipra Rohatgi1* and Himanshu Khajuria2
1Amity institute of forensic sciences, Amity University Noida, India
2Amity Institute of Forensic Sciences, Amity University, India
Submission:August 23, 2019; Published: October 02, 2019
*Corresponding author:Shipra Rohatgi, Ex-Msc student ,Amity institute of forensic sciences, Amity University Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
How to cite this article:Shipra R, Himanshu K. Isolation and Characterization of Kerosene from Fire Debris Using Chromatographic Techniques. J
Forensic Sci & Criminal Inves. 2019; 12(5): 555846. DOI: 10.19080/JFSCI.2019.12.555846.
Dowry Deaths and the malicious fire are very common in the society and are being achieved by making the use of accelerants. The common accelerants available in the modern era are petrol, diesel, kerosene among which kerosene being the cheaper is highly recommended for creating deliberate fires and committing dowry deaths. The ability to detect accelerants mainly petrol, kerosene and diesel is very critical in the case of dowry deaths and malicious fires. However, it is also difficult to identify very small quantities of the kerosene in different conditions of cloth pieces- Unburned, partially burned and completely burned. There is a need for the isolation and characterization of kerosene from the fire debris so that a quick result can be obtained with a great ease and accuracy and the culprit can be catch hold faster. This paper focuses on the extraction methods of kerosene from the different conditions of cotton cloth piece followed by the analysis of the samples using GC-FID. With the Development of this technique it would be possible to retrieve the data from the different prevailing forms of cloth pieces which in result will fasten the process. The GC analysis will give the outcome of the detection limit of the kerosene from different forms of cloth piece which will prove beneficial for the forensic cases.
Keywords: Kerosene; Isolation; Fire debris; Characterization; Gas chromatography; Dowry deaths; Petroleum products; kerosene lamp; Powering jet engines; Mosquito breeding; Criminal and civil court
Petroleum products are substances or products produced after distillation process. The processing of crude oil is done in oil refinery; which consists of machines and other setup which are designed such that they cause physical and chemical changes in crude oil and convert it into various useful petroleum products. The process of production of petroleum products including; cracking and catalyzing with different gases separating at different temperatures from the liquids [1,2]. History of Petroleum industry states that the Petroleum Products were first produced by five businessmen in the month of February in 1938 in Beckley state [3,4]. First Oil Lake was drilled by E.L drake in 1859; in Pennsylvania. Kerosene contains a blend of different hydrocarbons produced by the process of distillation of crude oil. It is one of the important petroleum products. Kerosene is also known as paraffin oil and paraffin is commonly known as a fuel for jet engines. It is widely used as a as a fuel in domestic lightning (mainly kerosene lamp); cleaning solvent; etc. The use of kerosene in different areas of would have reduced tremendously; but still it is being commonly used as a fuel for heating; cooking and as a source of lightning lamp. Before the era of electricity; kerosene was majorly used for cooking;
automobiles and lightning houses [4-7]. kerosene is a mixture of alkanes hydrocarbons and it consist of n- paraffin – 99 weight % that have carbon atoms ranging from 7 to 18 or Iso –paraffin that consist of 7 to 18 carbon atoms along with cyclo- paraffin containing 9 to 18 carbon atoms [5-7].
a) It is primarily used for heating lightning a home.
b) It is also widely used for powering jet engines aircraft.
c) It has many domestic uses.
d) It is also used to operate portable stoves for camping stoves.
e) Folk medicine reveals that Kerosene is known to be used for treating snake bites; to kill lice and to prevent mosquito breeding.
f) It is also used as lubricant; cleaning solvent etc.
g) Kerosene is also used by the performers (fire dancers; fire jugglers etc.) for entertainment. [4-8]
In India crime against women are increasing at a tremendous
rate among which bride burning for dowry demand is one of
the major crimes. Some of the other crimes against women
involve eve teasing and acid throwing. According to the records
of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB); in year 2012 about
8;233 dowry death cases were reported in different states of
India. While going through reports due to fire in kitchen and the
number of pendency in courts has also increased at a faster rate
[9,10]. Arson and dowry deaths have become a significant crime
in today’s society and hence new approaches are required for
quicker and more sensitive analysis of debris from suspected
arson and dowry death cases. In year 1940; the analysis of
the fire debris was conducted for the first time and after that
different methods for separation and identification came into
the field followed by modifications since today. Although various
analytical methods have been suggested for this purpose. The
most popular analytical method till date for the identification of
fire residues is gas chromatography. Since normally there is little
fire hand witness evidence in criminal and civil court actions
The analysis procedure for arson evidences consist of two
stages: -In first stage the isolation of compound is done while in
the second stage the separation of chromatographic analyte is
done followed by its analysis and calculation of retention time
and concentration of analyte [11-13]. The two hypotheses were
made in order to achieve the objective of this study:
a. The first hypothesis was made that the Kerosene can be
detected and characterized from the fire debris using Thin
layer chromatography and GC- FID (Gas chromatography
flame ionization detector).
b. Secondly; it was also hypothesized that the Kerosene
can also be detected and characterized from the fire debris
at different stages of burning i.e. From Unburned cloth piece;
partially or semi – burned cloth piece and completely burned
cloth piece using thin layer chromatography and GC- FID
The samples for the analysis through gas chromatography
were the cotton cloth piece which were soaked in kerosene and
the sampling procedure was as follows:
a) Three (3) Cloth pieces of approximately 20cm x 15
cm were taken and dipped in 5ml of accelerant sample i.e.
b) The clothes were allowed to absorb some accelerant
(kerosene) and were then taken out.
c) One cloth after being dipped into the accelerant
(kerosene) was taken into the conical flak for extraction.
d) The second cloth dipped in kerosene was taken and lit
on fire with the help of a matchstick. The fire was
e) doused without allowing the cloth piece to burn
completely. The partially burned cloth sample was then
f) in the conical flask for extraction.
g) The third cloth piece dipped in kerosene was taken
and was lit on fire with the help of matchstick. The cloth was
allowed to burn completely till the ash is formed. The ash of
cloth piece was then collected and corked into a conical flask
The detector i.e. FID consist of a flame which causes analyte
components to ionize or loose electron. The ion cause an electric
current to flow. This current may be amplified and displayed as
peaks. The more the analyte component; the more is the current
produced and hence a bigger peak. This detector can be used
for the qualitative and quantitative analysis. Normally; hydrogen
gas is used as a flame in the presence of oxygen in the detector.
The parameters for carrying out the analysis for detection and
characterization of Kerosene from different degree of burned
clothes were as follows: The graph obtained after the analysis
of different samples by performing GC-FID are as follows Table
2. The above Figure 1 shows the Chromatogram for the standard
Kerosene. The chromatogram shows characteristics peaks for
the Kerosene. This chromatogram of standard kerosene was
used for the purpose of comparison with the samples of kerosene
obtained in different cloth samples. The above Figure 2 shows
the chromatogram for the Kerosene detected from unburned
cloth piece using GC-FID (Gas chromatography flame ionization
detector). The above Figure 3 shows the chromatogram for the
Detected Kerosene in a partially burned cloth piece. The given
Figure 4 shows the chromatogram for the detected Kerosene
amount from completely burned cloth piece (Table 3).
Through this research it has been tried to demonstrate
the ability to isolate; detect and characterize the kerosene
from fire debris. The chromatographic techniques were used
to detect and characterize the kerosene from different cloth
samples with different stage of burning. Based on objective
of the current study we can hypothesize that Kerosene can be
detected and characterized from the fire debris at different
stages i.e. Un-burned; semi–burned and fully burned cloth
piece using Chromatographic Techniques (TLC and GC- FID).By
performing TLC (thin layer chromatography) in three different
solvent systems it was found that the Retention factor (RF)
value for standard kerosene was 0.80 that which matched with
the kerosene samples obtained from different cloth piece and
the result was found to be similar. Then the GC-FID was done
for the further analysis of kerosene in the cloth samples and
the chromatogram was obtained (Figure 5 & 6) The standard
Kerosene chromatogram was matched with the kerosene
samples obtained from different cloth pieces. After comparing
the chromatograms obtained by GC-FID it can be concluded
that in case of unburned material; partially burned fire debris
sample; the Kerosene can be isolated using gas chromatography
with flame ionization detector; therefore the hypothesis was
validated .In case of completely burned fire debris and the
extracts were devoid of traces of Kerosene as shown in (Figure
7). However; Kerosene could be positively identified as shown
in (Figure 8).Therefore I would like to conclude with the help
of (Figure 8) that the Kerosene can be isolated from unburned
fire debris and can be easily characterized by comparing with
the standard (Figure 8 & 9) It is also evident from (Figure 10)
that kerosene can be isolated and extracted better from semi
– burned fire debris than from completely burned fire debris
.Kerosene is one of the most important petroleum distillate.
It has been greatly used in many criminal activities including
culpable homicide. Kerosene being inexpensive and easily
available as compared to the other petroleum products such as
gasoline and diesel is used in the cases of Arson as well as Dowry
deaths. According to many magazines and newspaper report
the rate of kerosene for the use of killing the brides has been
increased tremendously. Every year police reports about 2500 of
bride burning of cases in which kerosene is the most often used
fuel. Therefore by applying the similar method of analysis to the
evidences recovered from the crime scene the detection and
characterization of the Kerosene as well as different petroleum
products can be done effectively and efficiently with a faster
speed As a result of which the Arson and Dowry death cases can
be solved easily and in a quick period of time so that the culprit
can be punished as early as possible. In future this project can be
furthered by performing quantitative analysis for the detection
of Kerosene in debris burned for different time lengths using
mass spectrometry or other such detectors [12-15].