what color is gasoline

What Color is Gasoline? Here’s What You Need To Know

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Many readers asked Garage Chief a question: what color is gasoline? You’d think that gasoline would have one color everywhere.

Actually, it doesn’t. That’s why you’ll find that there are many different kinds of gasoline in the market, each with different colors! Not to mention that there are also different grades of gasoline.

Let’s take a closer look at the different colors of gasoline and explain what do they mean.

What is the Original Gasoline Color?

Gasoline comes from fossil fuel. The original color of refined gasoline is clear, color-less like water. However, since the gas you put in your car is differentiated by octane ratings, manufacturers apply fuel dyes to it.

Hence, the different colors of gasoline, but the original freshly refined gas one is crystal clear like water. 

Gasoline Color

Different Grades of Unleaded Gasoline and Their Color

Gasoline can be dyed for different purposes. For example, red gas is used for off-road vehicles, whereas blue gasoline is often seen in the case of race cars. Aviation gas is blue as well. 

When it comes to vehicles licensed by State for use on public roads, they use clear gasoline with a low level of sulfur being added to it. That’s the one you’ll find at gas stations. Depending on the grade, the color varies. 

As per the fueleconomy.gov, there are 3 different grades to gasoline with the following Octane ratings:

  • Regular (87 Octane Rating)
  • Plus or Midgrade (88-90 Octane Rating)
  • Premium (91 – 94 Octane Rating)

Each of these grades has its own color. However, those colors aren’t always fixed. They can be changed depending on how much of the additives are in it. And so:

Regular Grade Gasoline Color

….Regular grade gasoline can be a greenish color with a hint of blue added to it.

Midgrade Gasoline Color

….Midgrade gasoline ranges between transparent to a yellowish color.

Premium Grade Gasoline Color

….Premium grade gasoline has a pinkish color.

However, as we mentioned, this is not always the same and the color may vary a bit depending on which refinery the gas came from. Different refineries – or gasoline brands, if you prefer – use different blends of additives and stabilizers.

Since the original gasoline is identical everywhere, it’s the additives that make each unique, depending on which gasoline brand you choose to buy fuel from. 

What About Diesel Fuel Color?

diesel fuel colorThe diesel fuel in the US comes in three colors.

First, there is a clear diesel, which you can easily tank at public gas station.

This one is meant for use any cars, trucks and other vehicles licensed by the State to travel on public roads.

It’s also being used for boats, as boat engines (the larger ones especially) are typically diesel engines.

Then, we have a red dye diesel, thanks to use of the Solvent Red 26 or sometimes also Solvent Red 164. 

Such fuel is typically used for farm equipment, like tractors. It also might be used for different home uses, or any other off-road uses.

Keep in mind, however, that red diesel cannot be used in regular cars licensed to travel on public roads. It is tax exempted, therefore if an on-road vehicle uses this type of diesel to avoid taxes, there will likely be harsh penalties.

Finally, there’s a blue dye diesel. You won’t see this one much often, as it’s being used by government vehicles. 

Performance-wise, interestingly, there’s no difference between dyed diesel and the clear one. The dyed one, contrary to what many people think, doesn’t result in performance losses. 

A common misconception about dyed diesel is that it causes loss of performance when used. There is no proven link between the different dyes and lost performance. 

What Color is Kerosene?

The original color of kerosene is clear with a slight hint of yellow. Sometimes they’d add blue dye to kerosene to differentiate it as a subsidized item.

This can also detect adulteration, which is the process of making something poorer in quality.

Sometimes kerosene manufacturers add red dye to a small amount of kerosene. This process should show the difference between the taxable and tax-exempt items.

Dyed kerosene can be used for different home uses. Clear kerosene is mainly for industrial purposes.

You’ll also find that powder color is added to the kerosene for decorative purposes.

What Color is Biodiesel?

This is known as the green diesel. That’s because it’s economically friendly and comes from plants and animal fats.

Biodiesel is a product from petrol’s refining process. Biodiesel is used in any standard diesel engine. It could be used alone or blended with other petrol-diesel substances.

Biodiesel will have a blackish color most of the time.

How to Test Gasoline

The quality of gasoline is determined by the ingredients added to it. We suggest that you test the quality before using it. When you use the wrong type for your car, you may cause regrettable issues that could easily be avoided.

Testing Gasoline’s Quality Before Use

You should try to test gasoline before putting it in your car to determine its quality. This small process will eliminate unnecessary complications in the future.

Simply, pour a small bit of gasoline on any surface. Usually, high-quality gasoline should evaporate almost instantly. If after evaporation, you find a lot of dust particles left that means it’s time to change the company you’re getting gasoline from.

If you find some greasy residue after evaporation, you shouldn’t worry too much. That only means there’s diesel mixed into the kind of gasoline you’re using.

To Test Gasoline for Water

Some companies might add water to gasoline to give it more quantity. There’s a simple way you can test whether your gasoline has water added to it or not.

Before you put the gasoline in your car, pour some into a cup clear cup. Wait until the gasoline settles in the cup a bit. Then, take a look at it from the side of the cup. If you find that it split into two layers, that means there’s water added to the gasoline.

If it doesn’t split into layers, then this is high-quality gasoline. This means that it’ll be more beneficial to your car than the ones with water added to it.

To Test Gasoline for Alcohol

This test is a little more complex than the one for water. As you’ll need to get a graduated cylinder to properly test it out.

  1. Get a 50mm graduated cylinder
  2. Fill it with 10 mm gasoline
  3. Add 2mm water to the gasoline
  4. Cover and shake the cylinder
  5. Leave it for 15 minutes to settle
  6. You’ll clearly see that the water separated from the gasoline
  7. If the water is more than 2mm, then there’s alcohol added to the gasoline

Does the Color of Gasoline Really Matter?

If you’re getting freshly pumped gasoline then the color of the gasoline isn’t important. With the stored gasoline though it’s important to pay attention to the color.

Regardless of the dye being applied to the gasoline. When it’s fresh it’ll have a clear or transparent color to it. That’s the best kind to get.

The older the gasoline gets, the color will start changing. That happens due to oxidation. The color will go from transparent to yellowish color and then it’ll have a brown hue to it.

You can also tell how old the gasoline is by its scent. Fresh gasoline has a strong odor to it, similar to the one you smell when you drive into the gas station.

Older gasoline will tend to have a sour scent to it.

You should watch out for darkened gasoline and not use it in your car. Darkened gasoline is harmful to your car. Some problems that can happen include but not limited to, ignition problems, poor acceleration, bad fuel injectors or more significant engine damage.

Gas Can Colors

gas can colorsAs with the gasoline colors, also gas containers have different colors for the purpose of distinguishing between the kinds of fuel types. 

The U.S Environmental Agency have set different regulations and requirements to ensure the safety of the packaged gasoline. Any packaged gasoline must meet those requirements.

  • Red Containers

    Those are used for gasoline and highly flammable liquids.

  • Yellow Containers

    These are mainly used for diesel fluids

  • Green Containers

    That’s used for storing oils

  • Blue Containers

    They are strictly made to store kerosene.

What Color is Gasoline? Let’s Sum it Up

There are many types of gasoline each having its own purpose. That’s why you’ll find it has many colors for the sake of differentiation.

Before using any kind of gasoline for your car, make sure that you read what type of gasoline is suggested for your vehicle. Different vehicles, nowadays, are eco-friendly. Therefore, not all kinds of gasoline will be suitable. They might even be harmful.

If you buy stored gasoline, then be sure to check when it was stored to avoid causing any complications for your car. Also, make sure to buy the correct colored container.

Knowing what color is gasoline will help you in getting the right kind. Whatever you’re planning to use it for!


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