Differentiating the color of gasoline is important if you’re the kind of person that stores gas in the garage to power farm tools. Also, if you’re the kind of person that drives a lot, then it’s natural to mind the type of gasoline you’re pumping into your car’s fuel tank. One of the common questions you’re likely to ask yourself in such cases is what color is gasoline.
As you all know, gasoline is sourced from crude oil that’s mined from the earth. It’s then refined to remove all impurities until you’re left with clean combustible fluid. Now, in its natural refined state, gasoline is clear like water. However, to differentiate it depending on the octane level, different manufacturers decide to dye the fuel for easy identification.
So, the color you get depends on the manufacturer and the region you’re in. That said, this guide will talk about the color of gasoline, the different types of gasoline, and how to identify gasoline with the smell among other things.
What is Gasoline?
Now, if you’re a novice driver, then it’s common to ask questions such as what color is gas or what exactly is gasoline. You see, when fueling your vehicle, gasoline flows from the pump through the black hose, the nozzle, and then into the darkness of your vehicle’s gas tank. This way, it gets quite hard to know its exact color.
Back to our main question, gasoline is a type of fuel used in internal combustion engines. The fuel is extracted from crude oil through a process known as fractional distillation. This process is done in oil refineries due to the complexity of removing impurities from crude oil until you get a clean and clear fuel.
Types of Gasoline
While thinking of questions such as what color is car gas, it’s important that you also pay attention to the different types of gasoline that are available. In most cases, gasoline is divided into three broad categories depending on its octane rating.
Octane rating refers to how easy or how difficult gasoline combusts under pressure. So, if the gas you’re using combusts easily under pressure, then it’s said to have a lower octane rating. If gasoline resists to combusts or rather takes long before burning, then it’s said to have a high octane rating. That said, let’s discuss the three types of gasoline that are available.
1. Regular Gasoline (87 Octane Rating)
This type of gasoline has an octane rating of 87 making it the lowest when it comes to quality. It’s cheaper and also the best option if you’re on a budget. Although it will take you from point A to B, its low octane rating means that it combusts easily under compression.
2. Mid-Grade Gasoline (89 Octane Rating)
With an octane rating of 89, mid-grade gasoline is considered a much better alternative than regular gas. Though expensive, this type of gasoline withstands more compression meaning it doesn’t combust prematurely as regular gas.
3. Premium Gasoline (90+ Octane Rating)
This type of fuel has an octane rating of 90 and above making it the best for your vehicle. With such a high octane rating, premium gasoline doesn’t combust prematurely. This makes it the best for engines with high compression ratios such as those fitted with turbochargers.
Why do Different Gasoline Grades Have Different Colors?
As earlier stated, gasoline is colorless or clear soon after refinery. That said, most people are left asking—what color is gas? Now, different gasoline grades have different colors depending on your region and the manufacturer. Several reasons support why different manufacturers use dyes on their fuels. They include:
- To Differentiate Different Fuel Grades: The first reason why manufacturers use dyes is to differentiate the different grades of gasoline. This helps to prevent mishaps in different fuel applications such as in commercial, aviation, and off-road/on-road use.
- To Test for Water Contamination: Another reason is to make it easier for people to test for water contamination. With dyed gasoline, it’s easier to differentiate gas from water as compared to if both of them were clear liquids.
How to Recognize Gasoline
If you’re an avid motorist or simply someone that buys gasoline to power farm tools, you might find yourself asking questions such as what color is unleaded gas. Now, we’ve already mentioned that gasoline is a byproduct of crude oil. In its natural form, gasoline is clear and resembles water with a mild yellow hue.
However, depending on factors such as the application and the octane rating, different manufacturers prefer to use different dyes to separate the different categories of gasoline. This helps to avoid mishaps that can cause serious consequences.
Now, if you’re refueling your vehicle, recognizing gasoline can be quite difficult. In fact, recognizing gasoline inside a container can be challenging as the color can be distorted by the color hue of the canister. So, to recognize the color of gas, you simply need to open your car’s hood and check the clear fuel filter. This clear fuel filter will reveal the color of gas you’re using and the volume.
Gasoline Color And Octane Grade
Now, there’s a lot to discuss when it comes to gasoline color and octane grades. In fact, many people have different opinions when it comes to this particular topic. First and foremost, purely natural gasoline is transparent. But, once it’s processed, different manufacturers add different additives, stabilizers, and dyes to differentiate gasoline depending on its application.
For instance, gasoline is dyed differently depending on the octane rating. Regular or unleaded gasoline has the lowest octane rating of 87. It’s hence available in a greenish or bluish dye. Mid-grade gasoline, on the other hand, has an octane rating of 89 and is available in shades of yellow. Lastly, there’s premium gasoline with the highest octane rating of 90+. This one has a distinctive pinkish hue.
But, there’s another theory. In the USA, the Internal Revenue Service mandated the use of red dyes to represent a particular category of fuels. These include fuels used for cooking, heating, general off-road applications, and all tax-exempt fuels.
So, if you’re using red diesel fuel on an on-road vehicle, then you have to be very careful when driving. Otherwise, if the authorities check your fuel filter and detect red dye on your fuel, then you could land yourself in trouble as it’s illegal.
How to Recognize Gasoline By Smell
Now that you know what color is regular gas, our next discussion is to look at how to recognize gasoline by smell. Recognizing the smell of gasoline is important, especially when driving; as it lets you detect a problem with your vehicle before it becomes serious. Some of the factors that cause your vehicle to smell like gasoline include;
- Leakage caused by a punctured gas tank
- Damaged oil rings or gas cap gasket
- Leakage in raptured fuel lines
- Fuel injector leakage
- Loose gas cap
So, what does gasoline smell like? First, gasoline contains a chemical hydrocarbon called benzene. The main purpose of benzene is to boost the octane rating of gasoline. Since benzene evaporates quickly, pouring it inside a container means that it will evaporate instantly thus producing a sweet smell.
But, despite the euphoric smell of benzene, inhaling substantial amounts of gasoline vapor (benzene) can be toxic and harmful to the body. It can attack your nervous system causing symptoms such as headache and lightheadedness.
Therefore, other than checking the color of gasoline, smelling it can help you determine that truly you’re dealing with gasoline. In fact, knowing the color and smell of gasoline can help you distinguish pure gasoline from oil-mixed gas.
How to Recognize Bad Gasoline
Now, gasoline has a surprisingly short shelf life that ranges from 3 to 6 months. Diesel, on the other hand, has a long shelf life that extends up to a year before it degrades. Organic-based fuel on their side has a shorter lifespan of up to 3 months due to contamination caused by oxidation and evaporation.
Back to gasoline, the lifespan of gas starts in the refinery then in transportation, and finally, at the filling station. The best thing about this chain is that it only takes a few weeks up to a month before the fuel ends up in your car’s fuel tank. How long it takes depends on the time taken during transportation and most importantly, how busy a particular gas station is.
Now, how do you identify bad gasoline? As gasoline ages, it degrades due to oxidation and evaporation. During this time, most of its chemical properties change. When this happens, several indicators will alert you that indeed you’re running on bad gasoline.
The first sign is the “check engine” light. If you see this alert and you’re sure the level of oil is correct, then it means your gasoline has lost most of its energy and is burning improperly.
Another clear sign of bad gasoline is if your vehicle suffers from operational problems. This can be loss of power, failure to start, rough idling, or hesitant ignition.
Another sign of bad gasoline is by inspecting its state. Young premium gasoline has a pinkish hue and a pronounced benzene smell. But, over time, gasoline degrades (due to evaporation and oxidation) losing most of its energy.
The result is a darker and muddier (dark red and yellow) substance with sedimentation at the bottom. The smell also changes from a pronounced smell to a sour disagreeable odor that’s not typical of normal gasoline. So, if you’ve been asking what color is mixed gas, then it’s a darker and bolder color that’s different from regular gasoline.
Does the Color of Gasoline Matter?
When discussing the color of petrol, we’ve learned the existence of different color-coded gas types. Now, this begs the question, does color really matter? Well, the answer to this question can be Yes or No depending on where you’re getting the gas from.
For instance, if you’re getting fresh gas from a gas station, then you don’t have to worry about the color. That’s because, in a gas station, you’re automatically getting fresh gasoline. So, regardless of the dye used, the type of gas you’re getting will have a clear transparent-like nature.
But, when it comes to stored gasoline, the scenario is totally different. Here, you need to pay close attention to the color of petrol to avoid refilling your vehicle with bad fuel. Remember, we mentioned that gasoline degrades over time. This degrading is caused by oxidation, which occurs when gasoline combines with oxygen.
When this happens, the color of gasoline changes from its normal transparent-like nature to a brownish hue. The color is not the only thing that changes but also the scent. Here, you’ll be welcomed with a sour scent that smells like rotten fruits.
Color-Coded Fuel Cans
From what we’ve learned, the idea of differentiating gasoline using colors is to prevent mishaps during application. The same applies to storing gasoline where color-coded cans are used. So, if you’re storing gasoline to power farm tools, then understanding these colored cans will help you to determine which fuel should be stored in which can.
- Green Cans: Green cans are used for storing oils.
- Red Cans: These ones are exclusively used for storing flammable fluids such as gasoline.
- Yellow Cans: These ones are used for storing diesel fuels.
- Blue Cans: Lastly, we have blue cans for storing kerosene.
What Color Is Diesel Fuel?
Just like gasoline, diesel fuel is a type of fuel that’s extracted from crude oil. This type of fuel is used on heavy-duty equipment, trucks, and machines equipped with diesel engines. Now, when it comes to diesel, most people are likely to ask what color is diesel fuel. Just like gasoline, diesel comes in different colors depending on the application. Among these applications, include:
1. On-Road Use
Diesel fuel intended for on-road use is clear in color with a slight greenish coloration. This type of diesel is taxed by the government and is sold in every gas station for on-road vehicles.
If you see diesel fuel marked with a green dye, then it means it’s specifically intended for off-road applications most specifically for agricultural purposes. So, such diesel fuel is used for powering farm tools and machinery that use diesel. Unlike clear diesel, this one is slightly taxed by the government and it’s strictly prohibited for on-road applications.
3. Off-road Use
Lastly, there’s diesel used for off-road applications. This type of diesel fuel is color-coded with red dye to distinguish it from the rest. Unlike the other two diesel fuels, the government doesn’t issue any tax on red-colored diesel fuel. This, therefore, makes this diesel fuel strictly illegal when used for on-road applications.
What Color is Bio Diesel?
The color of biodiesel ranges from a light to a dark yellow hue depending on the method used during production. Unlike petroleum diesel fuel extracted from crude oil, this one is extracted domestically from vegetable oil, animal fats, and recycled restaurant grease through a complex chemical process. biodiesel is renewable and biodegradable and is used to fuel compression-ignition engines just like regular petroleum diesel.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why Should You Inspect the Color of Stored Gasoline?
When it comes to what color is car gas, most people find themselves asking whether it’s necessary to inspect the color of their stored gasoline. Now, it’s really important to inspect the color of your gas especially if it’s stored. The reason for this is that stored gasoline mixes with oxygen over time to cause oxidation.
Oxidation degrades the quality of gasoline making it weaker. Once it weakens, gasoline loses most of its energy making it harmful when used to power your vehicle. Some of the things you’ll notice include poor acceleration, ignition problems, frequent check engine alerts, and worse, damage to the engine.
Q2. What is Unleaded Gasoline?
Back in the day, lead was mixed with gasoline for enhancement purposes. But, after extensive research, it was discovered that lead contributed to pollution and was hence banned. Today, you will come across unleaded gasoline, which represents regular gasoline with an octane rating of 87.
Q3. What Color is Gasoline Mixed with Oil?
Are you wondering what color is mixed gas? Well, if gasoline mixes with oil, what you get is a solid blue or green color. In most cases, the color you get is a matter of extreme subjectivity as it depends on the composition of both the gas and the oil.
Q4. What Happens When Diesel Turns to Yellow?
Now, diesel fuel exists in three basic varieties that are clear, greenish, and red. Manufacturers use these dyes to distinguish the fuel depending on the application. But, what happens if your diesel fuel turns yellow? Well, in this case, it means that your diesel fuel has overstayed and is going bad. You see, as diesel ages, the clear dyes used to distinguish it begin to fade until they turn to a yellowish or dark color.
Q5. Which Fuel is Termed as Illegal for On-road Use?
If you’re wondering what color is regular gas, then note that the color will vary depending on the octane rating. Also, the color will depend on whether the fuel is intended for on-road or off-road use. For instance, gasoline and diesel fuels with a red dye are intended for off-road use and cooking or heating purposes.
Such fuels are exempted from government tax. Therefore, using such fuels for on-road purposes means that you’re going against the law, which makes it illegal.
So, what color is gasoline? Well, from what we’ve discussed, it’s fair to argue the color of gasoline is clear or colorless. The different colors we get are the different dyes that are used to distinguish gasoline according to its octane rating.
So, we have regular, mid-grade, and premium gasoline with each identified with a different color code. Now, if you’re fueling your vehicle straight at a gas station, then the colors will not mean a lot to you as you’re dealing with fresh fuel.
However, if you’re dealing with stored gasoline, then inspecting the colors will be necessary as gasoline can degrade once it mixes with oxygen (causing oxidation). Once it oxidizes, the color and the smell change to something totally different. Using such fuel is considered risky as it can harm your engine. For that reason, it doesn’t hurt to know what color is regular gas just to stay on the safe side.