What Color is Gasoline?

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If you have interacted with vehicles, you may have noticed that most of them use gasoline. Even if you have not, there are high chances you have heard the word gasoline being mentioned here and there.

Although many people are conversant with the term gasoline, most of them do not know what exactly it is.

A huge chunk of these people also do not know its properties, for instance, the color of gasoline. Well, we are going to talk more about gasoline like types, color and much more.

What is Gasoline?

Gasoline is a type of liquid used in the internal combustion of many engines. Combustion, in simple terms, is the burning of a substance, in this case, gasoline.

It is this process that brings about movement in machines/vehicles. Gasoline is basically the fuel that facilitates the running of engines.

Gasoline is usually extracted from crude oil through fractional distillation. This process is commonly done in oil refineries. One of the reasons for this is due to the complexity of the distillation process.

Types of Gasoline

Gasoline is divided into three main types according to their octane rating. Octane rating is the amount of compression a gas can withstand before combustion.

Therefore the lower the rating, the more likely combustion occurs at the wrong time.

Let us look at this phenomenon by examining these three types of gasoline;

87 Octane-Rating (Regular)

Regular gasoline is gasoline whose octane rating is 87. Here the likelihood for combustion to take place at the wrong time is high.

 89 Octane Rating (Midgrade)

This type of gasoline has a rating of 89. Here the octane rating is in the mid ranges. Basically, it is neither high nor low.

90+ Octane Rating (Premium)

Here the octane rating is usually 90 and above. Due to its high octane rating, it is less likely for combustion to take place at the wrong time.

Color of Gasoline

The original color of gasoline is transparent. Basically, once gasoline is extracted, all you will see is a clear, transparent liquid.

Why Different Gasoline Grades Have Different Colors?

As earlier stated, gasoline is clear/colorless. This then brings up the question, why do we have different colored gasoline types. The reason for this is simple.

Many petroleum manufacturers usually add dyes colors to this clear liquid. This helps them differentiate the different grades of gasoline. With this, mishaps in some applications are easily prevented.

Another reason is that it makes it easier for people to test for water contamination. Basically, testing for water would be challenging if all types looked clear.

The reasons for this is because both gasoline and water would look the same. Therefore adding dyes makes the water stand out when in a separation cylinder.

Colors According to the Types of Gasoline

Different dye colors are used in each one of the gasoline types. This makes it easier to differentiate them. Here are the colors of each gasoline type.

  1. Regular – regular gasoline is usually greenish or slightly bluish in color.
  2. Midgrade – midgrade gasoline is usually yellowish in color.
  3. Premium – premium, the one with high octane ratings, is usually pink in color.

Does the Color of Gasoline Matter?

The existence different-colored types, begs the question, does color really matter? To answer this question, we need to look at this from two different perspectives.

One of these perspectives is when you are pumping fresh gasoline from the gas station.  Here the color of gasoline has no effect at all as long as it is fresh.

The other scenario is when you are storing gasoline. Here you need to pay close attention to the gasoline as time goes by.

When you store gasoline, regardless of the dye used, it will have a transparent-like nature. Now, this is the best kind of gasoline to use.

As time goes by, the color of the gasoline will change. This is usually caused by oxidation. Oxidation is the process by which a substance (gasoline in this case) combines with oxygen.

As gasoline gets older, it will change from its original color to a brownish color.

Color is not the only thing that changes when you store gasoline for a certain period of time. As gasoline gets older, you will notice that the scent too changes.

Old gasoline has a sour scent as opposed to the strong smell it normally has when fresh.

So why is it important to look out for such things when you have stored gasoline? When you store gasoline, and it starts exhibiting such features, it is advisable not to use it in your car.

The reason is that it will cause a wide range of issues. Some of these problems that may arise following the use of such gasoline include:

  • Your car may start having ignition problems.
  • You will start to notice that your car has poor acceleration,
  • With time, it could significantly damage your car engine.

Color-Coded Fuel Cans

As we have seen above, gasoline comes in 3 different categories. Each of these types bears a different color. In line with that, the cans used to store each of these fuels also come in different colors.

This helps one differentiate the types of fuels placed in each of these cans. Here are some of these colored cans and the type of fuel to be placed in each one of them.

Green Containers

Green Containers are exclusively used for storing oils.

Red Containers

Red Containers are used for storing gasoline and flammable liquids only.

Yellow Containers

Yellow containers are used for storing diesel fluids only.

Blue Containers

Blue containers are exclusively used for storing kerosene.

What Color is Diesel Fuel?

Diesel is one of the most popular fuels, because it is used by trucks, heavy machinery, agriculture, ships, military as well many diesel engine cars.

Diesel fuel is brown with a greenish tint. A red colored diesel is also available. The red diesel is used in tractors and other agricultural machines.

Red diesel is usually cheaper; this is why some people will put this fuel in their car. Red diesel is prohibited by law to be used in cars; it should only be used in agricultural vehicles.

What Color is Bio Diesel?

Bio diesel has a golden to dark brown color, depending on the method of production.

Bio diesel is made of animal fats, soybean oil or used vegetable oil through a complex chemical process. Bio diesel is not as popular, because it is production cost is high, compared to regular diesel.

What Color is Petrol?

Petrol is the British English version of gasoline, so therefore petrol is a clear, transparent liquid, just like gasoline.

What Color is Crude Oil?

What Color is Crude Oil? (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The color of crude oil can vary, depending on its composition. In most of the cases, crude oil is dark brown or black, however it can also be yellow, red or even green.


At this point, we can easily say the original color of gasoline is colorless. It is the different dyes that are added to gasoline that makes it exhibit different colors. This now brings us to the fact that we have three different types of gasoline.

Regular, midgrade and premium are there three kinds of gasoline we have. These types are usually grouped according to their octane ratings. All in all, the color each one of them does not matter as long as they are used correctly.

However, if you are talking about storage, one should take note of the color and the odor of the gasoline as time goes. The reason is that gasoline that has stayed for long can yield catastrophic results.

Josh Berry - MotoShark Editor
Josh Berry
I'm a off-road enthusiast, extreme sport fan and the editor of MotoShark. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article, please leave a comment or contact me.

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