The key difference between heating oil and diesel is that the heating oil, which we use for machinery and equipment may have its sulfur content below 500 ppm whereas the diesel that we use for the same purpose can only have 15 ppm sulfur content.
People often confuse with the two terms, heating oil and diesel, because they think that both are the same because they look similar and we can use them for the same purposes. However, they are different from each other. In order to make them look different, manufacturers often use a red dye to color heating oil.
What is Heating Oil?
Heating oil is a liquid petroleum product that we can use as a fuel oil mainly in furnaces and boilers. It has a low viscosity. This liquid is a mixture of hydrocarbons. It has hydrocarbons containing 14 to 20 carbon atoms. Moreover, these hydrocarbon compounds condense between 250 and 350 °C (during oil refining). Therefore, this oil condenses at lower temperatures than that of petroleum jelly, bitumen, candle wax, etc. But it condenses at higher temperatures than that of kerosene (condenses between 160–250 °C). In addition to that, most of the heating oil forms resemble diesel fuel.
In order to use this oil for machinery and equipment, it may have a sulfur content below 500 ppm. Apart from that, when considering the taxation for this oil, it is comparatively less. Therefore, we can buy it at a low price. In order to make this oil visually different from motor fuel, manufacturers add a red dye; this leads it to be named as red diesel.
What is Diesel?
Diesel is a liquid fuel that we can use in diesel engines whose fuel ignition occurs without any spark. Since there is no use of a spark, the fuel ignites as a result of compression of the inlet air mixture and then injection of fuel. The fuel efficiency of a diesel is very high. Moreover, there are several forms of this fuel such as petroleum diesel, synthetic diesel and biodiesel according to the origin.
In addition to that, the taxation of diesel is high comparatively. This is due to the fuel tax. Therefore, the price of diesel is also high. However, there are some countries which have “untaxed diesel” for use in agricultural purposes, recreational and utility vehicles and for noncommercial vehicles. Moreover, the hydrocarbons in this fuel have carbon atoms ranging from 10 to 15. It contains saturated hydrocarbons and aromatic hydrocarbons. The diesel that we use for machinery and equipment should have its sulfur content below 15 ppm.
What is the Difference Between Heating Oil and Diesel?
Heating oil, which highly resembles diesel, is a liquid petroleum product that we can use as a fuel oil mainly in furnaces and boilers. Though they have high resemblence, as a main difference between heating oil and diesel we can say that the allowed sulfur content of heating oil is 500 ppm, which is a very high content when comparing to that of diesel (15 ppm for diesel). Diesel, on the other hand, is a liquid fuel that we can use in diesel engines whose fuel ignition occurs without any spark. The taxation for this fuel is high because of the fuel tax. Therefore, the price of diesel is comparatively higher than that of heating oil.
The below infographic presents the difference between heating oil and diesel in tabular form.
Summary – Heating Oil vs Diesel
Heating oil resembles diesel; thus, we can use them interchangeably as well. But there are few differences between them. Among which, the key difference between heating oil and diesel is that the heating oil that we use for machinery and equipment may have its sulfur content below 500 ppm whereas the diesel that we use for the same purpose can only have 15 ppm sulfur content.