What Is Red Diesel Fuel: An Expert Guide | Fuel Logic

October 5, 2023

What Is Red Diesel Fuel: A Closer Look at Definition and Uses

Red diesel is regular diesel with a red fuel dye added to help identify its purpose. The US government has only allowed specific industry sectors to purchase red diesel due to the low taxes charged on it. 

what is red diesel

What is Red Diesel?

Red diesel is mainly used in the farming and construction industry in the US and is used in off-road vehicles and machinery.

A red fuel dye is added to mark it according to purpose. Its chemical composition is the same as any other diesel fuel. The only difference is that low-tax fuel is not permitted in on-road vehicles.

Red diesel used to have a high sulfur content previously, which is why it was used for off-road vehicles, as a smoky burn was produced that caused air pollution. However, The Environmental Protection Agency implemented restrictions in 2008, due to which both off-road and on-road vehicles had the same chemical composition by 2014.

Red diesel is cheaper than regular diesel fuel used in on-road vehicles due to the low tax implemented on it to aid businesses that require diesel.

However, it is illegal to use it in on-road vehicles. A random spot check that identifies a car using red diesel can result in a heavy fine and penalties.

Other Names of Red Diesel:

red diesel fuel

There are many different names for Red diesel, such as:

  • Off-road diesel
  • 35-second oil
  • Red dyed diesel
  • Gas Diesel
  • Untaxed diesel
  • Agricultural diesel
  • Dyed diesel #1 (high grade)
  • Dyed diesel #2 (lower grade)
  • Tax-free diesel
  • Generator diesel
  • Gas oil
  • Tractor Diesel
  • Marine diesel
  • Rebated kerosene

What is Red Diesel Used for?

Red diesel is mainly used by agricultural, construction, mining, and manufacturing industries and travelling road shows, carnivals, and county fairs. It also has a few residential uses, which are explained below.

Red diesel is almost the same as regular diesel, but to prevent it from being used in commercial vehicles, it is dyed.

red diesel vs regular diesel

Residential Uses of Red Diesel

One of the main residential uses is heating oil for home boilers, making it a great option for domestic heating appliances. However, it should be ensured that the boiler is vertically conventional to use this fuel.

Commercial Uses of Red Diesel

Red diesel is reserved for machinery used in agricultural, construction, mining, and manufacturing industries as well as many off-road vehicles that they use.

  • Carnivals, county fairs, and traveling road shows can use red diesel fuel.
  • Construction companies use red diesel to operate their generators, bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, and other equipment.
  • Farmers use it for heavy equipment, tractors, and harvesters.

Exploring the Various Colours of Diesel Fuel

Diesel fuel is dyed in other colors, and this is done to help identification of fuel for the following reasons:

  • To distinguish fuel according to its purpose, for example, aviation fuel from road diesel fuel, as each would have a different level of tax implemented on it.
  • To identify low-price fuel provided by the state for a different purpose.
  • To identify fuel that is kept in oil storage.
  • Keep quality control in check according to requirements.

According to the law in the US, dyed diesel is cheaper due to tax exemptions. Therefore, it is regularly checked that commercial or on-road vehicles don't use it. If, during a random spot check, even a slight spec of dye is found in the car, one can be heavily fined and penalized. It is also ensured that the distributors don't sell it to those who may use it illegally.

Only in a state of emergency, if the government allows, then dyed diesel can be used in on-road travel. Or if the fuel supply has been affected due to a natural disaster.

Exploring Various Colors of Diesel for Variant Purposes

Diesel is dyed in colors other than red, such as green, blue, and yellow. The reasons for dyeing them are mentioned below:

Red Diesel

Red diesel is dyed using a red fuel dye, which is either Solvent Red 26 or Solvent Red 164. These have been allowed by the United States Internal Revenue Service to be used for marking fuel with tax exemptions.

It is legal for off-road vehicles and equipment used for farming and construction. It can be used in generators, heavy construction equipment, farming equipment, and cars if you don't take them on the road.

Green Diesel

Green diesel is not dyed at all, as the name green represents it being ecologically friendly. It is also referred to as renewable diesel or hydrotreated vegetable oil.

It has a similar chemical structure as petroleum diesel, but it provides diesel properties more efficiently. Green diesel is also known as biodiesel, as it lowers harmful emissions that can pollute the atmosphere.

Blue Diesel

Diesel that is dyed blue is the same as red diesel. The only difference is that it is not allowed for public purchase and is marked blue to indicate that it can only be used by vehicles owned by the government and equipment in the US. It is still not allowed in on-road vehicles, even by the government.

Yellow Diesel

Diesel is marked yellow to distinguish its use specifically for heating oil. The yellow dye also helps determine it from motor oil that is taxed highly. Yellow diesel is said to be cleaner as it may have lower sulfur levels.

Red Diesel vs. Regular Diesel: Understanding the Key Differences

Red diesel or any other diesel with a dye is a marking to distinguish its purpose. Hence, it has a few differences from regular fuel, such as the following:

  • It is taxed differently from regular fuel. The government implements no taxes to decrease costs for businesses, farmers, and construction companies.
  • It is illegal for on-road vehicles to use any dyed diesel, and can be heavily fined if caught using.
  • It may also have a slightly higher level of sulfur, which may pollute the environment if started using on-road vehicles.
  • Red diesel and all the other colored diesel like blue, yellow, and green diesel are not available for public purchase and are sold at a price lower than regular fuel.
  • Red diesel is the same as regular diesel if used in a commercial vehicle, but it's illegal.
  • No or low levels of tax on dyed fuel prices are the reason why the government is too strict about its usage.
  • Specific regulations are followed at every part of the supply chain of selling dyed diesel.
  • It is also important to buy fuel from a trusted seller to prevent running into criminal charges.

Always ensure that you are buying fuel from a reputable supplier. Below are some tips that can help:

  1. Ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable seller like Fuel Logic.
  2. While receiving an order from a supplier, always ensure the exact order is received.
  3. When filling a container at a pump, always double-check the labels to see which is regular and which is dyed diesel.
  4. Keep an eye out for fraudulent activity, and always keep your receipts and check received orders.


Who can use red diesel?

Red diesel, also known as red fuel, farm fuel, red dye, cherry juice, and off-road fuel. It is similar to the low-sulfur fuel that our local filling station provides. However, the only difference is that a red fuel dye is added to distinguish its purpose, which is to significantly lower taxes imposed by the government. Hence it is illegal for regular use.

What does red diesel do to an engine?

Since red diesel is the same as regular diesel, it does not make any difference to the engine of the machinery or off-road vehicle used. However, The only difference is that it colors the engine's pipelines where the fuel travels red.

Can I use red diesel in my truck?

You can use it in your truck off-road for farming or construction. Otherwise, it will be illegal to use in on-road vehicles.

What is the tax on red diesel fuel?

Tax on red diesel or any other dyed diesel is set as low as possible by the government. According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, dyed diesel is a fuel with an added red dye to show no federal or state fuel taxes to be paid.

red diesel and white diesel

Why is using red diesel illegal?

Using Red diesel is illegal for on-road vehicles due to almost no taxes applied to them. It is considered a criminal offense if someone uses dyed diesel in an on-road vehicle and can be fined if discovered.

Where can I get red diesel fuel?

You should always buy red diesel from a reputable seller to avoid issues and for efficient in-time deliveries. You can order fuel right now from Fuel Logic to prevent any inconvenience.

Can you drive on public roads using red diesel?

Driving on public roads using red diesel is considered illegal. However, farmers can drive on highways for a specified distance if they want to go from one part of the farm to another.

Is red diesel illegal in the US?

Red diesel is not illegal in the US. However, it is unlawful for on-road vehicles to use red diesel as fuel.

What is the difference between off-road diesel and on-road diesel?

On-road diesel is the regular diesel we get from our local gas station. Whereas off-road diesel, also known as red diesel or dyed diesel, is only allowed for use by the farming and construction industries by the government due to no taxes. You can look at differences in detail.

Why is this fuel dyed?

Red diesel fuel is dyed to help us identify that it's for off-road vehicles; hence, on-road cars should not use them.

The Most Reliable Way to Get Red Fuel Delivered to Your Location

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