The fuel industry is in constant flux, and we always keep an eye on any developments that can benefit our clients. Here, we’ll share findings, some research, and our opinions on a wide range of topics related to our industry.

What Is the Difference Between Clear and Coloured Diesel Fuel?

Red-dyed fuel

There was a time when all diesel fuel sold in the North America was clear, without dye added to it. But times have changed.

Today, diesel fuel is sold in Canada in clear and red forms; understanding the difference among these fuels – and among the tax and legal implications of each – is critical if you intend to purchase diesel fuel.

Here are some basics about the three types of diesel fuel:

  • Clear diesel – Clear diesel is a road vehicle-grade fuel that is available for sale at gas stations throughout Canada. This type of fuel is meant for use by the vehicles that travel the roads every day – cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. – along with marine vehicles. When most people think of diesel fuel, this is the fuel they think of.

    Clear fuel has low sulfur levels (500 mg/kg for low sulfur, 15 mg/kg for ultra low sulfur) and is legally taxable. Any vehicle that has a diesel engine and is licensed for on-road use must use this fuel.

  • Red-Dyed diesel – Dyed diesel sold in the Canada is coloured red; by law, red-dyed gas is only for use in off-road vehicles, including farm tractors, heavy construction equipment, and generators, where higher-sulfur (max sulfur content of 3000-5000 mg/kg, depending on the type) fuel use is permissible.

    Because it is not to be used for on-road vehicles, this fuel is not taxed within Canada.

Regulations on dyed diesel

Because dyed diesel is not taxed, federal and provincial laws strictly regulate its use; penalties for improper use of dyed fuel range from stiff financial penalties to significant jail time.
Distributors cannot knowingly transport dyed fuel with the intent to supply on-road vehicles, and fuel retail locations that carry dyed diesel cannot knowingly sell the gas for use in an on-road vehicle.

If you are a retail diesel customer, you cannot knowingly use dyed diesel in an on-road vehicle; if dye is found in an on-road vehicle, the penalties can be extremely high. Be smart!

Looking for supplier of quality clear or dyed diesel fuel for your farm or other commercial business? We can help. Contact us today to learn more, or to become a Core Fuels customer.

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