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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Diesel fuel / heating oil replacement

Posted by Krzysztof Lis on June 4, 2010

Many people want to know, whether it’s possible to replace heating oil with diesel fuel. In case heating oil in your tanks run out, is it possible to use diesel fuel instead?

Or the opposite question: is it possible to pour heating oil into your diesel truck fuel tank?

Let’s find out…

Diesel fuel, or diesel oil, is a hydrocarbon fuel derived from petroleum / crude oil. Because of that, it is often called petrodiesel, to distinguish it from biodiesel, that is made of biomass. It consists of heavier hydrocarbons than petrol / gasoline, and is used to fuel diesel engines (compression ignition engines).

Heating oil is almost exactly the same as diesel oil. The chemical composition is almost entirely the same in both fuels. There may be only small differences:

  • heating oil and diesel fuel are often taxed differently, to subsidise the use of heating oil in central heating,
  • heating oil is often coloured (mixed with a dye) so that it can be easily distinguished from diesel fuel (and to make it easier to penalize the drivers who pour heating oil in their car fuel tanks),
  • some heating oil and diesel fuel brands are said to have lower sulphur content — this lower sulphur content makes the fuel a bit more “dry” and reduces the lubricity.

In one sentence:

You can replace diesel fuel with heating oil and vice versa!

Replacing heating oil with diesel fuel is relatively easy. Your oil boiler or oil furnace doesn’t have any moving parts that need lubricant.

Using heating oil  as diesel fuel is a bit more risky, because of the possible lubricity difference. Using it for long time may reduce your engine lifespan.

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