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Red vs White Diesel – What’s the Difference?

tractor-ploughingWhite diesel is used in cars while red diesel is used for machinery and off-road purposes, such as domestic heating.

Chemically, the two are identical but they are used and taxed in different ways. So, while red diesel is simply white diesel that has been dyed, there are some significant differences between the two.

Red Diesel Compared to Other Diesel Fuels

Red diesel, also known as gas oil, is red in colour and used in off-road vehicles and for off-road purposes. Bulldozers and cranes in the construction industry are commonly fuelled by red diesel, as are domestic heating appliances.

It is low tax and therefore cost-effective and efficient for farmers, miners, and manufacturers. The red colour indicates that the diesel has been purchased at a lower duty rate. Aside from the colour, red diesel is identical to white diesel.

However, it is illegal for red diesel to be used in road vehicles on public roads. This is because white diesel, sold at your local petrol station, is taxed at a much higher rate.

In April 2022, new rules regarding the use of red diesel were introduced due to a change in fuel duty. Before this, red diesel could be used by a range of industries. Under the new guidelines implemented by HMRC, many industries are banned from using red diesel and are now required to pay full duty on white diesel.

Under some circumstances, it is still legal to use red diesel. For example, vehicles involved in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and aquatic farming along with vehicles used on a golf course or land occupied by a travelling fair, are some exceptions that continue to qualify for the use of red diesel.

Additionally, red diesel can continue to be used to generate heat and electricity for domestic households and domestic heating applications.

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Is Red Diesel the Same as White Diesel?

Red diesel is no different from white diesel. They both have the same properties and are made up of the same components. Red diesel is marked red to indicate a lower duty tax.

However, if you use red diesel in a road vehicle on a public road you will be breaking the law. This is considered tax evasion as red diesel is heavily rebated, meaning the tax charged is much less than other fuels, such as white diesel.

Red diesel can dye or stain the interior of your fuel tank. While the dye is harmless, this makes it easy for police officers and HMRC to prosecute fuel fraud. Even if you use red diesel once, you could be prosecuted years later due to the colour of your fuel tank.

Can You Use Normal Diesel Instead of Red Diesel?

While you cannot use red diesel in place of regular diesel, you can do so in reverse. Any machine, vehicle, or generator that uses red diesel will also be able to operate using white diesel. This is because aside from the colour, red and white diesel are the same.

Any machinery or industry no longer entitled or covered to use red diesel due to changes in UK law should switch to white diesel immediately if they have not done so already. As of April 2022, it is a legal duty for many businesses to use regular, full-duty diesel rather than rebated fuel.

Key Facts About Red Diesel

Red diesel is commonly used as an alternative to Kerosene

Thousands of homes are warmed each winter by heating oil.  Kerosene is a popular type of heating oil, but did you know red diesel can also be used to heat your home? In 2022, the law changed, and it became illegal to use red diesel to warm commercial buildings. However, non-commercial buildings, such as domestic homes, places of worship, and hospitals can continue to use red diesel for heating.

Cheaper than regular diesel

Red diesel is significantly cheaper than regular diesel due to having a reduced fuel duty rate. The reduced cost allows businesses to avoid high fuel bills. Although red diesel is cheaper than the regular diesel you would buy at a fuel station, it is illegal to use red diesel to fuel on-road vehicles.

Used in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and aquatic farming

The agricultural, forestry, horticultural, and aquatic farming sectors use red diesel as it is a rebated fuel, taxed at a lower rate than diesel you purchase at the pump. This means that farmers and agricultural workers can carry out business without expensive fuel bills.

Key Facts About White Diesel

One of the most prevalent fuels around the world

White diesel is used to fuel thousands of on-road vehicles around the world. Cars, vans, trucks, trains, and HGVs across the UK rely on white diesel for transportation. In 2019, the world’s diesel consumption reached around 27955 thousand barrels per day, making it one of the most prevalent fuels around the world.

Can be stored for up to 12 months

White diesel can be stored for up to 12 months before becoming ‘gummy’. After this time, diesel may cause clogs. If you own a home, vehicle, or other piece of diesel-fuelled machinery, you can legally store up to 30 litres of white diesel without informing anyone.

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Changing from Red to White Diesel

Due to the rule changes regarding the use of red diesel, many businesses and people are required to switch to white diesel. Tanks must be flushed to remove all traces of red diesel when switching between entitled and non-entitled usage. Alternatively, a tank must be exclusively fuelled with white diesel.

To be compliant with the changes, there must be no trace of red diesel present in the fuel tank or engine. This means removing the colour dye from the tank and flushing away the remaining red diesel stock.

Fuel Treatments

There are many effective fuel treatments available designed to break down and remove colour from dyed fuels. Fuel additives and engine flushing products are suitable for diesel engines and come with a range of additional benefits.

Designed to clean and maintain diesel engine performance, fuel treatments are an efficient way of protecting your vehicle from everyday wear.

Additives can also be added to heating oil to reduce rust and build-up of other deposits. This reduces the risk of filter blockages and boiler shutdown.

Why Choose NWF Fuels for Your Red and White Diesel Needs

At NWF Fuels, we supply commercial and domestic heating oil, regular diesel, and red diesel. To ensure you get the very best price, we always provide you with the most up-to-date quote.

Our passionate team offer a friendly and knowledgeable service across the UK. Working with a wide range of customers, from domestic and agricultural to commercial and retail, we are a leading heating oil and commercial fuel supplier.

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For more information about red and white diesel and which is right for you, get in touch with NWF Fuels today.