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What is heating oil?

Oil at its core is the remains of ancient plants and animals that were compressed over time by geological forces. Eventually, they transformed into liquid strings of hydrogen and carbon, and this viscous liquid started to bubble out of the ground in various locations around the world.

What is Heating Oil?

Heating oil is very similar to the diesel fuel used for motors and has a low viscosity. It contains a combination of petroleum-derived hydrocarbons and is used as one of the possible fuel oils for furnaces and boilers in buildings and homes. In the U.S., the difference between heating oil and diesel is the amount of sulfur allowed in the product. Diesel must contain below 15ppm sulfur, while heating oil must contain below 500ppm sulfur—therefore, the 2 can be interchanged with the sulfur levels overlap.

Because oil can be less expensive, it is often purchased in place of diesel for motor vehicles to avoid the fuel tax. In order to differentiate between the 2 fuel types, colored dyes are often introduced—oil is often dyed red so that it can be identified when used incorrectly in on-road vehicles. Diesel is typically dyed green.

How Oil Heats a Home

Oil makes a long journey from deep in the earth to the tank in your home. It begins when crude oil is turned into a series of products, including gasoline, jet fuel, and heating oil. Oil is extremely stable and must be heated above 140 degrees before it will begin to burn. Inside your furnace or boiler, your oil burns extremely hot – 400 degrees hotter than natural gas or propane – and is extremely efficient in heating your home! Heating oil is typically delivered in a tank truck to residences, commercial, and municipal buildings and is stored in above-ground tanks located on these properties.

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