Gasoline vs. Petroleum

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Difference between Gasoline and Petroleum

For many people, gasoline and petroleum are virtually synonymous with one another, although there are, of course, clear differences. In some places, you could just as easily load up car with petrol, just as you would fill it up with gasoline in another country, which adds quite a bit to the confusion. What are the differences between gasoline and petroleum? Let's take a look!



Gasoline (also called petrol in some countries) is a liquid derived from petroleum. It is mainly used as a source of fuel for internal combustion engines, although it is often used as a paint solvent as well, due to its ability to dilute paint.

Petroleum (also known as crude oil) is the raw material from which gasoline is derived. It is a naturally occurring and flammable substance that is comprised of different types of hydrocarbons with different molecular weights, as well as a variety of organic compounds, all of which occur naturally underneath the surface of the Earth.


Gasoline is made up of a variety of hydrocarbons that are derived from petroleum by way of a distillation process. During this process, either iso-octane or toluene or benzene is mixed in with the petroleum in order to increase its octane level. In addition, some other compounds may be added in order to improve engine performance or to reduce emissions. Ethanol may also be included.

Petroleum on the other hand is supposed to be comprised only of crude oil, although in reality, a certain amount of natural gas is included in the mix as well. Under normal atmospheric conditions the methane, ethane, propane and butane hydrocarbons occur as gas, as they are considerably lighter than the other ingredients. The heavier ingredients of petroleum such as pentane on the other hand are commonly seen in the form of solids or liquids.


Gasoline is of course widely used as a fuel source for internal combustion engines, such as those found in cars, boats, and heavy and light equipment. In addition, gasoline was also widely sold as a grease remover, due to its solvent properties. Gasoline is also commonly used in kitchen appliances and even for gas-driven lamps.

Petroleum is not typically used in its raw form and is instead brought to an oil refinery where it is processed into any one of many different products. Depending on the desired end product, a number of other substances and chemicals may be added to the petroleum as well. Among the products made from petroleum are liquefied petroleum gas or LPG, methane, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, and of course gasoline.

Similarities and Differences


  • Also called petrol in some countries
  • Derived from petroleum
  • Comprised of different types of hydrocarbons with different molecular weights
  • Widely used as a fuel source for internal combustion engines


  • Not typically used in its raw form
  • Processed into many different products including diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, and gasoline
Which term for fuel is better?
  • Gasoline
  • Petroleum

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