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Gasoline vs. Petroleum — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Published on October 16, 2023
Gasoline is a refined fuel derived from petroleum, used primarily in vehicles, while petroleum is a naturally occurring crude oil extracted from the earth.
Gasoline vs. Petroleum — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Gasoline and Petroleum


Key Differences

Gasoline is a refined liquid product used primarily as fuel for internal combustion engines, especially in vehicles. On the other hand, petroleum is a naturally occurring, unrefined crude oil found beneath the earth's surface, which consists of hydrocarbon deposits and other organic materials.
In the refining process, petroleum undergoes several procedures to produce various products, and one of the primary outputs is gasoline. While gasoline plays a critical role in transportation, powering cars, motorcycles, and some generators, petroleum offers a wider range of products like diesel, jet fuel, lubricating oils, and even products like asphalt.
From an economic perspective, gasoline is a significant product with fluctuating prices affected by global demand, production rates, and geopolitical events. Meanwhile, petroleum remains a pivotal resource driving numerous industries and economies, influencing global politics and energy strategies.
Environmentally, the combustion of gasoline emits greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming and pollution. In contrast, the extraction and processing of petroleum have broad environmental impacts, including potential oil spills, habitat disruptions, and emissions from refining processes.
Lastly, while gasoline is easily recognized by its distinct smell and is familiar to most as the fuel at gas stations, petroleum, in its crude form, is a thicker, dark liquid with a more pungent odor, representing the raw material from which gasoline and various other products are derived.

Comparison Chart


Refined from petroleum
Naturally occurring crude oil


Fuel for vehicles
Refined to produce gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, lubricants, etc.


Lighter liquid
Thick, dark liquid

Economic Impact

Prices affected by demand, geopolitics
Drives numerous industries; major influence on global politics

Environmental Concerns

Emissions from combustion
Extraction impacts, refining emissions, potential for oil spills

Compare with Definitions


Used predominantly in transportation.
Gasoline powers most cars on the road.


Naturally occurring crude oil.
Petroleum is extracted from underground reserves.


Fuel for internal combustion engines.
Many vehicles run on Gasoline.


Impacts global politics and economies.
Many countries depend heavily on Petroleum exports.


Contains various hydrocarbons.
Gasoline's composition varies based on refining processes.


Consists of hydrocarbons and other organic materials.
Petroleum's complex mixture is processed to yield various products.


Highly flammable liquid.
Handling Gasoline requires care due to its flammability.


Primary source for gasoline and diesel.
Refineries convert Petroleum into usable fuels.


A volatile mixture of flammable liquid hydrocarbons derived chiefly from crude petroleum and used principally as a fuel for internal-combustion engines.


Subject to environmental concerns.
Oil spills are a significant environmental risk associated with Petroleum.


A flammable liquid consisting of a mixture of refined petroleum hydrocarbons, mainly used as a motor fuel; petrol.


A thick, flammable, yellow-to-black mixture of gaseous, liquid, and solid hydrocarbons that occurs naturally beneath the earth's surface, can be separated into fractions including natural gas, gasoline, naphtha, kerosene, fuel and lubricating oils, paraffin wax, and asphalt and is used as raw material for a wide variety of derivative products.


(countable) Any specific kind of gasoline.
The refinery produces a wide range of gasolines.


A flammable liquid ranging in color from clear to very dark brown and black, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons, occurring naturally in deposits under the Earth's surface.


Marijuana, especially very potent or high quality.


Rock oil, mineral oil, or natural oil, a dark brown or greenish inflammable liquid, which, at certain points, exists in the upper strata of the earth, from whence it is pumped, or forced by pressure of the gas attending it. It consists of a complex mixture of various hydrocarbons, largely of the methane series, but may vary much in appearance, composition, and properties. It is refined by distillation, and the products include kerosene, benzine, gasoline, paraffin, etc.


(slang) An alcoholic beverage made of vodka and energy drink.


A dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons


Made from or using gasoline.


A highly volatile mixture of fluid hydrocarbons, obtained mostly from petroleum, as also by the distillation of bituminous coal. It is used as a fuel for most automobiles and for many other vehicles with internal combustion engines. The gasoline of commerce is typically blended with additives to improve its performance in internal combustion engines. Gasoline was also used in the early 1900's in making air gas, and in giving illuminating power to water gas. See Carburetor.


A volatile flammable mixture of hydrocarbons (hexane and heptane and octane etc.) derived from petroleum; used mainly as a fuel in internal-combustion engines


Derived from refined petroleum.
Gasoline is processed from crude petroleum in refineries.

Common Curiosities

Can Gasoline be used in its natural state?

No, Gasoline is a refined product derived from the processing of Petroleum.

Are there alternatives to Gasoline for powering vehicles?

Yes, alternatives include diesel, electricity, hydrogen fuel cells, and biofuels.

Which industries predominantly rely on Petroleum?

The transportation, petrochemical, and energy sectors predominantly rely on Petroleum.

How are Gasoline prices determined?

Gasoline prices are influenced by global demand, production rates, geopolitical events, and taxes.

Why is Petroleum considered a non-renewable resource?

Because Petroleum formation takes millions of years, making its consumption rate much faster than its replenishment rate.

How has the demand for Petroleum evolved with renewable energy sources?

While Petroleum remains dominant, the rise of renewable energy sources is gradually reducing its demand in some sectors.

What is Gasoline primarily used for?

Gasoline is primarily used as fuel for vehicles with internal combustion engines.

How does the combustion of Gasoline impact the environment?

Combusting Gasoline releases greenhouse gases and other pollutants contributing to global warming and air pollution.

Where does Petroleum come from?

Petroleum is a naturally occurring crude oil extracted from underground reservoirs.

What other products are derived from Petroleum besides Gasoline?

Besides Gasoline, Petroleum is refined to produce diesel, jet fuel, lubricants, and many other products.

How does Petroleum extraction impact the environment?

Petroleum extraction can cause habitat disruptions, potential oil spills, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Is there a global standard for Petroleum quality?

While there's no single global standard, there are regional classifications like Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate.

Are all Gasolines the same?

No, Gasoline can vary in octane ratings, additives, and formulations based on regional standards and requirements.

What dangers are associated with Gasoline storage?

Gasoline is highly flammable and can lead to fires or explosions if not stored properly.

What's the main component of Gasoline?

Gasoline primarily consists of hydrocarbons derived from Petroleum.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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