How Cold Temperatures Affect Diesel Fuel

When it gets cold, there are two issues that can potentially affect diesel fuel: gelling, and ice formation. In this blog we’ll talk about why gelling and ice formation occur in diesel fuel at low temperatures, and what can be done to prevent this from happening.


Diesel fuel contains wax because wax has a high cetane value, and cetane is an important diesel component. At mild temperatures, the wax exists in the form of liquid, but when temperatures drop the wax can start to gel together and solidify. This gel can block fuel lines and filters, making it difficult for diesel engines to start and clogging storage tanks.

To avoid this problem, diesel distributors supply a different diesel blend called winter diesel during the cold months. This diesel has a lower cloud point, which means it is more resistant to the effects of the cold. In addition, there are additives available that keep diesel from gelling in storage tanks. Storage tank insulation is another method that keeps the fuel warm enough to prevent gelling.

Ice Formation

As we discussed in a previous blog, water is a very harmful substance in diesel fuel because it can emulsify and compromise the functionality of the fuel. In cold temperatures, water in diesel fuel storage tanks can freeze, which blocks fuel lines and disables diesel fuel polishing systems.

The best method to prevent ice formation is to insulate storage tanks and keep them full to prevent condensation from forming in the tank.

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