Petroleum Oils & Waxes


An important part of the refining procedure is colour measurement. Colour is an indication of type and quality. In some cases it is used as a means of recognition, such as with aviation fuel and ship’s diesel fuel. Other petroleum products are required to be colourless, such as food quality waxes.

Scales & Values

Grading techniques are widely used to assess product colour by comparison with a representative series of fixed colour standards.

For many product types, a characteristic set of standards was agreed and adopted to aid colour control and the communication of colour specifications; the result is s selection of traditional colour grading scales that have been adopted as industry standards and are still common today.

Your colour scale determines your instrument choice. We would be delighted to offer advice as to the correct colour scale and thus instrument choice for your application. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Colour Scales:

  • Acid Wash Test (ASTM D848)
    • This colorimetric test refers to refined products of coal tar consisting essentially of hydrocarbons boiling below 200°C and substantially free from phenols and pyridine bases
    • It is designed to give an indication of impurities found in Industrial Aromatic Hydrocarbons which, if sulphonated, would cause the material to be discoloured. These materials include benzene, toluene, xylenes, refined solvent napthas and other similar industrial hydrocarbons
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX880 / CIE / Heated; PFX/i-195/C or PFX/i-195/9
  • Anti-Icing in Aviation Fuels
    • The prevention of fuel system icing in some aircraft depends on the presence of an anti-icing additive in the fuel
    • The additive now commonly used is diethylene glycol monomethyl ether (DiEGME)
    • For complete protection, it is necessary for the quantity of DiEGME to exceed a certain minimum level when the fuel enters the aircraft
    • It is therefore necessary to check the DiEGME content of the fuel at various points between the blending stage and the aircraft fuel tanks
    • Instruments required: Lovibond® Comparator; daylight unit, disc 4/33, 13.5 mm cells
  • ASTM Colour(ASTM D 1500, ASTM D 6045, ISO 2049, IP196)
    • Sometimes referred to as the "mineral oil color value", the ASTM Colour Scale is widely used for the grading of petroleum products such as lubricating oils, heating oils and diesel fuel oils
    • Mineral oils are constantly checked for colour during processing in order to establish when they have been refined to the required grade. Colour is also used as a means of confirming that the correct oil or fuel is being used for its intended use and that no contamination or degradation of quality has occurred.
    • Other petroleum products that do not fall within the scope of ASTM D1500 such as undyed gasoline, white spirit, petroleum wax and kerosene may be graded using the Saybolt test ASTM D156 or IP (Institute of Petroleum) 17
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX-195/2 / i / PFX880/P – Heated; PFX 950 / 995 / i / Heated
  • Carbonisable Substances (Insolubles)
    • This test test is designed to determine the level of carbon and other insoluble substances in diesel engine oil in order to establish if an oil change is required. It is particularly of interest to the marine industry.
    • A Pass/Fail test for carbonisable substances in white mineral oil as per ASTM D565 is also available
    • Also available is a Pass/Fail test for the British Pharmacopoeia sulphuric acid test for Liquid Paraffin.     
    • Instruments that can be used: Lovibond® Comparator and various accessories
  • CIE L*a*b*
    • A Colour space in which values L*, a* and b* are plotted using a Cartesian coordinate system. Equal distances in the space approximately represent equal colour differences. L* represents lightness; a* represents the red/green axis; and b* represents the yellow/blue axis. CIE L*a*b* is a popular colour space for measuring both reflective and transmissive samples.
    • Instruments that can be used: most instruments in the Lovibond® range
  • Delta E* colour difference
    • Assessment of colour is more than a numeric expression. Usually it’s an assessment of the colour difference (delta) from a known standard. CIELAB (L*a*b*) and CIELAB (L*C*h) are used to compare the colours of two objects.
    • The expressions for these colour differences are DL*, Da*, Db*, or DL* DC* DH* ("D" symbolises "delta," which indicates difference). Note: DH* is usually used instead of Dh to enable DE* to be calculated.
  • Dyed Aviation Gasoline
    • Used to determine the colour acceptability of aviation gasoline that has been dyed for easy identification of grade.
    • Lovibond® glass filters are available for minimum and maximum limits of red, blue, green, brown and purple dyes
  • International Fruit Juice Union (IFU) Colour
    • Developed in Europe for grading the colour of fruit juices and concentrates with a yellow/amber colour such as apple, pear and white grape. Colour values range from 1 to 25 as follows: Discs 4/48 range 1-9 IFU, 4/49 9-17 IFU and 4/50 17-25 IFU.
    • Instruments required: AF331 IFU Colour Scale
  • Gardener Colour ASTM D 1544
    • A single number, one dimensional, colour scale for grading the colour of similarly coloured liquids such as resins, varnishes, lacquers, drying oils, fatty acids, lecithin’s, sunflower oil and linseed oil.
    • The scale ranges from a pale yellow to a red in shade and is described in terms of the values 1-18. The glass standards used with the comparator can achieve a resolution of 1 unit, automatic PFX and PFXi instruments 0.1.
    • Instruments that can be used: AF334; instruments in the PFX range
  • Iodine Colour
    • Colour ranges from yellow to brown defined by specified dilutions of an iodine solution.
    • Used amily in European countries for the colour grading of solvents, plasticisers, resins, oils and fatty acids.
    • Instruments required: Lovibond® Comparator; daylight unit, disc/s; PFX/i 195/1; PFX 995/i / heated
  • IP Units (IP 17Method B)
    • Used for determining the colour of petroleum products with a restricted range of 14 standards ranging from Water White (0.25 to Standard White (4.0)
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX 880 and 995/i
  • Lead in Aviation Fuels
    • IP method 224 for determining trace amounts of lead in aviation fuels and a variety of other petroleum products
    • Instruments required: Lovibond® Comparator; daylight unit, disc/s
  • Lovibond® RYBN Colour
    • The Lovibond® Scale is based on 84 calibrated glass colour standards of different densities of magenta (red), yellow, blue and neutral, graduating from desaturated to fully saturated. Sample colours are matched by a suitable combination of the three primary colours together with neutral filters, resulting in a set of Lovibond® RYBN units that define the colour.
    • Since several million combinations are available, it is possible to match the colour of almost any sample; it is particularly popular for measuring the colour of oils and fats, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and syrups.
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX range
  • Optical density (Absorbance)
    • Please note; with both our PFX and PFXi ranges Absorbance is referred to as Optical Density (OD). This is an available Colour Scale.
    • Absorbance should not be confused with Absorptance (the fraction of light absorbed by a sample.)
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX range
  • Platinum-Cobalt / Hazen / APHA Colour (ASTM D 1209)
    • Often referred to as Pt-Co, Platinum-Cobalt, Hazen or APHA Colour. All terms are interchangeable and equally valid
    • Used to measure clear to dark amber liquids
    • Used extensively in the water industry but also for clear oils, chemicals and petrochemicals such as glycerine, plasticisers, solvents, carbon tetrachloride and petroleum spirits
    • Instruments that can be used:
      • AF329, 0 – 250 mg Pt/l, discs (CAA, 0 – 30 mg Pt/l; CAB, 30 – 70 mg Pt/l; NSB, 70 – 250 mg Pt/l
      • AF325, 10 – 250 mg Pt/l, discs (NSH, 10 – 90 mg Pt/l; NSB, 70 – 250 mg Pt/l)
      • AF328, Low Range, 0 – 70 mg Pt/l, discs (CAA, 0 – 30 mg Pt/l; CAB, 30 – 70 mg Pt/l)
      • AF327, Low Range, 0 – 70 mg Pt/l, discs (1209/1, 0 – 30 mg Pt/l; 1209/2, 30 – 70 mg Pt/l)
  • Quinazarin Warehouse Kit
    • Used for checking that the correct amount of Quinazarin Marker has been added to tax free diesel before it is released for sale
    • Instruments required: Lovibond® Comparator; daylight unit, disc/s
  • Quinazarin (Marked Oils)
    • Roadside test kit used to determine if untaxed fuel oil is being illegally used for normal car use. The method is based on the marker quinazarin
    • Warehouse test for determining that the correct amount of the marker Quinizarin is added to the untaxed diesel fuel oil before it is issued for sale
    • Instruments required: Quinazarin in Marked Oils, Roadside Test, 10 – 100
  • Saybolt Colour (ASTM D 156, ASTM 6045)
    • Used for grading light coloured petroleum products including aviation fuels, kerosine, naphthas, white mineral oils, hydrocarbon solvents and petroleum waxes
    • Employed for the measurement of water-clear, colourless to slightly yellowish products
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX range
  • Spectral data
    • Spectral data, where colour measurement is concerned, is the data derived from measuring the level of reflectance or transmittance of a given colour at selected wavelengths throughout the visible spectrum.
    • Instruments that can be used: PFX and RT range
  • xyY chromacity co-ordinates
    • The coordinates x, y, and z are derived from the XYZ Tristimulus values by the following calculation such that x + y + z = 1, x = X/(X + Y + Z), y = Y/(X + Y + Z), z = Z/(X + Y + Z)
    • The values of x and y can then be used to pinpoint a colour in the x y coordinate system. The x and y chromaticity coordinates are generally reported along with the value of luminance factor Y
    • Instruments that can be used: most instruments in the Lovibond® colour range
  • XYZ tristimulus values
    • The CIE XYZ 1931 Tristimulus system is a modified version of the RGB colour tristimulus system and uses non real or imaginary stimuli. This innovation allows all colours within its gamut to be expressed as positive numbers, unlike the RGB system, where some colours fall outside its gamut and are expressed as negatives. The XYZ chromaticity co-ordinates are defined as x,y,and z
    • Instruments that can be used: most instruments in the Lovibond® colour range

Please send us an email explaining what you would like to test, your colour application and environment and we will send you a brochure with specifications based on your requirements.

Please send us an email explaining what you would like to test, your colour application and environment and we will recommend a suitable Lovibond® Tintometer colour testing instrument.

Additional information

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