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How to test gasoline for ethanol (Read 262 times)
Dave
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How to test gasoline for ethanol
06/17/12 at 16:03:37
 
I have been using ethanol free fuel in my chainsaws and yard equipment for several years.  The ethanol is not much of a problem on engines that you drive regularly - but when an engine sits longer than a couple of months the ethanol fuel starts to break down and damage things.  This is especially true when the vehicle sits outside or in a garage where there are big temperature and humidity changes.  Here is how to test without buying one of the glass vials they sell for testing.

Take a clear plastic bottle - and as you have heard "Size does not matter"!  Grin  The smaller the bottle the least amount of fuel you will waste - but I just use plastic soft drink or water bottle.  Place a mark about 1/3rd up the height of the bottle.....then fill the bottle to the line with water.  For this example I am testing 3 different fuels.



Add the gasoline you want to test after the water is in the bottle at the level you marked.  Then shake the bottle for about 20 seconds.  The fuel being tested is CountryMark 90+ on the left, BP 89 Octane in the middle, and Avgas 100LL in the right.  The first picture shows that even seconds after testing it is obvious that the middle one is much cloudier as the ethanol and water mix.


What you are looking for is the level of the water to rise - which indicates that ethanol has been stripped out of the fuel and added to the water.  Here is the comparison of the BP 89 Octane on the left and the Avgas 100LL on the left:


You can take a plastic bottle with the water in it to any gas station where you want to test - and as you fill up your car you can dump a little in the plastic bottle and tests it.

I have posted this because I often hear about stations that are selling ethanol free gas.....but when I test it turns out to just be rumors in many cases (or old information and the stations have stopped selling ethanol free fuel).  The only way to be sure is to test.....then retest periodically in case the source of fuel changes.
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Cavi Mike
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Re: How to test gasoline for ethanol
Reply #1 - 06/17/12 at 23:36:34
 
This is a nice little trick. Looks like it might even be an easy way to filter the ethanol out of the gasoline. Have you ever tried using the gas afterwards?(or drinking the water hahahaha)
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Dave
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Re: How to test gasoline for ethanol
Reply #2 - 06/18/12 at 02:39:02
 
Cavi Mike wrote on 06/17/12 at 23:36:34:
This is a nice little trick. Looks like it might even be an easy way to filter the ethanol out of the gasoline. Have you ever tried using the gas afterwards?(or drinking the water hahahaha)


The remaining gasoline has absorbed some water and has reached it's "saturation" point.  Any changes in temperature, pressure or evaporation of gasoline could cause water to settle out of the remaining fuel.  When it is still possible to buy "ethanol free" gasoline - there is no reason to tempt fate and use gasoline that has been intentionally mixed with water.  I also don't believe that the ethanol is harmful if you run a tank out every month and I still use ethanol in my cars and Savage as it is very convenient to just pull up to the pump - the harmful conditions are created when it is not used up in a month or two.  The Stihl chainsaw manuals say you should dump the fuel out of the saw and run it dry if you are not going to use it for a couple of months.....I think it is applicable to any equipment with a carb.  Fuel injection engines do better as the fuel system is better sealed from humidity changes and evaporation of the gasoline (which leaves too much ethanol behind).
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« Last Edit: 06/18/12 at 05:53:41 by Dave »  

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Re: How to test gasoline for ethanol
Reply #3 - 06/18/12 at 07:38:12
 
Thanks for that.  I had seen similar on the tube, but they made it sound like the remaning gas was somehow "better" .. though I really doubted it.  Your explaination makes more sense.

I personally believe that the additives to the Ethanol enriched gas assists in the gas being able to retain/retain more water.  So what I wouldn't mind having is the antidote to that... be able to remove the ethanol, then remove the additives (and the trapped water) leaving tada... gasoline. This would not be useful for new gas... but it would let me "revive" older ( not OLD) ethanol gas. Living in MS is heck on gas, as we go weeks with extremely high humidity. Those additives that help the ethanol be abosrbed (and water as a octane booster) also soak up all the moisture in the air.  It only takes one good rain to have water soaked ethanol.
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Re: How to test gasoline for ethanol
Reply #4 - 06/18/12 at 07:52:04
 
One month ??
The e10 sets in my bike for 3 months every year, and after 2 yrs I pulled the bowl for the sole purpose of seeing all the horrible stuff that is supposedly left to do dammage. Well guess what,....there wasn't any.
More than that, I have a 2 stroke tiller that sets every winter and most the summer w/o being run, and worse yet, this year it is running on last years 50:1 gas. It still runs perfect. e10 is being used for to blame every fuel problem that happens on, when inreality it causes no problems that I can ever find.
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Dave
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Re: How to test gasoline for ethanol
Reply #5 - 06/18/12 at 08:15:17
 
Routy wrote on 06/18/12 at 07:52:04:
One month ??
The e10 sets in my bike for 3 months every year, and after 2 yrs I pulled the bowl for the sole purpose of seeing all the horrible stuff that is supposedly left to do dammage. Well guess what,....there wasn't any.
More than that, I have a 2 stroke tiller that sets every winter and most the summer w/o being run, and worse yet, this year it is running on last years 50:1 gas. It still runs perfect. e10 is being used for to blame every fuel problem that happens on, when inreality it causes no problems that I can ever find.


I was not intending to open an ethanol debate with this thread - I just wanted everyone to have a way to test for ethanol if they wanted to.  

You have been very fortunate.....you must have a good fuel source, low temperature swings, low humidity....or something in your favor.  The most damage seems to occur on engines where the fuel flow is gravity - and the diaphragm petcock on the Savage helps to alleviate the problem by not letting fuel flow to the petcock when the engine is not running.  On engines like mowers where the system does not have a shut off, the gasoline portion of the fuel evaporates and when the float drops it lets more fuel in.....the process keeps repeating until the only thing left in the float bowl is ethanol.....and the aluminum becomes badly corroded as a result.    I have worked on small engines since 1973 and I have witnessed the change.  It used to be that when an engine came in for service after sitting for long periods - the fuel system would be badly varnished and it would have gummy, sticky, smelly goo stuck on everything.  Since ethanol became common the damage has shifted from being varnish to being the corrosion of aluminum parts and dissolving rubber parts.  I have repaired lots of equipment for neighbors, friend and relatives, and I know which have been damaged by ethanol - and the "shelf life" of the fuel has descreased dramically.  Diaphragms in carbs used to get stiff when they got old - now they dissolve.  My uncle had a couple of muscle cars that had to have the accelerator pump diaphragms replaced each spring after winter storage because the ethanol had dissolved them...and I was the one who replaced them.  The nylon fuel tank in my Sherco expanded and became soft when the ethanol acted as a solvent to the tank and made it unusable in only 3 months...the new tank is now 3 years old and has no problems since I started avoiding ethanol.  In the high humidity, large temperature swing Cincinnati area - the ethanol fuel does cause problems.

If your system work for you.....great.  For those of us wanting to avoid problems with ethanol......it would be nice to have a choice.        
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« Last Edit: 06/18/12 at 10:37:55 by Dave »  

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Re: How to test gasoline for ethanol
Reply #6 - 06/18/12 at 15:19:09
 
Routy wrote on 06/18/12 at 07:52:04:
One month ??
The e10 sets in my bike for 3 months every year, and after 2 yrs I pulled the bowl for the sole purpose of seeing all the horrible stuff that is supposedly left to do dammage. Well guess what,....there wasn't any.
More than that, I have a 2 stroke tiller that sets every winter and most the summer w/o being run, and worse yet, this year it is running on last years 50:1 gas. It still runs perfect. e10 is being used for to blame every fuel problem that happens on, when inreality it causes no problems that I can ever find.



Your blessed... I had a $50 repair bill on the mower this spring.  Ethanol ate up the rubber parts.. at least thats what the repair guy said. Mower runs better than new now. It also ate up the rubber line on weedeater.. still aint got that fixed.
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