Email of the Day, 1-22-13 Ethanol blends

Dave in Oz writes about Ethanol fuel..

Hi George,

I have enjoyed reading your site for many years. I finally got hold of my own listeroid and have been playing with that setting it up.

Many people don’t understand my concern with self sufficiency but I sleep well at night knowing if the lights go out I can put them back on again.

 I also have run my Vehicles on WVO for 8 years now and the only problem I had was when I ran low recently and my wife put Diesel in my 4WD. It was obviously rubbish fuel and was blocking filters every day. Annoying when you Run your vehicle on rubbish and have no trouble and then you PAY for ” proper” fuel and it turns out to be the real Rubbish!

Flushed that out, back to the WVO and not a problem Since.

Anyway, I read of your love for Ethanol and that you are getting E15 in the states.  I have had the same experience as you with Ethanol Fuel ( I’m in Sydney Australia) It basically buggers everything it goes in.

I have had trouble with mowers and chain saws, It stuffed up the Fuel system on my Harley and gives lousy fuel economy that is no where near offset by the lower price in vehicles.

One of the reasons I went from petrol to Diesel Vehicles.

I blend 5-10% in my WVO for easier starting in winter and to restore the timing of ignition. The ethanol however vaporizing about 20 oC lower than regular petrol gave me problems with vaporisation. I couldn’t understand how so little could cause the problems I was seeing  until a friend rightfully pointed out a Liquid going to a gas expands roughly 1000 Times. That meant that 1ML of ethanol was giving me a litre of air in the system. 

Made sense why I was having trouble.

Obviously I wanted the ethanol out. I could distill it but I came up with an easier way.

Wash it out.

I get say 20L of E 10 as we have here, throw in say 5L of water and give it a shake.  Water and eth goes to the bottom and good, clean pure Petrol to the top.

Takes only a few minutes to separate but I usually leave for an hour or overnight for good measure.

 I decant the petrol, not to carefully as I add the dregs to the next batch and repeat.

Water and Petrol DON’t Mix but water and Ethanol love one another. 

Nice, easy way to get pure petrol.

The water/ Eth doesn’t go to waste either. I have water injection on my WVO powered vehicles ( a washer bottle with a garden misting nozzle spraying into the intake , $20 all up) and this adds power and keeps the engines Free of any Build-up and dirt from the intake manifold to the exhaust and everything in between.

Since using the washed Fuel I don’t find the lawn mower need water draining out of the carb every time I use it, The other garden equipment starts and runs as it should as well and I just don’t have the problems I was having and never had before the soft of heart and heads made this etha crap mandatory.

The vaporisation problems in my truck when mixing it with WVO disappeared on the first tank full and it was hot weather when I tried it and would not have been surprised if regular non blended fuel Vaporised anyway but not a hint. 

You might like to try this George and see how you go. Just get a coke bottle with some E-rubbish, add some water, shake, settle and give the properly refined Petrol a go.

I’m looking to buy a small Cone bottomed plastic tank to make the separation  phase easier as I only use petrol in small engines but you can get those tanks in any size so if one wanted to do 50 Gal at a time you could get a suitable sized tank.

May not be worth it for vehicles but for small engines where you want the fuel to last, I think this works real well.

Have Fun George and thanks for a great site.

David S.


George’s Reply:

Dave always good to hear from a Cousin down under.. lots of self reliant DIYer types down your way..

As for the Ethanol fuel, I agree washing out ethanol is easy and works well if you are looking to mix gasoline and WVO together as a fuel..

As for the use in gasoline engines, this may be ok in extremely low compression engines on old equipment, but we may need an octane booster after we strip the Ethanol away. My understanding is one of the few advantages of ethanol is it does raise the octane of the mix a bit.. so removing it means you likely have a lower octane Petrol fuel, and may see destructive pre detonation. WE need beware of how we might improve the octane (if necessary) with after market additives as it might contain more alcohol.

As for the savings with ethanol, they (our governments) rob us from one pocket to make the stuff.. and then charge us more for stuff that gives us less mileage.

One thing we know, Australia and the USA have both have elected officials that like to live well on the public purse.



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13 Responses to Email of the Day, 1-22-13 Ethanol blends

  1. Russ D says:

    Hey there George.

    Very nice info about removing the ethanol. I hadn’t even thought about how to remove it. Only know I don’t like the idea of it being “forced” upon us.

    As for your observation about possibly needing an octane booster i found this;

    I’m not in any way, shape, or form tied to this company or product. Simply found it interesting a product like this was available. Could be real handy for an older engine where valve seats are a concern.

    I wonder if it turns the fuel blue, orange tint like I remember gasoline used to be…LOL.

  2. Bill.Knighton says:

    Dave in oz – I have read that the electric safety act of 2002 made DIY electrical work illegal with extremely harsh penalties. How do austrailian DIYers cope? Do they ignore it? If you go to a big box hardware store do they have aisles of electrical parts still or are these off limits? What is the perception of how this happened? Was it electrician’s unions who instigated it?

  3. George B. says:


    We need be VERY careful here in the USA with what we add to fuel, I say this for those who might follow what we say here..

    Here we have State Agents that sample fuel looking for people who are running off road (red dyed fuel). They normally target commercial vehicles, but if you were bragging about running an non taxed fuel, and were ‘turned in’, you might be targeted for a dip of your fuel tank. I mention this because many in the VW Diesel community have added a quart of dyed ATF (oil) for many years to increase lubricity for the mechanical injection pump, with our low sulphur fuel of today, this may be an even more important additive; as the lubricity of this fuel is much lower.

    Adding a lubricity enhancer is a VERY old habit amongst some diesel owners but could get you a $10,000 fine here today if it has color.. Some say.. “if it’s red, you’re good as dead in court.

    Furthermore.. here in USA, our EPA and it’s leader ‘Lisa Jackson’ get Fatter by the day. There’s strict rules about what you can add to a fuel… so if people do it, they should consider the legal consequences, or at least not openly bragg about their potentially illegal activity. Have you seen Lisa lately?.. it’s obvious her meals are paid for out of the public purse!

    Here in Washington State, we had people praising the State’s efforts to make it easier for EV owners, a lot of public purse money spent on charging stations, etc. The ‘Gang Greenies’ (a term I use for people that don’t understand the green game) were really thinking the State was going to give EVers a free pass 🙂 Late last year, they showed their true colors, they passed a special tax on EVs to collect road tax they weren’t getting at the pump. This will be increased till they are confident they are getting the full measure of Road tax on EVs.

    Always follow the money… Ethanol makes the most sense to those who receive the subsidies, we get lower mileage per volume of fuel, and have a much more unstable fuel. Since food crop land is used to mke the stuff, the entire world pays more for food, and kids in parts of the world pay the highest price. Is it a million children a year who starve to death?

    Our EPA doesn’t help cover warranties, and the mountain of small engines behind repair shops grows higher. The EPA even demands a non adjustable carb on a lawn mower.. one you can’t clean!

    A last note.. buying a few gallons of well made bio diesel (not all of it is well made) and filling used lube oil bottles with it may be the better and legal addative for low sulphur fuels. Just one percent bio added doubles the lubricity (according to some reports).

  4. Russ D says:

    By all means for anyone reading these comments on possible fuel additives.

    They should only be used “off road” and to possibly enhance the performance or add to the life expectency of older, collectable engines.

  5. Russell Furzer says:

    The rules about working on 240v (we dont have 120 at al) are decades old. It is illegal to rewire a light or change a plug without an inspection from an electrician.
    As most of us have always lived with this rule, it doesnt bug us as much as you would guess.
    The materials are available in the shops. There is no physical barrier to DIY repairs. Its just illegal.
    I dont know but do suspect that you might be OK if you are off grid as far as the law goes. Home owners insurance usually has a clause about non-approved repairs as the cause of fires etc ‘tho.
    SOO – none of us Aussies have ever done any 24ov work. We have also never exceeded the speed limit in our cars, not declared the (38c per litre!) excise on homemade biodiesel, inhaled etc

  6. Bill knighton says:

    Does it vary from state to state? This Queensland link says that it is illegal to DIY unless you are licensed and there is a potential fine of. $40,000. Was it a big deal when this was passed or was it like here where most people are unaware still that you have to get a permit and inspection in many areas?
    Do any political parties advocate DIY work or do they all want it stopped? Here it is not mentioned in a campaign, ever. It’s more than just electricity too. Almost any carpentry if it involves repairing frame or sheathing takes a permit and inspection.
    I don’t see why we should expect other than a complete prohibition on DIY activities. A car, for example, is a lot more dangerous than a house.
    The biodiesel people had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get legal too and that’s only because green is popular. Were it not for that fact there is no chance they could exist.

  7. Russell Furzer says:

    While i’m not up in the QLD sun (those banana-benders are oz’s Texans BTW), the rules are pretty similar. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to touch 240v stuff.

    The issue is the renewal of such legislation with more draconian penalties and more specific proscriptions.

    It isnt clear in Qld that it is legal to change a kettle element – or – get this – a light bulb. The radio hams are worried that they cant legally fiddle with their ancient kit etc etc.

    I agree with you that it is a small step to banning any DIY activity.

  8. Nate says:

    In the fall I was looking for a radiant tube heater for my shop. I went to a place recommended by a manufacturer. When I arrived and told them what I wanted they said they only sell to me because they have to support the trades. I said i have to support my bottom line and left. Then I remembered a DIY HVAC place not far from me and they still get my business. They set me up with the whole package, the owner even gave me his cell phone number if i had a problem on the weekend.

  9. Quinn says:

    One of the problems with extracting the ethanol with water is that today’s pump gasoline is a complex blend of hydrocarbons. There are octane enhancers, antioxidants, detergents, metal deactivators, icing inhibitors, dispersants and corrosion inhibitors, to name a few. Some of those hydrocarbons are water soluble, ethanol being one, but there are other alcohols, such as methanol and tert-butyl alcohol in the blend, too. So, as you rightly observed, George, washing gasoline with water will remove some of the beneficial, or at least innocuous additives, as well. Unless you know what is in your gasoline blend, effecting such a cure might cause more problems than it cures.

    • George B. says:

      Good comment Quinn,

      Washing out ethanol might work for the person wanting to blend his own fuels, and it is popular to use gasoline (petrol) to adjust oil fuels to have characteristics closer to diesel fuel.
      Some use highly filtered, and sometimes washed used lube oil, and then use gasoline to adjust it’s character. Experimenters claim they have been doing so off grid for 30 years or more WHEN they are running slow speed designs of the past. Using such blends in a $50,000 pickup truck? I’ll leave that experiment for others.

      As for gasoline engines, I suggest any old engine you love should be modified to run from a fuel tank you disconnect. And do install a drain in the carb float bowel.. drain it after every run less you know you will be starting it VERY soon. First choice of fuel should be ethanol free, and as Brian W. wrote me, this is often available at some pump near you because a lot of companies that have a large fleet of gasolien power tools, equipment refuse to run ethanol mixed fuels period.. A big part of the problem is vented fuel tanks, once you get condensate in your ethanol mix.. the ‘washing’ happens on it’s own.. as soon the ethanol takes on enough condensed water, it all drops to the bottom of the tank, when it hits the carb bowel, it rots out the carb and destroys it.

      Thanks to our EPA and the nuts that follow their lead. We can not clean the crap carbs THEY design. Once the main jet is coated with junk, the engine burns lean, and works towards it’s own destruction and higher emissions. The average owner keeps running it till it stops.. only fix is an expensive new carb..

  10. Mel Ensor says:

    Hey George,
    Washing ethanol out of petrol seems to be straightforward, I think you are right about the octane situation. Here in UK we can buy tetraethyllead which was the lead that was removed to make lead free. My 500cc Velocette was designed to run on 100 octane, I can now mix up my own 100 octane by adding tetraethyl lead to 95 octane rug. Fortunately in UK use of leaded petrol is not illegal, it’s just that nobody stocks it at a filling station “near you” (sic). I can also mix any octane from 95 to over 100 by adjusting the quantity of lead added to the Rug.

    So far I have had no probs re deterioration when bike is stood for weeks but then UK climate is “temperate” (for now).

    So treat yourself to some “Tetraboost” and burn lead like the good old days.



  11. George B. says:

    Mel, great comment! the leadtetraethyl you mention is banned here, or at least that’s what I thought!

    500cc Velocette.. some were literally rolling art forms.. even the classic tail pipe tip on some Velocettes. So many 500 singles out of GB, and a lot of beautiful craftsmenship.

    If i had 100 cases of that stuff you have over there, I could sell it all over night. There’s a lot of discussion as to what all the lead did for the engines, especially valve guides and seats. Those who have classic bikes normally make an extra effort to stay away from ethanol AND figure out how to meet the required Octane, or drop the compression, I’d bet there’s a few who resort to thicker head gaskets..

  12. Mel Ensor says:

    Hi George

    Yep Octane supreme is the same stuff. He says “for off road use only” but check it out, My experience of Govt is that they never tell you anything, you have to ask. For years here in the Uk Govt. kept quiet about diesel engines running on any fuel, they wanted us to keep buying fossil diesel so they could max the tax revenue. We became suspicious when a new main battle tank was trumpeted as being able to run on anything it found in the field, butter, lard, veggie, cream! Wow we thought, that must be some engine. Nooo it just had a conditioning plant upstream of the injectors that “adjusted” the viscisity so it would atomise. That let the genie out the bottle and today we can run 2000 litres per annum of veggie duty free. Duty free because they found out it cost more to process 2/3000 cheques per month for 2/3 dollars!!!

    Jay Leno has a nice velo on his garage site and he likes it!!!

    Ref thicker head gaskets, Velocette thought of this way back and supply “compression” plates that go under the base of the barrel to adjust CR. See, as you yourself like to say, “there’s nothing new…etc”



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