Avoiding the Corn Con

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It all started back in the ’80s.

If you’re of a certain vintage, you may remember. In winter, they began to “oxygenate” – that is, adulterate – gasoline with additives such as MTBE and ethanol, corn alcohol, in order (so they said) to lower tailpipe exhaust emissions. When that excuse went away – because older cars without computers that could not adjust their air-fuel mixtures and so ran lean (and hence – allegedly, produced lower emissions when burning Not Quite Gas ) went away, the new excuse became “renewable energy.” Now it was patriotic to burn corn instead of eating it – even if it took more energy to convert corn into alcohol and even if your car didn’t go as far on a tank anymore, because alcohol-laced fuel is less energy dense than straight 100 proof gasoline.

The Corn Lobby (that is, the agro-business lobby) is as powerful as the Israeli lobby – each firmly grasping one of Uncle Sam’s two testes, always applying just enough pressure to make sure he does what is required. Which means, passing laws that assure each of these interests receives what it wants. In the case of the corn lobby, what is wanted is for every American driver – hell, everyone who buys “gas,” (in quotes in the interests of  accuracy, since what we are putting in our tanks is no longer, properly speaking, gasoline) for whatever reason, to pay tribute each time he fills up. The total sum is an incomprehensibly large number but the average person sees the tab every time he’s at the pump.

And more, every time he drives.

The “gas” we put into our tanks now usually contains 10 percent corn alcohol – ethanol. As a result, our gas mileage goes down by a noticeable amount. Correction. It’s not so noticeable anymore to most people because unlike Back in the Day, we no longer only get Not Quite Gas during the winter months – which, as a result, made it hard not to notice the sudden drop in fuel economy that attended its use. And, come spring, the way MPGs went up once we got real gas again. But today, Not Quite Gas is with us all year ’round, so most people no longer notice. Like air travel before Gate Rape, it is something only people over 30 have any real memory of.

But, there is an out.

Because of problems that could not be hidden with Not Quite Gas, especially physical problems in older (pre-computer) cars, outdoor power equipment (two-stroke equipment such as chainsaws, especially) and marine engines – including damaged seals and hoses from the much-more-corrosive alcohol on rubber not designed to deal with it – as well as problems arising from water build-up in tanks and lines (ethanol absorbs water from atmospheric humidity, etc.) and a much shorter shelf life, which is an obvious concern for owners of antique vehicles, as well as boats and power equipment that may sit for weeks/months at a time – it is once again legal to sell real gas.

Here is a helpful web site where you can find out about the availability of real gas in your area: http://pure-gas.org/

Turns out, there are almost 4,500 ethanol-free filling stations around the U.S. and Canada. If you live in Alaska (and Alberta, Canada) you’re really in luck because all stations dispense real gas instead of Not Quite Gas.  I checked the site’s state-by-state listings and – happy day! – my own state of Virginia currently has 156 stations where you can buy real gas – including premium real gas.  (The latter being really important to me – to anyone like me who owns an antique muscle car or a new high-performance chain saw – which both must have the real deal to operate correctly and live long and prosper, too.  In fact, my Stihl chain saw owner’s manual very insistently tells you to feed the beast nothing less than premium gas. Real gas, amigos.) The site even includes a map to show where to find real fuel in your area. 

So, any downsides?

Just the one – price. Real gas seems to run about 10 cents more per gallon – for regular leaded. Premium, as you’d expect, costs more. But, the math may work out. If you factor in the better gas mileage you will get by using real gas, the higher at-the-pump cost may turn out to be negligible or at least, nominal. Plus, your machinery will last longer – and run better.

And more than all that, what could be better than dodging the Corn Con?

That’s more than worth an extra few cents per gallon in my book!

Throw it in the Woods?


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  1. Eric,
    I had forgotten all about the https://www.pure-gas.org/ website…thanks for the reminder.
    Although there are no stations near me, it is good information in the event of a road trip.

    It is an endless battle in keeping all of my 2 and 4 cycle small engines operational with the “corny” gas…constantly cleaning carb jets and bowls; replacing fuel lines…I HATE CORNY GAS!

  2. On a recent trip to see my 17 y.o. daughter, who lives with her mother in a small town on the Wasatch Front in “Yew-Tah”, I was headed back to Sac town via US 50 (and yes, it’s one LONELY drive…). Seeing that I’d forgotten to fill up before I left Spanish “Fark” (how the locals pronounce it), I was in this little burg called Delta which is fairly much the last town in “civilization” before you head out on the salt flats towards Nevada. There was one of the local gas station/convenience store chain called Maverik and they had an odd selection on the pump: 88 octane “ethanol free” gas. Yup, it was about a dime more per gallon, but on a Ford Focus, that ain’t much. I could have likely made it all the way to Ely, NV, on what I had, but i figured it was dumb to chance it and I needed a “pee break” and a soda pop anyway (to water that poor desert down the road). About ten miles beyond the border (and ‘freedom’, as Utah has become quite the overbearing “Nanny State” itself, with their proposed .05 BAC for “drunk” driving), I passed some old boy in his beat-up old pickup…he was doing “only” about 80, so I blew right b y him, and he gives me a dirty look. I just kept it up at 105 mph for about 15 minutes until I finally ran into some hills and had to slow down a tad…baby had even more to give, but as I have “only” H-rated tires on my Focus, I figured that it was possible to drive faster than what the rubber could reliably handle, and having a blow at over 100 mph would be quite “interesting”. It helped that I could see about 10 miles in both directions so with no evidence of the NHP in sight, it was satisfying to see that even my little ‘econobox’ has some ‘giddyap’ in her! I don’t ever recall that car running that well on the ethanol-contaminated crap known as “formulated” gas. Unfortunately, the California Air Resources Board, ironically acronymed ‘CARB’, won’t allow ‘pure’ gasoline.

    Next Utah trip is in the pickup, with about ten 55 gallon empty drums…

  3. The worst thing about ethanol and BURNING FOOD, is that it’s caused higher food prices globally, especially in 3rd world countries. People originally right on the poverty line now have to starve, all for what?

    Any aid money flowing into these countries are sucked up by their dictators. That’s what Copenhagen and, more recently, Doha, Qatar were all about. Chucking your money into greedy dictator coffers, lying that their climate is fucked because of more affluent nations. Bullshit!

    Every dribbling icicle in the Arctic has been under enormous scrutiny because of the fabled “global warming” (Gorebull warbling). There are some scandalous 35 mistruths in his movie alone:


    Currently, CO2 levels are at 390ppm, rising from about 280ppm over the last 200 years, however, core samples from all over the world have discovered CO2 some 20x higher in the past, with no catastrophic consequences. In fact, Aragonite corals evolved in that very atmosphere in the Triassic some 175 million years ago.

    We’re finding ancient tree stumps and even man made tools under retreating glaciers – even over the last few years these glaciers are growing again. We’re still in recovery from the Little Ice Age from about 1350 to 1800, where the Thames and Hudson rivers froze 10ft thick every winter. There are even paintings depicting fairs held on the ice of those times.

    The Vikings farmed Greenland some 1000 years ago, where their graves are in permafrost now.

    Every gubberment study into Gorebull warbling has been a shower of moola for any rent-seeking “scientist”, whom naturally end their “study” with the line “changes due to CO2 will be catastrophic.. however, more study is required to define the full effects of climate change” (gimme more money), not telling us that “climate change” has been occurring naturally for billions of years.

    Everything about CO2 recently has been a massive lie designed to fleece you through taxes – yet again. Ethanol and all green schemes are incredibly costly and unreliable. The only reason they survive is from massive subsidies. Disgusting.

  4. Just checked out the pure-gas directory for my state (OH). What a disappointment! Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, bupkis in greater Columbus. Fortunately, I’m now driving a 2011 Honda CRV. The dearth of local “pure-gas” still rankles me, though.

      • My bad. I read so much information in a day`s time trying to keep abreast (love that word) of the economic manipulations, that in scan mode I ran right over the link. Very helpful. I drive a Vette and corn ethanol makes me yak. Sorry Iowa. Thanks for the info.

  5. I’ve been lucky in that I live near two stations that not only sell real gas, but proudly advertise it. Unfortunately, it’s only the premium grade that “contains no ethanol,” but all my vehicles require premium anyway. It actually doesn’t cost much more than the premium across the street WITH ethanol. Averages 2-5 cents more. I can tell about a 1-2 mpg difference, it seems, with the real stuff getting much closer to my EPA rated mileage.

    More power, less gas used, less emissions even, not that I’m too worried about that last part considering that most newer cars put out fewer emissions than an average cow.

    I support the stations that do this and I’m glad to know there’s a list out there.

    • Test gasoline (formulation required for EPA tests which I cannot remember the official name) doesn’t contain ethanol to my knowledge.

      Sadly as I figured, I’d have to burn a tank of gas to get to the ethanol free station and then burn what I filled up with to get back.

    • Me too.

      For late model cars, it’s a fairly minor issue. But if you have two-stroke power equipment or an older vehicle (pre 1980s) that was built to burn real gas, you want to use real gas, if at all possible. High alcohol concentration fuels are bad news for power equipment and can cause problems in older cars mot designed to handle them. I replaced all the fuel lines (and tank) in my old Pontiac as well as upgraded the seals/rubber lines with modern stuff that can handle it – because I don’t want a fuel leak and a fire.

      Stihl says you must use premium in their saws, by the way –

      • eric wrote, “For late model cars, it’s a fairly minor issue.”

        I was hoping someday you might touch on Why some vehicles, say, a new 2007 V-6 import, might produce noxious odure from the exhaust (skunk-like odure),… using higher octane real gas helps to reduce this from happening,… greatly. The lower octane levels seems to be significantly less effective.
        The ethanol fuel is the worst, producing frequent bad exhaust smells. Hey, it’s not funny,… well, it is kind of, but still,… it’d be nice to be free of it without buying a new car,… which might not even solve the problem as it might be a stinker too.

        Also, eric wrote, “in my old Pontiac as well as upgraded the seals/rubber lines with modern stuff”

        What do you mean by that? “Old” Pontiacs, to my knowledge, had metal (steel?) lines, no seals, no rubber lines. Just something I wondered, prolly nothing.

        Trans Am,… IE8Z28

        • Hi Clark,

          Per your question:

          Also, eric wrote, “in my old Pontiac as well as upgraded the seals/rubber lines with modern stuff … What do you mean by that? “Old” Pontiacs, to my knowledge, had metal (steel?) lines, no seals, no rubber lines. Just something I wondered, prolly nothing.”

          I meant the carb internals (floats, gaskets) as well as rubber fuel lines (the ones that connect the metal outlets on the tank to the steel fuel lines that run from the tank to the engine compartment and then the rubber lines that are between fuel pump and carb). Also, during the rebuild of the engine itself, all original gaskets and so on were replaced with modern, ethanol compatible stuff. Keep in mind my car was built int he early-mid ’70s, at a time when “gas: meant gas. The manufacturers used components designed for that, etc.

  6. This all explains why presidential hopefuls practically reside in Iowa for the two years before an election. If it weren’t for ethanol, Iowa would revert to being a pleasant place to live and raise kids (from what I’ve heard) instead of a power broker state.

      • and today I get an update from Dr. Mercola: ‘ Kashi and GOlean organic breakfast cereals contain UP TO 100% GMO grain!’
        – Oy vei. took three boxes back to freddy krogers, feeling more and more betrayed by so called green cos.

        • For me, the thing to really try to avoid is corn syrup. It is bad news, metabolically speaking. It also tastes awful. I buy Coke made in Mexico to get soda made with cane sugar; jams from Switzerland and Germany (and so on).


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