Reader Question: The Water Trick?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Don asks: I’ve seen some YouTube videos of guys showing how they add approximately 10 percent water to gas (in a clear container), shake it and the water and the ethanol sinks to the bottom. It is then drained out, leaving “pure or at least purer” gas in the container. I tried and am still doing this for my small engines (chain saw, etc.). I get close to 20 percent at the bottom, which I presume is the water and the ethanol. I realize that it’s impractical to do this for ordinary car fill ups. I have to leave a full tank of gas in my boat over the winter and am already using additives for it’s storage. But I would feel even better if I could put ethanol-free gas in (there’s no ethanol-free gas anywhere in my area of southern Maryland) perhaps 5 gallons at a time because of container size limitations. Have you heard of this method and can you recommend (or not) doing it? BTW – It’s close to $30 a gallon for store bought ethanol-free (but oil mixed) gas for small engines at Lowes, etc.

My reply: Given the nasty effects that ethanol-laced fuel can have when left to sit in small engine fuel tanks/carbs and so on, I see now downside to this procedure other than having to perform the procedure. Yet another hassle – and expense – brought to us courtesy of Uncle!

An easier procedure is to use StaBil marine or similar; and also, to run the equipment dry prior to storage. I do this with all my stuff and it has helped me to avoid having to tear down/clean/rebuild carburetors each spring. Some equipment doesn’t have a shut-off valve in the fuel line but it’s easy enough to splice one in. Or just run the thing until the tank is empty – and make Greta stomp her feets!

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  1. A few months ago I fueled up my pickup and a fuel truck pulled away having just filled, most likely, the regular unleaded tank. Then another pulled up and started filling the tank. That sumbitch must have been nearly empty but full of water. I had a nearly new fuel filter and 5 miles before I got home the pickup started barely running. I was lucky to get home and when I stopped to open the gate, I could hear the pump in the tank raising hell. I drove 5 mph to the house and couldn’t back up a small slope into the barn for lack of power. I installed a new fuel filter and when I took it out there seemed to be plenty fuel on the side to the engine indicating to me it wasn’t a lack of fuel. With the line from the tank and the part to the engine being dry I installed another filter.

    It ran fine….for a while and by the way, it had 43.8 miles on the trip odometer so it had maybe 37-38 miles on that tank when it began to lose power. I had no doubt it was fuel because pushing the gas pedal down further than it would run without missing, it would backfire, the sure sign of lack of fuel.

    It drove fine except one day going into the PO it began missing a little after going through some tight turns on the way back. I had to go back to Wally a couple days later and fueled up at a station known for good gas(to me). Going home we tore off on some back roads that were rough and washed because of a rain. I had my head on backward or I’d have avoided those roads and it was all washed and rough and nothing but 4WD. Going up a steep hill I felt the same lack of power and when we got on the highway, it became obvious we had little power. I’m dreading pulling the tank and cleaning the sock on the pump. I had run some Heet through it and it had gotten better. So I had stocked up on Heet at Wally with them having only one of the bottles(red) of nothing but water absorber and the rest were the yellow bottles that were fuel injector cleaner and water absorber. Since that time it’s been running good but I’ve put 6 bottles of Heet in it and kept the tank filled. But once the tank began getting down, not low at all, but not topped of, I noticed it lacking missing a little on acceleration but running fine at speed. So I added more Heet and now it seems to be ok. I ran it fairly hard yesterday and it never indicated a fuel problem. I’m just hoping the water is gone since once it had sat, even after missing a bit the trip before. I have hope that it’s not solid crap in the tank now but water. Pulling the tank is not a chore I think I can do with just a jack. My bad. I should have bought a four post lift years ago when I could afford it.


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