Your lawnmower won't start, your quad is running sluggishly, and your fishing boat has stranded you and a lonely ham sandwich in the middle of the lake.
Chances are, it's not because of bad luck or poor equipment; in all likelihood, the culprit is bad fuel.
Yet—bad fuel should never give way to a bad day.
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you're just itching to bring out the seasonal toys, be it the convertible, motorcycle, or motorboat; and while there is no better way to spend a warm afternoon outdoors, no one wants to waste half the weekend trying to get their engine to function properly. Contamination does not prefer a specific type of vehicle, machine, or contraption. If your engine has been stored away for some time or has otherwise been exposed to moisture in any capacity, your fuel is likely at risk.
Word of advice: though it may seem tempting to stock up on gasoline while it's cheap and store it for later use, please don't. Ethanol-blended fuels and other biofuels are highly susceptible to degradation over time (due to water, sludge, and other contaminants), no matter how air-tight your container.
In 2005, the United States Congress mandated that 10% of the nation's fuel supply had to be blended with ethanol (ethyl alcohol derived from corn). For many, this change was marked solely by a sticker on a gas pump; however, for those more intimately aware of the inner-workings of their vehicles, the effects of these biofuel additives on engine performance may prove far more bothersome.
In addition to negatively affecting fuel economy, the addition of biofuels in diesel and gasoline significantly lowers their shelf-life. While diesel fuel may be safely stored for up to 90 days, gasoline may only be stowed for 30 days or less.
In short, your fuel will begin to degrade and eventually become unusable. So, while it may seem effectual to reuse old gasoline, re-purposing untreated fuel is likely against your better judgment. However, there may still be hope for spoiled fuel: but first we seek to better understand the reasons for this rapid deterioration.
What constitutes bad fuel?
Ethanol fuel is highly subject to a phenomenon known as phase separation, which occurs when water comes into contact with ethanol fuel.
Ethanol is a hygroscopic substance, which means that it is capable of attracting water as well as absorbing and retaining it. When the water in your fuel reaches a certain saturation point, the ethanol and water will phase separate, meaning the ethanol will separate from the fuel solution and form layers in the tank: an upper layer of gasoline, a milky layer of ethanol/water, and sometimes a third layer of just water.
Imagine the considerably less satisfying and translucent variety of Italian salad dressing. At the top, you'll find oil; in the middle, vinegar/water; and at the very bottom, all the spices. That's phase separation! Note: even if you shake it up, the internal components will readily begin to separate again.
For example, if phase separation occurs in your fuel tank, you will immediately begin to notice problems with your engine. Not only can water contamination delay or completely prevent your engine from turning over, water-ridden fuel drastically affects octane rating and can actually contribute to engine damage.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the whole debacle is that you can't really prevent water from entering your fuel system. Water can get into your fuel even when you least expect it; daily and seasonal temperature changes can lead to condensation, which over time can result in phase separated fuel.
Thankfully, we know a couple.
At PSC, we make certain our products actually work before we ever even consider selling them to our customers. If they don't work, they get sent back with a kind thank you note.
Of all of those products, fuel additives are among the most rigorously tested, if not only because of the many claims each new bottle bears upon its label.
Common water-separating additives fail to eliminate moisture from fuel reserves, simply enhancing the polarizing physical makeups of fuel and water. While these additives work to separate the two substances, they do nothing to get the water out of the tank, which in essence is the source of the problem.
Unlike other fuel treatments, the 50-some-year-old fuel additive, K-100, actually allows the water to emulsify; when added to fuel, K100 bonds itself to the water molecules and encapsulates them: turning the non-combustible fluid into a burnable organic compound. As your engine runs, the water burns along with the fuel, releasing steam which in turn actually helps clean your engine.
Water is denser than fuel, so in its separated state, it will remain on the bottom of your fuel tank. The continual presence of water can block fuel lines and filters, damage fuel injector tips, lead to corrosion and acid formation, as well as support microbe growth in diesel fuel, making the case for K-100 all the more appealing.
K-100 is an all-encompassing, universal gasoline and diesel additive that cleans, eliminates water, lubricates, reduces emissions, and stabilizes old fuel as well as boosts octane rating. K100 Fuel Treatments are for use with all gasoline and diesel-powered equipment and are formulated for use with all fuels, including E-10, ULSD, Off-Road, Bio-Diesel, and Home Heating Fuels.
To CORRECT or PREVENT fuel phase separation:
K100D for Diesel
K100G for gasoline
For fuel that has been, or will be STORED for EXTENDED periods of time:
K100MD for Diesel
K100MG for Gasoline