Water in Stored Gasoline

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This post has been re-routed from the TB2000 Classic Forum.

Let me say, before everyone trounces on me for being a sucker, that I bought hook, line, and sinker, just about everything the Y2K alarmists said about preparing for near complete shutdown of computer generated services. I make no apologizes for preparing in the form of paying off all of our credit cards, getting several months food storage, alternative cooking and heating sources, or for buying propane stove, barbeque grills, lanterns, etc. I spent my own money so to speak, so it didn't cost any of you a dime.

I also bought 6 of those plastic 5 gallon gasoline containers. I filled them up around Christmas time, and put them in my shed, which is located away from the garage and at the backend of the backyard. I don't know how long I thought 30 gallons of gasoline was going to last me, but I felt I was "ready" just in case of a power outage, or computer shut down, and you couldn't get fuel at the pumps.

This past week, instead of buying gasoline, I have been filling up our two vehicles using the stored gasoline. I bought all of it from an Exxon subsiderary in our area, and I bought the one with an octane content (I think that's what you call it) of 88. Around here you can get 86, 88, and 91. The 88 runs about $1.43 in our area per gallon.

One out of the six containers was making a slushing sound, like there was ice inside of it. (Montana) I checked it out, and sure enough, there were pieces of ice sloushing around inside the bottom of the container. The majority of the contents of the 5 gallon container still had liquid gasoline, so I poured it in the vehicle, and the ice stayed in the bottom of the container. The ice even had what appeared to be a bumble bee frozen inside of it. I realize there are many of you that are very knowledgeable out there on a variety of subjects including the science of gasoline and water. I just was unaware that water molecules mixed with gasoline could separate themselves from gasoline, and then freeze, and formulate on the bottom, meaning that gasoline is lighter than water. Because, as you all know, when water freezes, the ice molecules nearly always begin forming on the top surface and work their way down.

Now completely off the above topic, for those of you over 40 that remember going to the drive-in movies...have any of you checked out the www.billyjack.com website. If you enjoyed those "B" movies when you were a teenager, or in your early 20's, you can get them all on video now. I ordered the four pack, strictly for entertainment purposes. Howard Hessman used to have a lot of hair. Later.

-- mic (mic@bigsky.now), January 14, 2000


What's your point or question?

-- W (me@home.now), January 14, 2000.

You mean in January 2000, that this discussion board is supposed to have a point?

-- mic (mic@bigsky.now), January 14, 2000.

I worry that too many more posts like this will drive even Ed away from the forum.

Good try, though!!

-- ImSo (happy@prepped.com), January 14, 2000.

I don't think this is off topic. It probably would have done better over on the prep. board, though.

Interesting observation about condensation and storage or presence of water in the gas. I recall my parents once got a batch of gas with water in it that fouled up their engine.

I have stored gas and it is freezing outside now. What chemically happens to gas in freezing temperatures? Does freezing remove water and other impurities? Will it prolong or shorten "shelf life?" How does freezing interact with stabil and other stabilizers?

My gasoline is a bit of an investment. Also have a large quantity of diesel stored for my furnace. Since the EPA made us install above ground storage, this is the first year I have had diesel stored that way where the tank is not insulated by dirt.

Good topic.

-- anon (anon@anon.calm), January 14, 2000.

I have been told that diesel fuel can be safely stored without stabil for up to 24 months.

-- mic (mic@bigsky.now), January 14, 2000.


His bumble bee does not pass the BS filter! Do you really think he got it from the PUMP?

-- W (me@home.now), January 14, 2000.

The original post reminds me of an Alistair MacLean novel - I believe it was called Ice Station Zebra. The bad guys had spiked the gasoline barrels with sugar to confound and delay the posse who would be coming to rescue the good guys.

Anyway -- one of the protagonists told them to add water to the barrels, as the sugar was soluble in the water and the gasoline could then be skimmed from the top of the barrel, sans sugar.

Up in Canada we handle condensation water in automobile gas tanks by adding methyl alcohol in small amounts. It and the water are mutually soluble and the mixture can then be burned. Otherwise the water slowly accumulates in the bottom of the gas tank. An auto-mechanic or engineer might comment on the shape of gas tanks -- I seem to remember that the is a shape factor that keeps the water away from the fuel pump inlet pipe...

-- Indagator (indagator@istar.ca), January 14, 2000.


I also live in Montana (Northwest) and I use a product called HEET in my gas tanks (car, truck, storage, etc..). Water in your gas tank can freeze in your gas lines and leave you sitting in the cold. HEET is cheap insurance that your gas won't freeze up.


-- wally wallman (wally_yllaw@hotmail.com), January 14, 2000.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), January 14, 2000



For as long as I can remember, gas (i.e. oil) has always been "lighter" than water, and floats on top. So the water would separate out to the bottom of the can. As to the bumble bee, who the heck knows - did you check the container before filling? Thinking back, I didn't check mine.

What I do know is I have did have an experience where I purchased fuel that was contaminated by water, so bad that I started noticing problems before I got home. At the time, I didn't think about the gas being bad, and assumed I had some sort of electrical problem. It was the car dealer who found the water in the gas. After I had the fuel system cleaned out by the dealer, I mailed the bill to the gas station (actually their parent company) and they paid it *in full*. My guess it that that particular station had problems with more than just my fill, 'cause they didn't ask any questions. Maybe that is their general policy, who knows. Not suggesting you try to collect on your "water in gas", just showing that it is possible to get contaminated gas.

Have to admit though that I never thought about freezing it so that you could pour the gas off and leave the water (ice) in the can. Will have to remember that one...


-- Just Looking (lurking@home.now), January 15, 2000.

Mic, I hope this helps. As a private pilot in MN,(doesn't matter where you live) one of the most important preflight checks is to check for water in the gas. This is done by inserting a small clear container into the bottom of the wing tanks on this aircraft to check for water. If water is found, you keep doing it until you have pure gasoline. Also drain the carb. For what it worth, I have a volume of gas stored in 15 gallon drums, (I live in the sticks for those that have concerns) Even though I have added GRI and something like heat, I would be surprised if I didn't have some water in the bottom of the drums.

-- Bill (Sticky@sides.tape), January 15, 2000.

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