Thursday, November 02, 2006

Acetone In Your Tank

If you didn’t hear it from me, the new rumor is that it may be possible to increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle by as much as 20% by adding a simple, easily obtainable chemical called Acetone.
According to my research, when used as a fuel additive, Acetone raises the octane level of gasoline and helps combust all of the fuel when it is in your carburetor or fuel injectors.
Your engine is supposed to run more efficiently and noticeably smoother.
The mixed fuel reportedly can reduce hydrocarbons in the exhaust too, which is better for the environment. My reason for pursuing this is because I’d like to improve the enviroment in my wallet first, which, because of the terrific escalation of fuel costs, is a lonely, cobwebbed place.

The formula is as follows: 2.5 to 3 ounces of Acetone per 10 gallons of regular gas. Accuracy is important here, so you should measure carefully and not veer from the ratio. Too much is not good. Most modern vehicles do not have high enough compression to justify using high octane fuels. The testing indicates best mileage is usually obtained with 85 or 87 octane gasoline, which is Regular fuel.

Now comes the warning:
I cannot recommend that people do this for a number of reasons. Acetone is a highly potent, flammable chemical that you should not get on your skin, it is routinely prescribed as a paint stripper and could mess up the finish on your car and if you put too much in it could hurt your engine. In other words, from here on out, you’re on your own.

I will disclose to you that I heard about this idea on George Noory’s Coast to Coast radio show and so I figured what better idea than to ask a true gear head who has his own radio show. Tom Turner is the guy and his show is on KVI 570 (the same station as the Coast to Coast show) on Saturday mornings. Tom owns an auto repair shop called Performance Prep on 348th and Highway 99, the place where I’ve taken my cars since about ’86. Tom knows things about cars and engines that normal humans can only wonder about. Via email, I asked his opinion about Acetone as a fuel additive and Tom said, ‘Seen it…try it if you believe it, but also try Toluene too….report back.’ Toluene is another chemical that is popular with the racing crowd, but though is it commonly found in off-the-shelf fuel additives, in my online research I found less information to support it as an option for general motorists than I did for Acetone.
I didn’t tell Tom that I was going to write this article, so I should say that he would not endorse that anyone should monkey around with fuel mixing without consulting their mechanic first. (Ok Tom?)

Tom also suggested that the cost of additives is not worth the gain in fuel mileage, but I found a large amount of feedback indicating positive results.
If you’re concerned about what this substance might do to your engine, the general consensus appears to be that, because Acetone is already a component in gasoline and fuel additives, it should not cause any harm to your hoses or rubber parts. It can even be used in diesel fuel to reduce soot.
Additionally, in the pursuit of improving your fuel mileage, before resorting to becoming your own garage chemist, it is recommended that you have a fresh air filter, high quality spark plugs (NGKs are good) and synthetic oil in your engine.

And while it is true that this information is (so far) purely anecdotal, I have to wonder: If this is truly an inexpensive way to get an additional 100 or more miles per tankful, why aren’t the big oil companies just providing this solution? You con-theory people there are furrowing your brows over this idea, I’m sure, so I’ll conclude by saying this. Try this at your own risk. Go see Jim at New Lumber and Hardware and buy 32 ounces of Acetone from him. (Go ahead and tell him what you want it for, he already thinks I’m crazy so you can blame it on me). Pick up a long snout funnel there too. Then drive the gas out of your car until there’s hardly any left. At home,
put 2 ½ to 3 ounces of 100% pure Acetone into the tank. Keep a rag handy in case you spill any on the car. Now wash your hands and drive to the station and fill up with ten gallons of regular fuel. Write down the mileage on your odometer and hit the road. I urge anyone who is considering this to get on a computer and look up the information. This is all fairly new information, but if it turns out to be a positive way to save fuel, tell me about it. Tell your neighbor and your mechanic too.