Homemade napalm?
June 10, 2012 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Any uses for old gasoline (petrol)?

Are there any good uses for small amounts - say half to three gallons - of gasoline that is too old to use as fuel in an engine? This gas is at least two years old and contains no stabilizer (which, yes, I'm aware of). The only thing that I can think of is starting bonfires, which I seldom need to do, or as a workshop solvent for cleaning parts, for which there are safer and less smelly alternatives.

In the past I've run old gas through 4-cycle engines like lawnmowers but now realize that's a bad practice. If I have to I'll take it to the local govt to be processed as waste but I'd really rather not bother for such a small amount.

So, I'm hoping other MeFites will have some innovative uses I haven't thought of.
posted by werkzeuger to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
It's not really innovative, but ..
put it a gallon at a time into your gas tank, right after you (mostly) fill up the tank.
The dilution will mitigate any problems you might have with the reduced volatiles in the gasoline.
Pour it gently, in case there is liquid water in the bottom of the old gasoline.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:29 PM on June 10, 2012

It's not best practices, nor entirely safe, but in the metal/motorcycle/machine shop I work in, we use old gas to clean parts.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:52 PM on June 10, 2012

Whoops, I fail at reading comprehension.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:53 PM on June 10, 2012

Not entirely OT, but please be very careful using gasoline to light bonfires - it is one of the classic ways people injure themselves lighting bonfires - normally because they get caught out by the inflammable vapour. Diesel is safer...
posted by prentiz at 2:19 PM on June 10, 2012

Most oil lamps can handle gasoline, although I've been told it's best to set the lamp downwind.
posted by d. z. wang at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2012

If you have an area of your yard (say, around the fence line or in the pavement cracks of your driveway) where you don't want grass/weeds to grow, you can pour gasoline on that area and nothing will grow. You should not do this because it gets in the water supply and because it is flammable, but people do it.

Anything that has grease (kitchen areas, clothes) can be cleaned with gasoline. Again, it's flammable though.
posted by Houstonian at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2012

Soak rusted garden tools in it.
posted by arcticseal at 4:11 PM on June 10, 2012

Whenever I end up with a gallon or two of old gas, I just use it in the lawnmower or, as suggested above, add it in small amounts to a vehicle gas tank. In neither case can I detect any effect of doing so, though I am sure there are theoretical concerns. I've used it as weed killer before, but I worry about the extras in the gas getting into the water table so now I just dilute it with good gas and use it as intended.
posted by Forktine at 4:49 PM on June 10, 2012

Most oil lamps can handle gasoline, although I've been told it's best to set the lamp downwind.

Really? That sounds spectacularly unsafe to me, and a quick glance at google agrees, but I'm no oil lamp expert.
posted by Forktine at 4:51 PM on June 10, 2012

Forktine, it appears you're right. I knew that for lamps which vaporized the fuel in a pressurized chamber (I think Coleman lamps work like this) you really want to match the vapor pressure of the fuel with the design spec of the lamp, but I thought for wick lamps where the fuel reservoir communicated freely with atmosphere there wasn't any danger of explosion. Apparently the internet disagrees with me, so it's probably not worth the OP's trouble to try.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2012

That sounds spectacularly unsafe to me

My first thought, too. It sounds exactly like a Molotov cocktail. At some point in the burn, there will be air in the fuel chamber, and then...

There are gasoline lamps, though (google 'Coleman lantern'), in which you could burn the old gas, and in that case, I think the advice to put the lamp downwind would be good, since automotive gasoline contains additives that are absent from the "white" gas that's recommended for said lamps.
posted by bricoleur at 6:49 PM on June 10, 2012

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