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Testing for Alcohol content in your gas.

1595 Views 20 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  CaptainMidnight85
How many of you would test for Ethanol content of your gas if it were easy and not messy?


How to get fuel into those little tester bottles?
How to quickly and easily test while at the pump without spilling?
How to read those little bottles more easily?
What to do with everything before and after testing?
What about the odor from the tester after completed?
Disposable or reuseable?

I had many questions and some concerns about the inconvience of testing at the pump. I think I've found a somewhat better way.

If it weren't so messy, would any of you test E-10/20 for alcohol content?
Would you test regular unleaded for its presence. Is it a issue at all with you?

I should have product pictures towards the end of this coming week and video the following week.
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This sounds interesting.

Now, if I only knew how to remove the alcohol if I found it......

Put gas in clear glass drinking cup and let settle.
Water will settle to the bottom,
alcohol will be the middle layer,
and gasoline will rise to the top.
True - "phase seperation".

Anyone realise this? :
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Yep. I almost put E20 in my tank (2012 Civic) a short while ago.
E20? I had no idea the stuff was even being sold.
I tested the mix at the station. It was 20%+ alcohol. WTF?
Looked like any other pump.

Been thinking of a easier, FASTER way to test anyway.
Just shove a breathalyzer into the nozzle and tell the pump to blow!!

Michigan has been E10 for a long time. Bikes, cars, trucks, power equipment, motor boats, I've not had an issue. But will have to pay attention once E15 makes it here.
I'm OK with 10%.
I had to retune for it but had no ill effects in using it on the 'Wing last Winter.
20% in my Civic I'm not so certain about. Not sure if I'll have a warranty issue or not should something go bad. As I understand the E15 and above, the stuff is meant for Flex-Fuel, which my Civic is not.

I could be wrong, but I think Honda has either E20/25 or E85/100 bikes down in Argentina. I'm not certain for recollection of what I read...
When is this country going to get it's head out of it's ass and get back to real gas ??
Sooo, no interest in testing the stuff?
I think the hard part about at-pump testing is the flow rate of the pump. Even at the first click, it's way too much gas and way too fast for a pee strip or a collection bottle. And if you are concerned enough about the ethanol content to bother with a test kit, you would certainly bother to read the pump signage. So then it come down to trusting the station and/or the State department of ag or dept of trans.
Tanker Drivers make mistakes. Wrong load into the wrong tank...
Blender Pumps go out of calibration on a regular basis (single hose dispensers).
Station Owners/Managers make mistakes. Once a load is ordered, it has to be dropped if delivered. Some even lie. What's marked on the pump isn't always what is coming out of it. The State is more concerned that you get Volume (Weights and Measures) than Content.
Some areas here (Britton for example) offer E-10, E-20, E-30 and E-40 besides the E-85.

I tested the E-10 at the station I mentioned previously = 13%

Yep - getting from the nozzle to the testing bottle is a problem for us Motorcycle types. I think I've found the solution though.


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Here's what I've come up with. The clear pouch goes into another food-grade, leak and smell-proof foil zip-lok bag shipped in a poly bubble envelope:


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Well, ...we'll see where it goes.

Ethanol Stealth Tester eBay listing

Simple webpage

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I used to test gasoline for alcohol when I was using it for aircraft fuel. The old Marvel carburetors rubber parts don't like ethanol or at least didn't when alcohol was first added. A lot of folks who had aircraft engines that could be STC'd for auto gas saved money by using it when 80/87 avgas disappeared due to lead. I used to test gas by dumping equal measures of gasoline and water into a tall narrow jar shaped somewhat like a test tube. If you mark the jar with two measures of water, make a mark where the first measure fills the bottle then another mark with two measures of water. Dump out the water and dry the bottle. Then put one measure of water in the bottle add one measure of gasoline, shake it a bit and let it settle. If there's alcohol in the bottle there will be less than two full measures in the bottle once it's settled.
I have experienced a lot of bad issues with E10, in both cars and bikes. But there is no point in testing it, it is the only stuff available in my state, and you have to use it. I watch the pumps, and make sure it says 10%, but you never really know for sure. And it can vary from time to time at the same pump. Until someone steps up and puts a stop to this crap, we'll just have to deal with it.

I can get high octane leaded racing gas at the local dragstrip, but at almost $8 a gallon it is too expensive to use, and what about refilling on trips. I can also get avgas, but it has the same issues. State law prevents selling anything else at regular gas stations.

And for owners of diesel vehicles, they don't have it so good either, and that includes big rigs. All you can get anymore is that "low sulfur" crap, which doesn't damage anything, but makes less power while cutting mileage substantially. That raises the prices of everything transported by truck, because it costs truckers more to ship it. Again, everybody loses.
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Yep, testing isn't for everybody.
Real-World experience for needing a test? I kind of have it. Depends on how one looks at it.
I ran the Solex carb last Winter. Without providing carb heat, the Solex is preferred over the two-barrel Weber. The larger venturi of the Solex ice'd-up less than the smaller primary venturi in the Weber.
I noticed something though. When switching between non-Ethanol Regular (still available here) to E-10 my bike didn't want to idle. Would idle-down to a stall. Go back to running no-E gas and it idled fine.
Me? Anyone that knows me ...knows that I had to know wtf was going on with the fuel. Retuning that Solex is a process best left to warm days in a garage. It was the Ethanol leaning the carb out to the point of stalling the engine.

Sure, just use the regular gas and problem solved, right. No need to test.
Well, ...I'm me though. And I had to know.
No easy way to test. Standing there, ..looking at the gas pump, looking at the nozzle in my hand and looking at the gas in my tank, thinking, "right, put it in this little bottle?, OK ...pffftttt."

So here we are today with an easier way for the curious.
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For the curious:

The wateer is filled to its line with the bottom of the water bubble at the line.
Then fuel is filled to the top line in the same way; bottom of the bubble to the line.

The tube is then shaken vigorously for a few seconds to promote a good mixture.

...settled after a couple of minutes, the heavier water/Ethanol solution sinks to the bottom of the tube and sits there for a reading.

Rotate the tube so a accurate measure can be had visually. In this case, the "Get-N-Go" just outside of my neighborhood has E-10 in individual hose pumps. I bought 2-1/2 gallons worth this afternoon and removed a sample as soon as I got home.
The blue comes from approximately 1/2 drop of blue food coloring.
The labels on the tubes are scaled for volume.
The labled grade at the pump was E-10 and is shown to be such according to the tested sample. The true alcohol content is approximately 9% by volume.

In "5 Easy Steps" this stuff can be accurately tested at the pump.

I'm making a small booklet to show particular details of each step in the form of pictures, ...about 18 or so of them.

I'll just resize most of my current pictures and convert them to black and white so that my laser printer can do it here at the house. The B&W laser printer made the labels on the test tubes.

Black and White pic below should be good enough...

Have decided to ship the tubes filled to the bottom water line with the colored water ready-to-test, ..just add fuel.
Retail packaging will probably have a amount of "Blue Test Solution" in a pre-measured eye-drop style bottle.

Do note, that when witnessed, this blue water/Ethanol mixture sinks to the bottom of the test tube very quickly. It starts moving downward immediately after shaking. This happens in our fuel tanks as well.
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So what's in the kit? Some pictures show 3 syringes and 2 bottles and some pictures show just one of each?

I think it's a good idea to test.
Though I would not be retuning carbs myself based on the alcohol content in E10, to me it's just not that important and may vary too much tank to tank anyway.
It would be good to know which stations may have the best fuel on the most constant basis.
All 4 main stations are the same price in town here, talk about price fixing LOL
So if some have more Ethanol in the gas and others have less I would go for the less of course at the same price.

Also when paying the big bucks for "pure gas" it would be nice to test it to see if it really is.
I had ran Premium 93oct in my 95 before and she ran fine, then I ran it again at a station that claimed the 93oct was Pure Gas and the 95 ran crappy for just that 1 tank.
I know she runs well on E10 86oct and 87oct, and once on the E10 93oct, so I have always wonder why so bad on the Pure gas 93oct.
Here is a table-top display I put together last night for this weekends motorcycle swap-meet here. It shows the kit on the bottom left and a test-tube of an actual sample from a Get-N-Go gas station outside of my neighborhood offering E-10.

The label says, "Up To 10% Ethanol".

The tested sample shows 9% Ethanol.

In the kit:
..Black, foil-lined, food-grade ziplock bag holds everything. Odor, leak and fuel-proof.
..A pair of nitrile gloves.
..Threaded glass test tube with screw-on cap using a rubber seal resistant to petroleum products. The tube is scaled for volume measurements (given in percentages) based on a ratio mixture of water. Very accurate. 0-100% Ethanol.
..10ml Syringe that can be taken apart and cleaned with dishsoap and reused many times. A 3-1/2" pvc extension tube for its Luer-Lock end is used to draw a sample from a freshly filled fuel tank. Removing the extension tube to fill the test tube has the syringe Luer-Lock tip and the test tube opening being a perfect male/female, fuel-tight fit. No spilling, no mess.
..Test tube, syringe and extension fit into a smaller poly bag containing a playcard of instructions for use and a record of use on the reverse side. A rubber band holds it all together snug.
..The test tube comes pre-filled with dyed water at the correct level. Simply add fuel to test. A poly bubble envelope is used to ship, for transport and additional protection after received by purchaser.

I'm not beating them, and I'm not joining them. I don't want my bike drunk, so this is what we gotta do. If I can't drink the stuff, ...then neither can my bike.

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