December 28, 2013 9:22 PM   Subscribe

"Pure-Gas.org" -- a comprehensive index of gas stations in Canada and the US which sell gasoline that isn't contaminated with ethanol.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (41 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
So not sure if this is relevant, but in the last decade as I've collected some very expensive equipment for managing my property - air compressors, chain saws, blowers, tractor - it has been drilled into my head by the sales guys that the biggest source of stress on these small engines is the ethanol leading to water attraction and eventual damage to small engine parts, assuming the gas doesn't get used quickly. They have recommended a fuel additive for my 5 gallon tanks that I dutifully add since it's cheap. And I make sure to get rid of excess gas for winter.

So that's a long way of asking if these ethanol free gas stations are something worth driving a few extra miles for since there's one in my area. Not sure what it would be worth for a vehicle, however.
posted by docpops at 9:32 PM on December 28, 2013

Got a list of E85 stations so we can see which ones 'contaminate' ethanol with gasoline?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:33 PM on December 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Valuable for pilots too; a lot of airplanes can run on mogas (instead of the more expensive avgas), but most engines and fuel systems can't accomodate ethanol. Or more specifically, the water that's dissolved in the ethanol.

Ethanol's basically a big scam all around. Modern car engines can deal with it OK but it's not good fuel and it's not helping the environment. Sure is good for the Iowa farmers, though.
posted by Nelson at 9:34 PM on December 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Iowa farmers aren't doing too bad with increased demand world-wide for meat and dairy and therefore for animal feed either.
posted by maryr at 9:40 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

When we lived in central Missouri, we tended to get gas at stations owned by MFA Oil (MFA once standing for Missouri Farmers Association). The 87 octane was actually 0% Ethanol, but the 89 octane was 10% (ethanol raises octane rating because it doesn't burn as readily as gasoline). The interesting thing was that it was same price as 87. I guess they got the Ethanol for cheap because it was a farmer cooperative-owned oil company. I wonder if they're still doing it. It seemed kinda funny, but I appreciated it because I had an old car that would knock on 87 octane gas.
posted by zsazsa at 9:44 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Holy shit that answered a question I had from 1996 when I lived in Columbia. Thanks zsazsa.
posted by khaibit at 9:53 PM on December 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's weird, but the only station out in Oregon I've seen selling non-Ethanol gas had a permanent 9/11 memorial, an eagle holding guns in its talons as the station logo, and didn't accept credit cards.

That kind of colors my opinion of stations that are really into this.
posted by mathowie at 10:06 PM on December 28, 2013 [29 favorites]

Oh man, and here is the station I remember. They charge 30 cents less if you fill into a gas can! A real prepper station!
posted by mathowie at 10:09 PM on December 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Got a list of E85 stations so we can see which ones 'contaminate' ethanol with gasoline?

Alternative Fueling Station Locator Map from the Alternative Fuels Data Center, US DOE, including E85 stations.

Related sites: Carstations maps public EV stations; and Plugshare maps public EV stations and shared private locations.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:10 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, now I'm curious too. The only one I used to pass was also (anti) gaily festooned with tea party crap and deer heads and tax protest bumper stickers and whatnot. I assumed it was more 'dang gummit ain't gonna tell me what to put in my gas that my truck earned with its own two hands' nonsense.
posted by umberto at 10:17 PM on December 28, 2013

Much to my chagrin I'm pretty sure my ignorance of the effects of ethanol as a solvent killed my 1986 Chrysler LeBaron convertible [white with a maroon leather interior - no jon voight, fifteen hundred bucks from a farmer dude in Iowa].

The stepdaughter asked "can you buy a car without a roof" except she was five so pronounced it "woof" and, well, shit, stepdad says yes.

Thanks Thomas Jefferson for giving land the vote. I guess you had less imagination than you are credited with.

For others - ethanol is bad unless you have an E85 rated vehicle.
posted by vapidave at 10:28 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've used this site for quite a while. If you've ever let an old motorcycle or small engine sit for a couple months with ethanol-loaded gas, you can appreciate just how awful the stuff gets.

On the plus side, it makes for cheap yard- and garage-sale purchases in the spring when people go to start their mowers, motorcycles, etc., and the carb is completely gummed up!
posted by introp at 10:37 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Marine gas stations do this a lot, since fuel systems that are on the water are going to absorb a lot more water vapor, and are prone to spending long seasons unused.

My problem with ethanol is it's basically a corn subsidy and the way they produce it you have to use some pretty contorted reasoning to even pretend to call it a net-positive use of fossil fuels. That and it has significantly less energy/vol than gasoline, so basically all that money and effort for reduced fuel economy measured as MPG as well. If they made it more economically from a more appropriate stock than corn you might have something, but as it is ethanol is a complete boondoggle with nothing to recommend it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:39 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

James Madison and Co. gave land the vote. TJ was in France when that went down.
posted by raysmj at 10:44 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have a car that you let sit for long periods of time (winter cars, fun cars, off-road only cars and race cars), gas with ethanol in it is a bad idea. It goes stale incredibly quickly, and even with restorative in it, it performs very badly and can even stall out a car. E15 is also bad news for carburetors. Might not be important for most people, but if you have an older car that you love and it's got carbs, if you let it sit for more than a week or two, it'll go funky and not work well, if at all.
posted by Punkey at 10:56 PM on December 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

What about chainsaws?
posted by gwint at 10:58 PM on December 28, 2013

I seem to recall the ethanol subsidy died a quiet death recently. Since there are fewer family farms than they once were and the big agribusiness companies own the remaining farms, there are probably less convoluted ways to make money.

But seriously, saying bad things about ethanol used to be a death knell for any politician who wanted a good showing at the Iowa caucuses.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:44 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Reading the comments above...

Gas stations that sell no alcohol added gasoline are assumed to be hotbeds of reactionary, gun totin' Obama hatin' angry ol' white men?

Farmers are responsible for the hideous laws requiring the whole US to burn food as a wasteful and destructive fuel additive?

Try looking at what the producer gets vs. Cargill and the other big agribusiness companies who handle the corn and make the ethanol, then look at who spent the lobbyist money to saddle us with this insane requirement.

Politics of the gas station owner has jack to do with the chemistry of oxygenated fuels and fuel system dammage caused by same.

Are people who understand small engine repair more likely to be conservative? Possibly-

I use non oxygenated fuel (no ethanol) in EVERYTHING except modern cars and trucks designed to run on ethanol blends and intended to be used daily.

Yes! Chainsaws, weed whackers, snow blower, lawn mower, outboards- ALL of them die much more quickly than they need to from dammage caused by being left fueled between intermittent (or worse, seasonal!) use, exposed to the alcohol/water in the "oxygenated" fuel.
posted by bert2368 at 11:49 PM on December 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

That kind of colors my opinion of stations that are really into this.

Olson Brothers on McLoughlin in Oak Grove has ethanol free gas as well as the others and the owner, from what I can tell, is not a tea party nut bag.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:54 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I fairly routinely use the one in Redland and the one in Lake Oswego... the latter does a very brisk business and they have a couple of cool friendly dogs that come over and say hi while you're filling up. Neither station puts out any kind of political vibe that I can detect. This site is popular with owners of touring motorcycles because A) the bikes get less use in the winter but you don't necessarily want to drain the tank and mothball them, and B) we tend to be a little obsessed with range, and you get fewer miles per tank with ethanol.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:20 AM on December 29, 2013

James Madison and Co. gave land the vote. TJ was in France when that went down.
posted by raysmj at 12:44 AM on December 29 [+] [!]

Gah, fuck me. I've been suffering a misapprenhension for many years it seems. And I fucking love[d] Madison for his philosophy and loathed Jefferson for what he wrought.

Thanks for the information and not to doubt but can you point me to source please?
posted by vapidave at 12:24 AM on December 29, 2013

Corn ethanol is for me, the gasoline is for the car, what is wrong with these people.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 1:24 AM on December 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

Depressingly small list for Texas, but I'll add that the Stripes in Ft. Stockton is normal as gas stations get. I'm through there frequently and will make a point to use them - they might be responsible for the higher than normal milage I've seen in my car heading west from there on I-10.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:42 AM on December 29, 2013

I've been wondering why gas stations continue to advertise that they carry ethanol-free fuel, especially given that it's hard to find E85 fuel in the first place, isn't it? Well, no. Turns out that my view is pretty skewed - I live in Oklahoma City, which is abnormally dense with no-ethanol gas. It looks like we're a strong contender for most no-ethanol gas stations per capita.

Weirdly, I'd been assuming that the OKC metroplex wasn't especially anti-ethanol, but that had stemmed solely from the fact that I used to buy higher-octane ethanol-spiked gasoline for ten to twenty cents a gallon cheaper than plain unleaded from the gas station at Berry and Robinson in Norman. That was in the late 90s, so that matches with Khaibit's experience in Columbia. There isn't a lot of grain suitable for making ethanol down this way - sorghum and wheat meant for cattle feed would be the closest - so I wonder if we were getting MFA gas, also.
posted by suckerpunch at 4:33 AM on December 29, 2013

re: the fringe politics of these gas stations, I will note that none of the 3 major metro areas in Virginia (DC suburbs, Hampton Roads, Richmond) have any save for avgas/marine gas. However, there is a pretty dense cluster in Lynchburg.

Which is a shame, because I have a car that I would rather not drive during the winter, but I'm not about to drive several hours out of my way to fill up on gas.
posted by indubitable at 4:56 AM on December 29, 2013

Are people who understand small engine repair more likely to be conservative? Possibly-

Are the wrong kind of lower-class people more likely to understand small engine repair?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:04 AM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Holy shit that answered a question I had from 1996 when I lived in Columbia. Thanks zsazsa.

I, too, lived in Columbia and that always struck me as weird. Now I know!
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:19 AM on December 29, 2013

The vociferous objections to ethanol-addition in the US, now that I've learnt how things work over there, seem quite reasonable. Burning food for no net environmental benefit or efficiency gain. Fair enough.

But what about in countries, like mine, where the ethanol comes not from corn, but mostly from cane sugar or waste starch? What if it were to be derived from essentially inedible biomatter, like hemp? Would ethanol addition still be something to get indignant about?

Honest question, because here in Australia we're still in "Yay for ethanol!" mode. E10 fuel is the exception rather than the rule. It's a couple of cents/litre cheaper, if you can find it, and I've never noticed a problem in my car, although I don't think I've ever tried it in my mower.
posted by Jimbob at 5:49 AM on December 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

docpops, are you using STA-BIL?
posted by freakazoid at 6:04 AM on December 29, 2013

Oh man, and here is the station I remember. They charge 30 cents less if you fill into a gas can! A real prepper station!
posted by mathowie at 10:09 PM on December 28 [4 favorites +] [!]

OK. So that was the one I had considered as well. I guess a couple 5 gallon cans every few weeks isn't a huge deal.
posted by docpops at 6:12 AM on December 29, 2013

When they first started adding alcohol to gas here in Canada I sought it out int he winter months because free gasline antifreeze.

I wonder how the site is verifying the lack of alcohol in fuel. Is it merely the lack of the may contain alcohol sticker on the pumps?
posted by Mitheral at 6:13 AM on December 29, 2013

What about chainsaws?

I don't know much about the chemistry, but I'd expect moisture in fuel to be especially hard on two-stroke engines (i.e. chainsaws, blowers, weed whackers, some lawn mowers and most small boat engines) because the fuel passes through the crankcase on its way to the combustion chamber; that's how the oil that you mix with the fuel gets to the parts it needs to lubricate. Carrying water to the crankshaft bearings and piston rings and holding it there over weeks or months in the off-season could certainly be a bad thing.

I fix old chainsaws as a hobby, and it's accepted wisdom that ethanol also softens rubber parts (especially fuel lines) in older saws that weren't designed for it, sometimes to the point that the line tears or collapses, which in extreme cases can cause major engine failure by causing the motor to run too lean and overheat. That said, even people 'in the know' about chainsaws will regularly burn ethanol-laden fuel; they just make it a habit to drain the tank and run the saw dry if they're going to store it for any length of time.
posted by jon1270 at 6:14 AM on December 29, 2013

Here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina you can count on finding ethanol free fuel at the station closest to the boat landing, for small engine reasons cited above...
posted by ElGuapo at 6:28 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wait why is ethanol bad and a scam suddenly? The only reason I can think of is that it contributes to deforestation instead of global warming, but where I'm from we've been using it since the 80s and engine-wise the only problem were carburettors and fuel lines, I thought this was a solved problem by now?
posted by Tom-B at 7:59 AM on December 29, 2013

Wait why is ethanol bad and a scam suddenly?

It has always been bad and a scam. It's a net energy loss; straight up, it is burning food to buy votes.
posted by mhoye at 8:21 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, if nothing else, this post reminded me I need to go drain and clean the carbs on my old Yamaha today, because riding season is probably over. On the down side, I do have to go to the somewhat wingnut gas station up the road to pay for some non-oxygenated fuel, which was sitting at $3.99 a gallon (cash price) the last time I went by. However, the, hour or two it'd take me to clean my carbs in the summer is worth more than four bucks to me, so I'll suck it up.

freakazoid: My go-to additive is Sea Foam, but if I do use Sta-bil, I go for the marine grade. This is based on nothing more than the experiences of many boat owners whose opinions I have sought.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:21 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

OMG yes! We mow with a 30-something-year-old mower, and my grandfather keeps his old '89 Caprice in our garage that only gets driven maybe once a week or so. OMG, no! There are all of two stations relatively close, and they're both midgrade gas, for some reason.

The perverse thing about ethanol is that it lowers the fuel economy, so you end up burning more gas. It is annoying that tea party types are the most vocal about this issue (actually I think it's more that they're the only ones that get listened to in our society).
posted by dirigibleman at 8:35 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the tip, 1f2frfbf!
posted by freakazoid at 8:59 AM on December 29, 2013

AskMe: Ethanol's pros and cons
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:01 AM on December 29, 2013

There was an AP article linked here recently about the unintended (though foreseen) consequences of the ethanol subsidy. The article's conclusion is that it's a net loss for the environment.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:01 PM on December 29, 2013

All of the ones around here appear to sell 92, only.
I don't know if my lawn mower needs to run on premium.

I wonder if that's all they sell or if that's just what gets reported.

Also wondering how people around here know if it is ethanol-free
I mean, wouldn't you have to get out of your car to read the sticker?
What are we, barbarians?
posted by madajb at 3:38 PM on December 29, 2013

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