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BHT Preserves Gasoline in Cars:

Food Preservative Has Novel Use

By Tom Brownell

We thought you'd like to see this interesting Q & A about a novel use for the antioxidant BHT. It is reprinted with permission from the Questions & Answers section of Old Cars Weekly News & Marketplace.

Q. In the Nov. 25, 2004, issue, Richard Palmer requested information on a homemade product to preserve gas. I believe what Mr. Palmer had reference to was the use of BHT (butyl-hydroxytoulene) as a gasoline additive. This information was listed in “Q&A” published on Nov. 8, 2001, and further elaborated on in Old Cars Weekly on Dec. 5, 2002. I've not used it personally, but am referencing the articles. Jim Bourgeois, Cedarburg, Wis.

A. My first response was to be impressed by our reader's filing system and wonder at his method for achieving old editions of this column, then I realized that Mr. Bourgeois is the person who originally informed us about BHT as a preservation additive for gasoline. In his November 2001 letter, he reported finding a tip on preserving gasoline, which read: “The best way to preserve gasoline is to make sure the tank is topped up and to add four teaspoons of powdered BHT to a 20-gallon tank.” BHT's most common use is as a food preservative, but, according to the tip, “Government tests have shown it's good for keeping gasoline fresh.” The tip further states that BHT dissolves in gasoline and doesn't affect engine parts or performance. In the response, we asked if our readers could comment on the advisability of adding BHT to gasoline as an antidote to “gummy gas,” whether anyone has used this treatment, and, if so, with what results? In the Dec. 5, 2002, issue, Dr. B. John Shadroui of Lapeer, Mich., responded, stating, “I've been using BHT to keep gasoline fresh with my collection of 25 cars, ranging from a 1907 Ford to a 1957 Cadillac, for over 20 years. I've never had any problems, whatsoever, even with gas 8-10 years old. I make a super saturated solution of BHT by dissolving powdered BHT in a gallon container about three/quarters full of gasoline until it no longer dissolves after agitation and begins to settle out at the bottom of the container. This may take 300 to 400 grams of powdered BHT. Then I use five ounces of this solution per tank of gas and do this every 12 months if the car is not driven. I'm told that the gasoline today is different from the gas of a few years ago, and that my method may not work, so I have a test going in my laboratory. So far the treated gas smells fresh, is the same color as new gas, and not gummy. The untreated gas is dark in color and smells slate. I get my supply of powdered BHT from Complementary Prescriptions in Carson City, NV (800)877-2447. A 300 gram container sells for $13.95.”

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