SpareTank -- Gasoline Replacement?

A guy here at work put the following in the weekly e-mail newsletter. It sounds very suspicious to me and I was wondering if anybody else had heard of it:

“For those who sometimes need to transport gasoline in their vehicles, SpareTank is an inert gasoline that can be stashed in the trunk of a car like a spare tire. The nonflammable, biodegradable liquid mixes with gasoline residue in an otherwise empty tank and provides ample spark to power an engine temporarily. SpareTank, which has been recognized by the American Automobile Assn., is now available in some chain stores and on the Internet.”

Excuse me, but if it’s inert and nonflammable, how the hell does it power an engine? Even if it does mix a little with whatever “gasoline residue” is left in the empty tank? Sounds very fishy to me…

I ran “Spare Tank” through Google and came up with . Unfortunately, it appears that the site has expired and is only available through Google’s cached echo. Among the claims are:


You mean I could power my car with lighter fluid? How about rubbing alcohol?

You say “cheesy” like that’s a BAD thing.

Never heard of this product, but I do know that some alcohol products are not flamable but could, probably, under the right circumstances, power an engine. Probably not very efficiently, but I imagine it possible.

Yer pal,

Can something be inert and biodegradable?

“The world ends when I die. And as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the universe might as well call it a day too.” – Matt Groening

And it’s a dessert topping…

No, it’s a floor wax…

New SpareTank is a dessert topping and a floor wax!

And if you order now, we’ll throw in, absolutely free, this 20-function kitchen/bathroom/car appliance…

I’m with Satan on this one. I could see various alchohols being rated as “combustible” rather than “flammable.” After all, you don’t see Agro-Americans self-immolating just because they have a bottle of Jack behind the bench seat of the F-150 in August.

Long ago, I did a physics exercise that I remember showed that an eighty-six proof scotch could in theory power an automobile, but it could produce less than half of the BTUs as an equivalent amount of gasoline. So an ethyl alchohol solution might be benign enough to put in the trunk, but good enough to limp to the gas station. Keep in mind that a whole bunch of “gas treatments” are little more than a few ounces of ethyl, so this isn’t anything too new.

I’ve always heard that alcohol could power an engine, but would leave a nasty residue that would render the engine unuseable, much like sugar in the tank. Or maybe I’m getting the two mixed up.

“There are many sweeping generalizations that are always true” -Space Ghost

One thing you should know:there is no such thing as “gasoline residue”. Gasoline itself is volatile.

RoboDude said:
there is no such thing as “gasoline residue”.
_____________________________________________I am betting that he meant to say residual, not residue.
In any case, I see ads occasionally for a can of stuff you can supposedly carry safely in your trunk and use if you run out of gas. I saw a blurb on it in Popular Science a long time ago, and I think it was basically a kerosene. It will detonate in an engine when mixed with air and compressed, but is much less volatile than gasoline.

You can read more about it at theSpare Tank web site

The site claims that it’s a non-flammable liquid. “If you pour it over a match, the match will go out!”

They also say that Spare Tank is lead free and has an octane rating of 90. Spare Tank can only be used if the engine is warm or already started. If the engine is cold, the addition of Spare Tank will push the remaining gasoline left in the fuel system to the engine, which should be sufficient to start the car, which can then run on Spare Tank.

I didn’t see any description of what Spare Tank is made of.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.
Henri B. Stendhal

NFPA’s definitions:

Flamable Liquid: Flash point less than 100 degrees Farenheit
Combustible Liquid: Flash point higher than 100 degrees Farenhieht.

DOT’s definitions: same as NFPA, except they don’t have to call alchohol a flamable liquid (even though it is). The alchohol industries (drinking type, that is) lobbied for exemption from placarding laws when the placarding system was started. Maybe its based off of ethyl alchohol and is exempt from being called a flamable liquid. I don’t see how you could put a combustible liquid into a cold engine and expect it to start, its not throwing off enough vapor to ignite. But then again, I’m not a mechanic.


I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine - Kurt Vonnegut


You are probably thinking of methanol. It doesn’t leave a residue, but does react badly with alloys commonly used in engines (racers I know using methanol carry a separate tank of ethanol to run the engine on and flush everything out before shutting down).

Now that I think about it, I’ll bet that’s what this stuff is. I doubt it would be possible to run a production engine on ethanol w/o drastically altering the fuel/air ratio, but methanol might work (if there was enough gas left in the tank to mix it with and if the motor was already warmed up). I would expect NO power and about 1/3-1/2 normal gas milage.

You know, you can put a match out in a bucket of gasoline if you have good ventilation. I’ve demonstrated this in the past, when I was young, stupid, and drunk to friends who were stupider and drunker.