Charcoal Lighter Fluid as Engine Fuel in a Gas Engine

   12.10.20

Charcoal Lighter Fluid as Engine Fuel in a Gas Engine

(Image: Screenshot from charcoal lighter fluid as engine fuel video)

So you’re stuck someplace without gasoline, maybe because your spare gas can sprung a leak. But you happen to have some charcoal lighter fluid. Will your engine run on it?

That’s what our ol’ buddy at Project Farm finds out in this video, in which he puts charcoal lighter fluid to the test in several different gasoline engines, including a lawnmower, a go-cart, an engine with a see-through cylinder head, a small rotary engine, and a fuel-injected generator.

In case you didn’t know, charcoal starter, a.k.a. charcoal lighter fluid, is essentially mineral spirits… which is pretty much paint thinner. At least, every jug I have ever bought has been mineral spirits; I hear sometimes it is alcohol-based.

The answer to “Will charcoal lighter fluid run a gas engine?” is “Yes.” This is not surprising to me, because when gasoline was scarce my grandfather used to run his old car on mineral spirits after getting it started using a bit of gasoline. This allowed him to get around so he could make a living building houses when gasoline was rationed during World War 2.

Back to the video, we find out that every engine he tested would run on charcoal lighter fluid, and some of them ran pretty well, but prolonged running on this fuel is probably not a good idea due to increased pinging as well as considerable carbon buildup inside the engine (and naturally on the spark plug).

As always, please enjoy the video and stay safe out there.

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