Ethanol FAQs

Can you drink it?
Not legally. Most things that are incredibly stupid to do are allowed, but drinking fuel grade ethanol is not one of them. To get your permit to make ethanol fuel you must sign a statement promising it will not be used for human consumption. That would make it a federal crime. If you must drink alcohol, it is legal and much safer to go to the liquor store.

Are ethanol and alcohol the same thing?
Yes and no. Ethanol is one type of alcohol. There are many types of alcohol. Some do, in fact, cause problems for engines. From my own experience, the thing to watch out for when converting your car to use e85 is that ethanol is a very good cleaning solution. It will dissolve whatever gunk and varnish that the gasoline has left in your gas tank and fuel system. After driving your first thousand or so miles on e85, you should change your fuel filters.

What does “proof” mean?
The word proof refers to the potency of the ethanol. It originated with the practice of mixing it with gunpowder and testing to see if it would explode. (Really!) The British came up with that to make sure the rum ration given to their sailors wasn’t watered down. Being an experimental archeologist, I had to try this. The magic number is just under 60% alcohol to 40% water.

Different countries use different methods, but in the USA this is how it is measured now.
One percent alcohol represents two proof of alcohol. Example: 100 proof is 50% alcohol and 50% water. Therefore. 160 proof is 80% alcohol and 20% water.

Is making ethanol for fuel legal?
To legally produce ethanol fuel, the only requirement is a simple permit issued by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. We provide the permit application form with every still purchase.

Is ethanol fuel environmentally friendly?
Ethanol comes from products grown on the top of the earth’s surface. It is non-polluting, emitting only CO2 which is essential to plant life, and water which are essential to most all types of life.

Can ethanol and Gasoline be mixed?
There are very few advantages to mixing ethanol and gasoline. If you plan to mix them, you will require at least 195 proof alcohol to avoid separation of the alcohol and gasoline; however, 160 to 180 proof ethanol used straight is a MUCH better fuel. We would urge you to conduct your own simple comparison. Simply place a small amount of ethanol and a small amount of gasoline into separate clean containers. Next light each afire. You will quickly notice the clean blue flame of the ethanol and the dirty yellow flame with black smoke from the gasoline. After the two fuels have burned and the flame is out, take a white cloth or tissue and wipe the containers. There will be no black residue from the alcohol.

Is ethanol fuel new?
The first automobiles were made to run on ethanol fuel, as were many tractors and industrial motors. At the time in history when gasoline became inexpensive and plentiful, ethanol became less practical. During WWII, ethanol was an important fuel on both sides.

What about tax credits?
Alcohol fuel producers may qualify for Tax Credits. If tax credits are important in your decision making process, talk to your accountant before you jump in. In theory, tax credits come right off the total of your tax liability; it’s not a deduction. You can receive up to 60 cents per gallon federal tax credit on ethanol fuel that you produce. Some states offer further tax incentives on property and income. I have not yet found the secret of getting available tax credits unless you sell the fuel. If you use the fuel yourself in a vehicle that you drive on public roads, you may have to pay a fuel tax to your state.