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HELP! Vandals Are Spraying Ethanol All Over The Neighborhood

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It's an epidemic of hygroscopic proportions

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

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Not too long ago, I was awakened by a phone call from a frantic neighbor. It seems he went outside in the early morning and found his cars soaking wet with water.

My neighbor heard that I write about automobiles and fuels and such. He wasn't quite sure what I write, but he knew it had something to do with ethanol attracting water right out of the air. He then combined this information with things he's heard about how corrosive this ethanol-tainted water can be to cars and trucks, and he just freaked out.

So I rushed over with my camera to document this event.

When I arrived at his house (a two story Spanish contemporary home, for those of you who are interested in such thing), he told me he walked up and down his street and discovered that the same thing happened with all of the other cars on the block. He was certain that some local vandals must have walked around the neighborhood rubbing ethanol (or some other alcohol) on everyone's cars hoping to deluge them with water to rust them all out.

I asked how he knew that the substance on the cars was water. He said he ran his finger along the hood of his car and then sniffed his finger. He said he didn't smell anything bad, so he carefully tasted the liquid and he thought it tasted exactly like water.

I took pictures, which are posted alongside the text in this story. The vehicles are definitely covered in liquid, as you can see. Being the bold, adventurous guy that I am, I also ran my finger along the car's surface and tasted the liquid.

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Now, I'm no chemist, but I was able to immediately deduce that it was indeed water. I thought about the problem for a moment and daydreamed a rather silly scenario. I imagined some guys who have an auto body repair shop running around the community in the middle of the night rubbing down vehicles with ethanol in the hope that the cars will develop rust and therefore bring them a load of new customers who needed rust remediation work done on their cars and trucks.

I chuckled.

My neighbor asked "What's so funny?"

I said, "Louie, it's condensation, it happens naturally. Condensation doesn't require there to be the presence of ethanol or any other alcohol. It simply occurs because of the change in temperatures. It can happen on the exterior of cars. It can happen in the interior of fuel tanks. It can happen on plastic, on vinyl, on glass, on tree leaves, and on blades of grass."

He replied, "You mean like dew?"

I nodded and said, "Uh, exactly like dew."

Louie: "So no vandalism?"

Me: "No."

Louie: "But what about all the stories how ethanol sucks water right out of the air?"

Me: "Those stories suck, Lou."

Louie: "Then I was a baaad boy calling you so early this morning." (he flashed an impish grin)

Me: "It's okay neighbor, this will make for a good story someday."

The photos shown above are actual, true life photographs taken by me one morning a few months ago. They do accurately show vehicles covered with water that was caused by natural condensation...the same type of condensation that has formed for millions and millions of years...certainly before the invention of the automobile, internal combustion engines, and the creation of any miracle engine fuel additives designed to protect against ethanol pulling water right out of the sky.

The narrative of me getting an early morning call from a neighbor is fake... fake, like all the claims of how ethanol causes water problems in engines and fuel systems. I chose the neighbor name Louie based on the old-time comedian Lou Costello, hence the use of Lou Costello's trademark expression "I'm a baaad boy!" And the use of the word "neighbor" is an homage to Costello's straight-man partner Bud Abbott, who used the word "neighbor" so often because he was terrible at remembering names (even names in movie scripts).

The reason I chose to write this story is because of all the idiotic claims made by people about ethanol. The claims are made by people in the oil industry, people who sell junky aftermarket products, poorly trained mechanics, and neighborhood know-it-alls. I'm hoping that this simple, slightly humorous story is an easy way to explain to people that the warnings told about ethanol are just a joke (a bad joke, but a joke nonetheless).

Ethanol does not suck water out of the air. Ethanol (and other alcohols) are used beneficially to remove water that forms in engines by natural condensation. The ethanol that is included in ethanol-gasoline fuel blends available at almost all service stations works perfectly fine and does not need the help of any bottle of mystery liquid sold by aftermarket manufacturers.

At the same exact moment that ethanol helps to remove any water that forms from condensation, ethanol performs the invaluable service of cleaning the interior of an internal combustion engine and protecting against frozen fuel lines in extremely cold conditions. You don't have to pay any extra for this service, as the same ethanol does it for free. This means that every time a person puts E10, E15, E30 or E85 into a fuel tank they are not only saving money compared to the price of gasoline without ethanol, they are saving money because they no longer have to buy any fuel additive that's designed to remove water and clean the carbon debris build-up that's caused by gasoline.

If you'd like to see Abbott & Costello in action with a great routine, watch the video below:

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Me in my corn T-shirt with my book

For a lot more information about ethanol fuel you can read my 641-page book, THE ETHANOL PAPERS. It's available to read online for free by CLICKING HERE.