Article: Protecting Your Fuel and Why Time Matters


Just as we take precautions to avoid spoiled milk and stale bread, similar care should apply when choosing what we do with our fuel. Even the best fuel will degrade over time, becoming increasingly ineffective and potentially harmful to engine function. This article is intended to provide a basic outline for anyone interested in protecting engine equipment from common fuel system problems caused by unprotected fuel.


Start Fresh

Protecting your engine equipment starts with protecting your gasoline, gasoline-ethanol blends, diesel or biodiesel blends.  Regardless of fuel type, replenishing your engine’s fuel system frequently with the newest and freshest fuel is the best prevention against problems. By allowing unprotected fuel to age in our tanks and fuel systems, we increase the vulnerabilities to Oxidation, Evaporation, Corrosion, and Water Contamination.


The following provides a simple overview of all four concerns:


#1 Fuel Oxidation – Gum and Varnish

Diesel and gasoline fuels are derived from petroleum crude oil. Crude oil is composed of organic hydrocarbons. Oxidation occurs as liquid petroleum hydrocarbons react to oxygen molecules from the surrounding air, progressively forming gum and varnish in fuel systems. Varnish and gum will clog fuel lines, form sticky deposits in carburetors, carburetor jets and fuel injectors.  Unresolved, gum and varnish formation will contribute to long-term poor engine performance or failure.


#2 Fuel Evaporation – Light Ends and Volatility

As time allows for more varnish and gum to form, evaporation is gradually removing the fuel in order of lightest material first.  For gasoline engines in particular, the most volatile fuel ends (“light ends”) are necessary for vapor formation during ignition.  As light ends evaporate, the less ability the gasoline will have to form vapors and function properly, especially at colder temperatures. Ignition cannot occur without enough flammable vapors to ignite.


#3 Corrosion – Metals, Alloys, Rubber and Plastics

Engine fuel systems are made up of metals, alloys, rubbers, and plastics that are susceptible to various forms of corrosion caused by unprotected fuel, ethanol blends in particular.  When allowed enough time and exposure, corrosion will manifest as rust, salt deposits, acid pitting, dissolved resins, dry-rotted hoses, cracked fuel lines and decayed seal components. Though certain fuel ingredients can be mildly corrosive, some will become increasingly acidic or conductive when able to react with air, water, climate and other variables.

Corrosion is costly.  Not only will corrosion ruin parts, corrosion particles can pollute the entire fuel system, clogging filters and carburetors, and potentially damaging or ruining the entire engine.


#4 Water in Fuel  –  Vapor Absorption, Condensation, and Direct Contamination

Water can enter fuel by vapor absorption (drawn from air), by condensation (temperature changes), or by direct contamination (liquid water).  Depending on the amount of water and the chemistry of the fuel, water will be present as dissolved water, suspended water (emulsion), or as a separate layer from the petroleum phase.

Overwhelmingly, most occurrences of water entering fuel are by vapor absorption or condensation.  Direct water contamination that amounts to fuel phase separation or as a separate water layer are not common or treatable and require complete removal from the fuel system.  In any fuel system, water will contribute to corrosion, combustion inefficiencies, line freezing, and microbial growth.


Time Management Tips:

  • Establishing a basic understanding of how time increases the effects of fuel oxidation and evaporation will help anyone to better diagnose or prevent the most common engine problems from occurring and manifesting.
  • Whether diesel, gasoline, or blend, the fuels we use in our vehicles are never created to be utilized over a long period of time.  Most engine manufacturers agree that fuel exposed to oxygen will start to lose its freshness in less than 30 days.  Immediately treat any fuel that may not be replenished within 30 days.
  • Focus on the most common, high probability concerns.  Small, manageable amounts of water intrusion by vapor absorption and condensation are considerably more common than direct water contamination or events such as water phase separation that require immediate and complete removal from a fuel system.
  • Every day of storage adds more air temperature cycles, causing more vapor pressure exchanges in a fuel system that allow more occasions for moisture and corrosion to develop.
  • Fresh fuel replenishment, proactively treating fresh fuel for potential storage, and eliminating causes of water intrusion or corrosion will minimize or eliminate engine problems caused by degraded or contaminated fuels.



SEA FOAM MOTOR TREATMENT resists fuel evaporation and inhibits gum and varnish formation in conventional gasoline, gas-ethanol blends, diesel and bio-diesel fuel blends.

SEA FOAM MOTOR TREATMENT helps restore lost engine power by dissolving old gum and varnish already formed in fuel systems.

SEA FOAM MOTOR TREATMENT will hold a fuel’s flashpoint constant over a long period of time, preserving a fuel’s ability to perform as originally intended.

SEA FOAM MOTOR TREATMENT controls small amounts of moisture caused by condensation or vapor absorption.

SEA FOAM MOTOR TREATMENT adds lubricity to fuel and fuel system components.

SEA FOAM MOTOR TREATMENT is derived from petroleum-based ingredients and contains no harsh detergents, abrasives, or anti-oxidants.