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A Boat's Biggest Concern - Water In Fuel

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

Boat engines aren’t designed to handle large volumes of water despite all the time they spend out in the marine environment.  Boaters that use fuel blends containing ethanol face serious problems because of the fuel’s affinity for attracting water.  And forget about storing that fuel.

Romantic young couple spending time together and relaxing on yachtSo, what types of problems can be caused by water in fuel? 

Clogged carburetors and fuel plugs, algae and bacteria in the fuel tank, corrosion…the list goes on.  Water in fuel is a huge concern, but there are some simple ways to skirt the problem.

Use A Water-Removing Additive

Water and fuel don't mix together; they separate. Water falls to the bottom of the tank, while the fuel stays on top of the tank. Using an additive can remove the water from the tank, ensuring that the fuel mixture remains pure.

Trying Use Pure Gas If You Can Find

Finding pure gas, or ethanol free gas, is getting more difficult, as many gas stations now blend their fuel mixtures with ethanol, but is the simplest way to prevent these problems.

Empty The Fuel Tank Every 3 Weeks

When you have no other options beyond using ethanol gas, your best bet may be to make sure that you empty and refill the gas tank at least every three weeks.

Remember, boats are primarily used in the hot, humid summer months; the times when moisture has a tendency to form in the tank. Turning over the fuel on a routine basis can mitigate this problem. 

You may want to check out these other posts on boating:

Products for Boats and Marine

Photo Credit : Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


This post was published on May 16, 2016 and was updated on April 15, 2021.

Topics: Ethanol, Boats and Marine