Can Acetone Dramatically Increase Your Gas Mileage?

By Will Chen on 16 April 2007 305 comments

Can acetone dramatically increase your gas mileage? Wise Bread reader Kip Kay told us that by adding pure acetone into his gas tank, his car now gets 10 extra miles per gallon.

Take a look at Kip's proof for yourself (jump to 1:07):

Acetone is the active ingredient in nail polish remover. It is relatively cheap and therefore the idea that it can dramatically increase gas efficiency is very appealing. (See also: How to Cut Car Ownership Costs)

However, Tom and Ray of NPR's Car Talk say that claims of acetone increasing gas mileage is completely bogus:

It's worse than useless — it's also harmful. Acetone is the primary ingredient in nail-polish remover. And while it will burn and is a high-octane material, it's also a very powerful solvent. So while it's in your fuel system, it'll be eagerly dissolving all of your rubber gaskets and O-rings.

I generally trust Tom and Ray, but as someone pointed out on the Snopes forum, Tom and Ray were following the advice of an oil industry expert, who could hardly be considered an objective source of information.

Acetone as a Fuel Additive

Acetone has also been repackaged as a fuel additive by various inventors. Do a simple Google Patent search for "acetone fuel efficiency" and see the results for yourself. Here's one example:

Roger Crawford, a businessman and independent researcher in Midland, Tex., takes a different approach to fuel economy. He has just begun marketing a gas additive he calls "XtraMPG." He says it boosts octane, burns cleaner and enables motorists to get better fuel economy and buy less expensive grades of gas — saving 10 to 15 percent overall on gas.

What's in XtraMPG? "Most of us know it as nail polish remover," Crawford says. "It is simple acetone, a nonhazardous organic chemical...rated at 150 octane."

Crawford says he'd be happy if everyone bought acetone and added it to their gas tanks. But since people seem reluctant, he's packaging it as XtraMPG.

The EPA hasn't tested XtraMPG. But the EPA's Chandler warns that consumers need to beware what gadgets and fuel additives they add to their cars — especially with today's computer-controlled fuel-injection systems. "There are other, more practical ways to save fuel," he says.

Source: Washington Post

While I found no conclusive proof that acetone can safely boost your gas mileage, there is abundant evidence that acetone is an active ingredient in many "engine cleaners" and "fuel boosters." If you are the adventurous type you might consider doing further research and try formulating your own acetone-based fuel booster — which is probably smarter than handing your money to people like Roger Crawford.

Kip's video also mentions many other wonderful gas-saving tips besides acetone. Make sure you watch the whole video and also check out our articles on gas efficient driving and other gas saving ideas.

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Guest's picture

Shane, You're a complete idiot! "For vehicles 1996 and newer the computer won't let the car get above a certain gas mileage." Where did you get this information from? Oh, you made it up, that explains it!

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...acetone is a major component in most injector/fuel system cleaners... if you add acetone every time you fill up, all you are doing is keeping the fuel system sparkling clean. Not a bad idea really... so if you start with an engine that had a lot of varnish and fuel system deposits accumulated over the years... you might see quite a difference in your fuel economy as the fuel system cleans.... that's why vehicles with a carb often see the greatest difference... this isn't rocket science. Raising the octane a point or two doesn't hurt either.... all acetone is, is an inexpensive fuel system cleaner. Pure acetone does not hurt a vehicle...but don't spill any on the paint.. use a funnel.

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Take a look at what's in Berrymans B12 cleaner. Acetone.

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I've read enough so far.

Acetone can increase MPG.KPL but that is entirely dependent upon many factors.

1) Engine condition/vehicle condition.

If you have a check engine light on NOTHING will increase your economy. NOTHING. Your car is in limp mode.

If you have dragging brakes, need front end alignment, or some other physical issues with your vehicle, nothing will increase economy.

Even a weak/old/bad battery can drag down economy.

2) Most fuels are low tier fuels. They usually contain too much ETOH.

Even top tier fuels can have too much ETOH.

The mixing of ETOH to gasoline is usually done by the tanker driver (but not always).

If they are told "we have too much ETOH.....". Guess what they do?

3) Acetone - it acts like a cleaner first, then an economy booster.

Best is to thoroughly have your vehicle checked - tire condition, brakes, emissions, electrical, etc. Then do 3-5 tanks of untreated fuel to obtain a baseline. Next, begin introducing acetone at a rate of 1 ounce / 10 gallons for the next 4-5 fillups.

You MUST skip one treated fillup after that. This is because you already have some treated fuel in the tank and adding more changes the mix rate.

The next 4-5 tanks use 2 ounces / fill up.

Skip a treatment.

Repeat for the next 4-5 tanks.

rinse repeat as they say.

Whichever gives the best economy use that rate.

For best results, get gas at the same fuel station, same pump, same time of say.

If acetone does not increase your economy, then go back to the 1 ounce/10 gal mix and add 1 ounce / 10 gal xylene.

Do not exceed 2 ounces of xylene at any time as the stuff really WILL dissolve things. But at that amount you shouldn't have any problems.

Toluene is nothing more than gasoline without any additives.

B12 chemtool is mostly acetone. So are many others.

Some additives have acetone and others like lucas are nothing more than oil and detergent.

It took a long time to gunk up your engine. It will take a long time to degunk it.

Carbon is very very hard to remove. Takes a lot of time.

About obtaining acetone - Sally's beauty Salon for example used to sell pure acetone. Many hardware stores sell it too (KleanStrip is one manufacturer).
But you usually have to buy it by the gallon for about $20.

The container/funnel you use to administer the acetone can dissolve easily.
Marvel Mystery Oil bottles dissolve if you re-use those and put acetone in them.

Other considerations - Naphthalene mothballs. During WWII when the allies bombed the daylghts out of the German refinery's and suck, the Germans were desperate for fuel and had to stretch their supplies. They began using mothballs in their fuel. Worked great too as long as they didn't use too many.
The rate is about 1-3 mothballs per 5 gal of gasoline. 6 per gallon of diesel.

Initially they cleaned carbon off valves and such and economy went down. But once cleaned, the economy went up just like acetone can do.

Hydrogen - Look up Brown's gas, HHO, Hydrogen on demand, similar.

Hydrogen LOVES carbon. It can decarbonize an engine easily depending on how much you use and how long you use it for and the conditions.

Disclaimer - using too much on modern engines can result in problems.
The ignition timing of newer vehicles is too far advanced to run enough HHO/Brown's Gas, Hydroxy to be of significant advantage.

That gas burns at a rate of 8000 feet per second. You can jog faster than gasoline burns.

To use that on cars you have to do some trickery and maybe some reprogramming of your vehicle computer.

Very hard to do now-a-days.

Ford/Mazda is very difficult to trick as they use frequency based controls. GM and the like use voltage based controls and is *MUCH* easier to work with.

Look up Hypermiling if you are reluctant to use new ideas.

Note: ETOH does not usually interfere with Acetone specifically. Since Acetone is an aromatic hydrocarbon, it can separate like oil and water when mixed with gas.
Most likely you will need additional Acetone to help counteract ETOH's negative effects on economy.

Remember, Xylene is a long chain hydrocarbon. It is absorbed through your skin, bad to breathe, eats paint off things, etc.
Be very very careful when using Xylene.

With Acetone you can wash your hands in it. But acetone can dry our skin.

About your car - thinner oil gives better economy (lower viscosity and lower drag between parts) but you risk damage if you use too thin of an oil.

Personally I use 10w30 in the summer and 5w30 in the winter on older cars nitrogen inflation, regular maintenance, hypermiling as a habit to help get even more mileage.

About government and big oil.
Big oil would loose huge sums of money if everyone's economy went up even 5%. And governments would too (less fuel means less taxes charges on each gallon). Neither have any vested interest in saving us money. When they set C.A.F.E. standards it is for political reasons, nothing more.

If you feel froggy, look up GEET....

Good luck!