Mailbag: At the gas pump – ethanol

by | Sep 30, 2013

Every day, we receive emails through our website from people who have questions related to agriculture or services provided by our department. Answering emails is part of our efforts to provide the best customer service to North Carolina residents. The following question was answered by Stephen Benjamin, director of the Standards Division.

The Standards Division is responsible for enforcing the North Carolina Weights and Measures Act, the Gasoline and Oil Inspection Law and the LP-Gas Inspection Law. You can submit your own question about agriculture or NCDA&CS services at this link:


Recently a gas station in Thomasville, NC changed their gasoline mixture at their Premium pumps. They switched the 93 Octane pumps over to Non-Ethanol 93 Octane gas.

Non-Ethanol gas (E-0) is popular with many people. People buy it for recreational engines; boats, jet skis and snowmobiles, and also people with older carburetor engines. So, lots of folks are willing to pay more for E-0 gas when it is available for sale.

How do we know if the gas being sold as E-0 gas really isn’t just regular E-10 and is falsely labeled? Does your agency check for this?

I have no reason to accuse the station and I am not making any accusations; I’d just like to know if I’m getting what I pay for.


We test fuel quality throughout the state, which includes standards specifications on the type of fuel as well as advertised claims, such as “ethanol-free.” We do not test the performance of the fuel, such as the various additives to keep your engine clean.

Any test method has tolerances and the test for determining the amount of ethanol in a fuel has a tolerance of 0.8%. So it is possible that a fuel could have up to 0.8% ethanol in it and still be considered “ethanol-free.” As this fuel and gasoline with ethanol are hauled on the same trucks and use the same delivery hoses, this would be an incidental amount of ethanol present due to handling the fuel. This is not an amount someone would select to blend and have delivered.