How to Make Your Own Glow Fuel

Written by steve sparkes
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How to Make Your Own Glow Fuel
Remote control aircraft enthusiasts sometimes make their own fuel. (remote control aeroplane image by Greg Pickens from

Some remote control vehicle enthusiasts, particularly aeroplane flyers, prefer to make their own glow fuel, especially if they enter racing competitions and want to gain an edge over competitors. Glow fuels are used in smaller engines that use glow plugs for fuel ignition, rather than the larger engines that use gasoline. There are different glow fuel formulations, Colin Usher explains on his model engineering website. He recommends trying the ingredients ratio used by some of the best commercial suppliers. He also points out that you won't necessarily save money by mixing your own fuel. Making your own glow fuel is the preserve of remote control aeroplane racers and technical aficionados who want to tweak the type and ratio of ingredients to maximise performance.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Protective goggles
  • Air respirator or breathing mask
  • Gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Methanol
  • Castor oil
  • Nitromethane
  • Liquid measuring cups
  • Plastic container for mixing
  • Plastic spoon
  • Plastic liquid storage container
  • Adhesive label
  • Permanent marker

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  1. 1

    Mix a fairly basic fuel before moving on to more elaborate recipes. You can just mix 80 per cent methanol with 20 per cent castor, or synthetic, oil. For a little more pep, try 75 per cent methanol with 20 per cent castor oil and 5 per cent nitromethane. Helicopters and four-stroke models tend to have a higher oil content in their fuel than other machines. Research your own model's requirements.

  2. 2

    Measure out the liquids in the appropriate ratios. Fuel is always mixed by volume, rather than by weight, as some liquids are.

  3. 3

    Add additional ingredients slowly to the methanol, which is the base substance, in a solid plastic container. Stir the mixture continually with a plastic spoon.

  4. 4

    Pour the fuel carefully into a suitable storage container and stir for another 15 minutes.

  5. 5

    Label the container with the function of the fuel, the date it was made and the ingredients and ratio used.

Tips and warnings

  • As the Aircraft Proving Grounds website cautions, the main glow fuel ingredient, methanol, is hygroscopic--very soluble in water. As such, it absorbs water as such a rate that the fuel will spoil if stored for long. The website recommends buying and/or making fuel in amounts that you'ill use quickly and to store fuel for short periods only (one month maximum) in solid airtight containers.
  • You're making a highly inflammable fuel and should treat the ingredients and finished fuel product accordingly. Store materials in a dry, cool place, well away from residential buildings, children and pets. Mix fuel outside for best ventilation and wear protective goggles, mask, gloves and clothing. Clean all containers well before and after use and keep materials and fuel away from all potential sources of ignition, including metal tools and containers--use plastic substitutes instead. Avoid inhalation and ingestion of fuel or ingredients.

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