How to Make Diesel RC Fuel

Most remote control (RC) aeroplane engines are "glow plug" designs. They require an electrically-heated igniter to get started and then rely on a catalytic reaction between the platinum coil in the glow plug and the methanol in glow plug fuel for combustion. Some RC enthusiasts fly traditional diesel engines instead. Diesels rely entirely on compression heat to burn the fuel, thus eliminating the need for glow plugs and an electrical power source to get started. Diesel engines provide greater torque to rotate large props; they are also noticeably quieter than glow engines and do not require mufflers. Though pre-mixed diesel RC fuel is available through retail outlets, many modelers still prefer to mix their own.

Acquire the three basic ingredients of RC diesel fuel: kerosene (British recipes call it paraffin,) castor oil and ether. Kerosene is readily available in paint stores, refined castor oil is a common supplement to two-cycle motorcycle fuel, and ether is an ingredient in off-the-shelf automobile starting sprays (cans of the fluid for farm equipment may be preferable over sprays.) An optional secondary ingredient is an ignition booster for easier starting: Cetane automotive gas treatment is the most common choice in North America, available at automotive stores.

Mix the ingredients in the correct proportions in the plastic mixing bottle. One basic formula calls for the three main components in equal parts, followed by a 4% squirt of ignition booster, if desired. A higher-performance mixture includes 35% kerosene, 25% castor oil, 40% ether and 4% cetane ignition booster.

Pour the fuel into metal cans with metal caps and rubber seals.


Keep away from open flame. Always mix outdoors for proper ventilation. Store in metal containers only.

Things You'll Need

  • Quart-size or smaller plastic bottle
  • K1 kerosene
  • Refined castor oil
  • Automotive starting fluid
  • Cetane automotive fuel booster (optional)
  • Quart-size metal can with metal cap
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About the Author

Gus Stephens has written about aviation, automotive and home technology for 15 years. His articles have appeared in major print outlets such as "Popular Mechanics" and "Invention & Technology." Along the way, Gus earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications. If it flies, drives or just sits on your desk and blinks, he's probably fixed it.