• Question: How does one boil gasoline without lighting it?

    Asked by msummers to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 22 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by jackietang.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Msummers,
      Ignition and boiling are quite different processes. Most things have a spontaneous ignition point, where they get hot enough that a mixture of vapour and air would catch fire without a spark or flame. Gasoline ignites at well over 200 degrees.

      To boil gasoline, you need to use a heat source that doesn’t involve an open flame, or the vapour might spread to the flame and ignite. Don’t use a microwave either, as sparking can be just as bad.

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Apparently you can also boil it under pressure? so someone has just told me…are you planning on boiling some in the near future?

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      You;d need to do this in an inert atmosphere with no oxygen, e.g argon or nirogen… the fact that gasoline is so volatile (evaportes easily) you’d require very little heat to ‘boil’ it.

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hey msummers and jackie!!

      Seems like most gasoline has a boiling point in the range of about 37°C – 200°C . However, we don’t normally see it boil. Its got a low vapor pressure so typically it just evaporates. However the internets tell me that if you were using a gasoline you bought during the winter it might be possible. The gasoline we buy changes by season: winter gasoline has a higher vapor pressure and contains much more light material such as butane and isobutane. I am not sure if this is entirely true, but if you were using that in warmer weather it might possibly boil, even at standard atmospheric pressure.