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Ethanol info you NEED to know...

     E-10 gasoline is here. The gasoline you pump at the gas station is 10% Ethanol and 90% gasoline.  This fuel blend will burn through your automobile AND your small engine, but Ethanol's inherent properties make it a killer for your small engine or outdoor power equipment.
    The fuel pump at your local gas station has a sticker that says "10% Ethanol by volume." This may be the case, but the amount of Ethanol added to the gasoline delivered to your favorite gas station here in Texas is unregulated.  There is no governing of the amount of Ethanol added to your fuel by the State of Texas, and as a result, you may get a much higher content of Ethanol in your fuel and this can have negative effects of a catastrophic nature on your small engine.  It causes engines to run leaner and therefore hotter, and this can shorten the life of your engine, or end it immediately.
 Hygroscopy is the ability of a substance to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment.
Ethanol is hygroscopic.  Your gasoiline is 10% ethanol by volume, so when it is exposed to atmosphere, it draws the humidity from the air into the gasoline and binds it to the ethanol on the molecular level.
Phase Separation--as it applies to gasoline, phase separation occurs when the water content(ethanol plus water from the surrounding environment{atmosphere/humidity}) in your gasoline becomes more dense than the gasoline that it is bound up with on the molecular level. The ethanol/water mix becomes so much heavier than the gasoline that it is blended into that it drops out of the fuel and puddles in the bottom of your fuel tank. 
Temperature has an effect on this process as well, and depending on your ambient temperature, and the range in which your temperature fluctuates(hi-low), the speed of this process may expedite, or retard.  There is also a figure of "X" number of teaspoons of water separation per gallon at this temperature or that, but I'm not educated enough on the details of that to try mentioning it here.
The water that puddles in the bottom of your fuel tank inevitably ends up in your carburetor.  This causes carburetor damage first of all, but in many two stroke engines, the engine can run long enough to get SOME fuel and SOME water into the engine.  This first of all causes a lean, or hot run, and second the engine does not get enough of the 2 stroke premix lubrication needed to keep from doing engine damage.  A no or low oil mix engine siezure is a common reality if this is the case with phase separated fuel. 
For grins, you can take a cup full of fuel and put it in a glass container.  Make note of its color and clarity, then walk away and come back to it in half an hour.  You'll see it begin to change in clarity if not color as well.  Take a look at it every half hour after that, and you'll continue to see changes in color and clarity until your fuel is finally back to it original color and clarity, but you'll find that there is bound water and ethanol puddled in the bottom of the container.
ITS YOUR FUEL!--this is what more customers than not hear from us when they arrive to pick up their outdoor power equipment, the fuel here in Texas has super short shelf life--30 days!  Its junk already when it comes out of the pump, so we recommend that consumers use the fuel they've pumped within 30 days, and properly dispose of the rest if they can't.  We see more stale/old fuel than we do phase separated, but we do see it.  We can't say for sure that the ethanol being blended into the gasoline is causing this short life span on the fuel, but we do know its not helping.