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Understanding and Mixing Two-Cycle Fuel

Outdoor power equipment can make much lighter work of lawn and garden maintenance. But unlike modern on-road vehicles, many outdoor power equipment tools have a two-cycle engine that requires a blended fuel that is part oil and part gasoline. Unlike four-cycle engines that have a closed crankcase and maintain a quantity of oil in their oil pans for lubrication, these lightweight engines have no oil pan, and as a result, oil must be mixed with gasoline to be distributed throughout the engine for lubrication during the actual combustion process.

Two-Cycle Fuel Ratios

Over the years, many different ratios of gasoline to oil have been used. But for most modern outdoor power equipment, the two most common ratios are 50:1 (with 2.6 oz. of two-stoke oil being added to 1 gal. of gasoline) and 32:1 (with 4 oz. of two-stroke oil being added to 1 gal. of gasoline).

To create your own oil and fuel blend for your outdoor power equipment, start by identifying what ratio of fuel to oil you'll need by checking your equipment's owner's manual. If it requires a 50:1 ratio, the easiest way to accomplish this is to purchase individually sized 2.6 oz. bottles of two-stoke oil and a 1 gal. gas can. Fill the gas can with 1 gal. of gasoline; then add one 2.6 oz. bottle of two-stoke oil to the gas can. If your equipment requires a 32:1 ratio, purchase individual 4 oz. bottles of two-stoke oil instead.

If you'll be going through a lot of fuel and oil in any one job, larger bottles of two-stroke oil are available for blending larger quantities of fuel. Just make sure that you properly measure the amount of oil that you're adding to the gasoline. But if you'll only be using a small amount at any given time, stick with blending just 1 gal. of gasoline to oil. Gasoline can go bad over time, and the last thing you want is old fuel sitting around that will make starting your outdoor power equipment difficult.

Because two-cycle engines burn oil along with the gasoline, they are a contributor to harmful emissions. In fact, the emission mandates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have eliminated two-cycle engines from a variety of markets. But when it comes to outdoor power equipment, two-cycle engines are still very common.