Need a little container for draining a Racor? Red Solo Cups and diesel fuel do not mix well.

Red Solo Cups and Diesel

File this one under OOPS. Yesterday Dave went to drain the Racor filter and grabbed a red Solo cup to do so.

Great; it was the perfect size to fit the space in the engine compartment. He even made a comment about how much easier it was than the bottle he’d used the previous time.

After draining the Racor (mostly diesel fuel), Dave set the cup down in a drink holder while he put things back together in the engine compartment.

Five minutes later he spotted diesel fuel on the cockpit floor. Tracing it back, he found that the diesel had eaten holes in the bottom of the cup.

Red Solo Cups and Diesel Fuel Don't Play Nice Together: Need a little container for draining a Racor fuel filter? Don't use a red Solo cup!

We won’t make that mistake again.

The Solo cups have a recycling number 6 stamped in the bottom, I assume that any cups with a number six would be a problem. In a quick Google search, it turns out that #6 plastics are styrofoam and its relatives (polystyrene).

Hmm, I knew that styrofoam melted easily with many chemicals, I just didn’t realize that red Solo cups were made from “styrofoam.”

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35 Comments
  • Scott Lee
    Posted at 27 March 2015 Reply

    I once put the fluid from our compass into a water bottle for temporary storage. Didn’t hurt he bottle any but while it was sitting there somebody picked it up by accident and took a drink!

  • Jennifer Dormann Moore
    Posted at 27 March 2015 Reply

    We put gasoline in a solo cup once… Oops!

  • MIke O'Quin
    Posted at 27 March 2015 Reply

    Use a plastic milk jug. Made of HDPE, same stuff as the plastic car bumpers and in my case my water tank.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 27 March 2015 Reply

      Mike, no way is there room in the engine compartment under the Racor drain for a plastic milk jug. This was what he was draining the Racor into until he could transfer it into something “better” (such as a milk or water jug) to take it to the recycling center.

  • Don Koch
    Posted at 27 March 2015 Reply

    If my memory serves me well, number six is PS, or polystyrene. So called styrofoam is EPS or expanded polystyrene. Cheap but not impervious to petrochemicals and oils.

  • Joe Sprouse
    Posted at 27 March 2015 Reply

    water bottles work, mixer bottles like tonic water etc also work. We have a pocket that holds several mixer bottles of diesel for filter changes.

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 28 March 2015 Reply

    Empty quart lube oil containers…

  • Mike Boyd
    Posted at 28 March 2015 Reply

    I find that containers with recycling numbers 2, 4, and 5 work for most things. 2 and 4 are High and Low density polyethylene and 5 is polypropylene. Those “semi-disposable” food containers they make now are usually one of those and I’ve found handy to have around outside the galley.

    Be glad it was only diesel and not something like gel coat or your mess could have been much worse.

    -Mike
    ThisRatSailed

  • Gimme Shelter
    Posted at 31 March 2015 Reply

    Holy crap! Good to know.

    Incidentally, last time I was in France one of my co-workers asked me, “Do all American parties really have red cups?”

    • Claire Ford
      Posted at 31 March 2015 Reply

      Gimme Shelter, that quote had me laughing. It’s like everybody thinks we ride horses here in Texas.

  • Chuck D
    Posted at 02 April 2015 Reply

    Your timing is incredible – as always. I’m changing my fuel filters today! Thank you!

  • Red Canoe
    Posted at 28 March 2016 Reply

    one red solo cup filled with gas from a jerrycan by the bikes by the trees and carried to stoke up the wet fire resulted in a flame that went from the throw point up the arm then trailed back to the trees, jerrycans and bikes. makes me laugh now but seeing my guy at the time go up in flames well…lesson learned

  • Edward Popka
    Posted at 28 March 2016 Reply

    Need to ad rum and chug-a-lug it!

  • Colin Mombourquette
    Posted at 28 March 2016 Reply

    Made the red cup mistake when bleeding the fuel line last year – can be quite messy.

  • Marty Besant
    Posted at 06 December 2016 Reply

    Use #1 PETE or #2 HDPE. Polyethylene is what your diesel or gas can is made of. #6 PS styrene is what models are made of. That is why airplane glue makes them stick together for assembly. It dissolves and the after the solvent evaporates, it rehardens

  • Steve Klitzky
    Posted at 07 December 2016 Reply

    Once used one to clean the winch parts. Left it overnight and the plastic was melted onto the parts. ugg

  • Jim McGovern
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    DUH!!!!!

  • Brian Kepner
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    Luv that I learn stuff every day from your posts

  • Colin Mombourquette
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    Found that out the hard way

  • Alison Edmands
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    I had no idea solo cups were styrofoam either. Yet another reason to ban single use plastics. Thanks for the info!

    • Larry Blankenship
      Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

      Agree …..I need more government help in my life to help me buy “proper” cups.

    • Jim McGovern
      Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

      number six is PS, or polystyrene. So called styrofoam is EPS or expanded polystyrene hence the ‘foam’ But that doesn’t really matter, I waiting for the my betters (the Gov.) to tell me what kind of cups to buy.

    • Alison Edmands
      Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

      I was referring to more of a self imposed ban on single use plastics. Something similar to “say no to straws”…

  • Jim McGovern
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    Fuel filter change cup for doing the filter of Gas/Diesel dispensers. Cost about $15 and will last a lifetime. Soft rubber so they are easy to get into tight spots https://www.johnwkennedyco.com/index.jsp?path=product&part=65822&ds=dept&process=search&qdx=0&text=cup&title=60070-Cim-Tek

  • Doug Treff
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    Yes and in many areas #6 plastics are not accepted in recycle bins.

  • Henry Neeter
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    Nog vele jaren.

  • Ruth Seifert
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    We save empty peanut butter jars and use them. The lids will dissolve so don’t store upside down. We use large jars and the filter will fit also.

  • Steven Taylor
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    That’s why you use styrofoam! (Please don’t actually mix those two.)

  • John Alber
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    I use a West Marine 2.9 liter vacuum oil extractor, UPC 25282085088, to remove fuel from Racors and to clean the turbo mechanism and bowls. The small hose meant to fit in oil dipstick tubes slides nicely down beside the turbo and into the bowl. It acts like a little vacuum cleaner and sucks up debris. The extractor has a pour spout, making it easy to decant the fuel into an appropriate container.

  • John Alber
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    We solve the Racor problem by coming in from the top. No cup is necessary. We use a West Marine 2.9 liter vacuum oil extractor, UPC 25282085088. Drain and remove the old filter, then push the small vacuum extractor hose (the one meant to fit in dipsticks) down beside the “turbo” mechanism and vacuum out debris and fuel there. Then work the hose down to the bottom of the bowl and vacuum up fuel and sediment. After all the fuel is gone, I splash a little Sea Foam in the bowl and let it sit, then vacuum out any leftover residue.

    The vacuum extractor body has a spout, making it easy to decant fuel into an appropriate container. I never smell like fuel or have any nasty spills.

    Btw, I try to change Racors when our saddle tanks are full. When it’s time to refill the Racors, I simply open the selector valve and let gravity fill them. We also have rigged a hose from the fuel polisher pump that can provide fresh fuel for the Racors when tanks are low.

  • Abby Carter
    Posted at 02 August 2017 Reply

    Hahaha Nicholas Carter

  • Tina Gonsalves
    Posted at 02 August 2017 Reply

    Don’t think you’re smart and pour Interlux Micron CSC Antifouling Paint into one either….. that doesn’t work either.

  • Tony Castagno
    Posted at 02 August 2017 Reply

    We use the soup container from our hot and sour from the Chinese restaurant 😉

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