Reviving Fuel Filter Beads – Again and Again


A few years back, we introduced fuel tank vent filters as a simple step toward drier fuel (see Practical Sailor January 2013, EPA Mandate Sparks Fuel-vent Filter Test and PS January 2014 Diesel Tank Vent Filters). The caveat was that eventually the resin would need regeneration.

We wished they could be as maintenance free as the carbon canister on your car, but they lack the regeneration cycles programmed into your car. The makers say the silica gel resin should be replaced annually, but Practical Sailor testers have found that three years is about right for diesel and five years for E-10 gasoline.

At that point the gel turns from blue to pink as it becomes saturated with water and regeneration with heat is needed. Note that some pink in the filter is fine; it is only when it becomes nearly all pink that it is spent.

The rejuvenating process is as simple as dumping the resin in a pan and heating over a low flame while stirring periodically. To avoid overheating the resin, the flame should regulated such that the process takes about 20-30 minutes.

Although we regenerated the resin for this gasoline vent filter on grill, other testers actually used galley stoves and reported no noticeable odor in the cabin. Practical Sailor recommends the outdoor grill, just to be safe.

If your filter material is wet or contaminated with fuel, you should revise your installation, either by moving it to a higher location, or adding a cover to prevent water ingress. These beads can be rinsed, dried and reused. After heating, let cool and you are good for another three to five years.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


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