Reviving Fuel Filter Beads – Again and Again

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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.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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