July 17, 2014 at 1:00 am

Soup it up

Gas substitute is like spare tire for your tank

Magic Tank is nonflammable fuel that can power a range of vehicles for 10-20 miles. (Larry Edsall / Special to The Detroit News)

Even the chief executive of Magic Tank admits it’s perplexing that his company produces and sells an item it hopes customers never need.

But Steve Bistritzky says that Magic Tank can provide excellent insurance for the stranded motorist.

That’s because Magic Tank produces and sells, its sale brochure says, a “safe, nonvolatile, nonflammable emergency gasoline substitute” you can store in your vehicle to use should you — or someone you come across — become stranded because of an empty tank.

“It has the same properties as gasoline,” reads the Magic Tank brochure, “but unlike gasoline, it contains no volatile butanes, pentanes, hexanes or heptanes.”

In other words, it is safe to carry in your vehicle — UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service deliver it by their ground transport systems — has a shelf life of 10 years or more, and a half-gallon container likely will provide you with 10-20 miles of driving, for most people enough to reach the next gas station.

It also can be used in ATVs or motorcycles, vehicles that often venture far from pavement and fuel stations. Bistritzky says it can be used in boats, snowmobiles, lawnmowers and in generators people use to power their homes when storms take down the electric lines.

Magic Tank Emergency Fuel is produced in Akron, Ohio, and distributed from a warehouse in Pennsylvania (Bistritzky said a Canadian distribution center is in the works). Magic Tank’s product is made from gasoline, but with additional refining to remove the highly flammable components. It is rated at 91 octane, about the same as premium unleaded gasoline.

The emergency fuel was developed in the late 1990s by a veteran of the oil industry. An initial attempt to take the product to market ended up in litigation over patents. The team won those cases — Magic Tank is protected by five worldwide patents — but by the time the legal cases were finished, the inventor and investors were aging or no longer involved, Bistritzky explained.

Another effort was made to go to market, but without enough marketing experience to be successful. That’s when Bistritzky became involved; he’s based in New York and has marketing experience, especially with chain stores.

He met with the patent holder and team, won exclusive rights to marketing and distribution, and launched Magic Tank late last year.

“It’s work to get into the chains, but a lot of people are buying on our website,” he said, adding that people often call to share their stories about how Magic Tank got them back on the road quickly and safely.

A half-gallon container of Magic Tank is $19.95 through the website, or $39 for a twin pack. Bistritzky said many people opt for the twin-pack because they want the 20-40 miles of range it provides.

Bistritzky said he soon will offer quart container for people with motorcycles and ATVs, then will add 1- and 2 1/2-gallon containers, the latter aimed at boaters.

The website also shows video reports by television stations that have tried Magic Tank.

While Magic Tank works, because it lacks the most flammable components of gasoline, it works best when used in an engine that has just run dry and is still warm.

For information, visit the www.mymagictank.com website.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.