Don't Drink (or Eat) These….

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by Eric Peters

Recently by Eric Peters: On ‘Speeding’

When we were kids, some of us wondered what a Milk Bone dog biscuit tasted like – and a few of us (me) went ahead and tried it. Others sampled Play-Doh (so tempting) or maybe those felt-tip pens that smelled like they’d taste good.


Well, here’s some stuff you probably have in your garage that you don’t want down your gullet:


It’s tempting to use your mouth to get suction going when you’re trying to drain fuel out of one container and get it flowing into another. But what’s good for your engine is not the ticket for your insides. Gasoline will burn your esophagus, stomach and intestines – if it gets that far. Probably, you’ll involuntarily chuck it back up, burning the lining of your throat (and mouth) a second time. If enough permeates your tissues, it can cause life-threatening damage to your heart, liver and stomach. If you need to siphon fuel, get the proper tool – which isn’t your mouth. A manual siphon pump can be picked up for less than $30 at any auto parts store – much cheaper than a couple of days in ICU.

Gasoline fumes are also bad news. They can knock you out – or (much worse) explode, if there’s an ignition source in the vicinity. When raw fuel is present, make sure there is adequate ventilation – and make even surer there’s nothing around that might spark.


One can work miracles with a can of the stuff when a proper compressor and spray gun aren’t available. But just because you’re not using a compressor and a gun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing a mask to keep from inadvertently huffing the stuff. The chemicals in aerosol paint are bad news – carcinogenic and (apparently) mutagenic. That’s bad news for you – and your potential progeny. Always wear a mask when spray-bombing. And try to work in an area with decent ventilation.

Battery acid (and gas)

Battery acid is obvious; everyone knows enough to not get the stuff on exposed skin – or exposed chrome or painted surfaces, either. Most modern batteries are sealed – but that doesn’t mean they can’t leak. Battery cases can crack. If you see signs of wetness around a battery, work carefully – and wear gloves. Rubber gloves (not permeable cloth gloves) that will keep the acid from contacting your skin. If some does get on your skin, immediately wash it off thoroughly with soap and lots of water.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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