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Differences Between Wet and Dry Nitrous on a Mustang

Written By: Josh Honeycutt

The two nitrous kits on the market are wet and dry kits. In the quest for power, it's important to understand the difference between both setups of this “magic juice."

American Muscle

Differences Between Wet and Dry Nitrous Kits - Ford Mustangs 

  • Wet kits mix nitrous with the fuel directly
  • Wet kits incorrectly installed can result in a nitrous backfire
  • Dry kits deliver nitrous oxide and fuel separately into your engine
  • Dry kits rely on more components to work perfectly

How Nitrous Oxide Works With Your Mustang

Nitrous oxide is a gas containing nitrogen and oxygen. When heated above 570 degrees Fahrenheit, the nitrogen and oxygen break apart, releasing more oxygen into the combustion chamber. More oxygen means more fuel can be added to the mix which of course equals more power. Nitrous also has a cooling effect on the intake charge. The cooler intake air is thus denser, so more of it can be packed into the combustion chamber also resulting in more power.

2005-2010 Mustang Intake Plenum

What Parts Are Needed For A Mustang Nitrous Setup?

In general a nitrous oxide system for a Mustang consists of a pressurized bottle of nitrous, purge system, lines to plumb the nitrous to the engine, a switch for activation, and various plumbing fittings depending on the system. Of course there are other parts depending on the exact kit and application. Consider taking a look at our other nitrous guide for more details about specific components.

With a switch located near the driver, a “shot” of nitrous is delivered to the fuel system. A shot is slang for the amount of nitrous delivered per use, usually in a predetermined horsepower rating (examples would be a 50,100 or 150 shot. Equal in number to the amount of horsepower each provides). The switch triggers a solenoid (electrically controlled valve) to open, delivering the nitrous.

Wet Injection Nitrous System for 1986-2004 V8 Mustangs
Wet Injection Nitrous System for 1986-2004 V8s

Wet Nitrous Kits For Ford Mustangs

The wet kit mixes nitrous with the fuel directly. This mixture is then sprayed into the intake tube near the throttle body. Many Mustang tuners prefer the wet kit since it's easier to deal. Afterall the computer controls the air/fuel ratio. Usually the tuner simply chooses how much timing to give the engine. Also, with a wet nitrous kit there is no need to upgrade your Mustang’s injectors. Since the nitrous is mixed directly with fuel, there is no need to upgrade the injectors as there is no need for additional fuel over what is regulated for any one given time. You also don’t run the risk of a failed sensor like the mass airflow sensor.

ZEX Remote Bottle Valve Opener Installed in a Mustang
Remote Bottle Valve Opener Installed

What Are The Drawbacks Of Installing A Wet Nitrous Kit On My Mustang?

Of course there are some drawbacks. This system, if not installed properly or if it's poorly tuned, can result in a nitrous backfire. Although very amusing to spectators, this can definitely ruin your day. Because of the nitrous in the fuel line, there is more fuel vapor lingering in the intake. If this vapor ignites, it packs some serious power. Sometimes the entire intake will detach from the car in many, many pieces. Always make sure you select a quality tune for your Mustang before installing your nitrous kit.

BAMA Mustang Tuner Loading

Bottle Pressure

Unlike the dry kit, bottle pressure with a wet nitrous kit is much more important. Oftentimes a bottle heater is preferred to keep the pressure constant and at an ideal level. In the event the bottle pressure gets low, the result will be a rich condition. This will cause a loss in horsepower when coming off idle.

Mustang Nitrous Bottle Hooked Up to a Pressure Gauge
Pressure Gauge Installed at the Bottle

Purging The Nitrous Lines

Purging is absolutely necessary. Purging involves venting nitrous into the open air, ensuring the nitrous supply lines are loaded with nitrous and devoid of air. This ensures the mixture will be correct. This is more critical with a wet kit than the dry kit. 

2010-2014 Mustang Purging Its Nitrous Lines

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Dry Nitrous System For My Mustang?

The dry kit also has its drawbacks. Most tuners are not fond of the dry kit. It requires a bit more skill than the wet kit. This system can be finicky and temperamental. Many times the injectors will need to be switched out to a high flow type. They must be in perfect working order and not driven more than 85% duty cycle. With the dry kit, you are relying on the injectors, MAF, and the computer to add the extra fuel required. If one of these electrical components fails, poof goes the engine.

Set of High Impedance Mustang Injectors from Injector Dynamics

Myths Regarding Nitrous Oxide & Use With Your Ford Mustang

Due to the improper use and misunderstanding of nitrous, there are many myths circling about it. Many of these myths are from misinformed users and give the power adder a bad reputation.

Is nitrous oxide flammable? Many think nitrous is a highly volatile flammable gas. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Nitrous is not flammable at all and used alone it will not ignite. Nitrous only provides more oxygen to be burned and a colder intake charge.

Is medical grade nitrous the same as automotive nitrous? Before you start huffing your nitrous bottle, please realize it's not the same as what the dentist gives you. It is not intended for medical use. Medical grade nitrous is the purest form of nitrous oxide. There is also no performance advantage to using medical nitrous in your Mustang.

Mustang Nitrous Bottle with a Bottle Heated
Bottle Heater Installed

Getting The Power Right - Setting Up The Flow

One of the great things about nitrous is that you can set it up to fit your driving/racing style, suited specifically to your needs. Nitrous can be setup to only go on once you are at wide-open throttle (WOT) or you could have it gradually increase throughout your RPM range with the revs. Of course, there is the classic method of having a button and hitting it exactly when you need it. There are many ways to use a nitrous system, it really comes down to what suites your needs best.

Choose The Best Kit For You & Your Mustang

As with any power adder, it's recommended the engine be designed and built to handle the power. A forged rotating assembly is highly recommended. If properly installed and used, nitrous is no more damaging than a supercharger or turbo. In fact, since nitrous is only used on demand and not constantly, many consider it to be the safest power adder for the cost.

The ease of installation also makes it very appealing. There are numerous companies that sell nitrous kits application specific to your Mustang. Whether wet or dry, choose the kit that best fits you and your Mustang. Your goals dictate which kit and components will work best for you. 

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