how to store gasoline
Safely store gasoline at your home
How To Store Gasoline – published on February 7, 2022
The easy way to store gasoline
The most convenient place to store gasoline is in your vehicle’s gas tank. All you have to do is keep your tank topped off. If you use your vehicle regularly, it won’t go bad. But we also need to have a ready supply at home in case of natural disasters, power outages, and shortages due to panic buying. All of these things can cascade and happen at the same time.
Most gasoline sold in the United States has up to 10 percent ethanol (alcohol), but non-ethanol gasoline is usually available at a higher price. The octane rating for regular is 87, mid-grade is 89 to 90 and super (AKA “premium”) is 91 to 94. The manufacturers of the vehicles and equipment you will use the fuel in have recommendations for the ethanol content and octane rating. The best gasoline for storage is non-ethanol premium, but you should store what you use and use what you store.
Like everything else, gasoline has a shelf life. There are many variables that determine when it is no longer usable, but the consensus (with a safety factor) seems to be three months with no fuel stabilizer added and up to a year with a fuel stabilizer. These numbers are contingent on the storage conditions. It needs to be stored in sealed fuel containers with a small amount of airspace and kept out of the summer sun. To allow a margin of safety, plan on no longer than six months, with stabilizer added. Each container should be labeled with the date, the grade (regular, mid, or super), and what stabilizer was used. We use a permanent ink pen in this format directly on the cans: “2-14-2022, REG, 4SB.” This can was filled on Valentine’s Day in 2022 with regular unleaded and it had four ounces of Sta-Bil added.
Fuel stabilizers extend the shelf life of gasoline significantly by breaking down the water molecules that clog carburetor jets and fuel injector nozzles. The old standby is Sta-Bil. It has been manufactured for fifty years and has been updated to handle modern fuel blends. It is relatively inexpensive, but the minimum mix ratio of one ounce for every two and half gallons should be doubled for best results. For a five gallon can, that is four liquid ounces. Another brand of fuel stabilizer to consider is PRI-G. It is more expensive, but has a significant market share in the trucking and marine industries. Fleet operators of boats and trucks trust it. Full disclosure: as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The convenient links below will take you directly to the items on Amazon and help support this website. Thank you very much!
Filling a gas container
Always empty the gas containers completely and add the stabilizer before you fill them so the additive is mixed with the fuel as the container is filled. You will want the cans topped off to minimize condensation, but not completely full so there is expansion room if the fuel is left in a warm location. Allow for a 5% expansion rate. When you are at the gas station, set the cans on the ground before filling. Steel fuel containers can cause a spark when the nozzle from the pump is inserted into it unless you have grounded the can by setting it on the concrete.
Where to store gasoline
The ideal place to store gasoline is away from your home in a location that will give you access from your driveway or somewhere you can drive a vehicle. This will allow you to bring in fresh gasoline as you rotate the stock through your vehicles. Things to consider when selecting a location for your home fuel depot are structural fires, wildfires, earthquakes, theft, and heat from the sun. Lesser known ignition sources are pilot lights in gas appliances, sparks from vehicles and power equipment, We keep gasoline in five gallon cans in a wooden shed next to the driveway about 20 yards from the house. A pallet keeps them from direct contact with the concrete pad. The shed has large vents so air can circulate to keep the cans cool and relieve condensation. A hand truck is used to move them to the generator station.
Storage container options
Gasoline vapors are combustible. A spark in the vicinity of gas being transferred will ignite the vapors in the area around the gas. Keep it tightly sealed in approved cans or tanks and only transfer fuel outdoors away from ignition sources like engines, electrical switches and motors. Even brand new five gallon buckets with properly fitting lids are not acceptable for gasoline storage. When the lid is off, the instant it tips over, you have a huge surface area that is off gassing combustible vapors. Not flammable, but combustible. If you escape with no eyebrows, you would be fortunate. The less fortunate are engulfed in a fireball. Do not do this:
Plastic fuel cans
The least expensive legal option is plastic fuel cans. The high density polyethylene is effective at containing fuel, but they have become tedious to use. Some would say impossible is a better description. The government mandated that the vent must be eliminated and an anti-spill valve must be incorporated into the spout. This valve must be held in the open position against spring pressure the entire time that gas is being poured. The reasoning was that less fuel would be spilled and less fuel vapors would escape. The result was a failure to contain the fuel or the vapors when the can was being used to pour the gas. You can learn more about it here: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Gas Cans. Usability was severely impacted so the market has responded with replacement spouts and vents. Without them, you need three hands to pour gas. Here is an inexpensive plastic gas can and a set of replacement “water jug spouts and vents” that make new plastic cans usable:
NATO approved fuel cans
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also has specifications for gas cans. Fuel cans built to their specifications are a major step up from plastic fuel cans. Manufactured from welded steel with an anti-corrosive coating inside and out, they have a vent built into the spout and it only takes two hands to pour fuel. Here are a 20 litre (5.3 gallons) and a 10 litre (2.6 gallons) NATO approved fuel can that are made in the USA:
Beyond five gallons
There are other options that hold more than 5 gallons, but they all have the constraint of how you unload them from a vehicle when they are full. Gasoline is 8 pounds per gallon (3.6 kilos). 10 gallons is 80 pounds. Even the options that have wheels require unloading. Here is a 14 gallon gas tank on wheels that will weigh about 125 pounds when full:
To use your stored gas, you will have to transfer it to a fuel tank in your car, generator, or power equipment. One way of bypassing the frustrations of CARB compliant gas cans is to use a siphon hose or a pump.
Fuel siphoning hoses have come a long way since you got a mouthful of gasoline from sucking on a piece of garden hose. Now they are clear so you can see the fuel transfer and they virtually prime themselves. A glass ball in a copper fitting on one end is inserted into the fuel. Then you shake it up and down which makes the ball act like a one way check valve that loads up the hose with fuel. After a few shakes, a siphon is formed and fuel starts to transfer. The best part is you can watch the fuel transfer. Here is an example of one:
Electric transfer pumps are another option. Unlike diesel or kerosene, gasoline has vapors that combust so you need a pump that is rate for “gasoline” and not just “fuel.” Do not ever use any pump that is not made to transfer gasoline. This one is:
Using your stored gasoline
For proper stock rotation, use the oldest gasoline first. If you have stored gasoline that goes beyond a year, try to use it in vehicles or equipment with larger tanks so it is diluted into a tank of fresh gasoline. Five gallons of year-old gasoline poured into a 20 gallon pickup tank that is half full will function better than a full tank of year-old gas in a chainsaw. Really old gasoline will have a darker color and smell differently as shown in this short video:
Other fluids to store
Equipment needs more than gasoline to operate. Don’t forget the anti-freeze, motor oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.
Five things to remember when you store gasoline
- Use only approved containers
- Add stabilizer before filling
- Date the containers
- Store all fuel in a cool place away from your home and any ignition sources
- Rotate your stock
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