Storing gasoline seems to make a lot of sense. Gas prices keep rising, and if you believe we’ve hit peak oil—which we probably have—prices could go up exponentially. Conflict in the Middle East continues, and that could lead to a diminished supply of oil.
On a smaller scale, if your community experienced an emergency, delivery of gasoline would almost certainly be delayed, possibly at the time when you most wanted to get out of the area most affected by disaster. Without gas (or if gas becomes prohibitively expensive), our lifestyles will change considerably.
But, what if you could just store a bunch of gasoline, kind of like you’re storing a bunch of food? Then, in an emergency, life would be considerably easier. You could leave town if you wanted to. You could run a generator and keep power even if electricity was out in your region. Obviously, this would be advantageous—you could run your fridge, charge your phone, or keep driving when fuel prices skyrocket.
My husband and I are convinced that storing gasoline is worthwhile, and we have recently added fuel to our emergency preparations. Today I’ll give you a very basic overview of gasoline storage, and next time we’ll talk about other sorts of fuels.
First Rule – The very best thing you can do to store gasoline is to be sure that you keep your car’s fuel tank full: Don’t let your gauge get down to a quarter tank, or anywhere near empty; instead, try to keep your tank as full as possible. Try to gas up every time you get below ¾ of a tank.
This works well for a few important reasons:
- Your car gets better mileage when the tank is full anyway.
- Gasoline in your car gets rotated regularly (and effortlessly).
- Most areas do not count the gas in your vehicles toward limits on the amount of fuel you can store.
- You don’t have to worry as much about containers, safety, and liability.
But you want more than that, don’t you? We’re talking about serious preparation, right? Don’t people store more fuel than they already have in their cars?
Well, people do sometimes.
Second Rule – You will need to check with your local government to determine legal limits for what you are able to store: Look at how you are required to store it. Also check with your home insurance, because they often have limits to what they will cover.
If you store more gasoline than you are legally able to, it can become a massive liability. If, for instance, you happen to experience a house fire (so sorry!), and your excessive gasoline storage ignites, at best you can be sued for damages, or at worst, you will get charged with manslaughter. It is pretty important to stay within legal limits.
Just to give you an idea, the limit where I live is 30 gallons.
Third Rule – You need to keep your gasoline in containers made for storing gas: It is really easy to find appropriate plastic containers—they are available at gas stations, home improvement stores, and supercenters. The most common size is the 5 gallon jug, although you can get smaller gas containers (which are usually used for lawnmowers and so forth).
If you use another plastic container, the gasoline will gradually disintegrate the plastic, and it can seep out. This is actually pretty dangerous, so stick to plastic containers made for storing gas.
There are also metal containers for gasoline, and they are generally considered to be better than plastic ones. I’m not really sure why, but I wasn’t able to find any metal containers to buy anyway, so using plastic was an easy decision for us. If you do have access to metal gas containers, be sure that you keep the containers “grounded” because otherwise you could have problems with static electricity igniting fumes from your gas.
Never, NEVER store gas in glass containers! Gas naturally expands and contracts, and it could burst the glass creating a big hazard.
On a related note, when you’re filling the containers, remember to fill them while they’re on the ground (not on the back of a truck).
Fourth Rule – You will need to add stabilizer to your gas: Gasoline simply does not last very long. Within a couple months, your gasoline can become basically a shellac (or varnish) if you don’t add stabilizer to it, and if it does, you can cause serious damage to your car (or any other engine) if you try to use it. Stabilizer is inexpensive and readily available. We use STA-BIL brand, and it has been great so far, but there are a lot of choices. I’m not making a specific recommendation here. Even with stabilizer added to gasoline, you’ll still need to rotate your supply periodically. The recommendations for this vary—stabilized gas should be good for at least one season, and the longest it will potentially last is two years.
Fifth Rule – Store your gasoline in a safe place: Keep it out of the sun. Don’t store it near something that ignites (don’t keep it near anything with a pilot light). Keep the gasoline in a place separate from your house, like a garage or shed. This is important because the containers sometimes emit vapors, and you don’t want to breathe them. Plus, if you were to have a fire, gasoline that is not stored in your house will lead to much less damage. In a lot of places, storing gasoline underground is illegal, so don’t plan to bury your gas unless you’ve really researched it and obtained permits. Never mix gas with other fuels or try to use gas for things that require other fuels.
So, there you go! That is a basic summary of gasoline storage. If you want to store gasoline, start with keeping your car tank full. If you decide to store more, stick to the legal limits of your area. Use approved containers and add stabilizer. Then, just keep the gas in a safe place that is out of direct sunlight.
Are you storing gasoline? Most people can choose to keep their car’s fuel tank full, but if you live in an apartment, storing additional gas may be difficult. It’s okay, though, because gasoline isn’t a great candidate for long-term storage anyway. Next time we’ll talk about other fuel options and some of the pro’s and con’s of those.