Storing gas is popular among preppers. Maybe you want to make sure the gas you use for small engines stays good over the winter. Maybe you want fuel on-hand in case a massive storm rolls in killing power, and you’ll want to run your generator to keep the refrigerator running. Or maybe you’re just stocking fuel for the pending apocalypse!
Whatever the reason, storing gas is difficult because it starts to break down rather quickly. According to Exxon, gas should be used within a month of purchase. So having quality gas on-hand means cycling through the gas every 30-days… unless you take the right steps to storing it!
Follow my 5 easy steps to proper, long-term gas storage and you can have gas that is of good quality for at least two years. Bonus – I’ll give you a special tip for small engines.
Rather watch a video than read a post? Here is the video:
Step #1 – Storing Gas in an Approved Fuel Can
Maybe you’re a power prepper and want to store gas in large 275 gallon tanks, but odds are, for most of us, storing gas means using standard 5-gallon gas cans, whether it’s the typical red plastic can or a steel jerry can.
Advantages to Plastic
- Price – You can buy one for around $20.00 – cheap! The Wavian jerry can will cost around $80 – not cheap!
- They won’t rust.
- In a fire, plastic cans melt. Metal cans explode.
The jerry can, on the other hand, was invented by the Germans in the 1930s. “Jerry” was slang for German, so the cans became known as “jerry cans.” The Allies of World War II liked them so much that they too began using them, to the point that President Roosevelt said, “Without these cans it would have been impossible for our armies to cut their way across France at a lightning pace which exceeded the German Blitzkrieg of 1940.”
Advantages to Jerry Cans
- They’re rugged. (If you don’t buy a cheap Chinese knock-off.)
- They have superb carry handles designed in such a way that they can be carried by one soldier or two.
- The cover seals tightly and locks into place.
- They stack much more tightly, so you can store gas in less space.
- They hold 20 liters, which gives you an extra .3 gallons over a 5-gallon container.
- Fuel leaches into plastic over long periods of time, not with steel.
- Plastic cans expand and contract with temperature changes, eventually warping out of shape. Steel does not.
- Jerry cans have great spouts. Plastic containers come with god awful safety spouts designed to stop spills, which in reality, cause nothing but headaches. Jerry can spouts are long, bendable, and have zero safety features. Gas just flows out!
I had a wholesale account with Wavian when I bought mine. Getting them at wholesale discount took the sting out of the price, but even at retail cost I highly recommend one (or two or twelve). Buy Wavian if you do. They’re the real deal, rugged, and featured in many post-apocalyptic movies like Mad Max.
Step #2 – Storing Gas it in a Proper Location
Keep gas under cover, out of the sun, and away from heat sources. If possible, keep it away from fluctuating temperatures, but never store it in your home. Make sure there is a tight seal. Gas vapors are heavier than air, so if vapors leak, they will travel along the floor… and if they find an ignition source…
Step #3 – Keeping Gas Cans 95% Full
Moisture condenses along the walls of the can, which then adds water to your fuel. If there’s too much water you’ll get reduced performance and a shorter shelf life. If the gas can is 95% full, there is less room for condensation to happen. For that matter, when you’re done using a small engine, fill the engine’s tank 95% full for the same reason.
Why not all the way? Because as temperatures vary, fumes expand and contract. Leaving a small amount of space allows room for that.
Step #4 – Add Fuel Stabilizer
I add stabilizer to the gas can before I fill it. Pouring gas down on the stabilizer, I theorize, mixes the two so I don’t have to shake the can after the fact.
Now, if you’re using fuel stabilizer for the first time and you have untreated gas in the engine, run that engine long enough for the old gas to burn off and the treated gas to get into the system.
Step #5 – Buying Ethanol-Free Gas
The problem with today’s gas is the ethanol. Refiners add ethanol to comply with the 1990 Clean Air Act (it burns cleaner). Most gas in the U.S. is now 10% ethanol.
The first problem with ethanol is that it has about 33% less energy than pure gasoline. The second problem is that it absorbs moisture from the air. Water then gets drawn into the engine causing a chemical mix that leads to corrosion, stalling, and trouble starting the engine.
The reason you don’t run into this problem with your vehicle is because you’re cycling through the gas a lot faster. It doesn’t sit long enough to cause problems.
What’s more, ethanol acts as a solvent in small engines. It can dissolve old gum and varnish deposits that then clog the carburetor. When this happens, your small engine isn’t going to start until that carburetor is taken apart and cleaned.
Good news! You can buy ethanol-free gas. Small cans of it are sold at places that carry small engine equipment (or right here), but doing it that way is expensive. There is a more economical approach – if you know where to look.
Pure-gas.org is a website that tracks the locations of ethanol-free gas. You can go there and find a location near you. I found a station somewhat nearby, and I wasn’t the only one with this idea as I saw many people come to fill cans. They charged $1.00 more per gallon. Compare that price to buying it in small cans!
For storage purposes, and everyday small engine purposes, this is well worth the price! And speaking of small engines…
Bonus Small Engine Tip
If you want to store and use gas specific to small engines, chainsaws, generators, and the like, there’s another step you can take – buying gas at an airport.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can actually go to small, local airports and buy gas. What they sell is called 100LL AvGas, that’s 100 octane low-lead aviation gasoline with no ethanol. Planes that use gasoline for 4-cycle engines will not tolerate ethanol. That 100 octane level will be like a shot of adrenaline for your small engine.
Add the fuel stabilizer to this stuff, and you’ll be in great shape to store gas for generators, chainsaws, and lawnmowers. It comes at a price, however. At the time of this writing, I was charged $5.55 a gallon for 100LL AvGas, whereas 90 octane non-ethanol gas cost $3.19.
You don’t want to run 100LL AvGas in your vehicle, so if you do buy it, make sure to label the can so it doesn’t get mixed up.
Follow these five steps and you’ll still be riding your war rig in the wasteland well after every other vehicle has stalled out.