Gasoline storage is an issue that has changed quite a bit in the past few years, and it is something that is important to go over so that everyone understands the changes and what we need to do about those changes to safely s tore gasoline for emergencies.
You may not have realized it, but the gasoline you are purchasing today is not the same as the gasoline that you may have purchased even 10 years ago. THe gasoline now has ethanol added to it, which is something that you need to be really concerned with when storing gasoline.
Gasoline with ethanol added into it breaks down extremely quickly and can become basically unusable for most engines within even a month of purchasing it.
There is a conspiracy theory about the Federal Government wanting to make sure that the citizens do not have a large stockpile of gasoline on hand during a Martial Law situation.
Another theory states that the "Big Oil Companies" have done this intentionally to keep you from storing up a lot of fuel when the prices are lower and not buying it when the prices are high, thereby cutting into their proffits.
We are not going to go into either of those theories right now though. If you believe one of those theories is correct, great, if you do not, that's great too. It doesn't make any difference at all. All you need to understand is that the gasoline has changed, what is different about it, why it matters, and what you need to do about it so that you can safely store gasoline and not have it spoil as quickly. So, we have already gone over what changed, which was the addition of ethanol to the gasoline.
I know I am going to make some of the tree-huggers, and environmentalists out there mad, but this was the worst thing they could have done to gasoline. It does not "save the environment" as they would have you believe. The only benefit of adding ethanol to gasoline is financially to the corn farmers, and Monsanto, plain and simple. It is not better for the environment, it does not lower the cost of gasoline, it is not good for our vehicles, and as we already discussed, it causes the gasoline to spoil much faster than gasoline without ethanol.
Ethanol enriched gasoline starts breaking down very quickly. The octane level in the fuel starts dropping within a handfull of days of purchasing it. This is what is causing the gasoline to be unusable in a very short amount of time. Once the octane level drops too low, your generator, lawnmower, chainsaw, and other small engines will not be able to run on it anymore. If it drops much lower, your newer vehicle will not be able to run on it either.
Another thing that happens with ethanol enriched gasoline is that the ethanol starts to separate from the gasoline and binds with water. If you have ever gotten bad gasoline from a gas station with water in it before you know what a nightmare that can be to your engine and fuel system. The ethanol will absorbe moisture from the air, so the longer it is stored, the more water will be in your gasoline.
How do we keep this from happening? Simple, DON'T BUY GASOLINE WITH ETHANOL IN IT.
Real gasoline without the added ethanol is available, you just have to look a little harder to find it. Here on Oahu, there are about 6 gas stations that carry real gasoline. The pumps are clearly marked. There is even a website that you can go to that will show you all of the gas stations in your area that carry real gasoline. Visit www.BuyRealGas.com to find stations that carry real ethanol-free gasoline anywhere in the country. You also want to purchase the highest octane level that you can fins as it will slowly drop over time naturally, just not as fast as if it contained ethanol.
Without ethanol in the gasoline, if it is stored properly, which we will get to in a moment, gasoline can once again be stored for up to a year without it going bad.
In the "Gool Ol' Days" before ethanol, we used to be able to store gasoline for a full year without having to worry about it going bad. So what has changed? Well, we already know about the ethanol being added to the gasoline now, but there is something else that has happened that most people have not even considered, and it is also keeping you from being able to store gasoline for long periods.
Back when you were younger you may remember the metal gas cans like this that everyone used:
Well, it turns out that these cans weren't so bad after all, at least not for our gasoline. Unfortunately, someone had the brilliant idea to replace all of these metal gas cans with the plastic ones that every store carries today.
These plastic containers are not lined with anything to help protect the gasoline inside them, and the walls of the plastic are not even thick enough to keep the gasoline inside them for long periods of time. Have you ever noticed how, even with the vents and spouts completely closed on one of these plastic containers if it is stored in a small enclosed space you can still smell gasoline fumes? The fumes are actually seeping right through the plastic container walls over time, which means the gasoline is slowly evaporating right inside your gas can even though you sealed it up tightly.
The sidewalls are so thin that you can watch them start to bow out, or suck in with temperature fluctuations, and they can become brittle and crack easily, spilling the gasoline and your money, all over the ground. They also take up a lot of room becuase they cannot be stacked on top of each other to conserve space.
Have you ever tried to use one of these new "CARB Approved" gas cans to pour gas into a generator or lawnmower? It is very difficult now with one person to do it unless you are only using a 1-gallon can. With a 5-gallon can you need two hands to hold the container up in the air, and another hand to manipulate the new EPA approved safety mechanisms which were designed to prevent spills, which by the way, actually cause more spills now than before we had to use them because most of them are so complicated to use.
In case you can't already tell, I am not a fan of these new plastic gas containers. I will never store gasoline in one of these plastic containers for more than a week, and even then, that is only if I had no other choice.
For long-term gasoline storage, there really is only one option to even consider. I will only use steel Jerry Cans cans that have an airtight seal which protects the gasoline, and completely prevents evaporation from happening.
Over the years I have used several different ttypes of gasoline storage cans, from the cheap to the rediculously exensive and have found that nothing I tried was ever able to beat the almost 90 year-old trusty steel Jerry Can.
With ethanol-free gasoline sealed in these airtight Jerry Cans I am able to store the gasoline for a full 12 months without having to add an expensive "fuel stabilizer" to it. By the way, because of the ethanol found in most gasoline, fuel stabilizers no longer work as well as they used to. Even with an expensive fuel stabilizer added, the maximum shelf-life for gasoline is only 3-months, which makes the fuel stabilizer too expensive to even worry about.
Once a year I simply rotate the gasoline stored in these cans into my vehicles, which have no problem at all running on it and refill them with fresh gasoline for my generators. Becasue I have multiple Jerry Cans, I have each marked with a month label. Then each month, I simply rotate the cans marked with that month out as I need to refill the tanks on my vehicles.
The "Jerry Can" was designed for the German military in the 1930's to hold 20-litres, or 5.3 US gallons of fuel. Motorised troops were issued the cans with lengths of rubber hose in order to siphon fuel from any available source, as a way to aid their rapid advance through Poland at the start of World War 2.
It employed several features designed for safety as well as convienence. To achieve the required filling and draining speed, it was fitted with a large spout and flip top closure. A hole in the closure retainer made it possible to fit a securing pin or wire with a lead seal. The rectangular shape made it stackable. The recessed welded seam stiffened the container and protected the seam from impact damage. The indentations ensured a full can would not be severely damaged when falling from a vehicle, while a dip coat of paint on the inside protected it from corrosion.
The design far surpassed anything available at the time and was reverse-engineered and used by Allied militaries during World War 2 and it is still in use by militaries around the world. The US version of the jerrycan is covered by military specification MIL-C-1283.
The german designer stated that a soldier should be able to carry two full cans, or 4 empty cans, which lead to the implimentation of the tripple-handle design on top. This also allows it to be carried by either one or two people easily as demonstrated in these photos.
The opening is designed so that it seals tightly with a lever-action locking mechanism that can be secured with a pin eliminating the possibility of it accidentally coming open. It is impossible for the cap to open until the pin has been removed first.
Because of the way these cans are designed, you are even able to store the cans on their sides filled with gasoline and no worry about them leaking. I actually carry them this way when I take them to the gas station in the trunk of the car to fill them, and have never, ever had a single drop leak out.
They are also able to be safely stacked on top of each other, lessening the floor space required for storage.
Inside the lid there is a replaceable rubber gasket which creates an airtight seal when the lid closes. The wide opening allows for fast pouring of the gasoline without gurgeling which happens with smaller openings as air tries to pass through the opening to refill the can as the gasoline is poured out.
The pouring spout attaches directly onto the can using the same style of locking mechanism as the lid, which helps to prevent spills. The spout also has a replacable black rubber gasket inside of it to further prevent spills from happening.
Sure these cans are more expensive than the cheap plastic containers, but they protect the gasoline, and help to keep it fresh longer, saving you money from having to replace it as often. These gasoline cans are extremely durable, stackable, and will last you a lifetime. They will also give you peace of mind knowing that your gasoline storage is safe.
Every few years the black rubber gaskets will need to be replaced to retain the airtight seal, but this is the only part of the Jerry Can that you will need to replace, and they are very cheap and easy to order online.
I keep a pack of 5 replacement gaskets on hand so that if a gasket starts to go bad, I do not have to worry about searching for one online, or not being able to use the can while a replacement is being shipped. A pack of 5 replacement gaskets only costs $7.99 on Amazon.
If you go online you will quickly find that within the past year, it has become very difficult to order these Jerry Cans and have them shipped to Hawaii. They are available from multiple distributors on Amazon, yet Amazon will not allow them to be shipped to Hawaii now. I even tried ordering directly from the manufacturers, with no luck.
They are however available online at www.Grainger.com and the local Grainger stores do keep these stocked in low quantity.
The non "CARB approved" spouts are very difficult to find, but I found a couple suppliers on Amazon that have a small quantity in stock. Once they sell out of their current stock, they will no longer be able to order them and will only carry the new EPA approved versions which are a little more difficult to use. I highly suggest ordering them now while they are still available. The regular version shown above is available from this supplier, and a longer flexible spout version is available from this supplier.
This week I expanded my stock of these 20-liter Jerry Cans, and I now have 40-gallons of gasoline for my generators safely stored and ready to go in the event of an emergency. I plan on doubling that storage capacity over the next year so that I am well-preparred in the event of a long-term emergency for both my generators and my vehicles.
If you are going to stockpile gasoline for generators or vehicles to use during an emergency, store them safely, and store them in a way that the gasoline does not go bad on you. Spend a little more and get yourself some steel Jerry Cans. They will be the last gas can you ever have to buy, and your gasoline will always be ready to use when you need it.
Until Next Time
Aloha & 73