As part of your SHTF preparations, gasoline should be considered one of the primary resources that will power your generators and vehicles. Unfortunately, gasoline can quickly spoil if stored improperly; so ensure it’s stored away properly to extend its shelf life.
Pure gasoline typically lasts approximately three months when stored under ideal conditions; it may last even longer with certain additives added to it. Ethanol-blended gasoline has significantly shorter shelf lives.
How long does it last?
Gasoline is one of the most essential fuels to have on hand for your car, truck or SUV. Whether it is time for an upgrade or replacement vehicle purchase, knowing how long your gasoline lasts before needing replacement can help make an informed decision about whether to upgrade.
There are various factors that will dictate how long your gas will remain usable, including its age, ethanol content and storage conditions. All these elements will influence its breakdown and oxidization at different speeds.
Typically, gasoline purchased from a gas station will last between three and six months before it begins degrading, depending on its ethanol content; pure gasoline (lacking any ethanol content) tends to last longer.
Most gasoline sold in the US is blended with an ethanol blend; most commonly E10 which consists of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline.
Fuel stored properly typically lasts about three months in optimal conditions when stored in an appropriate tank or container, but its shelf life may be extended further by using a stabilizer or proper storage methods.
Stabilizers can be added to many types of gasoline, but for the best results they should only be mixed at precise ratios and added only to fresh, clean fuel. Stabilizers won’t work at all if your supply of old, contaminated gas has already passed its expiry date.
When it comes to fuel storage, you should do everything you can to prevent oxygen and water exposure, while making sure it’s placed in an airtight and secure container.
An additional way to extend the shelf life of gas is with a fuel stabilizer, which helps prevent rust and corrosion by stopping its formation during storage. This can be especially helpful when dealing with large volumes.
Make the most out of your gasoline by placing it in an appropriate storage container such as a plastic gas can or similar bin. However, be mindful not to overfill as this could speed up evaporation rates.
What causes it to go bad?
Gasoline undergoes many transformations before reaching your vehicle, beginning as crude oil and being stripped of heavy hydrocarbons and impurities before refinement into paraffins (alkanes), olefins (alkenes) and cycloalkanes; during refinement some sulfur is extracted while performance-boosting additives are often added for optimal fuel.
After it has been processed through an oxidation process, it undergoes further refinement into fuel with a specific octane rating that dictates its burning properties.
However, certain factors can make gasoline go bad over time, including age, temperature and water contamination.
Temperature plays an essential role in how gasoline behaves, says John Speight, a petroleum engineer from the University of Texas at Houston. For instance, winter gas tends to be designed specifically to withstand lower temperatures than its summer-oriented counterpart.
Gasoline should always be stored in an airtight plastic or metal container with tight caps that seal off airflow if stored indoors, to reduce its chance of evaporation or oxidization. To be on the safe side, store gasoline only inside an approved car port that keeps out air.
Gas stabilizer is also recommended when storing fuel for long term. While stabilizers cannot restore lost octane levels to fuel stored for some time, they can help minimize evaporation and oxidation processes of gasoline storage tanks.
Gas can go bad when left in your tank too long. While this typically won’t cause too many issues if it has only been there a short while, if left for months on end you could experience operational problems, such as rough idle or difficulty starting your vehicle.
If the gasoline has been sitting in your tank for some time, its lightest hydrocarbons may have evaporated into vapour, potentially rendering your car difficult or impossible to start at all.
As soon as a problem is detected, it is vital that it can be properly diagnosed and addressed quickly. One common sign is when your dashboard displays a “check engine” light indicating your engine hasn’t been processing its fuel correctly; other indicators may include lean engine running conditions, hesitation upon ignition or rough sounding idles as well as loss of power when accelerating.
How do you store it?
Gasoline is an extremely useful liquid that can power numerous tools and machines. From emergency generators to lawnmowers, gas needs to be stored carefully to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
Gasoline can quickly spoil if stored improperly, so the National Safety Council recommends always placing it in appropriate containers for storage.
Select a container designed specifically to store fuel. This will help ensure it does not degrade over time from exposure to sunlight, heat or other elements.
Second, add a fuel stabilizer to your stored gasoline. This can prevent gum and varnish deposits from accumulating on engine parts that could eventually lead to engine issues.
Third, your fuel should be stored in an environment free from direct sunlight and any sources of heat to help avoid it oxidizing, thereby diminishing its octane level.
If you plan to store gasoline for more than several weeks, a plastic canister with an airtight seal may be the ideal way to do it. These airtight containers help ensure your gasoline remains fresh for extended periods, which makes it especially suitable for storage in a garage or shed.
Before filling your container to its maximum capacity without spilling any fuel inside, ensure it doesn’t overflow and prevent condensation forming inside it. Doing this will ensure you avoid overflows as well as prevent condensation forming within it.
When it comes to gasoline storage, one of the most cost-effective approaches is purchasing ethanol-free gasoline in an approved container and mixing it with fuel stabilizer. Doing this will extend its shelf life considerably and save both money and space.
Another effective method for storing gasoline safely is placing it in a garage or shed separate from your home, which will protect it from starting a fire within your dwelling and ensure it won’t fuel other appliances or machinery.
How do you dispose of it?
Gasoline can be hazardous both environmentally and health-wise. It has the potential to pollute both ground water and soil resources as well as cause serious illness or even death if improperly managed.
Properly stored gasoline should last three to six months before beginning to degrade and no longer fuel an engine. It’s best to store it in a cool and dry location for optimal results.
If you have excess gasoline that you no longer wish to dispose of at a local waste-disposal site, an effective way of recycling it would be mixing it with fresh gas at approximately 1:5, so as to produce approximately equal proportions. For best results, aim for about 50% old and 50% new.
Municipal governments also host free collection events for used gasoline and other hazardous waste, so check your town’s website or give them a call to see if there’s one happening nearby.
Clean up any spilled gasoline with a combination of rags or paper towels saturated in vinegar and citrus-based cleaner/degreasers such as citrus cleaner/degreasers. For nonabsorbent surfaces such as carpet or the trunk of your car, such as using absorbent material like kitty litter to sop up any extra liquids that have fallen to the floor.
As previously discussed, old gasoline can quickly degrade and become contaminated when exposed to heat, dust or air. This process deprives it of its fuel-delivery properties, making it harder for ignition as well as more likely to gum up fuel lines or other components.
Before using gas, it can also be wise to inspect it closely as it may begin to smell sour over time. If your gas has started smelling more “sour” than when first purchased, this indicates it has passed its prime and needs replacing with fresh gas.
If the gas is still usable, you could attempt using it by mixing it with new gasoline and then refueling your small engine. Refueling large vehicles should be avoided due to the risk of using old gasoline which may make their engines run poorly or fail altogether.