Most people make assumptions about how to store gasoline so we thought it would be helpful to our readers to find out some facts about gasoline storage to clear up any misconceptions.
We rely on gasoline to fuel the things that move us and the things that keep our yards neat and tidy. Some even rely on gasoline as a vital means for their business to operate equipment or to fuel a backup generator in the event of an emergency. It’s a necessity for many of us, but it can also be dangerous. Misuse and improperly storing gasoline can have serious consequences. You should know the guidelines on how to store gasoline accordingly to avoid any potential hazards.
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Properties of Gasoline
Understanding the properties of gas is imperative to knowing how to store gasoline in a safe manner. Gasoline is a liquid that is derived from petroleum with additives mixed in, which varies widely based on a number of factors. It is highly flammable to the point that the vapors alone can ignite if there is so much as a spark nearby. The vapors from gasoline are actually heavier than air allowing them to travel, which can be very hazardous when near a heat source of any kind.
Due to the chemical composition of gasoline factors like temperature changes can alter the physical properties. Warmer temperatures, for instance, will cause gas to expand while cooler temps will cause it to contract. This is really important to keep in mind when storing because containers that are not approved for gasoline may not be able withstand the pressure of expansion.
How to Store Gasoline
When gas prices are super low, it may seem like a good time to stock up for storing in case of an emergency. In addition to fueling power equipment around the house and your car, gas can also be used to power up a generator to provide electricity to your home during a blackout. Many people will also stock up on gas when preparing for a natural disaster that could leave local stations closed for days.
However, you should know what the regulations and fire codes are for your area before you go out and stock up on gas to store. Be aware that some areas have restrictions in place that allow a limited amount of gasoline a homeowner can store for residential use. Regardless if it’s for short term or long term, you should follow these guidelines on how to store gasoline safely around your home.
Choosing the right container – Only use an approved container for storing gas and be sure to keep the cap closed tightly when not in use. Containers that aren’t made for holding gasoline could leak or even burst suddenly under extreme temperatures, which could have devastating results. Choose a container with a long, preferably flexible, nozzle to minimize spills when filling up tools or machinery with gas. Do not overfill the container. You shouldn’t fill the gas container more than approximately 95% to leave room for expansion.
Choose the right storage location – Do NOT place gas cans near any source of heat. Gasoline containers should be at least 50 feet away from potential sources of ignition such as pilot lights, water heaters, furnaces and electrical sources. Keep gasoline stored at room temperature with adequate protection from the sun.
A building that is detached from your home such as a garage, shed or insulated storage building is ideal. If you don’t have a suitable place to store your gasoline like a shed or storage building you should consider building or purchasing a commercial storage cabinet. Many equipment suppliers provide these specifically for storing flammable liquids.
How Long Can Gasoline Be Stored?
There are many variables that will affect the shelf-life of gas from temperature changes in the environment to the components and additives it contains. For instance, gasoline blends that contain ethanol won’t last as long as gasoline without it. Gasoline that is available to the general public usually contains preservatives. When stored in a well-sealed container under ideal conditions, gas will keep for approximately 3 months. For average homeowners who keep gas stored short-term to fuel power tools and other gas-powered machines that are frequently used it will be fine without having to add a stabilizer.
If you’re storing gas that will be sitting for awhile before it gets used it’s important to know how to store gasoline for a longer period of time so it doesn’t ruin your engines. When gasoline sits for a period of time in a container it will eventually start to separate into layers as the heavier compounds settle and volatile compounds evaporate. Using ‘old gas’ that has already begun this oxidation process will make it more difficult to ignite the engine it’s being used in and will cause gunk to build up.
Adding a stabilizer helps to keep it from degrading over time by slowing down the oxidation process. Most fuel stabilizers will preserve gas for up to a year if stored properly. A general rule is to add 2 ounces of stabilizer per 5 gallons of gas. Even with stabilizer added, it is recommended that you change the gas after 6-12 months.
Gasoline Safety Guidelines
You should always ensure that gasoline is stored safely out of reach of children and in a secure location where it can’t be knocked over to avoid major spills or leaks. Here are some safety tips to follow when handling and storing gasoline.
- Use absorbent materials to clean up spills such as sawdust or paper.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of a fire.
- When adding gas to any type of machinery or equipment always choose a well ventilated area.
- Do not smoke while handling or anywhere near gasoline.
- Never use gasoline for any purposes other than its intended use.
Do not place materials that were used to clean up gasoline spills in your garbage can or down the drain. Certain factors may cause it to ignite or it can seep into the ground water. You should reach out to your local government center or hazardous waste management for proper disposal of gasoline that is no longer stable or materials containing gasoline.
When it comes to storing flammables here are some common color guidelines:
- Red cans for the storage of flammable liquids (and OSHA required)
- Blue cans for the storage of kerosene
- Yellow cans to designate the storage of diesel fuel
- Green cans for the storage of oils