The gas-shortage panic we went through just weeks ago flooded our feeds with long lines at the pump and wacky folks who thought it was perfectly OK to store gasoline, a flammable liquid, in plastic bags. We’re back to normal now, thankfully, but the question lingers, what happened to all that hoarded gas?
What’s more, what will happen to all that hoarded gas? And finally, how are things going for these gas hoarders, now that the panic has come and gone?
These are valid questions that the r/AskReddit sub has posed, and the obvious answer to them is that the hoarded gas should be spent, preferably powering the tiny explosions in our engines, but if that’s not in the immediate future for some of that sweet, sweet gasoline, then there’s a few rules hoarders should observe.
These rules revolve around proper gasoline storage, of course, and the best timeline regarding the use of any gasoline placed in these storage containers, in lieu of your car’s gas tank. USA Today released a good report in the throes of the panic with neat graphics that I recommend you look at.
Everything begins with the right container, and the right container per Exxon is airtight and holds up to five gallons of gasoline. In fact, an approved safety gas can “must be no more than 5 gallons,” per the DOT and OSHA. It’s also recommended to not fill the container all the way, but to leave some space therein for the gasoline to expand.
This is especially true in warm environments because heat can cause pressure to build inside the container. You don’t want to overfill your approved storage container, which in this case refers to filling it to capacity. Oh, and whatever you do, do not use food containers, like cups or jugs. It’s common, but dangerous.
That part of it all is simple enough to understand. Get an approved container, fill it up carefully — by placing it on a level surface to avoid spillage — and secure it properly for transportation in your car. You don’t want this to happen.
Once home, though, it might be easy to just drop the gas can in the garage and forget about it for weeks or months at a time. The USA Today report claims it’s OK to store gasoline in a shed or garage, but there’s a big caveat: Where you store the gasoline should have good ventilation. Keep that in mind if your garage is not aired out regularly. That’s why the NASD recommends staying away from attics or basements for gasoline storage.
Once properly stored, gasoline can sit but not for as long as you may think. The gas will begin to degrade in as little as three to six months, per USA Today. This is dependent on a number of factors such as temperature, humidity and air volume — among others — so it’s best to not go past that six month limit. Fuel stabilizers can slow that degradation, but they won’t stop it completely.
Ethanol-gasoline blends will degrade faster, too, in around one to two months.
Interestingly enough, fuel can actually degrade sooner sitting inside of your car’s gas tank. The difference here being that you run less of a risk of the gasoline degrading because, well, your car is going to burn it up in the course of its operation. Gasoline can safely sit in your car’s tank for around a month before it begins to degrade. Once again, stabilizers help fend this off.
The best thing to do with gasoline, really, is to use it in your combustion engine, but if you find yourself a little over-prepared, just follow these basic guidelines in a timely manner, and remember that gasoline will not keep forever.