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How To Store Gasoline Safely

Marcus Williams - Monday, August 22, 2016

How To Store Gasoline Safely Over the Long Term Gasoline is an important part of our everyday lives. It lets us run our cars and trucks, which gets the kids to school and the groceries home. Many households store gasoline on site to fuel lawn and garden equipment or to be prepared for an emergency. However, many consumers are unaware of the hazards of gasoline storage. Without knowing proper storage and handling procedures, you could be putting your family at risk.

Hazards Of Improper Gasoline Storage

Gas is most dangerous when it is improperly stored. Gasoline contains a number of chemicals that have low boiling points and evaporate easily. When gasoline is left to sit too long, especially in inadequate storage conditions, many problems can occur.


The truth about aged gasoline.


Aged gasoline will not work as well, because the volatile compounds are most explosive. When those compounds leave your liquid through evaporation, the gas becomes less effective at doing its job.


Generally, gasoline lasts about a year before it should be replaced. If you live in a climate with higher temperatures, that time can be cut by up to 6 months. However, adding a stabilizer can extend the life of your gasoline.


Watch out from leaking gasoline canisters.


All of the volatile compounds of gasoline may be trapped at the top of the storage container, or leaking out in a slow, steady stream. This increases the risk of ignition, especially if several containers of older gasoline are stored together.


Volume concers and built up vapors in canisters

Another hazard is keeping a very small amount of gasoline in the container. With a larger percentage of the total volume of the container being on the surface of the liquid, evaporation occurs more swiftly. This creates the same problems as aged gasoline.



The importance of proper temperature when storing gasoline.

Finally, gasoline should not be stored at excessively high or low temperatures, or anywhere with a great deal of temperature variation. The expansion and contraction of the gas can cause leaks, or even cracks in the container, especially if the container is not OSHA-approved.

How To Store Gasoline Safely

The International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) have developed guidelines for safe use and storage of gasoline and other flammable materials. Mandatory regulations are typically developed by OSHA for workplaces, but homeowners can follow them as well to ensure maximum safety.

Containers & Caps

In order to maintain safety, your first line of defense is an OSHA-approved container or aboveground tank. Without proper storage, cracking and leaking can become a serious hazard. OSHA-compliant safety cans help prevent cracking and leaking by safely relieving the pressure build-up.


Make sure that when you cap the gasoline, it is screwed on tightly. This is especially important if you have been using your gas can frequently over a long period of work. Develop the habit of double-checking that your can is capped tightly before you leave your workspace.


You should ensure that your gasoline is stored in an area that is generally kept at room-temperature. This not only keeps you safe, but it extends the life of your gasoline.


The area where you store your gasoline should be well-vented, to ensure that gas fumes do not build up. Not only is breathing gasoline fumes harmful to your health, buildup of these fumes can potentially cause an explosion. You should also ensure that your gas is stored at least fifty feet away from any source of ignition or sparks including pilot lights, heaters, furnaces, and construction equipment. You should never store your gas cans in your house, but in a free-standing structure, if possible. Otherwise, your gasoline should be stored in your basement.


Your gas cans should be set on plywood if you have a concrete floor, because the plywood will soak up any particles of gasoline or spills. While this may seem counterintuitive, this is preferable to the way the gas would flow easily all over your concrete floor if there were a leak. Using plywood limits the area a small spill can travel.


Finally, stuff a rag into the funnel you use for gas. You do not want to get bugs, dust, or debris in your gasoline!



Ensure that your gasoline containers are neither too full, nor too empty. Near-empty gas cans increase the rate of gasoline evaporation, and cans that are too full can rupture in hot weather. Make sure you never fill your gas can to the top. Instead, allow a generous amount of room for expansion, and make sure your cans are not in the path of direct sunlight, so that expansion is minimal.

When To Use Cabinets For Gasoline Storage

Safety cabinets may allow you to store flammable chemicals such as gasoline more safely. While OSHA does not require you to use these cabinets unless you are storing a larger amount of gasoline, they can be useful at keeping fires contained and keeping your flammable chemicals at a lower temperature. Your insurance company, or state and local regulators may have more stringent rules, however, so it pays to check what laws are in effect in your area.


All safety cabinets for flammable materials should be made of a very non-reactive metal such as steel coated with a material that ensures they will not rust or degrade as swiftly as other metal. Cabinets should also be fireproof and feature leak-proof doors. While OSHA and NFPA don't require self-closing cabinet doors, the Uniform Fire Code does require them. Additionally, adjustable shelving can make your life easier by allowing you to accommodate for containers of a variety of sizes.

Safety First!

Gasoline can be a hazardous material. Every year, numerous accidents occur due to improper storage or handling of gasoline. By following safety regulations and practices, you can keep your home and family safe.