Product Reviews Blog

Plastic Vs. Metal Gas Cans (And Which Is Best For Your Needs)

Marcus Williams - Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Gasoline is a highly flammable liquid and it should be stored properly in approved safety cans, whether plastic or metal. The greatest risk factor from gasoline storage is from the vapors it produces. Gasoline fumes are heavily concentrated and spread across distances, allowing for them to easily spread to a source of ignition. The fumes from one cup of gasoline have the explosive power equal to five pounds of dynamite, so it’s important to store your gasoline properly.

Design Quality of Approved Metal and Plastic Cans

Approved metal and plastic storage cans for gasoline have some basic design qualities in common. They have a spring loaded cap that closes the spout when released. It’s the tension in the spring that forces the cap to close and provides a tight seal, so gasoline vapors do not leak. The spring tension is designed to allow excessive internal vapor pressure to vent off at around 5 psi. This specific design prevents the gasoline can from exploding due to excessive outside heat.

Approved metal and plastic storage cans are also designed with a flame arrester screen. The flame arrester screen prevents an outside fire from getting to the gasoline inside the can. FM approved or UL listed polyethylene (plastic) and metal gas cans are required by OSHA for any business or commercial enterprise.


Plastic Gas Cans vs. Metal Gas Cans

Unlike metal gas containers, approved plastic gas cans won't rust. If there’s a fire, the plastic containers will melt, while metal fuel cans can explode. At the same time, the period of storage should be considered when deciding which one is better for your business. If your business stores gas for longer than a month, metal gas cans may be a better choice. That’s because fuel can leach into plastic cans over long periods of time. Plus, plastic cans expand and contract with changes in temperature.

Depending on much you store, they gas cans usually don’t stack well. For the most part, the scenario and environment of your storage facilities determine whether a metal or plastic container is better. It’s important to note that any type of fuel can be dangerous when improperly stored. The storage area should be well ventilated to reduce vapor buildup and never close to employee quarters.

Plastic & Metal Gas Cans Safety

Whether you use metal or plastic gas cans, there are safety measures you should follow in order to protect yourself, others, and your property. First, make sure that your gas storage containers are approved by the OSHA and/or D.O.T. Also, make sure you are storing the containers in a space that is free from any possible source of ignition. If you are storing more than 25 gallons of flammable liquids, then the containers should be placed in a flammable liquids storage cabinet. Finally, it is extremely dangerous to transport gasoline in the trunk of a vehicle. The trunk may may become heated which will raise the pressure in the can and release vapors resulting in a possible explosion.

Plastic or Metal Gas Cans: Which Is Right For You?

Plastic and metal gas cans are used for different purposes. The most important requirement is to make sure the container is properly approved and designed to meet basic safety standards. If you’re unsure about whether metal or plastic gas storage cans are better for your line of business, talk to an experienced expert.