Avoid The Lines – How to Store Fuel Long Term

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3.21/5 (29)

A generator without gas is like a rifle without ammunition. For this piece of machinery to be of any use to you outside of a very expensive and heavy paper weight, you need to have a plan for fuel storage. This is also the case if you don’t want to end up like millions of people each year who are unable to get gas after a natural emergency like Hurricane Sandy. A good fuel storage plan usually involves purchasing and properly treating a minimum amount of fuel to last you through whatever scenario you are planning for.  This might be fuel for your generators, or enough gas to get you to your bug out location. It is easier to pre-purchase fuel and store it so that in the case of an emergency, you aren’t standing in line. There are a few things to consider when you are planning to store fuel long-term that we will cover below.

What type of container should you store fuel in?

Similar to having water on hand in an emergency; having a supply of fuel in containers that protect the fuel and are easy to carry is important. Could you store gas in thousand gallon tanks buried underground? Yes, and that is my dream scenario but for now I and I assume most others will have to settle for something a little more cost-effective and portable. There are many different types of fuel containers but for gas, the most common style is plastic and red in color with a built-in spout of some form. Kerosene containers are blue, Diesel is Yellow and it is important to follow this handy color convention so that you don’t accidentally pour regular gas in your kerosene heater and fry your eyebrows off or worse.

Having a few containers of stored fuel could save you in an emergency.

You can get new fuel cans just about anywhere. Home Depot, WalMart, Lowes and any hardware store will have some options for you. Most of the new models at Walmart near me are from a company called Scepter and have a new type of nozzle which is probably the result of stupid legislation that doesn’t work well at all. The nozzle requires you to press two tabs and pull them into a position for the fuel to dispense. This doesn’t work very well and the fuel doesn’t come out smoothly. I don’t think this is necessarily Scepter’s fault and they are probably only doing what is required from government regulations.

You can also pick fuel cans up at yard-sales or salvage companies. There is a salvage company down the road from me that routinely has perfectly good fuel cans for very cheap with the old goose neck spouts. These are much superior in my opinion and if you are going to be pouring fuel out of a heavy can into a small hole I would recommend getting a good goose-neck or buying an older can. I have several of the new cans full of gas in my shed and a couple of older ones. If I need to pour anything out, I will use what is in the old style cans first and then pour my gas from the new cans into the old cans. It is just easier for me that way.

Regardless of whether you have a new or old can, the place you store your fuel should be as airtight as possible. You don’t want fumes leaking into the area you have your fuel stored and gasoline evaporates quickly when exposed to air.

Using Fuel Additives for long-term fuel storage

Gas loses its potency over time and this also applies to Diesel and Kerosene. Diesel for example if stored at lower than 70 degrees will last about 12 months without any additives provided it is kept in a sealed container. If your temperatures are much above 70 that time slips by 50% to 6 months. According to BP,

As diesel gets older a fine sediment and gum forms in the diesel brought about by the reaction of diesel components with oxygen from the air. The fine sediment and gum will block fuel filters, leading to fuel starvation and the engine stopping. Frequent filter changes are then required to keep the engine going. The gums and sediments do not burn in the engine very well and can lead to carbon and soot deposits on injectors and other combustion surfaces.

Now, what can we do to prevent issues like this and protect our fuel because you don’t want to be trying to outrun the mutant zombie bikers from Mars and have your engine stop? Additives. There are two main additives that I have run across, STA-BIL and PRI-G. PRI has several lines of additives and the –G stands for gasoline. They also have PRI-D for diesel.  PRI additives are designed to be added to your fuel on a yearly basis to maintain the fuel in the best condition possible and they even claim that if your fuel has aged already, just adding PRI-G has proven to restore the fuel to “refinery-fresh conditions”. I would rather not test that out but PRI-G does have a decent reputation.

Generators fly off the shelves and the prices skyrocket at the first mention of a weather event approaching.

STA-BIL is one that I have personally used and does pretty much the same thing as PRI-G in terms of conditioning your fuel to last a lot longer in storage than it would without treatment. The instructions are simple, just dump the required amount in with your fuel and Voila! You should be able to safe storing fuel for at least a year with no adverse affects. I pour in the additive first and then the gas so that it is mixed as thoroughly as possible.

How Much and Where do I store my fuel?

Can you ever have too much fuel? I don’t know that you can in a real emergency. If you are unable to get to the gas station or there are rations at the pump you can never have too much. Would 500 gallons be enough? It really depends. If you have a minor power outage that lasts a few days, then you wouldn’t need that much gas at all. If we have the end of the world and there are no gas stations anymore, that 500 gallons is going to be a huge help, but it won’t last forever.

What I think is a good baseline takes into consideration the 80/20 rule. What is the likelihood that you will need this fuel for? For most people I think storing fuel for a bug out vehicle or a generator is the most common scenario to plan for. For your car, I would plan on storing as much gas as you need to get you to your bugout location and add 50% to that. So, if you needed 2 tanks of gas to get you to your retreat and your tank held 20 gallons, I would store 60 gallons of treated fuel. This way if for some reason the grid goes down, the SHTF and zombies are walking all over the gas station parking lots, you should have plenty to get you there.

For a generator, I think you have to look at what you plan to run and how long you plan to run it. 15 gallons would last me about a week as long as I was using the generator for necessities only. Of course it depends on the time of year but that is an average. Everyone should have at least one can of gas stored for emergencies but I like to store a minimum of one tank of gas for my car which is roughly 17 gallons and another 10 for the generator

Fuel should be stored in a clean, preferably cool place away from where you live. Don’t store fuel in your house if possible because that is an accident waiting to happen. If my shed blew up I would be a lot less concerned than if my house blew up.

Don’t forget to rotate

I posted in another article a couple of weeks ago about 3 common mistakes preppers make and storing fuel should be considered as well. I wouldn’t buy 50 gallons of gas, throw in some stabilizer and forget about them. Use and rotate your fuel yearly and you will be in great shape if something does require you to use your supplies. Since they blend gas differently in the Winter, I buy my fuel around January and store that for a year. Before the next January comes around I load up my gas tank in my car expending my stores and then head to the pump for a fresh batch. This way I think my fuel will be in as good a condition as possible.

Thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts, please add them in the comments below.

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  • http://twitter.com/LarryBlack10 Larry Black

    Thanks for the answers I was looking for about how long treated, stored, fuel can remain viable. Your reminder not to store gas and diesel in your home is a good point also, as I’m sure many would be inclined to just stack the cans in the basement. Problem is that many storage containers, certainly the older ones, are vented in order to allow for the release of expanding gases and prevent potential explosion risk.
    And as you said, an explosion in the shed is/would be preferable to blowing up the house and the last thing you want is a cloud of gas fumes sharing space in the basement with the electronic ignition of the furnace.

    • Paul

      I use Sta-Bil for the gas for my generator. I filled all my gas cans
      immediately after the Halloween power outage in 2011, and did not think
      about it again. When I again lost power Thanksgiving 2014 the treated
      gas fired the generator with no problems – despite the passage of three
      years and no further additives.

      • http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ Pat Henry

        Thanks for that testimonial Paul! I am sure a lot of people really want to know if this works.

      • Lawrence Black

        Wow. Thanks, Paul. I had no idea treated gas could be stored anywhere near that long w/out “varnishing”. Good to know.

  • Geoff Gariepy

    I too keep my stored gasoline in a shed separate from the house/garage in order to mitigate some of the risk. Look into steel safety cans — expensive but definitely preferable to plastic gasoline containers. Stabil works very well; I make sure I create a duct tape label attached to the can with the purchase date written in permanent marker so I know how old the fuel is and rotate once every 12 months the same way you do.

    In all honesty, keeping the sort of quantities of gasoline around you’re talking about is going to be a fire hazard regardless of how you do it without going to a dedicated tank, preferably underground. I keep a maximum of 18 gallons around at one time, plus what’s in the two vehicles. It is enough to run the generator for a considerable length of time or get me several hundred miles away. Remember, accidents do happen and if you have a fire in that shed that takes a firefighter’s life you will have a LOT to answer for.

    • prepperjournal

      Very true! Thanks Geoff.

  • Notch

    I would suggest that for long term storage you store straight gasoline as in no ethanol/alcohol mixed in. If you go to http://www.pure-gas.org you will be able to find the closest retail outlet that has pure gas. Pure gasoline is much more stable than any of the ethanol blends and as such will not break down as quickly and if you treat with Stabil or Pri-G then you’re looking at being able to store it for 12+ months.

    As far as storing fuel, check your homeowners or renters insurance to see if there are any restrictions on how much you can store and still be covered. I agree with others that if you have a shed then that is where you should store your fuel.

    • prepperjournal

      Thanks for the comments Notch and for the resource to check for Ethanol free gas!

  • The Phantom

    I’ve used Sta-Bil in my gasoline. It is the 10% variety also, The gasoline was stored for a year then used in the spring to run my lawn mower. Worked fine. I’ve also read in a number of places that Sta-Bil should be used in 2 cycle engines where you use 10% or so ethanol as those engines are not built to run on any ethanol. I have managed to ruin a couple two cycle engines over my lifetime so will test out that theory.

  • justalocalreader

    Good plan,,any thoughts for those us who rent and don’t have sheds for storage?
    (zombies eh? LOL)

    • prepperjournal

      Thanks for your question and comments!

      Apartment dwellers have special advantages and obvious disadvantages especially in situations like this. For storage, your options are limited but your needs are all the same. A lot of apartment complexes have additional storage away from the units that you can rent. Barring that, I would look to stock items that made sense in one of those storage rental units that was close by if there are any. If none of that was possible, I think I would still store a 5 gallon can somewhere for emergencies. Outside on the deck storage closet?

      I would also make sure I had plenty of fire extinguishers and made sure my container was properly sealed and as safe as humanly possible.


      • justalocalreader

        Thanks,,possibly renting a storage unit,never thought of that,,we rent a house but there’s no shed or anything. While I believe zombies are a ridiculous notion but fun to watch other’s posting about, it just makes sense to prepare for the whatevers in our lives that happen,esp in this world today.

        • prepperjournal


          Just so you understand, I don’t believe zombies would ever be something to worry about either but I do like to use them in references for the same reason. Its fun to talk about and it gives you an easier scenario to visualize in some cases for some strange reason.

          And, if the zombies ever do become real we’ll be ready… :)


          • ractivist

            zombies are the universal sign for those on link cards, the unprepared, etc, that will walking around in a stupor. With only one way to help themselves, to help themselves…….at others expense. They will be real, don’t doubt this.

        • Jeremiah Puckett

          I understand this is 2 years old, but so that other new readers understand, when preppers talk about zombies we aren’t literally talking about zombies. We refer to the VERY DANGEROUS people who DID NOT PREPARE and WILL DO ANYTHING to get what they feel they need to survive another day as zombies.

          I’m in Denver. Can you imagine what Denver and other large cities would look like in a longterm disaster situation? Just look at what happened in Ferguson after the grand jury decision was announced. Those people had what they “needed” but a few dozen people were able to vandalize, loot, and burn down half a street. Imagine what would happen if Denver and half a dozen western states lost their power grids. No food processing, no fuel pumps, no TV, no traffic signals, no heat or AC, no sewer, no groceries, etc. Tens of millions of people NOT PREPARED, thirsty, hungry, irritated. We saw how long it takes for our government to provide just bottles of water to a few thousand people in the Dome in New Orleans. They could barely do that in a week. You think they could take care of every person in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Idaho?

          Zombies, everywhere!

  • Mark

    Queston…will adding stabill or other additives affect the gas being used into your car. How about the catalytic convertor ?

    • prepperjournal


      It isn’t supposed to according to the manufacturer but that statement is only as good as your experience obviously. I have anecdotal evidence from others that they have had no problems with injectors. I haven’t either and have used fuel stored for over a year in both my cars and lawnmower and it worked fine.


    • Government_Goodies

      If you have an older car that wasn’t made to handle our current ethanol mixed gas then I would check out http://www.bellperformance.com/ rather than use Stabil. As Pat indicated Stabil isn’t designed for that use.

  • Maxwell H. Walsh

    Great article. About the”new”gas cans, go to YouTube and search for, “how to fix a new gas can.” It is very easy and works great. I started using Sta-bil and their research said their product would stabilize gas for one year. If you double the dose it would be good for two years. This HAS worked for me. I use 100 gal tanks and replace as I use. I have a second 100 gal tank that I am using Pri-g in. According to their website it is designed for comercial applications and will protect gas for years. Their test is going on 12 years and the gas is like new. Good luck and Happy Prepping.

    • prepperjournal

      Thanks for the comments Maxwell!

      I have seen those videos too and thought about including them in this post, but may do that later. The fix is super simple with some basic tools and I will try that out the next time I need to empty some of my stores.


      • Steve Cullen

        I’m looking to store gasoline now.

        This is my plan & I’d appreciate your feedback.

        55 gal steel drums that I can get cheap… $20 a drum. Held racing fuel originally.

        Store in back of my property in an area that is semi wooded & concealed. Also surrounded by 45 acres of woods.

        Put drums on wooden pallets & build a 3 sided cover two side walls & roof. This will conceal & shade drums. 4ft.X 8ft. of platform area.

        Store 3-4 drums at about 150-200 gals & treat the gas.

        Rotate them over time one barrel at a time.

        In rotation of gas into 2 mowers and car over time.

        How does this sound?

        Then generator (4500 watts) can be used for refrigerator /freezer & smaller freezer & refrigerator in shed. Also for heater in house if it gets cold.

        Also for rechargeable flashlights or other items that need to be charged.

        Workable plan.

        Email me please..


        Steve Cullen

        • http://www.theprepperjournal.com Pat


          That sounds like a decent plan. I don’t have the back woods option that you do and the only thing I can think of is that your drums could rust eventually but if they are covered as you mention that should be fine. It will give you a lot of fuel storage, but will you be able to make sure nobody steals it?


  • Vodin

    I find that you can twist off the spring loaded spout on the sceptor gas cans sold at WalMart. I would recommend you buy a metal funnel with a long extension to fit in the gas fill point of your vehicle.

    Next point check with your community guidelines for the amount of gas you can store. If an accident occurs there will be legal reckoning to deal with.

    If you don’t want to put additives in your gas cans. Run your car to half a tank park in the garage and fill it up with your gas cans. Then refill your gas cans at the station. Make sure your cans are marked and rotated accordingly. Make sure the gas doesn’t stand unused for more than a month.

    • prepperjournal

      Great suggestions, thank you!

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  • Government_Goodies

    A scenario I plan to try is a whole house natural gas generator in the basement vented to the outside to minimize my need for fuel storage. I do, however, wish to continue storing the gas in case. Thank you for the article.

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ Pat Henry

      Thank you!

      I want a whole home generator but that is on the end of my list of must buy items. We don’t routinely lose power at all so this would just be in case of something cataclysmic I think. If that were to happen, its likely the Natural gas would be shut off too. Ideally you would have a large tank of your own, but we start getting well into the tens of thousands at that point.


  • Steve Cullen

    I’m looking at developing a “system” of storing between 120 gals and 1170 gals of gas safely and cheaply….

    I’m looking at sealed 55 gal plastic barrels similar to what you might find on the net for water storage.

    These plastic barrels come with openings in the top that have screwed in caps to make sure they are sealed tight.

    Some barrels can be found cheaply having been used to hold other materials, but one needs to make sure they are totally free of whatever chemicals were previously in the barrel because mixing with gasoline could be a serious problem.

    But the plastic material is similar to the type of plastic in thickness to 5 gals gas cans.

    A portable siphon hope then can be inserted into the barrels and the gas can be pumped into 5 gal gas cans and then used to pour into generators, car gas tanks, tillers for a garden, lawn mowers etc….

    These 55 gals barrels even could be stored in a small shed away from a house if you live on a multi acre tract of property….

    The barrels then would have the gas stabilizer added to keep the gas fresh.

    !50 gals of gas stored would be a significant advantage to even trying to store gas in 5 gal gas cans.

    Anyway anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on my ideas?



    • Steve Cullen

      That should read in my previous post 120 gals and 170 gals and not 1170 gals ….that was a typo

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com Pat Henry


      You are right in that having 50 gallons stored would be much better for the long term. I wouldn’t store fuel in anything I wasn’t sure was safe for it like you said. I have used some of those old barrels you are talking about that were filled with food products as my rain catchment system. I think mine at one point had barbeque sauce.

      I know that these are only catching the water and that I still need to filter it. If this was fuel though I wouldn’t risk any contaminants getting into the fuel. Either that or some have stored chemicals in their barrels at one point. How would you know if your fuel wouldn’t be contaminated?


  • Shannon

    Thank you for the informative post! I am new to prepping, but have put a real dent in the list of things my family will need to survive a disaster. My husband thinks I’m nuts! I’m sure he’ll be glad that I’m crazy when we’re not all starving in the future though. I have been really perplexed about how to handle fuel storage for a crisis. Gas seems so unstable and unreliable, and along with propane, no matter how much you store, eventually you are going to run out if the disaster persists long enough. Of course I am storing some anyways, but for sustainability, what do you think about distilling Ethanol as a fuel source? I live out in the sticks on a ton of land, and we could grow plenty of crops to produce a whole lot of renewable energy in the form of Ethanol. I think that most engines which are designed to run on gas could be modified to work on Ethanol. Does that sound nuts or practical? I can’t decide.

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com Pat Henry


      Thanks for your comments and questions.

      I guess it would depend on how much land you had and what you wanted to use the Ethanol for as well as what type of disaster we had. If you are talking about the end of the world, the ability to produce Ethanol would be huge if nobody around you was able to purchase fuel. On the other hand that could make you a target for people who wanted your processing capacity but didn’t want to pay you for the product.


  • Mark Devillier

    Are Jerry Cans like these: http://www.amazon.com/Atlantic-British-Ltd-Jerry-Can/dp/B00ADLHN3S/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1416499399&sr=8-5&keywords=jerry+cans

    …. a good way to store gas for 12-14 months?

    Thanks … awesome site & info.

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com Pat Henry

      They certainly are Mark, but they are expensive. I would not go with these necessarily for simple fuel storage. If you strapped these to the top of your bug out vehicle, it would make sense, but for regular storage the plastic cans work just fine. I have many of the plastic 5 gallon cans and have had fuel for over a year in them without any issue.

  • R. Jenkins

    A person I know has a 30 gallon gas caddy which he was hording gas in. I walked into his building one day and smelled the rotten oder of bad gas. I told him his gas was no good and we tried it in a lawn mower but it would not crank. He later told me he tried to use it to start a brush pile fire and he could not even light it with a match.

    • Pat

      I assume the gas wasn’t treated. Do you know how old it was? I have stored gas for several months (over the winter) without treating it and it worked fine next year in the mower. My long-term storage fuel is all treated with Stabil.


  • g121390

    Nice post. I live in California…… Los Angeles, the gas is real expensive here so its hard enough having gas in your car let alone having it to store. Before this little price drop we paid anywhere from 3.95-4.45 a gallon depending where you went and i did see some places like Beverly Hills where it hit past 5 bucks (ouch) right now with the price drops its at 2.25 and dropping which took us back to 2007, thats the last year i remember paying 2 and some change for gas so we’re pretty shocked yet excited….. although we all know its too good to be true so before the price kicks up to 5 a gallon im trying to store what i can for as long as i can, we have a temp here year round over 85 degrees mostly 85-105, the coldest we get would be now at 40-50 degrees (ha ha ha) the only months that get semi cold are nov-march thats it the rest is pure heat, during summer heatwaves the temp drops to 75 or 80 around 3-4am then heat again. What advice can you please help me with given those numbers, really thank you for any help.

  • http://www.theprepperjournal.com Pat Henry

    Thank you very much!

    To the best of my knowledge the heat doesn’t have too much if any effect on the storage life of fuel (given the ranges you mention) it is more air and contamination. If you have clean containers, fuel stabilizer like PRI-G or Stabil and seal them tight you shouldn’t have any problems storing fuel without any adverse affects for years.

    I would rotate them more often than that though and I wrote about a simple plan in this post http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2014/09/15/simple-gas-storage-rotation-plan/ that will give you a good long term option on keeping plenty of fresh fuel stored.


  • p. shill

    I’m considering buying a 5gal. sealed can of racing fuel for storage. It is pricy but has longer shelf life and non oxygenated fuel can be bought in 9x octane range.

  • Nely

    Hi there, I am planning (this week) on storing 6, 5 gallon, red plastic gas cans in my garage. I will be putting them on a low shelf, and I park one truck in this two car garage.
    Is this more or less safe enough to do?
    I rent a house, and have no shed, and no possibility of putting the gas any where else. Any advice would be very helpful as I am new to prepping. Thank you.

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ Pat Henry

      Storing fuel in the garage should be safe as long as you use good fuel containers that are sealed tightly. The fumes are what is flammable more so than the actual liquid so if there are no fumes escaping, the risk is lower. Obviously, you still shouldn’t be lighting fires or throwing sparks on the containers, but it should be safe. Additionally, I would make sure you have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers suitably placed just in case.

  • Lamp Lighter

    If you think it’s necessary to keep up with the luxuries we have now such as electricity……Your not prepared…….Better prepare to do without………..

  • CylonesRUS

    I heard on the radio there is a product that rids gas of its volatility,yet a car will still run on it. Do not know the name or were to purchase it though

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ Pat Henry

      I don’t know that product but I have had some people contact me with a fuel replacement that can be stored for a very long time. Might be the same thing, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t simply store fuel and keep it rotated. No telling what the other stuff would do to your engine.

  • jonathan

    Or just get a generator that doesn’t run on gas. OR even better just buy a darn solar panel and a good battery. THe battery is the MOST important part. You can get a DIY solar panel for like $40-50 that puts out 80-100 watts. Plenty to run necessities. It ain’t gonna run a hot water heater or a television very well. But is can run a small heater, electric blanket, a few lights, an small electric stove (though a butane or propane stove may be smarter) As for driving to a “bug out” location, I couldn’t think of anything dumber. That would be half the countries plan since half the country isn’t all that bright. Roads will be jammed, filled with potentially dangerous people and/or things and what not. I’d suggest (if possible) a bicycle or just hiking it. A good rule of thumb is if you’re planning on needing that much gas, relying on a working vehicle, relying on open roads, and your bug out location being so far away you need these things then I’d definitely re think your bug out plan. I’m not saying don’t store some gasoline. Just don’t rely on that plan. At least let that be your main plan but have a very easy to switch to alternative. The most likely scenario isn’t zombies or all out war in the U.S. but an EMP attack or a simple but huge electrical grid failure, an economic collapse, or just plain martial law.

  • Dani Gray

    This is a great resource but I live in an apartment in an urban area. I recently purchased a kerosene heater but can’t seem to find any suggestions regarding safe storage in an apartment. Any suggestions are welcome.

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ Pat Henry


      Generally you don’t want to ever store fuel where you live for obvious reasons. An apartment puts you at a little bit of a disadvantage. Do you have a storage building or friend with some spare space in their garage?

      • Dani Gray

        I learned that the hard way. Purchased 5, 2.5 gallon jugs of kerosene hoping to store it in a drum….no smell when I picked them up from the store but that changed rapidly once I got home. Bad idea. Very, VERY bad idea. Took them back but still trying to figure something out. Unfortunately I have no friends that live near enough to store anything that I could get to safely if such a crisis were to happen. But I’m wondering if I could rent a small storage space nearby and keep it there. In the meantime we will stock up on sleeping bags, down comforter and layers and pray. I hope to be able to move somewhere that’s not as heavily populated really soon…thanks for the suggestions Pat…

  • Mike

    If you have a diesel car or a diesel generator and your house is heated by fuel oil, your storage problems are solved. Just siphon off fuel from the heating oil tank. Just be advised that it is “illegal” to run your car on untaxed fuel and check with your supplier to make sure you are not getting a Bio fuel heating oil mix.

  • gary

    should gas with sta-bil be stored in containers or in my generator?

    • http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ Pat Henry

      Either should be fine provided you are rotating them. The Sta-bil additive is a great option, but I still like to rotate fuel every year.

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