March 05, 2020
By David M. Fortier
In Part 1 of this two-part series I discussed why you should consider storing fuel, what type of fuel you should store and how much you should store. What type of fuel and how much are things only you can decide based upon you individual situation. Once you have made an educated decision then you can get into actually storing fuel. This is what we will discuss now.
What Should You Store Your Fuel In
When it comes to actually storing your fuel you have a number of container options to consider. These range from 5-gallon plastic or metal cans to 30 and 50-gallon drums to larger tanks. In my opinion there is no perfect single storage solution. Large 250, 300 or 500-gallon farm tanks are a great option. Basically, they provide short term independence. Consider an old diesel VW Jetta TDI can cover some 10,000+ miles off just one 300-gallon farm tank. The downsides are pesky ordinances and restrictions on storing large quantities of fuel. Plus what do you do if you have to bug out and leave? For most, large tanks are simply not an option. If they are, price varies widely depending upon if they are new or used. I have bought used farm tanks for $100 here in Kansas.
Another option is steel 30 and 55-gallon drums. These can often be purchased at a very reasonable price, $10 to $20, locally if you watch local sales online. What’s nice about steel drums is they were designed to store fuels, are robustly constructed yet still light enough to be mobile. Keeping in mind one gallon of gasoline weighs approximately 6.1 pounds, then 55 gallons weighs approximately 335 pounds. While this sounds like a lot, it’s still light enough to be easily moved with a handtruck or barrel dolly. If you prefer something lighter you could consider the smaller 30-gallon drums. These weigh approximately 183 pounds filled and are considerably easier to move about. Unfortunately 30-gallon drums are not as common as the 55-gallon model. Keep in mind diesel weighs about 7.1 pounds per gallon so it’s a bit heavier. If you store fuel in a steel drum then you need to also purchase a non-sparking bung wrench. This will allow you to easily open the drum without the chance of a spark igniting vapors. You will also need a safe way to get fuel out of the drum. Perhaps the simplest device available is the Super Syphon. A few quick shakes is all it takes to get the fuel flowing. A 12-volt powered electric fuel pump is another option.
No matter if you have the ability to install farm tanks or decide to go with a single 30-gallon drum, I believe everyone should have some 5-gallon containers on hand. Small 5-gallon containers hold a useful amount of fuel while still being light enough, about 31 pounds, to be easily managed. Since they are easily portable, they allow quick refueling even on the side of the road. Currently there is a wide variety of different plastic and metal designs on the market. Some are very cheap and others are very expensive. For my money none of them beat the 1930s vintage steel Jerry can. Extremely well designed, simple to use and efficient this can was developed specifically to securely store and transport fuel under the harshest of conditions. Designed in Germany it is now the standard for NATO, Russia and countries around the world. It is a far superior design to the similar looking US military ‘Blitz’ can which is legendary for its tendency to leak.
No matter how much fuel you intend on storing there are a few things to keep in mind. The first and most important is storing fuel, especially gasoline can be dangerous. You need to do the proper research, treat it with respect and use common sense. I’m not saying you need to get all namby-pamby, people store gasoline all the time. But common sense is required. The second is you need to take into consideration the storage life of both gasoline and diesel. Modern gasoline has a shelf life, depending on type, of six months to a year. This is when it’s at its best. Gasoline stored longer than this can give issues, especially in small engines, due to a loss of volatility. I’ve found certain engines I own to run fine on old gas while others sputter and cough. Due to this I highly recommend rotating your gasoline supply every six months. To do this, simply run it in your vehicle and replace.
Diesel fuel has a longer storage life than gasoline. Properly cared for it is said to last for 5 to 10 years. Proper storage includes a relatively stable temperature, commercial fuel preservative and above all else keeping it dry. Water is the big problem. In large tanks humidity condensing inside the tank provides a nice environment for oil eating micro-organisms. These little bugs make acid and other byproducts which clog filters and injectors. Using an algaecide like Pri-D limits this, but removing the water is the best solution.
Another thing to keep an out for when using metal containers is rust. Often bargain priced fuel cans are no bargain if they’re internally rusted. No matter the condition of your container I recommend using a screened funnel or spout to prevent any rust or debris making its way into your tank where it could possibly clog a fuel line or filter.
When Storing Fuel Is Not A Possibility
What about if you simply cannot store fuel due to where you live or other circumstances? Then I suggest storing fuel containers. If an event, like a large storm is predicted you can fill the tank in your vehicle and then your storage containers. Having fuel cans on hand at least provides the option and ability to store and transport fuel. Keep in mind, fuel containers will be one of the first items to disappear during a large event. As an example, Yunus Latif of New York City was arrested during Hurricane Sandy for transporting 30 buckets filled with gasoline in his mini-van. He had traveled to another state to find a station with functioning pumps, and was bringing the fuel back to his neighbors. However, transporting 120 or so gallons of gasoline in buckets in the back of your mini-van is simply not the brightest thing to do. By planning ahead though, you can have the means to rapidly put together a small but valuable stockpile of fuel. You just need the containers on hand to make it happen. If you like what you’re reading click https://www.osgnewsstand.com/product/be-ready-2019 and check out a copy of Be Ready! magazine.