Avoid The Lines – How to Store Fuel Long Term

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

A generator without gas is like a rifle without ammunition. For a generator to be of any use to you outside of a very expensive and heavy paperweight, you need to have a plan to store fuel long term.

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’s the best container to store fuel long term?

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 available for sale now 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.

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 newer 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.

I have recently seen a new type that looks much easier to get the fuel out of the can. I purchased on at my local hardware store and it has a simple thumb tab you depress to let the fuel pour out. It doesn’t work at all so I am forced to completely unscrew the cap off my fuel can anytime I want to pour fuel out.

You can also pick up older style 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 gooseneck 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.

Gas cans are the most logical way to store fuel long term provided they are in good shape and do not leak.
Older style gas cans are better in my opinion and you can frequently find these at yard sales or salvage stores.

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.

How Much fuel should you store long term?

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 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

Where do I store my fuel?

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 the fuel you store long term

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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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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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… Read more »


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.

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.


I have an approved fire cabinet inside of my garage, that I store all of my NATO 5 gallon fuel cans. I don’t worry about fires so much that way. The good quality containers seal tightly and don’t vent, and the fire cabinet will extinguish any fires inside of the cabinet.

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… Read more »


Very true! Thanks Geoff.


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… Read more »


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.

David Monroe

Won’t find many 2-cycle lawnmowers in 2017. Too much regulation. Personally, I put only Premium ethanol-free gas in my mowers and trimmer (along with the 2-cycle oil mix). It runs better and the engine lasts longer between tuneups.


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


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… Read more »


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.



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… 🙂



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.

Mary McGuirk

do you live in a city? do you realize that city dwellers are likely better for the planet on a per capita cost basis than many who consider themselves preppers? Do you really believe the poor are thrilled with the fact that they need to work 100 hours per week at minimum wage to earn $3000 per month? What are you doing to help them? If you are not doing anything, you either don’t believe they deserve to live, or you think the world can survive if only preppers lived? Humanity has gone through several near-extinction events as recently as… Read more »

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… Read more »

Pat Henry

Exactly right Jeremiah.

I wrote about that exact subject back in 2013 also. https://theprepperjournal.com/2013/07/16/what-if-you-find-out-the-zombie-stories-were-real/


Mark Johnson

This is why lead will be worth more than gold. It’s unfortunate but very true. I hope I never have to see this day , but its looking closer every minute. May the good Lord preserve us.


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



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.



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… Read more »


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.… Read more »



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?



Steve: One of the things people forget, generators make noise, loud noise. I built a box out of plywood, 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. I lined the inside of the plywood box with sound deadener which I got a the local home depot. Do not put a top on it, leave the top open so heat from the generator can escape. A sound man told me that sound travels horizontal in a cone shape, and when I tested my box it was still a little noisy up close, but as you move away from the box ( 20… Read more »


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… Read more »


Great suggestions, thank you!


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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.

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.… Read more »

Steve Cullen

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


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… Read more »

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.

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.


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.



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… Read more »

Bob Miller

Temps under 85… no problem but heat is a big factor in storing Gas, especially the ethanol blends, in places like Yuma, AZ or El Centro, CA. Temperatures sustained over 100 degrees will reduce the time it takes to go bad by 50%. Untreated Gas in Yuma Arizona goes bad in 3 months (May thru October), when the highs average 113 and the lows are not much under 90. Not to the point its worthless, but you will be sorry you put it in your generator as it will gum up your carb pronto. The guy above who knows a… Read more »

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.


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.

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………..


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

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.

Bob Miller

If you are saying it is non flammable, not possible… Gas is a flammable liquid but the fumes are highly explosive…. if that property were taken from the Gas….. internal combustion would not occur. Diesel is not nearly as volatile but it wont burn in a gasoline engine for long without fouling the plugs. If that were true…. we could burn lots of stuff in our cars….. paint thinner… vodka…. who knows the list would be endless.


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… Read more »

Bob Miller

Russia has an EMP device in response to the USA putting all the patriot type systems around them. Nothing that has any electric circuitry will be spared unless its caged. No Solar panels, the entire grid, even your shaver….. store your generator in a metal garbage can with a tightly fitting lid…. wait until they double tap to take out all the spare parts that would be rushed to repair the first attack….. Putin has hinted that he will use this weapon if provoked much more. We deserve it too…. The United states has become a bully and its tactics… Read more »

Richard Fix

Just to address a point of illogical logic you espoused concerning the impossibility to drop a steel structure with fire- Using your logic, one need simply ask, “How is steel produced?” But to be more direct and on label, so to speak, please do ask an architect, and then ask someone who knows at least a minimal amount of physics and you will find that it is not about melting steel with fire, but merely heating it and with hundreds of tons of weight on top of it, it bends or gives, then collapses. Please do your homework before you… Read more »

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.

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… Read more »


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.


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

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.

S. Cullen

I found this article pretty much spot on for my needs…but got a couple of questions… My plan is to store about 1,000 gals of gas…mainly for generators…. Stored outside in the woods under shade trees and covered by a tarp for now…eventually I’m going to build a wooded and wire lean too…. The gas will be stored in metal barrels that had racing fuel one time use….so the barrels are lined…. Barrels placed on wooden pallets…using “Startron” fuel stabilizer from Northern Tool that says 2 years for fuel storing…. Have 5 generators from 2200 W to 9,000W…. Primarily for… Read more »


When buying gas for storage you should never get the “winter” blend. In most areas it has more ethanol added to it. Not only does ethanol draw more moisture from the air, it is much less energy dense compared to gasoline (you get higher mileage with ethanol free gas, which partially makes up for it’s higher cost). Sta-Bil has been proven to be mostly kerosene. While rotating my gasoline today I found a can from two years ago that accidentally missed the 2016 rotation cycle. It had been treated with PRI-G. I filled my empty mower with it and it… Read more »


I’d like our someone to tell me how to store fuel in hot weather? It’s 117 here today, so I’m not talking about a cool 90* day! Any suggestions? Or am I screwed?

Ray Zorbach

I had 2000 gallons of diesel stored for my generator prepping for Y2K that never happened. Needless to say there was no way I was going to use it up in an emergency since they were few and far between (usually power losses due to weather). I put PRI-D in the tanks every year, and 14 years later – I sold the property, diesel and all to a friend and he used it all up in his diesel truck in about 2 years – 16 total years of storage with no problems!!! I’d say PRI-D will do what they say… Read more »


I store my gas in 5 gal plastic. I add the suggested amount of a product called “seafoam ” I keep my gas for 1 year, then burn it in my pickup with no problems. Regarding plastic gas cans, where the old vent plug usto be, I drill a hole and install a car valve stem. May not be legal but it works well.


Here is another option that is available from local Briggs & Stratton dealers, depending upon the size they may need to order it for you but it is available in quart, gallon, 5 gallon, and 54 gallon drum.



nice article
keep it up and good luck
i have also started blog on walmart where i am going to give all the informations about walmart

alvan w atkinson

Have had a good experience with PRI-D. A friend gave me about 50 gal of old diesel fuel in exchange for borrowing a portable tank to move some fuel for him, (Got left in tank I think) Anyway it was dark. Added PRI-D, mixed it up and the next day it was light as regular diesel. Added to more recent fuel and subsequently used without difficulty. Have been using PRI-D regularly every year in stored diesel without difficulty. Would reccomend it.


Many Gas stations on the water , frequented by boats which cannot use Ethanol in the engine are still selling ethanol-free gasoline. However the gallon I usually almost always one dollar more compared to automotive gas stations.

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