How to Store Gasoline Long Term: Stockpiling Gas for Emergencies and Disaster Preparation

In 2014, Americans consumed an average of 374.74 million gallons of gasoline per day. That comes out to over 1.5 gallons per adult each day.

In a total disaster situation where gasoline isn’t readily available, the shortage will take a significant toll on our way of life and could affect our very survival.

For these reasons, many smart-minded preppers are considering whether to stockpile gasoline.

Here we will go over:

  • Should you stockpile gasoline?
  • How long does gasoline last?
  • Is it legal to stockpile gasoline?
  • How much gasoline to stockpile
  • How to store gasoline safely
  • Gasoline alternatives

Should You Stockpile Gasoline?

All sorts of disaster situations could put our gasoline in jeopardy.

Gasoline is one of the first things to go during a war, as happened in the Bosnian war. 

But, just because gasoline would disappear in a SHTF situation, it doesn’t mean you need to stockpile 10,000 gallons of it in a secret storage tank.

After a significant disaster, you won’t need 2 gallons of gasoline daily to drive to work and the supermarket (hint: you won’t be going to work anymore, and the supermarkets will be empty!).

What you WILL need a gasoline stockpile for is:

How Long Does Gasoline Last?

When stockpiling gasoline, the first thing to remember is that it is PERISHABLE. You should rotate your gasoline stockpile like the rest of your prepper supplies.

Exposure to air will cause gasoline to oxidize, which means the octane levels in the gas will change. This will cause sludgy buildup in your engine, which can clog and destroy it.

Never use old gasoline in an expensive engine! Because of oxidation, the gas might become so stale that it won’t turn on the generator or run the car – which would defeat the entire point of stockpiling gasoline.

Read about some uses for old gasoline

Gasoline will probably hold up well for a few years if it isn’t exposed to air (remember that even a tiny pinhole will let in air!). Don’t keep gasoline for more than a year to play it safe.

You can add stabilizers to gasoline to help it last longer, but you should still abide by the 1-year real to play it safe when stockpiling gas.

Is It Legal to Stockpile Gasoline?

The EPA recommends only storing 1-5 gallons of gasoline, and the fire department recommends a maximum of 25 gallons. But these are just recommendations. Depending on where you live, you might have very different laws about storing gasoline.

For example, in New York, anyone with more than 110 gallons of gasoline in an underground storage tank must register. In California, gasoline must be stored in an approved container.

Before you stockpile gasoline, call your local fire department. They will know the laws and local fire codes regarding gasoline stockpiling.

How Much Gasoline to Store?

Since gasoline is perishable and needs to be rotated, never stockpile more than you can rotate in 1 year. So, that 10,000-gallon gasoline stockpile probably isn’t a good idea!

To estimate how much gasoline you absolutely must have stockpiled, calculate:

  • How much gasoline you need to drive to your Bug Out Location
  • How much gasoline you need to fuel your generator for 30 days
  • How much extra gasoline you want to have on hand as a barter item

Generally, your Bug Out Location should never be more than a full tank of gas away – or about 15 gallons, depending on your type of car.

Assuming that you only use the generator when necessary, you’d need about 60 gallons of gasoline for a 30-day stockpile. The more alternative heating and lighting supplies you have, the less you need to rely on your generator.

Use your judgment to determine how much (if any) gasoline you want to stockpile as a survival barter item. I’d keep the gasoline stockpiles for myself and use things I know how to make myself for bartering instead.

How to Store Gasoline Long Term

You want to stockpile gasoline in case of a disaster…but stockpiling a highly-flammable liquid can be a recipe for disaster! If you are going to store gasoline, you better ensure it is done safely.

The most common way of storing gasoline is those red plastic cans which are usually 1-5 gallons in size. This is fine if you just want to stockpile a few can’s worth. Even with this small amount of gasoline, you still need to follow precautions:

  • Store gasoline in a room not attached to the home, such as a shed.
  • Keep the gasoline away from all heat sources, including direct sunlight, heaters, and hot water heaters. Remember that gasoline vapors are heavy and can travel to ignition sources! Keep the gas at least 50 feet away from pilot lights.
  • Never smoke in the same room where gasoline is stored.
  • Fill the gasoline tank to 95% to allow for expansion
  • Store gasoline in a well-ventilated area – never in the trunk of your car!
  • Choose smaller gasoline containers to make rotating your stockpile easier.

If you want to stockpile more gasoline, then you will need to make an underground storage tank.

Related reading:


I’ve got a relatively small amount of gasoline stockpiled in case of an emergency. The reason that I’m not stockpiling huge amounts is that I don’t want to be dependent on a commodity like gasoline.

Instead of investing in a fancy underground storage setup, I am putting my time and money into renewable energies – like solar power and biodiesel. The best thing about these fuel and energy sources is that they are knowledge-based.

I can’t lug around 500 gallons of gasoline with me in a Bug Out situation, but my knowledge of how to make solar panels will come with me!

Are you stockpiling gasoline? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. don’t forget protecting against critters. Had one 5 gallon plastic can chewed by a tree rat (squirrel). Lost half the gas before discovering it.

  2. I do a midsized solar panel tied to a heavy duty battery normally used for my truck, (F150) and plug in a 2600W inverter. Recharge all the batteries for the electric tool collection. Good thing is that I can also run practically anything else in my house.

  3. Several times in my life I have lived in rural or semi rural areas, the sorts of places where gas stations are few & far between, and not open 24/7, more like 7am til 4pm. You must discipline yourself to fill up whenever you can. Sort of like the old saying, never skip a chance to pee.
    I don’t like storing gasoline. It’s volatile, and ignites easy. The red plastic jerry cans are very heavy to lift & hold while you pour gas down a filler pipe. At 72 years old I use 20 litre containers. That’s about 5 gallons, weighing about 40 pounds, so think about your strength as the cans come in 1, 2, 2-1/2, 5, & 10 gallon sizes. An American gallon is just under 4 litres and a Canadian gallon is about 4-1/2 litres.
    At home I keep mine in a garden shed quite far from the pilot lights of furnace & hot water heater. At the cottage I keep the cans in the outhouse, quite far from the gas barbecue, woodstove, and my shop.
    I use a lawn tractor, leaf blower, and portable generator (4 when the power goes out). I have rechargeable leaf blower, plug-in lawnmower, battery trolling motor, & electric sawsall for trimming trees & brush.

  4. Back in 1976 I deployed to West Germany on Brigade 76 out of Fort Carson. We took our equipment and POL products from K-Towns storage facility’s pre positioned war stocks in a West Germany. I signed for a Jeep and was issued 4 NATO 5 Gallon Fuel Jerry Cans full of regular gas. The storage info on the receipt stated the gas was from 1974 with stabilizer added in 1975. We used our first can while on a FTX at Wildflecken Army training area. Worked perfectly even after being in climate controlled storage for 2 years.

  5. Informative article, I live in California (earthquake country and political thing are getting crazier) and starting to stockpile food, water etc. stocking gasoline also. Just looking for all information I can to do it right.


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