How To Store Fuel For When The SHTF

To keep the power running or the bug out vehicle fuelled is important in a sh-t hits the fan scenario, and in these times you can be sure fuel stations have closed down and fuel supply to your area has been cut, this is why preppers need to know how to store fuel for when the rainy day comes and what to add to it to make it last longer.

For me, I keep a reserve supply of 14 gallons of fuel using a fuel stabiliser. I have used this in various occasions from blackouts when my family is relying upon the power crunched out by the generator or when the car is low on fuel and when gas prices in my area might have soared to ridiculous levels.

But no matter what you do with fuel it isn’t meant to be stored and it does go off. Much like I mentioned with my water storage stocks, fuel needs to be circulated or rotated through with a fresh supply after six to twelve months. Keeping fuel past its expiry will make it, at some point, unable to produce the combustion that powers our generators and vehicles and can clog up your engines.

For the most of us, gasoline is the type of fuel we use the most and it is also the first to go in a survival scenario. That or prices soar due to limited availability. But just pouring gasoline into a 40-gallon drum and leaving it is not going to keep and it will have a short shelf life.

It is these reasons why storing gasoline correctly is important and getting the maximum life out of fuel is important for all of us, otherwise what is the point of having a rainy day stockpile?

How to store fuel (gasoline) for long-term use

Where you should be storing fuel

It goes without saying that you should not be storing gasoline in the home. It is a serious fire hazard and the fumes can pose certain health risks. Ideally, you should be storing all reserve supplies of fuel in an outdoor building such as a shed, barn or external garage.

The fuel should be kept out of varying elements, so keep it in a spot where there is no direct sunlight, moisture, or extreme temperature changes. For the longest life of fuel, it should be kept in an area that has a general room temperature (80 Fahrenheit or below).

Another thing to remember when storing fuel is security. When fuel becomes scarce in a worst-case SHTF scenario there are going to be a lot of people wanting your supplies, whether it be for their generators or vehicles. And a lot of scavengers are going to be searching your property for it. So for this aspect, it pays to keep the reserve supply concealed as well as secure, such as in a lockable area.

What you should be adding

I use a fuel stabiliser called STA-BIL. It works by stopping your fuel from absorbing water that might form due to the closed environment of an engine or a fuel container. That water absorption is caused by the oxidation and with six months worth of this oxidation process your fuel becomes thick and soupy rendering it useless as well as clogging up your fuel lines and injectors.

The stabiliser works against that process by absorbing those chemicals before the fuel does. It only works with fresh fuel, it’s not going to work with old expired fuel. But in this effect, a lot of stabiliser users also pour it directly in their engines for mowers or motorbikes that they might not use during the winter, but want the engine and fuel port to stay fresh for its next use.

Using something like STA-BIL, and keeping the fuel in the right area and in the right container can stretch your gasoline’s life up to 12 months, so it pays to follow the simple steps to keep that stockpile of much-needed fuel in the correct way.

How much you need to add

For the STA-BIL brand stabiliser, I use one ounce per two-and-a-half gallons (30mil in 9.5 litres).

You can use this scale to measure accurately for how much you are considering to store.

What you should be storing your fuel in

What colour to store fuel in

To store fuel, you can’t just use any old container. First, you should be picking the right colour. If you take a look at the chart below, you will see that there is actually an international standard on what fuels and oils belong to what colour. For gasoline, we need to use a red container.

What container to use

Only approved gasoline containers should be used to store fuel safely. To check the approval, make sure the container is tested and certified to ASTM F-85299 Standard Specification for Portable Gasoline Containers for Consumer Use.

Because you have kept your fuel for a rainy day, there’s no point wasting it when it’s time to fill up, so as well as looking to see if it is certified, make sure you get an ‘easy pour’ container or one with a pump as they minimise spillage. If you do not have one of these, you can alternatively use a funnel to pour the fuel in.

Previously I mentioned that I stored 14 gallons of reserve fuel, I do that in a 14-gallon gas can on wheels. There are also smaller 2-gallon easy pour containers if you don’t want to keep more.

Rotating your fuel

Much like food and water, no matter what we do we can’t keep certain stocks forever. For gasoline, it is the same story. While I have said 12 months storage is possible, to ensure you have the best fuel supply for when you actually need it (and we never really know when that’s going to happen) we should be rotating our stock.

To rotate the fuel, when the five to six months comes around since I filled up the fuel reserve, I’ll use it in the lawnmower, car, or run the generator to get rid of the old fuel. I try to make sure I fill up my new reserve with ‘fresh’ gas (when the truck has delivered new stock to the station). This ensures that when I add my stabiliser, I am essentially preserving the freshest gas.

If you are stockpiling fuel for when the sh-t hits the fan, whether it is an emergency, disaster, or possible war, make sure you are also preparing your food and water reservers, as well as your bug out bag and NBC protective gear. Here are the guides:

Preparing Food On A Budget

Storing Water

What To Use In A Nuclear, Biological Or Chemical Attack

Essential Bug Out Bag


  1. Interesting article. Any vulnerability in any prepping plan can completely compromise its execution. It is worth mentioning that many countries are poorly prepared for a SHTF situation. My country (OZ) only has two weeks of fuel reserves; therefore, they are pretty vulnerable. Most of our fuel goes through the South China Sea, so if something goes wrong and those reserves need to be diverted to other industries, civilians may struggle to execute their bug-out plans. We have a big country with plenty of places to hide, but what is the point if you can’t get there?

    • Absolutely right. It would be a shame to have a fully self-sufficient bug out location somewhere in Australia without the ability to get there.

      Out of interest, how much do you keep considering the already limited supply in Aust?

      • I have split 800km of fuel between different containers which gives me enough fuel to get me to both of the farmers who are in my bugging network. They have some reserves at their farms which they have incorporated into their general work to keep it moving.

  2. Andy Whiley


    Hey great post. I bought the same sta bil for my grandfather who is always just emptying out the old fuel out of his barrels on the farm. He’s been using it straight in the engine. Best Christmas present I got him he says.

  3. fifth_disciple


    Another good preservative is PRI-G for gas and PRI-D for diesel.

  4. Unless the gas station you buy from is in a remote untraveled area they usually refill their in ground tanks every couple days. Getting fuel when the truck delivered is not the best plan. When they deliver to the tank, all the gunk and water in the bottom of the tank is stirred up and goes right into whatever you are fueling. It is best to go the day after the tanks are filled. I have been an auto tech for 40 years and have seen it happen quite often when someone filled up after the tanker delivered and their vehicle would not run due to contaminated fuel. Off comes the fuel tank and flush the entire fuel system on the car.

  5. KJQ


    If you are going to store gasoline for long term, there are two important things to know about. First, most gas sold in North America contains some ethanol (bio fuel made from things like corn), typically 5-10%. This greatly diminishes how long the gasoline will remain stable, even with stabilizer added. It is also a terrible fuel for using in small engines such as generators, snow blowers, lawn mowers, chainsaws etc. Therefore, in addition to adding stabilizer, you should buy gas that is ethanol free. Web sites like will help you locate some in your area.

    Next, I strongly recommend you purchase metal gas containers vice the poly ones typically sold today. I’ve been storing fuel for decades (rotated every 6 months to 2 years) and discovered that the poly containers actually allow gas molecules to pass, albeit slowly, over time. I noticed older containers were down 1/3 to 1/2 their contents when I went to use up the older gas. I’ve now switched to Wavian NATO style metal cans. Expensive, but worth it. Another option if you can afford it is investing in a large 500 gallon metal tank that many private companies with their own fleet vehicles have.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic!