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Gasoline & Fuel

Storing Old Gasoline?...
Handle it Safely!

Gasoline And Fuels Are Dangerous

Despite its common occurrence and use, gasoline is one of the most dangerous substances found around the home. It is both highly flammable and extremely toxic. Both kerosene and diesel fuel are flammable and categorized as toxic petroleum distillate products. Kerosene is used in lamps, domestic heaters or furnaces, jet engine fuel and as a solvent for greases and pesticides. Diesel fuel has a higher boiling point than kerosene and is used to power diesel engines.

Fuels can damage your health through inhalation, ingestion and absorption through skin contact. The first symptoms of poisoning include flushing, slurred speech, staggering and confusion and other symptoms similar to intoxication. This may be followed by nausea and headache, and eventually may lead to coma and death. Any fluids aspirated into the lungs can cause pneumonia and lung lesions. 

Storing fuels in beverage containers (such as soda pop bottles) is especially dangerous since children are attracted to the container and may swallow the contents.

How Do I Dispose Of Old Gasoline And Fuels?

Disposal of gasoline and other fuel oil is a unique problem because of the flammability of these substances. Putting flammable wastes, such as gasoline, in the trash or sewer can cause fires and explosions. 

Pouring old gasoline or fuel oil down the drain or into a sewer is not an option either. Conventional wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to handle these materials. Storm sewers may drain to a stream or lake, and gasoline poured on the ground may run off or percolate into streams or wells.

Using up old gasoline or other fuel is the best way to “dispose” of it. Even if it is old or contains oil or water, most gasoline and kerosene can be used after it is reconditioned.

How Do I Recondition Gasoline?

Unless contaminated with another substance, gasoline and fuel oils remain usable under most circumstances. However, as gasoline ages, it tends to lose some of its ability to ignite in an engine. Old gas used at full strength may account for sluggish behavior or temporary failure of an engine. Stored for long periods, gasoline can become contaminated by rust particles, dirt or water and become “gummy” or “varnished”. Most gasoline, even if it is old or contains oil or water, may be used after it is “reconditioned”. Reconditioned gasoline can be used in cars and trucks, and some two-cycle engines such as lawn mowers, snow blowers and outboard motors.

Check your owner’s manual before using reconditioned gasoline in your engine. Do not use reconditioned gasoline in a car with a fuel injection system.

To recondition gasoline, follow these basic instructions:

  1. Work outdoors away from open flame and sources of heat or sparks. Do not smoke or wear contact lenses while working with gasoline.

  2. Pour the old gasoline into a second container through a funnel lined with a coffee filter or two layers of thin cloth to remove particles.

  3. When the filter is dry, throw it in the trash.

  4. Mix one part filtered gasoline with five parts new gasoline. You can pour the reconditioned gasoline directly into a tank of new gasoline that is at least three-quarters full.

How Do I Remove Water From Gasoline?

To remove water from gasoline, follow these steps:

  1.  Pour the gasoline into a transparent jug. The water will settle to the bottom of the container, because water is heavier than gasoline.

  2. Carefully pour off the gasoline into a gas can, leaving the water in the jug.

  3. Pour the leftover water into a box lined with plastic and mix with an absorbent material such as sand or cat litter. Let the water dry and place the box, plastic and sand in the trash. Do not pour the water down the sink, storm drain or on the ground.

Gasoline contaminated with antifreeze, brake fluid, carburetor fluid or other unusual substances cannot be reconditioned. NEVER mix these substances together.

How Do I Store Gasoline And Other Fuels?

  1. Keep fuels out of reach of children and pets.
  2. Store in an approved safety container such as a metal gas can. Label the container with the contents and the date. For example, if you mix gasoline with oil, label the container of gasoline with the proportion of oil to gasoline, the engine that uses the mixture and the date.

  3. Do not completely fill the container. Fuels need room to expand.

  4. Keep away from heat, flame and sources of ignition. Store in a garage or outbuilding with good ventilation.

  5. Do not keep a filled gasoline can in the car. It could explode upon impact.

  6. Avoid storing gasoline in a small engine for more than two months. The gasoline can form a residue that coats parts in the engine, increasing engine wear. Before storing, use up gasoline left in engines at the end of a season by running the engine until it empties the gas tank.