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Fuel Storage – How To Store Fuel For The Long Haul

By SS Contributor | Last Updated: May 26, 2015

Do your survival plans include long-term fuel storage?

If not…they should.

Why? Because fuel provides options…and when it comes to survival, options are like gold.

There are five primary fuels to consider storing:

  1. Firewood
  2. Gasoline
  3. Diesel Fuel
  4. Kerosene
  5. Propane

And these fuels are necessary for:

  • Creating heat (food/warmth)
  • Running a standard generator or appliances (electricity)
  • Bugging out (motor transportation)

OK, you get it…sounds easy, right?

Just chop down a few trees and you got firewood. Just head down to your local Philps 66 and fill up some plastic fuel cans…right? Not so fast.

In this article, we will be covering:

  • Pros and cons of each of these fuel types
  • How to properly and safely store these fuels

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stack of firewood for long term storage

Firewood

Firewood is probably the most common form of fuel to store for long-term survival. Why?

Firewood is often abundant (location dependent), it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s not complicated to store, and there are no laws on how much you can store. Firewood is also great for creating heat and cooking foods without electricity or chemicals.

However, there’s more to it than just chop down a tree and put it in your fireplace.

First off, different woods have different burn properties.

Softwoods tend to be poor burners. They burn too quickly and with the low heat output and they also leave a lot of ash and are pungent burners. They tend to deteriorate faster than hardwoods.

Hardwoods tend to have opposite burning properties. They burn slowly, with high heat output. They keep better in long-term fuel storage, and they produce less pungent smoke.

You also need to plan to allow firewood to be seasoned to get the most benefit from it.

Seasoning firewood consists of chopping it, splitting it into useable sizes, and then storing it in a dry location for at least six months (a year is better) before use.

While there are worse things you can do than burning pre-seasoned firewood, it’s still something to be avoided. Why?

Firewood that is not properly seasoned won’t burn well (low heat output) and will create more creosote buildup in chimneys. Creosote build-up is what causes chimney fires.

Overall, good hardwood firewood should be one of the first fuels you begin stockpiling for SHTF.

row of gas cans

Long Term Gasoline Storage: The Most Popular Bug Out Fuel

While there are quite a few diesel vehicles on the road, gasoline-powered engines still dominate. Only about 3% of all US vehicles are diesel-powered.

So 97% of US road vehicles are gas-based…

What happens when SHTF and gas stations have no electricity to pump?

Or what if the gas stations are overrun with extremely long lines due to panic and go empty within hours?

You better hope you have enough long-term gasoline storage to get to your bug out location.


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I hope you now realize what a blessing a few extra gallons of stored gas will be. Now, let’s discuss how you should store gasoline long-term.

Gasoline left alone, won’t keep…it has a very short shelf life. As it ages, it will quickly deteriorate over time. If you store this fuel long enough, it will eventually become useless.  Essentially it’s one of the most difficult fuels to store long-term.

So you have two options…you can either learn how to store gasoline long-term (keep it from deteriorating) or come up with a regular fuel rotation system.

How To Store Gasoline Long Term

Depending upon the environment your gas is stored, gas will typically only last up to a year before it starts to become highly unusable.

However, there are products that can be added to gasoline to increase shelf life.

Gasoline stabilizer additives are designed to be periodically added to your stored fuel to prevent natural deterioration of its ignition properties.

Just add the stabilizer to your gasoline within a year, mix well and you’re ready for another year. It generally needs to be done every year…not just once.

Or Just Rotate Your Gasoline

If you would rather not deal with additives, you could also rotate your long-term gasoline storage.

Just pour the gas from the container into your car and use it as normal, and then refill your storage containers (small, mediumlarge) with fresh gas from your local station.

To ensure you stay clear of any ill deterioration effects, it’s probably best to rotate your gasoline storage every six months.

How Much Gasoline Should You Store?

This depends on a variety of personal factors, but in general, I suggest storing 25% more than it takes to get to your bug out location.

So for example, if your bugout location is 300 miles away…you’d ideally have about 25 gallons of fuel stored (assuming 15 mpg).

This will allow you to easily get to your bug out location (even if you’re starting out on fumes) without being dependent upon any gas stations.

A Few More Gasoline Long Term Fuel Storage Tips

There may be some local legal restrictions on how much gasoline you can legally store in one location at any given time. So make sure you look into that before you start your long-term fuel storage.

Before you can start storing, you’ll need to find gasoline-approved containers to keep the fuel in. There are OSHA regulations in regards to what’s approved vs. unapproved, so just keep that in mind.

Here’s some more “how to store gasoline” information from the guys over at The Prepper Project.

Ensure you take the following precautions when storing gasoline:

  • Since gas (and its vapors) are highly flammable, it needs to be stored out of extreme elements such as direct sunlight, extreme moisture, and extreme temperatures.
  • Store the gasoline in a location separate from your living quarters such as an unattached shed. Also, keep it out of reach of children.
  • Make certain your long-term fuel storage location is at least 50 feet away from any ignition sources (i.e. pilot lights). Note: gasoline vapor is heavier than air and can travel along the floor to ignition sources.
  • To prevent gas vapor leaks, ensure your approved containers are properly sealed at all times.
  • Take the time to learn all gasoline handling instructions prior to storing or using them.

One last point – get a siphon kit and learn how to siphon gas.

In survival, you might need to scavenge fuel, and the easiest way to do this may be siphoning it out of other abandoned vehicles.


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long term fuel storage tanks

Diesel Fuel

You’ll want to store diesel fuel instead of gasoline if your bug out vehicle of choice is diesel-powered.

The Diesel Fuel that is typically seen today is actually Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel or also referred to as ULSD. The Diesel fuel that was stored “back in the day”, lasted for numerous years without any deterioration effects.

However, with the new formulation, ULSD won’t typically last much more than about 6 months. You can extend the life of USLD by adding additives to the diesel fuel storage tanks (similar to gasoline).

Another way to extend the life of the ULSD would be the process of nitrogen blanking the fuel, which will increase the life of the fuel indefinitely.

Nitrogen Blanking involves injecting external nitrogen into the diesel fuel storage tanks.

You inject the nitrogen as the fuel increases and decreases from the use and any temperature change basically by removing the empty space in the tanks and replacing it with nitrogen.

This removes the atmospheric air from the diesel fuel storage tanks that can cause fungus to grow since it is made up of both oxygen and water.

In general, diesel fuel is less dangerous to store than gasoline due to it being less prone to accidental ignition.

kerosene bulk storage tank

Kerosene

Kerosene is an ideal fuel to store because of its versatility. It can be used for lighting, heating, and cooking.

Kerosene is considered a non-volatile fuel, meaning won’t explode (unlike gasoline), which is always a plus.

It can also be stored for many years without significant degradation. Kerosene is very dense in energy and holds almost 50% more energy than propane.

In addition, since Kerosene is readily available under normal circumstances so you won’t have any problems locating it and purchasing large amounts of it at reasonable prices (before SHTF at least).

In other words, you get more bang for your buck…literally.

propane storage tank

Propane

Propane is relatively straightforward to store. It can be stored in propane storage tanks in both large or small quantities.

There are different sizes of propane storage tanks available so you would need to check with the supplier to see what sizes are available, as well as what sizes are permitted to be stored in your state.

In some locals even allow for mass long-term fuel storage of propane, but it can be challenging to find tanks large enough.

As with Kerosene, propane can be stored safely for the long term without deteriorating and also is very versatile. It can be used for stoves, lights, heaters, and even your refrigerator.

So Which Fuels Are The Best Long-Term Fuel Storage?

It all depends upon your family’s survival plan.

Gasoline is important you plan to bug out using your gas-powered vehicle.  The same goes for diesel fuel and diesel-powered cars and trucks.


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Neither gasoline nor diesel is necessary for long-term fuel storage if you plan to stay put.

If you staying put when SHTF, then you may want to plan for using the less volatile fuels such as kerosene and or propane. Either of these can be configured to power ovens, stoves, heaters, lights, etc. if properly planned for.

I believe everyone should store as much firewood as possible. You can never have too much firewood when SHTF, especially those who live in cold winter climate zones.

So are you planning to prepare for some long-term fuel storage? What techniques or advice do you have to offer the rest of us? Let us know in the comments below.

Prepare, Adapt and Overcome,
“Just In Case” Jack

P.s. Do you know where the closest nuclear bunker is from your home?

There are a lot of natural nuclear shelters in the US that are absolutely free. And one of them is near your home.

Click on the image above to find out where you need to take shelter.
Photo Credits: Firewood / Gas / Diesel / Kerosene / Propane
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