Gas was down another four cents today so I swapped out some of the stored gas.
Currently, I keep fuel in two different containers: Longterm (one year or longer) fuel goes in the standard metal Blitz jerrycan. Shortterm (less than a year, usually six months between rotations) fuel goes in 5- or 6-gallon plastic cans. Larger containers do have their place but they are less easily transported…and I really like to have all my gear in a form that allows it to be hurriedly heaved into the back of a vehicle. A 40# gas can is a lot easier to handle than a 400# drum.
The military uses the Military Fuel Can (MFC) as manufactured by (and available from) Scepter of Canada. These are nice cans but they are plastic. A very heavy, very durable plastic, but still… My concerns with plastic are its expansion in temperature ranges (expansion/contraction when left in the heat/cold), the ‘off gassing’ through the porous plastic material, degradation from sun exposure, and resistance to puncture.
I worry less about these things with the metal cans but they aren’t without their drawbacks either. First off is the cost. The plastic cans from Blitz or Briggs and Stratton are ridiculously cheap. About $6 or less. A metal can goes for about 5-6 times that. The metal Blitz cans seem to have ‘issues’ with the paint coming off rather easily. Keep in mind that youre supposed to have your gas cans colored bright red, so while I don’t care if the paint comes off since I can just degrease the whole can and paint it a nice flat OD, such would be, in the eyes of .gov, ‘wrong’. Mala per se versus mala prohiba.
One other nice thing about the metal cans is they lend themselves to being locked. (Although there are locking racks for plastic ones) You can fab up a locking arrangement fairly easily or just buy some aftermarket lock-up kit. When traveling long distances, I leave the cans in the back of the truck with a cable lock running through them but I put the cans in the backseat of the truck if stopping overnight (and with the metal cans, this leaves no lingering gas smell in the vehicle.)
Both styles of cans use spouts that affix to the main large opening in the can. Here’s where more headaches start. Even with everything going well, these things drain slowly. Mind numbingly slow. Like an 85-year-old-man-at-a -urinal kind of slow. You stand there and think to yourself “It only took me 90 seconds to put 5 gallons of gas in at the pump, whys it taking me fifteen minutes here?”. One reason, your fuel can is gravity feed versus electrically pumped. Another is the venting of the cans to allow air to enter and gasoline to leave without creating a vacuum (which, I am sure, has a technical or scientific term to describe it.) A very nice end run around these problems is simply to get a funnel. Most automotive sections at WalMart, Kmart or whathaveyou will have long plastic funnels made for just this sort of thing. The ones I got were also made by Blitz, a buck each, and I paracorded one to each plastic gas can. (Although the gas cans come with their own nozzles that are hit/miss in terms of efficiency.) With the funnel, things go much faster and being able to quickly fill your vehicle can come in mighty handy…esp. when you don’t want others to see that you have ‘extra’ fuel.
The two big choices these days for gas stabilizers are PRI-G and Sta-bil. As we all know, gasoline degrades over time as various additives and whatnot evaporate out or start to change. By adding a gasoline stabilizer you extend the ‘shelf life’ of your fuel. PRI-G claims that their additive will actually recover ‘bad’ gas and make it more palatable than it would otherwise be to your vehicle. I’d read other reviews of PRI-G and have been using it, although Stab-il is much easier to find in pretty much every auto store. The girlfriend got me a large (enough to do 512 gallons) bottle of PRI-G about two years ago and I’ve been pleased with it, although I do also have some Stab-il on hand.
As usual, when handling stuff like gasoline you want to observe some minimum safety precautions like ‘keep it outta your eyes, off your clothes and vehicle, and try not to breath it in’. A pair of gloves and safety goggles, kept in your truckbox, is never a bad idea…yeah, you’ll look like a dork but when youre staggering around clutching your eyes and trying to find a garden hose you’ll wish to hell you’d cared less about looking cool. A couple of those little ‘pocket packs’ of bleach wipes (whcih, btw, you should always have in your pack or bag…they make using public bathrooms alot less germtacular. Seriously.) or babywipes is also handy for getting the inevitable smell of gas off your hands.
How much fuel to keep on hand is a strictly personal choice…much like ‘how much ammo/food/gold/condoms do you need?’. I’ll offer my opinion. Many of us will probably stay pretty close to home in a crisis, but think of the furthest distant place you are likely to go to if you were to leave during a crisis…Unlce Billys farm, your hunting cabin in the hills, etc. Calculate the miles and mileage of your vehicle. Have enough gas to make two complete round trips. Why? Because youre gonna spend a lot of time idling in traffic (if youre unlucky enough to get caught in one of those county-length traffic jams), youre likely going to have to detour and take alternate routes that may be longer than ‘the usual way’, and you may find it useful for bartering or sharing (if youre inclined towards that sort of thing).
And fer cryin’ out loud, try to refuel where no one can see you. In a crisis theres a few things that are going to immediately be high demand (‘high demand’ as in ‘give me your [item] or I’ll kill you’) and fuel is one of them. (Others include ammo, water, food, etc). So get off the main drag, find an out of the way spot away from prying eyes and do it there. Try to cover or hide the fuel cans so the stranded and desperate motorists don’t get any ideas. And, of course, think about exactly what youre going to do when someone says ‘Screw you, I need gas and I’m taking yours’.
Obviously if youre planning on running a generator youre going to want to keep as much fuel as necessary for that as well. Always try to store more than you need. And don’t forget to sock away some oil as well. All the gas in the world won’t help if the engine is seized because you ran your genny for three days with low oil pressure. (Side note: portable generators can become very portable in a crisis if you don’t chain them to a solid object. Store some heavy duty chain and a user-programmable combination lock. [No keys to lose or to have to share. Come up with an easily remembered combo, maybe the last four digits on the serial number plate, and share it with those who need to know it. Keys get lost or there aren’t enough to go around.)