Does Gasoline Go Bad In Plastic Containers? (Explained)

Many of us are storing some of our gasoline around our houses to operate chainsaws, tillers, lawnmowers, and some other machines. However, if you store gasoline in the wrong way, this gasoline can catch on fire, and it can even worsen and go into an explosion. As a result, there can be fire, which is very harmful to yourself, your family, and other people. 

So does gasoline go bad in plastic containers? Milk jugs, glass containers, antifreeze jugs, gas cans, and many other containers are not suitable and recommended for storing gasoline or carrying it. Some plastics will become brittle with age, and these containers are not compatible with gasoline.

Gasoline is a product made to fuel up an internal combustion engine; this liquid is highly volatile. The vapors of this liquid can ignite with just a tiny spark, a flame, or a hot object. If this is mixed with air in the right proportions, the vapor of one cup of gasoline will have an explosive power or about five pounds of dynamite. 

Therefore, there are also some dangers, and it can be presented in improper handling and storage of gasoline. That is why you must store gas correctly. If you will not store gas correctly, there will be risks because gas can be dangerous to the health especially to the children’s health. 

In this article, we will be talking about how gasoline will go rancid in a plastic container. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Does Gasoline Go Bad In Plastic Containers

Can You Store Gasoline In Plastic Containers?

Milk jugs, glass containers, antifreeze jugs, gas cans, and many other containers are not suitable and recommended for storing gasoline or carrying it. Some plastics will become brittle with age, and these containers are not compatible with gasoline. Some other containers are not strong enough, and they cannot withstand the pressure of expansion and the contraction that the changes in the temperature can cause. 

In addition, some containers are sold as gas cans, and they usually cannot be sealed very well to prevent some spilling. With that, the best containers for handling and carrying gasoline are approved safety cans. Safety cans are available in many sizes, and they also have different mechanisms in opening the valve to pour the liquids in. 

The funnel spouts can be added in pouring quickly and reduce spills. The cost can be more expensive than the cheap cans of a hardware store product, but these are way safer, and the lifespan is also more good than the others. They have specific requirements that should be met first. 

Does Gas Go Bad In A Plastic Container?

Generally speaking, a pure gas will start to degrade, and it will lose its combustibility. It is a result of evaporation and oxidation for about three months to six months. That is if you will store it in a sealed and labeled metal or a plastic container. 

The ethanol and gasoline blend will have a short shelf life of about two months to three months. The fuel-stabilized gasoline can last for about one year to three years in optimal conditions. Gas that is stored in a car tank will start to degrade in about one month. 

The gas line must be kept and stored in an airtight container. The container should always be labeled with the date of the purchase and the date of the storage. You must keep the gas cool and in a low oxygen environment. 

If your gas is stored, it’ll become exposed to humidity and high heat. It can also increase the volatility and the potential for explosion or fire. 

With that, it is never advised or recommended to have a container with more than five gallons of fuel. If you have an automobile, piece of equipment, or a machine and it has a tank that has been on idle for too long, using a fuel stabilizer additive is the easiest and most efficient way to keep its potency. 

How Long Can You Store Gasoline In A Plastic Container?

It is good that you want to know about the lifespan of your gas line. If the gas does not have its engine igniting ability, it can cause damages to your fuel system components. You also need to check the fuel storage time limits put in the manufacturer’s guidelines before using any tired gas for your tractor, mower, or some other machines or equipment. 

You can void your warranty if you fill your engines with gas that has been stored for so long. But the old gas does not equalize to a lousy gas or is contaminated. An adequately stored gas can live up to six months. 

However, gasoline naturally degrades and will lose its combustibility over time because of the oxidation and the exposure it has to oxygen. There is also the evaporation of its volatile compounds. Gasoline can last for three months to six months if it is stored properly. 

The container must be labeled and sealed tightly in a plastic container or a metal tank with the capacity of their recommended by the fire department. The recommended must not be more than five gallons. The purity of the gas and the use of the fuel stabilizers can either lengthen or shorten its life.

How Can You Tell If Gasoline Is Bad?

You can’t tell if it is terrible if the smell is stale or like turpentine. If the gas is more than a few months old and treated as if it has alcohol in it, this gas will not be good anymore. You can take a clear test tube. 

Put some gas in the clear test tube and then hold it up to the sunlight. You can also check if there are floating or suspended particles in it. 

If yes, then you might have harmful gas. You can also light a spoon full of gas on fire and check if it will burn with soot and flames. If it leaves a soot mark, then you have a harmful gas.

What Are The Risks Of Using Old Gasoline From Plastic Containers?

Some plastics will become brittle with age, and they will not be compatible with gasoline. Some corners are not strong enough, and they cannot hold the pressure of the expansion and the contraction caused by the changes in the temperature. 


In summary, it is good, and it is essential to know more about gasoline. It would help if you had good gasoline and not a bad one. 

Bad gasoline can cause damage to your vehicle or to your machines. Gas does not live forever. And that is why you need to know how to store gasoline properly.

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Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more