Safe Storage of Gas & Combustible Fuels

Safe Storage of Gas

Safe Storage of Fuel

Do you store Fuel?

Gasoline, Diesel, Propane, Kerosene, Camp-Fuel, Alcohol, Fuel-Oils, Acetylene?

Are you storing them “Safely and Properly”?

Have a look at this perfectly timed photo of an exploding gas can. Probably staged, but still quite impressive to say the least:

Exploding Gas Can

Guest Article by NRP

Flammable liquids can be one of the most dangerous items anyone can store. Safe storage of gas and other fuels should be a top priority. If stored incorrectly it can lead to explosive disastrous results and even death.

Here is an excerpt from the National Fire Protection Association:

“In 2007-2011, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to an estimated average of 51,600 fires per year starting with ignition of a flammable gas and another 160,910 fires per year starting with ignition of a flammable or combustible liquid.

The flammable gas fires resulted in an estimated 168 civilian deaths, 1,029 civilian injuries, and $644 million in direct property damage per year.

The flammable or combustible liquid fires resulted in an estimated 454 civilian deaths, 3,910 civilian injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage per year.”

Let me reiterate, these numbers are PER YEAR!

212,510 Fires
622 Deaths
4,939 Injuries
$2,144,000,000 Property Damage


Safe Storage of Gas and Combustible Fuels

So, back to the question, Are you storing fuels safely?

Storing a can of gas in the garage may seem harmless enough, right?

Is the water heater in the garage? The furnace?

Where do you store the propane tanks? Even those little one pound tanks of propane for the Coleman Stove?

Where To Store Your Fuels

Storage of gas, fuels, or any combustible flammable liquids in the home or garage may not be one of the best places. For safe storage of gas or other combustible fuels, consider having a well (VERY WELL) ventilated shed away from the home.

[Ken adds:] This is the key to safe storage of gas (or any fuel combustibles)… Ventilation. Air flow. If you get a leaker, you want those fumes to escape rather than to build up waiting for a spark… The shed storage idea is excellent. Add vents if the shed doesn’t already have them. Several of them. They’re easy to install (just drill a 4″ round hole).

4″ diameter Shed Vent / Louver


Flammable Vapors

Vapors from different types of Flammables may be lighter than air or heaver than air. Hence the explosive vapors may creep along the floor and find the heater igniter or they may hug the Ceiling and come in contact with a Light Switch that sparks when you turn on a Light.


Proper Containers

Using the proper container and marking these containers is the first step in proper safe storage of flammable liquids and gas.

I would hope that most of us would not think of storing a gallon of gas in a milk jug, right? Same with storing diesel in a glass gallon jug. How many of us have gas stored in a 55 gallon drum? Is that drum designed for that type of liquid?

Inspect your containers. Is there rust on the bottom of the gas can? What about the 100# propane tank? Are there cracks where the Handle is welded to the Tank? Does the shutoff valve seem very easy to turn, are the threads on the valve rusted?

No Spill 2 1/2 Gallon Gas Can
No More Gas Can Lifting – Fuel Transfer Pump


A Short Story

A neighbor that lives within 5 miles had (key word ‘Had’) a 40 foot storage shipping container. In this container ha had stored his camping equipment, including many of those one pound propane tanks for the typical camp-stove.

After the local fire department had finished, the container looked very similar to the one pictured below.

It was determined one (just one) of those tanks had leaked and was ignited by a small electric heater he had in the container to keep “stuff” from freezing.

Obviously everything in the Container was a total loss including many of the family heirlooms never to be replaced. Fortunately nobody was injured, but the estimated loss was well over $15-$20k.

Gas exploded shipping container

I am no expert on fire safety, but I am here to remind everyone that has fuel of ANY typed stored, please do so Properly and Safely.

It only takes a small spark to cause immense damage, destruction, injury and death.

Consult with your local fire department. They are the people that deal with disasters all the time and see the results of improper safety, and are of very valuable asset for information.



  1. Very good article.

    Until recently I had a whole lot of combustible fuels stored in my basement–sterno, 1 lb bottles of propane, charcoal, alcohol, etc.. I was worried because when my crazy neighbor deliberately set his house on fire he had just 1 (ONE) container of propane stored in his kitchen. It exploded and you should have heard it and have seen how fast the fire grew. It is a wonder my house is still here. Fortunately his kitchen was on the far side of his house.

    Anyway, after I bought the (now) vacant lot, I had the garage fixed up, including adding a bunch of storage shelves along one wall. Now all my combustibles are in that garage, which is more than 100 feet from my house. There is no electricity to the garage and no heaters or other things that could spark. I don’t even store my car in that garage, since the door is not automatic and I find it hard to open and close. (I could put my car in it if they were forecasting hail, but I haven’t used it so far.) There are no houses nearby, but one of my neighbors has a storage shed that is close. I made sure that my insurance company has insured the garage.

  2. Heres a gripe of mine,
    Why do all the fuel containers these days suck so bad,,,,
    Almost none of them are easy to pour and the new “safety” spouts are just obnoxious, its like some idiot government employees got together and decided to mandate using the flat out worst designs as the baseline for production with everything dropping off from there progressively,
    And who has the time or money to keep buying these stupid containers trying to get one that works,,,

      1. Thanks Ken, will give that one a try, had ordered another similar one through amazon but it was a rigid spout and was really poorly made, that air vent is key, so going to try

        1. I first tried it without adding the vent. However it really is necessary to achieve a good flow.

        2. I tried those, but too expensive. I just keep the cap on the can and have a funnel that goes in the tank and it pours safer and faster.
          Great article and something I have been seriously thinking about. I don’t store much gasoline, my thing is the propane tanks and other oils for lanterns

      2. A good set of pliers and you can just easily rip out the safety devices that are inside the spout.

        Silly .gov tricks are for kids!

      3. You’re welcome. Using the 31/64 drill bit makes for a nice snug fit for the vent insert (rather than simply a 1/2″).

        I always keep a few extras of these spouts just in case one of them breaks or I get a new gas can. (whoops, I mean, ‘water can’ ;) ).

        1. yeah, thanks Ken, I didnt’t even know you could buy the vents separately like that.

    1. We have three five gallon gas cans with “safety” spouts. Three different spouts, three different designs. I swear I lost a gallon of gas onto the driveway trying to fill up the car to cycle the stored gas.

      1. I pretty much have given up on gas cans after the last few i bought, went back to just using a pump on a 55 gallon drum, for a smaller option i put a diaphram pump on a 15 gallon plastic drum and made a custom nozle for it out of 1/2″ copper pipe for filling small stuff, its the chainsaws and weedeater i get to wrestle with a gas can when filling, just a pain,
        Safety spout my butt!

    2. Install a tire valve in the can for a vent (sans valve).
      Drill a small hole in a valve cap, put a 12 gauge wire through it and flatten the end so it won’t pull back through. Bend and fish the wire & cap through the spout hole, screw the valve body on & pull it back through the 1/2″ hole. Seat it with a pliers.

      I’ve done 15 cans like that, makes pouring easy.

      1. Don’t use tire valves. I did a dozen of then and the fuel ate the rubber on the valve within a year. Tom

    3. Buy some REAL Nato jerry cans, they will set you back anywhere from 65, to 80 bucks each, but are well worth every cent. Two of the leading makers of these Nato fuel cans are Wavian, and Valpro. Keep an eye out for the knock off jerry cans made in China,that look like these, because are complete crap.

      Make sure when you buy one of these, you get the flexible pour spout,

      NOT the EPA safety spout one,

      1. Col. Lax ,1ST Air Cav.

        Agreed 1000%, But, and there is always a But, Don’t plan on having them on a jobsite or anywhere that ANOTHER overreaching .gov agency OSHA will be doing inspections.

        We had several including Gas and Diesel well marked with the ‘anti-spill’ spouts, we were told go get them OFF the job in no uncertain terms.

        They no reside at NRPs place….

  3. These new safety cans SUCK. You end up spilling more fuel than what goes in what your trying to refuel, if you can get it out safely. Why can’t we /they just leave things alone. Like every thing else the Goverment get involved in they screw up Rant over…..

    1. I remember my Dad had a poster in his office, he was a ranch manager, was a poster of the cowboy after OSHA, was a crackup.

        1. OMG that is too funny!
          Love the “E.P.A. Emissions Control System”
          Actually it’s all funny!

          That said, it’s funny because we all know it’s true.
          .gov trying to save us from ourselves…

        2. We used to crack up about that one, great conversation piece, there was a cowboy comedian named Baxter Black who used to do some great material based on that same sorta theme

        3. Nailbanger

          Have seen that for years but lost track.
          Just printed it and stuck it to the main office door :-) :-)
          Thank you OSHA and the ever so diligent EPA.


        4. Nailbanger,

          I agree – absolutely hilarious!!!
          Thanks for the much-needed laugh :)

  4. We store all fuel outside except the 1 lb. canisters of propane. I never really thought about those leaking. I will move these outside as well. Thanks NRP.

    1. Beware of rust if keeping this stuff outside. That’s why I like the idea of a small vented shed just for fuels.

  5. I agree on the spouts, hate them! I do transfer fuel to older jugs and buy them at yard sales when I see them.

    On the propane valves with rusting threads on the valves I think they are made from non-ferrous metals. I also recall that all of the wrenches we used with oxygen cylinder valves were made out of brass, aluminum or plastic to avoid sparks if they slipped. (I always thought it was overkill on that one)

    I’m definitely guilty on the 1 pound propane bottles in the garage and can guarantee that they won’t be there at the end of the day! Wife has some butane cylinders for her little stove out there also and they to will be gone.

    I store my generator in the garage but only run it outside and the wife has been after me to build a box to keep it out of the garage as it gets in the way when she is on the passenger side of the car. She just wants a simple box and I’d prefer a shed fairly close to the house. I’m thinking that when I build it I’ll build 3 strong walls and a weak door on the side away from the house. If anything blows it should take out the door and hopefully the rest of the shed will blunt an explosion.

    I have to say I have a very healthy respect for the power of gasoline ever since a demonstration by our local fire department when I was in grade school. 2 drops were detonated with a spark plug in a closed container with a cardboard top. The sound was louder than any firecracker I ever heard!

    1. I’m guilty too. While I keep all of my gasoline, diesel, and propane tanks in an outdoor shelter, I do have a box of 1lb propane cylinders in the shipping container. Probably not a good idea. Will be moving them into a plastic storage bin and bringing them out to the outdoor shelter today…

      1. Ken….Have heard in the news where folks drove home from filling propane cylinders, with the cylinders in tightly enclosed car trunks (in older vehicles), and had them explode/burst into flames…

  6. Have a old CMU block building 15X15 on our place that has been turned into a flammable materials locker. Covered the window with heavy gage rock crushers classifier grate and reversed the door so it opens out not in. Cut the ties from the top plate so the roof is just sitting on the walls. Than went on a hunt for everything that needed to be stored. I was shocked on how much flammable materials were in the shop and garage. Eye opener was a 1 pound Coleman propane tank that was empty with the seal in place in the house. Don’t put paint, fuel or powder into a closed metal locker as it is now a bomb.

  7. Great article NRP! We need to constantly be aware of the dangers of the fuels we store in our prepping. I have seen all the videos of gasoline trucks, train cars, and propane tanks going up. Wow! I keep my fuels outside for the most part, but have to remember that even the fuel in an appliance ( like a Coleman lantern) can leak and cause a fire in an enclosed space. We are actually looking to get a buried propane tank for the home in the next year. I would also eventually like to get to the point where the majority of my equipment is diesel, it does not vaporize like gasoline and is much safer to store. Need to do a walk around the place and make sure everything is in a safe storage area for winter. Thanks for the reminder NRP!

  8. Flammable materials in the wood shop were something that got my attention after a friend lost his shop back in the 90s, a thinner soaked rag was the culprit, not sure how but i guess it self ignited and burned the trash can then everything else, was a real bummer, remember helping him sift through the ashes trying to salvage,nwhat im not sure as everything was toast.

  9. What about 8 oz. cans of butane I have 8 of them… We have a storage shed but would freezing temps be bad for them? Thanks in advance for your advice…

    1. Shepherdess

      No, freezing Propane tank is 99.9999% impossible; would need to get -459º, or close to it, to freeze Propane.
      Even Gas and Diesel is mighty resistant to freezing. Diesel may congeal or get “thick” but probably will not freeze solid.

      1. Shepardess,
        Butane will go from gas to liquid at around freezing temps. Not too much butane canister use (Ronsonol refills for lighters?), but need to know that a butane appliance will need to warm up to get the liquid butane to turn to gas. Squirting liquid butane into a flame can be a recipe for disaster.

      2. Minerjim is correct, about the burn-off (aka vaporization) temps of Butane/Propane from a liquid to a gas

        Actually freezing the liquid to a solid is what I was referring to. Thank You Minerjim for clarifying.

  10. I have to admit Ken is a GREAT editor :-) Thanks for running the Article.

    As far as “storage” building/shed, please make sure it’s again very VERY well ventilated, place vents at the bottom and in the roof, do NOT use a fan or anything electrical to vent the shed unless rated as “explosion proof”. Also do NOT place a heater inside the shed.

    I have a designed for a Shed that’s solid grouted Block with 5/8” rebar every cell and course; also a very strong 16ga steel door that swings ‘in’. In-swing on the door because it sits against the solid grouted frame and will not “blow open”. In case of a fire/explosion, the door will “most likely” not be blown off the Hinges and Latch. The roof is designed to “lay back” open like a sardine can and all of the ‘blast’ will be directed upward. This design is also used for a munitions bunker for home use, not that I would need a place to store ammo since I lost all mine in that boating accident you know……

    It’s amazing also to see what a 16oz bottle of Rubbing Alcohol will do during a fire.
    Please be safe out there, fire is a very VERY nasty thing, for those that also have a Wood Stove or fireplace, make sure of fumes when you light that fire.

    Thanks for the comments, we all learn from each other here.

    1. Kin ah store thet there deisel fuel and fertilizer in with ma dynomite stash in thet there shed?

      1. Nailbanger

        Don’t see why not….. I keep my C-4 and Det-Cord in there, ahhhhhh I mean my fishing gear in there…. YEAH RIGHT!!!!!! HAHAHAHA.

    2. Why a door that swings in? If there is a explosion I want the force to blow out as easy as it can. A few hinges and a door lock is easier to blow past than the whole door frame and stops.

      1. Southernman

        Hence the very weak roof, the explotion will go up not out through the door, possibly upon people standing around putting a fire out or comming upon the Shed

  11. After tornado, I fear fire as our next biggest hazard where we live. We have old wooden houses, close together, small Fire Department, and lots of wind nearly all of the time.

    CD in Oklahoma

  12. So is it ok to store 8 oz cans of butane in my home? our shed which is decent size does not have heat…

    1. Shepherdess

      Personally I would not keep butane in my home no mater the size. Please see the photo of the storage container above that was 100% steal, imagine that in a house, remembering that was only a 16oz can of propane.

      1. So if I kept it in the shed, what should I put the 8 oz cans of butane in?
        Thank you in advance and I will move them out asap…

        1. Shepherdess

          Not to sure I understand the question, but here’s a go at it.

          If you have more than one than put them in a cardboard box (open toped) upright, don’t lay them down, labeled “Butane 8oz Cans”, and set on a shelf.

          As long as they are out of the house and not near a heat source…
          Make sure to add them to your inventory list of what’s in the shed.

        2. NRP,

          Thank you for this article, and for your answer to Shepherdess, because it applies to me, too.

          Because I have an all-electric stove/oven at BOL I bought one of those single burners that use butane canisters, and I have a carton of canisters there. My problem is our outdoor storage is attached to the house, so I don’t have a stand-alone place to store these canisters. There is no heat source out there, and it will be subject to temperatures at or below zero over the winter.

          I’m just trying to come up with cooking methods in addition to the traditional gas BBQ and kettle weber grill up there. I guess I could set up a rack for cooking inside the fireplace, not ideal but at least it wouldn’t blow the house up.

  13. Hmmm….very good article, going to have to seriously rethink my fuel storage. Probably most folks keep an extra can of gas in the garage for lawnmowers, etc., but for a prepper……. All the farms around have 100+ gallon tanks of diesel & gasoline on stilts to service their tractors, etc., and I’ve envied those, but without a tractor, it’s not easy to justify.

    Min-Max temps in my area theoretically go from -20 to +120. If I placed a “portable” storage building on the far back of the property, given the potential temp swings, would it be safe to store mixed flammables there (5 gal gas cans, 1# & 5# propane, 8oz butane canisters, lamp oil, sterno)?

    I currently have some 5 gal buckets of food storage in a shop building (concrete floor/insulated stick frame/metal sides & roof) that has a/c to control high temps & I’ll use my new Mr. Heater for heat when working there in the winter. I also have some fuel stored there as well. Now, I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t have fuel in the same building as food anyway, even if it’s well separated?

    1. FinallyOuttaCA

      Temp swings from -20 to 120, sounds like my neck of the woods. BUT in MHO I would not worry so much about the fuel temps as much as the possibility of BOOM! Especially if you have a new “Mr. Heater” burning in there.

      But that’s just my 2¢ worth

      Only thing to consider would be if the temps swing from -20 to 120 in a single day, NOW you might have a concern and might think about moving FAST!!!!!!

      1. Ah come on NRP! those temperature swings in one day aren’t that bad, they happen in our neck of the woods every year! If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes! isn’t that what we say in the Rockies?

        1. Minerjim

          You are almost correct, we do have 50-60º swings

          I happen to use that saying all the time
          “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes! ”
          Have literally had 6″ of snow in the morning, and 80º sunny afternoons. Welcome to the Four Corners.

  14. We keep our gas and K1 in the shed. It is not officially vented but there is a gap between the walls and roof but it is built between the house and garage and is connected to both. I keep these fuels in metal 5 gal. paint thinner cans. I do keep an eye on them because the cans do eventually rust. I have been considering switching to plastic 55 gal. drum. I have access to get them free and they are rated for auto fuel.

    1. car guy;

      You bring up an interesting point on soring Gas in steel cans that are not galvanized such as the Paint Thinner Cans. Gas contains water, now I don’t give a flying fig what the .gov and all the others say, it has water in it. Guess what water does to steel? It will rust your Paint Thinner cans from the inside.
      I have seen cans leaking from a very small “rust hole”, but looking from the outside they ‘look fine’.

      Ok, without sounding like the A-Hole I am, you’re storing fuel in a shed that connected to both the House and the Garage? Maybe not such a good idea if you have a fire in the shed, for wont it get both the House AND the Garage?

      Just thinking out loud here.

      1. You are right but it is the only other place I have. The house is not an option and I have a wood burner to heat the garage so that’s not good for gas. I don’t like to leave anything unsecured or it will be stolen. BTW we got an extra bundle of TP this weekend.

        1. car guy

          Two thumbs up on the TP.

          Is 600 rolls really that much?
          Who is John Galt?

    2. I spray all my cans with clear lacquer. It cuts down on the rust. Whether it’s food cans or fuel/paint cans I spray them all.
      Works for me…

  15. I’d like to point our that lamp oil, stored in the plastic bottles much of it is sold in, will over time melt the bottles.

    1. Ozarks Tom

      Petroleum products stored in a Petroleum bottle….
      What could possibly ever go wrong?

  16. Good article NRP! Timely too as it seems fires and such seem to happen more in the winter.
    I bought a few surplus paint lockers to put all my small flammables.
    I keep my gas and diesel tanks segregated from my other buildings in a roofed open side building. I keep my smaller cans (5 gallons and smaller in another area

    Those 8 oz. Butane canisters make a big boom when they blow up. Those small stoves that hold them are great. Just can’t use a big pot with them.
    As always,common sense is the key when storing flammable material. ..

    1. Bill Jenkins Horse
      good idea on the surplus paint lockers. I also have often seen Old Metal School Lockers going very cheap or free

      1. Anon,
        I bought them at an auction .
        No body wanted them. Got them cheap.
        They are heavy though…

        1. Bill Jenkins Horse..

          Yup, those auctions are great. Sometimes can get stuff for next to nothing. Heavy is good. More stable. School lockers are not nearly so heavy. Just curious, what size roughly are Paint Lockers? How much interior space?

        2. Anon,
          They were set up for gallon size paint cans to sit on the shelves. Each one has a space on the bottom that would fit 2 of the old square or round paint thinner cans that held 5 gallons.
          Military can still use the oil and lacquer based paints I believe that are not available to the public anymore.

  17. Flammable storage cabinets are available from Amazon. Very good subject. Most safety is just plain old common sense. Google how to store flammables safely. Another area of concern is to NEVER allow petroleum products to come into contact with oxygen. Especially important for welders working in a repair shop type of environment where lubes may be being used. Also important for home 02 use as well. There are some non-Flammable lubes that are designed for use around oxygen. Make sure that your fire extinguisher where you store your flammables is rated for class B (petroleum product) fires. Usually a dry powder, potassium bicarbonate for example. Don’t put water on a fire of flammable liquids, as the burning liquids, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, etc. will float on top and spread. Good idea to learn how to escape from your buildings with your eyes closed. Might want to have someone else with you for safety’s sake. That way if you get caught off guard inside of a building that’s filled with smoke, you should have a good idea how to get out. Stay low, and feel any doors with the back of your hand to make sure that you don’t open a door to a room that’s on fire. Practice using a fire extinguisher, aiming at the base of the flames sweeping side to side. That way if you ever have to use one, then you’ll know what to do. I’m talking dry powder on class “B” fires, which are fires of petroleum products. I assume that most people would probably have an extinguisher rated A B C. That B is for flammable liquids/petroleum products, as well as those times when what’s frying on the stove top decides to become flame broiled instead! That’s if you don’t have a box of baking soda, or a fire blanket, as mentioned by Ken, in a previous article, handy. Keeping flammable liquids stored in a locked cabinet, at a safe distance from your living space is good practice. As an aside, it seems like common sense, but if you’re welding, be sure to inspect the area around you, looking for and clearing away any fire hazards prior to beginning welding/cutting. And have an adequate, properly charged fire extinguisher immediately available, just in case.

  18. While we are on the subject of flammable and explosive material, do not leave loaded firearms in your gun safe! I cleaned some guns for a man who had a house fire and had loaded firearms in the safe, needles to say the shell casings swelled up and took quite some time to remove. None of them went off however.

    1. New poster,
      My friends house burned down from a chimney fire. He had 3 safes. They let them sit 3 days before they opened them.
      Btw, the fire dept.held back because of explosions.They thought it was ammo.
      It was his food storage in #10 cans cooking off…

  19. Thanks NRP. Great article. And a good reminder to all of us to prep safely.

  20. If I recall correctly oxygen can’t explode all by itself. But things that would not normally ignite in the air are much more likely to ignite or explode in an oxygen rich environment. I’d be wondering what else was in the trailer and I kind of think meth lab?

    Back in the olden days we used oxygen tents in the hospitals. Patients and staff were allowed to smoke in the facility unless oxygen was in use. More than one patient burned to death because a well meaning visitor gave them a cigarette inside of the tent.

    1. @me
      They were an elderly couple and I always suspected someone was smoking, but I don’t know what the investigation revealed. It’s doubtful those old geezers were cooking meth…

      I’m moving my Sterno and lamp oil to a shed outside today. I don’t have any idea on whether the products will be ruined in our climate or not, but it’s best to be more cautious, If I lose both products, it’s not a big loss — all of our lanterns use kerosene and that’s the fuel we stock. The lamp oil was a back up, same with Sterno.

  21. I live in south Florida I store gas in 4 5gal containers in rubber maid storage box away from house. My question is 1lbs camping fuel. If I put outside in another Rubbermaid shed do I have to worry about rust from humid weather???

    1. Brass propane bottle caps on ebay $2 or so each. Seal the bottle and protect flange from rust.

  22. Hey Thanks NRP!
    We did have some 1 lb propane tanks stored in the garage. NOT now!!!
    luv ya’ll, Beach’n

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