In addition to all of your other preparations, storing fuel for future use should top your list in terms of priority. When SHTF, you have to plan for being able to cook your food, stay warm, and power your vehicle – all without utilities or access to a gas station. Storing fuel can sound daunting – after all, gasoline goes bad and can physically explode – but if you stay organized, you can prepare for anything.
The first thing to consider is your plan for when SHTF – are you Bugging Out or Bugging In? If you’re bugging out, you’ll need to keep enough gasoline (or diesel fuel) on-hand to get to your bug-out location, assuming that you’re starting with an empty tank. If you’re bugging in, you’ll want to focus on fuels for cooking and warmth. Let’s first consider the types of fuels there are.
Primary Fuels to Store
The primary types of fuels to consider storing are:
- Gasoline – For your vehicle and/or generator
- Diesel Fuel – If you have a diesel vehicle
- Firewood – For cooking and warmth
- Kerosene – For light and cooking
- Propane – For light and cooking
You may also consider small camp stoves with ethanol tanks that are easy to use and lightweight to store.
The best approach is to store a variety of fuels to give yourself options. Some are easier to store long-term, while others present challenges or require attention.
Gasoline will undoubtedly give you the most options when you need them. You can leave town, or power your whole house by generator. But of course gasoline presents the most challenges when it comes to long-term storage. Its shelf life is very short, and it ignites incredibly easily, making it dangerous to keep in large quantities in your home.
At most you have about a year until gasoline goes bad, if it is kept in ideal conditions. You can mix it with gasoline stabilizer additives to extend the life of your stock, but this is not a one-time fix. You will need to mix with additives every single year.
You can also rotate your stock of gasoline, filling your vehicle with it and replenishing your storage containers. You’ll want to do this at least every six months.
Always keep your gasoline in approved containers, and be sure that there are no local limitations on how much you can store at a time. Make sure that your containers are sealed properly so that vapors do not escape. Gas should never be kept in extreme conditions (sunlight, high temperatures) and should never be accessible to children. Keep gasoline away from ANY ignitors!
If your vehicle takes diesel fuel, you’ll want to focus on keeping more diesel fuel than gasoline on-hand. Diesel fuel will only last about 6 months without mixing with additives, similar to gasoline. One benefit of diesel fuel is that it is less likely to ignite, and so safer to store than gasoline.
Firewood is a great fuel source to stock, for several reasons:
- Easy to get ahold of
- Easy to store
- No limits on how much you can store
- Great for heating
- Great for cooking
Just be sure that the firewood you are stocking are hardwoods, which will be useable for longer, and produce more heat. You’ll want the wood to sit in a dry location for at least 6 months to get the most benefit from it. Using firewood that hasn’t sat for 6 months can produce creosote, which can cause chimney fires.
Kerosene is another great choice for stockpiling, because it is:
- Easy to purchase in large quantities
- Won’t explode like gasoline
- Will stay usable for years without additives
- Used for lighting
- Used for heating
- Used for cooking
Kerosene lamps were a success for many years before electricity.
You may already use propane with your grill, so you’re familiar with the small size tank that is available for purchase. There are larger tanks that can be bought as well, but some areas have limitations on how much you can keep on-hand. Propane is also not at risk of going bad quickly, and can be used for lighting, heating, and cooking.
You’ll want to keep several fuel types on hand so that you have options on how to best use them. Even if your SHTF plan is to Bug In, you don’t want to remove the option to Bug Out if you find yourself in danger. Stay organized in your storage so that you don’t allow your gasoline or diesel fuel stocks to go bad before you need them or can use them.