March 21, 2023

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With fuel prices always in the news, the recent uptick in oil shortages could raise the price of gas even more in the near future. Rising gasoline prices could mean that many of us start to conserve our usage or look for ways to use the old gasoline that we already have on hand. 

In an emergency situation, when the gas supply would be almost non-existent, you could also try to use the gas that was left in old vehicles, machines, and tanks. While most of us would rather be self-sufficient with other kinds of energy supplies, gas is still an important part of survival when the SHTF.

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Keep reading to learn how gas loses its combustion power and how to recondition old gasoline.

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What Is Old Gas?

Many of us may not have even contemplated that gas in our machines has a ticking time clock on it. For preppers who want to store gas up for emergencies, this means that the gas that we have saved up can be damaged or not usable at all in the future.

Most gas from a gas station contains ethanol, which will separate from the gasoline in about 3 months. When the components separate, it makes it harder for the gas to work properly and could potentially damage whatever kind of machine you are trying to fuel up with it.

As with many long-term storage situations on the homestead, moisture is the key culprit. Ethanol will absorb water as it separates, making the gasoline pretty unusable. 

Pure gasoline is hard to find, but even when you do find it, pure gas only has a lifespan of about 6 months before it starts to deteriorate. 

Simply put, old gas is the gasoline that has lost its combustion molecules, making it less potent.

Step 1: Figure Out What Type of Gas You Have

While you may have used the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between old gas and gas that is truly bad. While you can recondition old gas, using bad gas in a motor could cause significant damage.

Pour a Sample

If you aren’t sure about the state of the pure gasoline, test the gas by pouring a small amount of it into a clear bottle or cup. Any gas that is dark amber in color and cloudy, slimy, waxy, or sludgy means that the gas is old and unusable. If the color is uniform but darker, it could still be reconditioned.

Understand Ethanol Gas Blends

Also, look for obvious separation in the gas that includes oil floating on water or different color bands in the glass. If you got the gasoline from a gas station, it is highly likely that it is an ethanol blend. Any ethanol blend that is older than 3 months should be discarded instead of trying it in a motor. 

Again, ethanol gas is not a candidate for reconditioning. However, it is possible to separate the ethanol from the gasoline using water. Ethanol binds to water, so pouring water into an ethanol-blended gas will separate the gasoline from the ethanol. 

Step 2: Recondition Old Gas

If the gas is clear and light in color, it is possible that the gas is still salvageable. Try reconditioning the old gas with the following steps.

Use Safety Precautions

Any type of gasoline has the potential to be highly combustible, meaning that it could pose a severe threat to life when used incorrectly. Ensure that you know how to work with gasoline and the specific protocols for handling gasoline around yourself, your family members, and your property.

Always use safety glasses, gloves, and gasoline-approved containers when starting the reconditioning process.

Decide Where to Mix the Gas

You can mix the gas directly in an old gas tank if the tank is about half full. Otherwise, consider using a gas can or other sturdy tanks that are easy to pour and maneuver to get the right mixture.

Mix Old Gas With Fresh Gas

Mix 1 part old gas with 1 part fresh gas to recondition the older gasoline. If you think that the gas you have is very old, consider mixing 3 parts fresh gas with 1 part old gas. This does dilute the fresh gas since the fresh stuff has to share its peppy combustion molecules with the old gas, but it should do the trick.

Slightly Shake to Mix

Move the car around back and forth, or slightly shake the gas canister you are using for the mix to blend the old and fresh gas. Don’t overshake or go crazy with it; turning over the canister a few times should be enough to mix everything together.

Step 3: Try to Start the Motor

After you have mixed the old and fresh gasoline together, try to turn the motor over to see if it works. Since the gasoline is diluted, the mixture has a lower octane level, and the engine won’t run like it would on 100% fresh gasoline.

It will run a little rough and may need more of the fresh stuff to work properly. However, in a pinch, it is definitely helpful in using up what you have on hand.

Step 4: Consider a Fuel Additive

Another option to help prolong the life of the gas that you have on hand is to add a fuel additive. These products are easy to add to the gas tank and should help minimize the overall breakdown of the gas.

Many of them extend the shelf life of the gasoline and can add a good 3-12 months of time to the gas. Fuel additives only work when you add them to the fresh gas that you have on hand, not at the point when you are trying to recondition old gas with fresh gas.

Again, it is important to remember that only pure gasoline can be reconditioned. Anything that is ethanol blended is not usable for reconditioning. Pouring a test sample is vital to know what kind of gas you have and if it is even a candidate for reconditioning. 

It is better to discard the gasoline if you have any doubt about the stability or contamination of the liquid itself. Otherwise, you could ruin a motor or piece of machinery that you may not be able to replace quickly, especially in a survival situation. 

However, when using the proper steps and procedures, it is fairly simple to recondition old gasoline that needs a bit of a pick-me-up. While the end product won’t have as high an octane level as fresh gas, it should help do the job of perking up old gas and getting you on your way.

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