Category Archives: Prepper Skills

How Can I Store Fuel Long Term?

If you have been following my blog for some time now, you know that I try to focus on real life issues as much as possible and leave the apocalyptical prepping ideas to the doomsday guys. Such is the case with fuel storage. When the world goes Mad Max over a tanker full of gasoline, chances are what we can store as individuals will be long since used up. Now that we’ve cleared up that unless we have our own oil well and refinery, we can only do so much, lets take a look at fuel storage.

If you are interested in some of the reasons we face fuel shortages, read my blog post HERE.

How Can I Store Emergency Fuel?

The key word in internal combustion engine is “combustion.” In other words, most of the equipment we use requires the burning of fuel to create heat, or small controlled explosions in an engine’s cylinders. That means all of the fuels we generally use will burn, and most of them easily, so we have to take precautions on how we store them. Not only do we need to consider the fire hazard but the environmental issues as well. Even 5 gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel spilled can destroy plant life and leave a pretty large area of ground barren for a good while. If that same spill gets into a drainage of some sort and makes it to a creek, it can be hazardous to the fish and wildlife down stream for no telling how far. Now, I don’t consider having five extra gallons on hand to be a stockpile of fuel. That just what we normally purchase the day we have to mow grass. I would prefer to have a few hundred gallons of gasoline and/or diesel fuel if I could safely store it. Imagine the spill or fire that could create!

Fuel Containers

Safety, legality, and common sense should tell us to choose containers for flammable or combustible materials carefully. We can pretty much kiss any trace of discretion goodbye if we have to call the fire department of hazardous materials unit out to our homes or our vehicles if we have an accident while transporting or storing our liquid fuels, especially larger quantities.

Plastic Fuel Containers: Probably the best tank for transporting any fuels from the pump to our storage site at home are plastic fuel containers. These Containers are relatively inexpensive and can be had in multiple sizes. They do not rust and corrode like steel containers do and offer a simple means to rotate our fuel supply out on a regular basis. An added benefit to using the normal, everyday type gas can is that no one raises an eyebrow to see anyone filling them up. If we want to be more discrete about it, we might chose to fill a few at one station then more at another station, but unless there’s a shortage, I doubt that we would garner any concern by filling several fuel cans up at one stop. Click the pictures below to get some smaller and larger plastic fuel containers.

5 Gallon

14 Gallon

Steel and Aluminum Tanks: For larger capacities, we can look to either steel or aluminum tanks. Some versions are made to be mounted in truck beds and others are intended for permanent installation, but either will probably work for us based on the size requirements we have. One thing we have to consider when purchasing larger steel or aluminum tanks is the need for a pump. We obviously can’t lift and pour fuel out of a huge metal tank by hand, and gravity feeding can lead to spills if a valve fails. This leaves us with the choice of a manual or electric pump. A word of caution: electrical sparks can cause an explosion with fuel vapors present! If we choose an electric pump, we need to make sure that the wiring and power source are sealed and the pump is explosion proof. Another thing to remember with large storage tanks is that they have more room for air as we use the fuel in them. This can allow for more condensation in humid climates and affect the fuel quality. Along with our pump system, we should also use a filter and occasionally use a separate pump to pull any condensed water from the bottom of the tank. Here are two tank options and a pump kit. Just click on the pictures below.

Spill Containment

Unless we visit construction or industrial sites where fuel is stored in large volumes, it’s easy for us to overlook what I call containment. For the purpose of this article “containment” means what stops fuel from spreading if the main container spills. Most gas stations have buried tanks so we don’t realize that they often have double lined tanks giving a dual layer of protections. On sites where there are large storage tanks above ground, we usually find a berm or bank that surrounds the tank with a liner in it. Based on the laws and environmental regulations, the containment should be capable of containing the entire contents of the tank.

Since we aren’t opening a gas station or a heavy industrial site, our needs and abilities are a little different. There are some prepping efforts in which we must be more subversive than others and storing more than a few five gallon cans of fuel on our property is one preparation that we have to make the decision to either jump through the hoops to stay legal, or keep it on the down low. Neither decision relieves us of our duty to safety and environmental responsibility.

If resources permit, my personal choice for containment would be a concrete floor with concrete block walls that extend high enough to contain all of the fuel that is stored in the containers that we place in it. By multiplying the internal length, with, and height of our containment, we can figure out how much liquid it will hold. One cubic foot will hold just under 7.5 gallons of liquid. A little bit of math can get us to the size we need based on the gallons of fuel we plan to store. Now that our containment is figured up, we need to consider covering the storage area, however we don’t want it to be closed off completely. Should a storage container leak or rupture, the fumes will need to vent to keep the storage area from being a time bomb. Placing a Covering over the containment will keep direct sunlight off of the stored fuel, which can damage containers over time, as well as keep the rain water out. A containment full of rain water will no hold any spilled fuel because the fuel will float on top and begin spilling out before the water. If concrete is not an option, look for a liner material that is rated for petroleum resistance.

The final consideration of containment disguise is OPSEC (operational security). The more others know we have stored, the more of a target we become if disaster leads people to become scavengers and marauders when supplies run out. Placing our fuel storage areas out of prying eyes is important to keep things safe and avoid drawing attention to ourselves. The closer we live to others, the harder this will be, however we should never put ourselves or others at risk of a fire or explosion by putting bulk fuel storage in and area that is inside or connected to our home. The picture below would be nearly ideal as far as containment, discretion, and coverage if it was kept up to date.

Diesel tank for tractor fuel under cover of an abandoned farm.

What Is The Shelf Life Of My Stored Fuel?

The best way to keep fuel fresh and ready to use is to rotate our supply. Think of the way that we should be rotating our food stock, first in-first out. This applies to fuel as well. The use of plastic cans makes this job much easier than large storage tanks unless we use a large amount of fuel regularly. By numbering the storage tanks and keeping a roster of when they are filled, we can make sure we use the oldest fuel on hand first. No one wants to face a disaster with food in the pantry that is stale from being put up and left for years. The same is true with fuel. If we use and replace it, we are constantly renewing our supply with fresh fuel and reducing the chances of bad or contaminated fuel.

What Happens To Fuel As It Ages?

Whether it is gasoline, diesel fuel, or a heating fuel like kerosene, age can cause the quality to deteriorate. Taking some regular precautions can help prevent this.

Water: One of the biggest contributors to poor fuel quality is water. Excess air space in tanks and containers can trap moist air that cools and allows the water to condense in the tanks leading to a layer of water on the bottom of the tank or can. When the pump begins to draw fuel, or the container is tilted to pour it into our vehicle, the water particles are distributed temporarily in the fuel and get transferred along with it. Once in the tanks of our vehicles, it again starts to settle out and quickly clogs filters and causes poor engine performance.

Ethanol: Most of the gasoline sold in the united states is actually a blend of gasoline and up to 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol is a grain alcohol made primarily from corn. It’s pretty much industrial moonshine. Because alcohol will combust, blending it with gasoline makes a slightly more sustainable resource than straight fossil fuel, but it has a cost. Not only does the blending usually have a marginal impact on power and fuel mileage, it also can damage older fuel systems by breaking down the rubber and plastics of the lines and gaskets in the fuel system. While most late model cars and trucks have upgraded components to mitigate this, there is one thing that happens as ethanol blended gas ages that can have even worse effects on our engines. Phase separation is the process of the alcohol and gasoline separating or stratifying in the tank or container. Once this happens, we cannot blend them back and will have to remove the fuel from the system and replace it. There are a few ways to avoid this potentially costly problem with stored fuel. The first is to rotate our stock and use it in a short amount of time, however this may mean that we aren’t able to keep enough on hand if we don’t use it quickly. The second option, if we have it where we live, is to purchase ethanol free gas. The website, www.pure-gas.org, is a user-updated listing of stores that sell ethanol free or “pure” gas. In addition to purchasing ethanol free gas, I use a treatment for all my stored gasoline. This keeps fuel fresher longer and extends the length of time before phase separation begins in ethanol blends. You can get the brand I use by clicking the picture below.

One final option for gasoline storage that isn’t practical in large quantities, but can be perfect for our seldom used equipment is a product called TrueFuel. This fuel is sold in sealed cans in regular 4 stroke blend or different ratios of 2 stroke gas/oil blends for equipment like chainsaws that we may not use as often, but need to be ready at a moment’s notice in a disaster. I have found this to be one of the best ways to keep a small engine running strong with almost no issues year after year. Click the picture below for the 40:1 -2 stroke mix and look at the other options while you are there.

Biological Growth: While I have never experienced an issue with biological growth in gasoline, algae in a diesel tank gave me fits one time. It’s hard to believe that something can live in a fuel like diesel, but it can. Bio growth can start on the walls of fuel tanks and be sloshed off and picked up where it immediately clogs strainer and filters. If we choose a large tank to store our diesel fuel in, we need to make sure to use an additive that prevents algae or other biologicals from forming. Click the picture below for a good diesel fuel biocide.

Gelling: Again, this is mostly an issue in diesel fuel and mostly in consistently cold climates. Because diesel is a slightly thicker petroleum distillate, it begins to turn into a gel at temperatures just below freezing. Imagine your fuel pump and filter trying to suck Jello from your fuel tank and run off of it. Along with gelling, freezing temperatures can also freeze water trapped in filter housings as well, so keeping clean fuel and filters is a must in cold weather. Click the picture below for an anti-gelling additive.

Final Thoughts on Fuel Storage

Much like our other preps, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to storing extra fuel and consideration should be given to situations where fuel may become scarce for a longer time than the reserves we can store will last. The best we can do is to be observant of the causes surrounding fuel shortages and consider early on if we need to go into long term rationing with our supply or simply use it as needed to keep things comfortable until the stations are back open and their tanks are full again.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money from qualified purchases.

Should I Add An Air Rifle To My Prepper Arsenal?

I consider myself among the very fortunate because I had an opportunity to grow up going to a hunting camp where I got to enjoy so many outdoor activities that are often foreign to many boys and young men. While I had visited to fish in the two lakes there since I was 5, my first trip to deer camp during hunting season was when I was 8. After we arrived that day and got settled in, my father presented my with my first BB gun, a Daisy lever action, similar the the Red Ryder carbine made famous in A Christmas Story. My father had grossly underestimated the amount of time I could spend shooting beer cans off a saw horse and the two packs of Daisy Quicksilver BB’s were gone in a matter of hours. I still have that gun and it’s still pressed into service from time to time to discourage wayward scavengers from getting in the garbage or digging in the grass near the house.

While I can only hope that most of you have had some sort of similar experience, it’s far from too late to get in on the game of air rifles. I’m going to mention a few in this post and some of the benefits of having one handy, but I still encourage everyone to read my post on gun safety. Air guns are often viewed as toys but are potentially deadly and, in many cases, more likely to injure a shooter with a ricochet because of the low velocity. I have personally been hit almost directly in the tear duct with a ricocheted BB and that was close enough to being blind for me! Click Here to read about the important safety rules that should always be followed when handling any type of gun and be especially conscious of hard targets and ricochets.

Types of Air Guns

I never put much thought into how air rifles worked until several years ago when I started shooting competitively. While we were shooting rimfire silhouette matches, several of the shooters mentioned that they were going to have an air rifle side match later that day. I asked about what air rifles they used and they started explaining the various classes and designs and I suddenly realized I didn’t know very much at all. After some research, I have narrowed it down to a few categories of air guns that we may want to consider adding to our arsenals, as well as noting what I think are the best ones for the job.

Springer Style Air Guns

Springer fired air guns are fired by compressing a spring that has a plunger on it which slams forwards when the trigger is released forcing a small amount of air through a port at a high pressure, thereby pushing the BB or pellet out of the barrel. These are some of the simplest and most inexpensive air guns that we can purchase, as well as some of the most practical for prepping purposes.

The practicality comes from the fact that the guns are self contained and only require one pump or break-open action to cock them and have them ready to fire. While BB versions are limited in accuracy and velocity by the smooth bore of the gun, pellet rifles can shoot much faster and with much more accuracy. The comparison is much the same to that of the blunderbuss vs. the black powder rifles. Rifling imparts a spin to the projectile that stabilizes it in flight. The only drawbacks to using a spring operated air rifle is that there is only one shot per cocking motion and it can take significant energy to cock them so follow up shots are almost impossible when hunting.

Regardless of the limits of having only one shot at a time, I personally believe that this is the best option for us as preppers since it is simple, inexpensive and can shoot at velocities near that of some rimfire and pistol ammunition but without anywhere near the cost or need for ammo. For the sake of this post, I have included break barrel gas piston guns into this category. They function the same, however it a compressed gas piston that gets pressed instead of a spring to force air through the chamber. You can pick up a good quality rifle by clicking the picture below.

Precharged Pneumatic Air Rifles

Precharged Air rifles are the next level in accuracy and consistency for match shooters. By using pumps or compressed air tanks to fill up the onboard air chamber, the shooter prepares the rifle for repeated shots. A regulator allows a set amount of pressure to enter the chamber with each shot and this keeps the velocity consistent, which is a huge boost to accuracy. Another benefit to these rifles is the fact that many are repeaters, meaning they are capable of holding multiple pellets and can be fired repeatedly by simply cycling of the bolt or action.

In preparing for a disaster situation, we need to consider access to consumables and this applies to air guns too. Precharged pneumatic airguns not only require the pellets, they also require an external air source. Many are designed to fill from high pressure scuba tanks. These might not be the best choice for prepping as we may have limited availability to the equipment needed to refill them. Other versions are charged with a hand pump that looks similar to a bicycle pump, but is able to produce much more pressure. If you are interested in one of the latter types, click the picture below to have a closer look.

Variable Pump Air Guns

My second air gun was a Crossman pellet rifle that fired from a variable pump action. These work well and offer some degree of control by the shooter when it comes to the velocity of the pellet. We can add more velocity to the pellet by pumping the fore end lever more times, thereby building more pressure in the air chamber. While this is a beneficial ability, we need to keep in mind that consistency is the mother of accuracy. I would recommend that we determine an optimum number of pumps for our uses and adjust our sites to be zeroed at that velocity then use the same number of pumps for every shot.

The only real drawbacks of variable pump air guns is the need to pump the cylinder up between shots. Because of this, variable pumps have the same slow follow up shot timing as the springer style and may mean we only have one chance to bag that squirrel or rabbit we need to have something for dinner. For a good shooting, inexpensive model, click the picture below.

CO2 Air Guns

The last type of air gun that I’d like to mention in this post is the CO2 powered air rifle or air pistol. These are powered by small cartridges of compressed carbon dioxide that is forced through the chamber to force the pellet or BB out of the barrel and down range. They are handy and fun to shoot since they function much like a semi automatic pistol or rifle would and some are even designed to operate the slide or bolt in a way that makes them feel and function in a similar manner as their cartridge fired counterparts.

While they are lots of fun, CO2 guns rely on small disposable cartridges that don’t last very long. If you chose one of these guns, it will be necessary to have and ample supply of these cartridges along with the pellets or BB’s you plan to shoot. Even with that drawback, I do consider them useful to us in one aspect. The small cylinder size allows pellet pistols to be made as near replicas of cartridge fired side arms and can be used for quiet indoor practice, if you have some form pellet trap assembled to catch the projectile safely. Click here for one that is a close copy of my daily carry gun.

Air Rifles For Big Game Hunting

While I have not been following the trend closely, there has been a great deal of technological advancement in bigger bore air rifles in the last several years, but they aren’t new by any means. Lewis and Clark even carried one on their expedition across North America and it may have been the deadliest gun they had! I have yet to try one and see the true effectiveness of these, however some of the bullet weights and velocities that are advertised are almost that of centerfire pistol ammunition and can easily take down medium to large game within certain ranges and with proper shot placement. Without any experience in the area I won’t offer a recommendation on a particular gun, however this book may help you learn more about what to expect should you decide to add a big bore or any size air rifle to your arsenal for hunting.

Other Considerations When Shooting Air Rifles

Again, I want to stress that these are not toys, but there are some other considerations that make air guns a little different. One of the most important differences is the design of the accessories, especially telescopic sights. Although there is very little recoil from air rifles, many of them actually recoil away from the shooter when the spring or piston releases. Most scopes designed for cartridge fed guns are designed to absorb recoil against the shooter and can be damaged and fail if used on an air rifle. Making sure that the sights and accessories you chose are made for your particular type of air rifle can save you from expensive repairs later on.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money on qualifying purchases.