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[Updated] 9 Emergency Fuels That Should Be In Your Survival Stockpile

Imagine a power outage in the middle of a terrible winter storm, or running out of gas while evacuating to your bug out location. There are three words to describe you, buddy: in deep trouble.


To avoid that situation, you need to stock up on emergency fuel.


Here are the things you need to know about it:

Why Should You Stockpile Fuel?

Folks use fuel every day. It’s so common that most don’t even think twice about grilling ribs, making a detour to the gas station whenever they’re low on gas, and turning the A/C on during a hot summer day.


Now when it comes to prepping for SHTF or emergencies, water, food, and shelter are obviously the top priorities. But how about fuel? You shouldn’t leave it on the back burner.


Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to have fuel during disasters: 


  • Everyone and their mom will be crowding the gas pumps, and you can’t afford to waste time refueling your bug out vehicle.
  • There’s a high chance that power will be gone for days or even weeks. If you don’t turn into a human icicle from the cold, the blistering heat might do you in. 
  • While you can eat tuna straight outta the can, you can’t blame your tummy for craving a hot meal every now and then. Make sure you have enough fuel to power up your stove.
  • Even if you've hooked your home up to an alternative energy source like solar power, you can still use emergency fuel as a backup in case you can't produce enough energy due to unfavorable conditions like rain, flooding, and drought.

How to Store Your Emergency Fuel

You can’t question how important fuel is for survival.


But there’s one thing you should remember: it’s flammable.


You need to handle your emergency fuels with extra care so they won’t burn down your neighborhood. Keep the following in mind when storing them:


Place Them in the Right Containers

Different fuels have different containers. You’re supposed to put kerosene in blue containers, gasoline in red, and diesel in yellow.


Now, you might wonder why they’re assigned specific colors. It’s not random...there’s actually a good reason for this.


It’s to prevent fuel mix-ups.


If you placed all your fuels in the same indistinguishable containers, there’s a huge chance you might use the wrong one, even if you labeled them. Color-coding the containers will stop you from adding gasoline to a kerosene heater (and prevent a major disaster from taking place).


So you don’t forget, here’s a recap on what fuel goes in which container:


  • Blue - kerosene
  • Red - gasoline
  • Yellow - diesel


Store Them Away from Your House

When we say store your emergency fuels safely, we mean NEVER stashing them inside your home. Not in the basement, not in the attic, and not even in your garage.


That’s a fire waiting to happen. 


So where the heck do you keep your fuels?


We recommend putting them in a place detached from your house. If you have an outdoor shed, great. But if you don’t have one, you can buy a flammable storage cabinet from shops that sell safety equipment.


Or you can build a cabinet. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just make sure it’s dry, properly ventilated, and away from direct sunlight. Add a lock as well so your kids won’t be able to open it. 


Add Fuel Stabilizers and Additives

You worked hard to secure your fuel, so there’s no way you’ll allow it to degrade by the time you dip into your stash. 


Sadly, some fuels only last 12 months, even if you’ve kept them in a safe place.


But hey, all hope's not lost. Just let fuel stabilizers and additives work their magic. These help you increase your fuel’s lifespan. Sometimes, they can even double it.


One popular additive is STA-BIL. It stops nasty gum and varnish from building up. For best results, add it while your fuel is still fresh.


Rotate, Rotate, Rotate

Don’t wanna use additives on your fuel?


You can always rotate your stockpile instead — like the way you use the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method for your canned goods.


Store your fuels for a maximum of 6 months so they won’t go bad (it can be longer, depending on the kind you’re saving).  Here’s how you can do it:


  • Label each fuel with the date that you got them.
  • Once enough time has passed, grab the oldest one from the stack and use it.
  • Refill the container with brand-new fuel and put it back in storage.
  • Repeat these steps and never worry about wasting fuel again.

Got everything? Good. Now it’s time to talk about the fuels you need to add to your list of survival supplies:

Different Emergency Fuels You Need to Start Stockpiling Today

Fuel will run out fast in a disaster since it’s indispensable in generating electricity, cooking food, warming homes, and keeping vehicles up and running.


Don’t wait for a crisis to happen before you start squirreling away fuels. Like other essential survival gear and supplies, it’s best to gather these ASAP.


But before you make a mad dash to the gas station, read this to know the 9 emergency fuels you should have in your stockpile:


Firewood

Every prepper should have a healthy stack of firewood ready in case of an emergency. You can use it to keep a furnace going in case of bad winter storms and as fuel for fireplaces and wood stoves.


But you have to remember that firewood is vulnerable to the elements. Expose it to moisture and it becomes virtually useless. Piling chunks of uncut wood would only lead to more moisture and eventually, rotting. 


Keep the firewood dry and well-seasoned by cutting the logs into the proper size and exposing it to a lot of sun and wind. The best type has less than 20% moisture, according to Woodheat.org.


Higher moisture content will make it an inefficient fuel source. You'll have a hard time starting your fire or at best, have lots of smoke and not so much fire. For this reason, using green wood for fuel is discouraged.


Charcoal

What’s great about charcoal is that it burns better than wood. It’s also cheap and easy to store. Plus, it has a long shelf life...as long as you take proper care of it.  


Charcoal isn’t only useful as an emergency fuel, though. You can smear it on your body to camouflage yourself from animals and bad guys or barter it for other survival tools.


But watch out for moisture. It’s pointless to use charcoal when it’s not dry, so store your black nuggets in airtight containers and in a dry, non-humid place. If they do get wet, you can get rid of the moisture by putting them under the sun on a scorching day.  


Another downside? You can only burn charcoal outdoors.


When this fuel burns, it generates tons of carbon monoxide. Translation: it can poison or even kill you if you use it indoors. 


Related: A Guide on How to Make Your Own Charcoal

Alcohol

Alcohol may not burn as hot as other types of fuel, but don't count it out just yet. When you're hungry for a warm meal or feeling cold at night, heating this fuel will do the trick.


There are different types of alcohol you can add to your stash, including:


  • Denatured: If there's one kind of alcohol to stockpile, it's this. You can easily find it online or at any hardware store. Depending on the container it's placed in, this bad boy can have an indefinite shelf life.
  • Isopropyl: More popularly known as rubbing alcohol, this also makes a good emergency fuel. Isopropyl comes in a variety of strengths — 70 percent, 91 percent, and 99 percent. The higher you go for, the more superior the burn. 
  • Ethanol: Dropping by the local liquor store for your favorite bottle of booze? Grab some ethanol alcohol while you’re at it. It contains around 95% alcohol. Just stay alert when you're using this. The flames it produces are almost invisible.

No matter which type you pick, remember that it doesn’t take much for alcohol to catch on fire (thanks to its low flash point). So keep it away from chemicals and store it safely.


Gel Fuel

Gel fuel is basically an alcohol lamp...in gel form.


How’s that possible? It’s made of 90% isopropyl alcohol and a gelling agent like soy wax or calcium acetate. It doesn’t spill or emit smoke, making it the perfect fuel whether you’re camping out or bunkering in.


Gel fuel is commercially available in cans that can usually burn for up to 3 hours straight. You can also make your own and add it to your survival stockpile.


While you can't expect it to warm an entire house, gel fuel can be great in providing extra heat without any risk for leaks or spills. You can also use it when it’s too dangerous to light a bonfire — say, when you’re camping out in a really dry area at risk for forest fires.


Biomass Briquettes

Materials like your junk mail and almond shells can probably save you from freezing one day.


Biomass briquettes are alternative fuel sources made from waste materials like corn husks, nut shells, shredded paper, and other raw materials. These materials are shredded, mixed, and compressed into briquettes that you can use as fuel for cooking, heating, and generating electricity.


These briquettes can be pretty handy if you live in an area where traditional fuel like firewood is scarce. They are also great alternatives to coal and charcoal.


Since these briquettes are made of recycled materials, you're also using environmentally friendly fuel. Learn how to make your own briquettes with the video above.


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Gasoline

Gasoline is one of the most popular emergency fuels out there, typically used for vehicles and generators. A few extra gallons of gasoline in an emergency situation can go a long way.


But there’s a catch: gasoline has a relatively short shelf life. It can deteriorate after 12 months.

 

The key to long-term gas storage is through additives. Folks use additives like STA-BIL and PRI-G to stabilize gasoline, preventing its deterioration and extending its shelf life. If you mix these with your gasoline once every year, it should be good as new.


You also should know how much gasoline you need.


How many gallons of gas will it take to reach your bug out location? How much do you need to fire up your generator?


Calculate how much you’ll need and then add in an extra gallon or two, just to be sure. Store your emergency gasoline in red plastic containers and regularly rotate your supply.


Kerosene

Kerosene has been used in the States as fuel since the 1800s. Developing countries still use paraffin — as it’s also known — as their primary source of fuel, too.


While somewhat outdated (some groups are pushing for preppers to replace kerosene lamps with solar ones) and relatively dangerous, it can still be a good fuel source during times of crisis.


One prepper from Food Storage Moms narrates how kerosene made their life bearable during a terrible economic breakdown in Africa: "We run our deep freezers on it, cook over pressure cookers and use pressure lanterns for our lighting. We also run our old British Lister Diesel generators on it."


Be careful while you handle kerosene, though. This substance is super flammable so if you're storing it in bulk, you have to put them in blue containers and label them accordingly.


After that, stash the fuel in a cool, well-ventilated place away from heat or sparks. You’ll also have to rotate your kerosene supply every 12 months.


Propane

Propane is also known as LPG or liquefied petroleum gas. It's initially stored in its liquid form and

released as a gas upon use.


Propane can be used for heating, cooking, and even as fuel for vehicles. Most preppers prefer to use propane as an emergency fuel because it can be stored safely and indefinitely, as long as its container remains intact.


Propane containers can come as portable cylinders that weigh around as little as 14 ounces or as large tanks that can store up to 1,000 gallons.


As the gas is highly flammable, many safety features like regulators and overfill prevention device valves have been built into these containers. These prevent the tanks from being filled at 100% as doing so would cause leaks and lead to destructive fuel fires.


Safe propane storage should also be practiced.


Here's a great tip from Preparedness Advice on the subject: "Since propane is heavier than air, the gas will flow along the contours of the ground like water, a big consideration is where to place your tanks. Place your tank downhill if possible from your residence and other important locations in case of a leak."


These tanks need to be kept in an upright position and should be re-certified for safety every 10 years.


Butane

Butane is a colorless and odorless gas that shares some similarities with propane. Typically, it’s used as fuel for portable stoves and lighters but it has other applications. This gas is also found in LPG.

You can use a butane stove indoors...as long as you have enough ventilation and keep it far away from any heat source. It's easy, too. Even teenagers won't have a hard time controlling the flame. 


But butane has one major con. Since it has a boiling point of -2°C, it’s not the best fuel to use in colder weather. Have other fuels at the ready if you don’t wanna freeze your butt off during winter. 


Also, like its cousin propane, it's heavier than air so you need to pay attention to leaks. You have to store butane canisters at a temperature below 120°F and above 32°F. Their shelf life is around 8 years.


Essential Safety Precautions to Follow

You don’t wanna put your family’s safety in jeopardy by starting a house fire. Nor do you want your survival supplies to go up in flames. So before you grab your fuel from storage and begin burning it, don’t forget these basic but essential precautions: 


  • Read and understand the instructions for the fuel and the device you’re gonna use. 
  • Take care of any leaks or spills right away.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in key areas. Have them inspected often, too.
  • Get fire extinguishers for every floor in your house. Keep one in the kitchen and in rooms with a fireplace. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Burn fuel that produces carbon monoxide outside.
  • Keep all fuel far away from your kids.


Final Thoughts

In a disaster, a fuel supply shortage will be inevitable so it’s important to stock up on emergency fuels. Keep various types on hand so that when one doesn’t work, you’ll still have other fuel sources as backups.


It’s also important to know the proper ways to store your emergency fuels. These are flammable substances, so you need to take precautions when you store and handle them.


When SHTF, you don’t wanna be part of the horde scrambling for a dwindling supply of fuel. You wanna be the one who’s got an emergency stash ready for any scenario, so start stocking up ASAP.


Wanna learn more about prepping and survivalism? Go check out our other blog posts.


Posted in  Prepping   on  June 17, 2021 by  Alexa R.0

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About the author

Alexa is an outdoor enthusiast with years of experience camping, hiking, backpacking, and prepping for any situation. You can often find her out in the woods, or getting ready for her next challenge!

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