While gas is integral to everyday life – fueling everything from vehicles to your lawnmower- it won’t stay good forever. Gasoline, a petroleum-based fuel, has a shelf life of about three to six months after it hits your tank.
Depending on the storage method and if you’ve added a fuel stabilizer to the mix, gas can degrade in a short amount of time, changing its chemical makeup. When this happens, the gas is no longer efficient, and you must dispose of it. Since it’s a toxic chemical, you can’t throw away gas like most other household products. Instead, we’ll show you how to dispose of old gas in a safe manner.
How to Identify Bad Gasoline
If you’re unsure of how long your gas has been sitting, there are a few signs you can look for to determine if the gas is bad.
- Color – Fresh gasoline is clear. If your gas has a muddy or rusty color, it’s gone bad.
- Smell – Gas that’s gone bad won’t smell like regular gas – instead, it will have a distinct sour or spoilt scent to it.
- Operational problems – If your vehicle has sat for months with gas in its tank, and you’re experiencing engine issues, gasoline could be the culprit. Signs to look for include a check engine light, rough idling, failure to start, and problems with acceleration. Old gas can also prevent your lawn mower from starting and cause other operational issues.
If you suspect the gas in your tank has gone bad, you must remove it. Leaving it can lead to corrosion, engine damage, and blockages in the fuel line. You’ll need to siphon the gas – the safest way is through a siphon pump.
How to Dispose of Old Gas
Once you’ve determined your gas has gone bad, it’s time to dispose of it. Before you do, ensure the gasoline is in a thick plastic safety container. The best containers for gas transport and storage will have a marking of UL Approved (Underwriters Laboratories) or FM Approved (Factory Mutual).
Find Your States Environmental Protection Agency Website
Each state has a different regulation for disposing of gasoline. Since gasoline is a hazardous material, you cannot throw it out with your regular garbage or take it to a recycling center.
Instead, search for “your state + EPA” to find the state agencies’ instructions.
Take it to a Hazardous Waste Center
Gasoline is a toxic chemical. Most state agencies direct residents to take gasoline to a hazardous waste center for disposal. Locate the center nearest to you by referencing your state EPA website or searching Earth911.
Look for Community Collection Events
Check your local government’s website for community hazardous waste collection and recycling events. Many cities and counties host these events several times per year, giving residents a chance to recycle e-waste and dispose of hazardous material. Be sure to check specifically for gasoline disposal before heading to the event.
How to Get Rid of Small Amounts of Gasoline
Even if you only have a small amount of gasoline to dispose of, taking it to the hazardous waste center is your best (and probably only) option. Never pour gas down the sink or in the grass. It only takes a small amount of gasoline to pollute water sources, and pouring gas on the grass will kill your lawn.
Can You Let Gas Evaporate?
If you leave the lid off of your gas can or tank, the gas will begin to evaporate. While you might think this is a good way to get rid of a small amount of gas, it’s dangerous. Allowing gas to evaporate releases toxic chemicals in the air, which can be fatal or result in serious illness. Instead, put your gas in a safe container and bring it to a hazardous waste facility.