How To Dispose Of Old Gasoline? (Step by Step Guide)

Old Gasoline
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Because gasoline is so common in our daily lives, it’s simple to forget how dangerous a substance it can be. Wildlife may suffer greatly if gasoline is released into the environment. If that gasoline finds its way into sewer and drain systems, it may also have an impact on public health. It’s crucial to understand safe fuel disposal procedures.

In cars and other vehicles, which consume gasoline quickly enough that it doesn’t have a chance to go bad before it’s used, old gasoline is rarely an issue. If your car is regularly driven, you shouldn’t have a problem with old gasoline, though it might be present in a vehicle that has been sitting idle for several months or longer.

Stale gas is more frequently found in seasonal equipment like lawnmowers or gas-powered heaters. You’ll likely have stale gas to dispose of the following time you pull it out if you forget to drain the tank before putting it into storage.

We can provide you with some solutions if you’re unsure what to do with old gas. We’ll walk you through where to find businesses that recycle or dispose of old gas as well as techniques for repurposing gasoline that appears to have reached the end of its useful life.

What Exactly Is Old Gas?

As a result of the natural process that occurs when gas interacts with our atmosphere, gasoline will typically begin to oxidize and break down. This process can take 3-6 months for regular 85 octane gas and 2-3 months for ethanol-rich fuels.

Old gas will begin to smell “spoiled,” appear a little darker or muddy in color, and can cause misfires. It also has a higher chance of clogging your fuel injectors (or even your fuel pump), which will lead to further issues for your engine in the future.

When you go to fill up your gas tank, you might notice a “stale” smell or see through the transparent side of your portable gas can that the gas appears “semi-solid.” You have some old gas in there, so you need to do something about it.

You could either siphon out the bad gas and replace it with fresh gas; we’ll cover this in more detail later in the article.

Alternately, you can fill the remaining space in the tank using a technique known as “diluting” if you believe the gas hasn’t been there for more than six months. This will lessen the concentration of any particulates, which will ease the strain on your fuel system and prevent future problems.

If you’re not that interested or just don’t care to read further, feel free to stop now. I need to delve a little deeper to find out what is REALLY happening with old gasoline. You might be wondering, “If crude oil can last millions of years underground, how come gasoline can spoil so quickly?”

Well, crude oil that is extracted from the earth’s interior is very different from gasoline. In essence, gasoline is a highly refined compound made of a large number of hydrogen and carbon atoms bound together to form hydrocarbons. Sulfur is one of the contaminants that is eliminated during the refining process in order to prevent environmental conditions like “acid rain.”

In order to reduce pollution, the gasoline is then refined to the level required by the EPA. 

What Causes Fuel To Degrade?

Now that gasoline has been designed to such a high standard, why does it degrade?

As a result of the lighter hydrocarbons beginning to evaporate as soon as the gas is exposed to air, the delicate chemical balance of the fuel begins to degrade and become less volatile. This implies that there won’t be as significant a boom for each combustion cycle.

Another intriguing fact is that gas companies adjust the hydrocarbon content of their gas to match atmospheric conditions throughout the year.

For instance, gasoline with lighter hydrocarbons will be available in the winter and will be easier to ignite but more likely to evaporate. In order to always be able to start your car and travel to your destination, your gas must be simpler to ignite.

Since there isn’t the same temperature difference as in the winter, the hydrocarbons will be heavier in the summer so they don’t evaporate as quickly, but they don’t need to be as light.

How Long Before Gas Is Bad?

Gasoline is volatile, meaning that it’s only just barely a liquid. If the container’s cap is not tight enough, the molecules in it will all attempt to break free and float freely in the air. Additionally, gasoline readily oxidizes or breaks down into its component molecules, when it comes into contact with certain other chemicals, such as oxygen. Its flammability and suitability for engines are both due to this characteristic. When fuel is oxidized quickly, a fire results, or, in the case of an automobile engine, a series of tiny explosions that move the pistons.

You get a bunch of molecules that aren’t quite the same as regular gasoline when gas oxidizes slowly, whether it’s in a gas can or your garden shed. They could cause your engine to run less efficiently than it should and, in some cases, clog fuel lines.

For these reasons, you really can’t count on stored gasoline to last indefinitely. When it’s properly stored, three to six months is about the best you can hope for; if it’s in a can with a loose lid or it’s been in the heat, it might last even shorter than that.

Old Gasoline

How To Identify Old Or Bad Gasoline?

Find out if your gas is old as your first step. Maybe you’re unsure if you can still use it because it’s been sitting in your lawnmower for a while. Pour a small amount into a transparent container to find out. To compare the two, get a second clear container and fill it with brand-new gas. It’s likely that the older gas is no longer good if it smells slightly sour or appears much darker than the new gas.

After all, after a few months, gas starts to degrade to the point where it may not even be able to start your lawnmower, much less a car. However, you might still be able to use it by filling it up with fresh gas. As an illustration, you could fill the tank with the new gas up to about three-fourths of the way, then add the old gas to finish it off. If you do this, you might want to think about adding a fuel additive to enhance the gas quality.

Nevertheless, there are instances where the gas is too old to be used at all. Don’t put used gas in your tank if it contains any dirt or rust. You don’t want to take the chance of causing fuel system damage. You should instead concentrate on figuring out safe ways to get rid of the old gas.

What Happens If You Just Throw Used Gas Anywhere?

You likely already know intuitively that a full tank of gasoline will not make your town’s sewage system or the local ecosystem particularly happy. Gas is corrosive, toxic, and flammable, and it has no business being in those environments.

Check your local laws before dumping gasoline because it’s against the law almost everywhere and you risk paying hefty fines. Additionally, you’re a jerk if you’re already trying to come up with places to dump your gas covertly.

How to Dispose of Old Gasoline: Step By Step Guide

When it comes to the disposal of hazardous substances like gasoline, different municipalities frequently have different regulations. Before you begin, inquire with your local government to see if there are any specific rules regarding the disposal of used gas.

Generally speaking, you can dispose of your used gasoline by following the steps listed below, subject to local variations:

Step 1:

Pour the gasoline into a transparent container so you can inspect it before you discard it. It’s possible that the gasoline was simply diluted if it was left outside. Gasoline with water in it will easily separate, with the gas rising to the top, so you don’t need to know how to dispose of it. After allowing it to settle, carefully pour the gasoline into a different container. The leftover water should be run through a cloth. The remaining water can then be safely poured down the drain after this removes the last signs of gas. Refuel the engine with the recovered fuel. You might find it functions perfectly. If not, move on to step 2.

Step 2:

Empty the gas into a disposable, gasoline-approved jug for transportation if the fuel is dirty or unusable. To simplify the pouring, you can use a funnel. A less expensive disposable model is frequently the best option because many disposal facilities require you to leave the gas can alongside the gas.

Step 3:

Find a location where you can safely recycle or dispose of the gas. The following are some of your standard options:

Recycling centers: Through their recycling facilities, some municipalities offer gasoline recycling. When this is the case, it’s typically limited to a small number of centers, or to a particular day or season. Details can be found by contacting your local government.

locations for hazardous waste These are also government organizations. The primary distinction between these and recycling facilities is that waste disposal facilities don’t reuse or recycle gasoline. Once more, make sure to call in advance as some drop-off locations only accept gas during specific hours, while others have a cap on the total amount of fuel they will accept at one time. Be aware that you might also have to pay for the disposal service before you go.

Paid disposal service: Some areas offer services that will pick up used gasoline directly from your house. It’s probably not worth it unless you have a lot of old gasoline you need to get rid of because the costs for these services are usually quite high.

Community collection efforts: In order to encourage residents to recycle, some cities hold regular recycling events. To find out if this is an option in your area and when the next event will take place, consult your local community events calendar.

neighborhood fire department Unused gasoline can be disposed of by some fire departments. If not, they’ll probably be able to tell you which choice is best for your area.

Auto garage: The old oil, transmission fluid, and other fluids that mechanics remove from the vehicles they work on are just a few of the dangerous fluids they already have to dispose of. Many businesses will gladly accept your old gas for free disposal in their waste. Like with other services, call ahead to confirm that the shop provides this one before showing up with a gas can in hand.

Step 4:

Put a lid on the container and store it in a cool, dark place if you can’t immediately take the gas for recycling or disposal. Old gas doesn’t burn as easily, but it’s still unsafe to drink, so make sure it’s out of the reach of any children or pets in the house. There’s no need to rush if you can’t get to the disposal right away because you can safely store used gasoline indefinitely as long as the lid is fastened.

It’s a fairly simple procedure, as you can see. Finding out where and when to dispose of your old gas simply requires doing your research and being aware of your options. Even if your city doesn’t offer gasoline recycling, you should be able to find a way to get rid of it for nothing with a little research.

Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing how to properly dispose of gas. Since we use gas so frequently, it’s simple to assume that it’s safe to handle, but even after it’s lost its combustibility due to aging, you shouldn’t take any chances. When you have old gasoline, you should avoid doing the following things:

  • Never discard used gas in the trash. This is not only against the law, but it could be dangerous. Even old gasoline can start a fire or help a fire grow in the right circumstances.
  • Never flush used fuel down the drain. When harmful chemicals like gasoline get into the water system, they pose a risk to public health. In addition, they may harm the plants and animals that live near sewage drains. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a little bit of gas won’t hurt anything; one gallon of gas can pollute as much as 750,000 gallons of water.
  • Gas cans shouldn’t be kept outside. Gas cans are strong, but the plastic versions are vulnerable to punctures, and the metal cans are prone to rust. It is more likely that the cans of used gas will leak and seep into the environment if they are left outside. Keep the gasoline away from food in a closet or cabinet if you don’t have a garage or basement. If you’re concerned about leaks or odors, you can wrap it in a plastic bag.

Gas dumping is illegal, and there can be severe repercussions, including steep fines and even jail time. The cost to the environment can be high even if you avoid being caught. The slight extra effort required to properly dispose of used gasoline is worthwhile.


While getting rid of old and bad gasoline can be a hassle, it’s much easier and less embarrassing than getting rid of the other type of “bad gas.” 

Be sure to follow your local state laws and regulations, and ensure that you are getting rid of expired gasoline properly. Consider these battery-powered lawn care tools if you don’t feel like dealing with bad gasoline in your small engine. 

An option that is significantly better than throwing it away secretly at the next bonfire you go to.

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