I had a fuel leak in a generator gas tank. To fix it I needed, quickly, to drain the gas and had no available cans (in Florida, all are full pending Irma). I had a clean Brute trash can I had used (but no longer) for mixing water for an aquarium, and used it.

Yes, it's outside, covered, away from anything, etc. No fire safety lecture please.

My question is: When I get the tank repaired, probably tomorrow - is the gas usable?

I can't find what they are made of. They are food safe, and their site gives lots of "quality" comments, but nothing about what it tolerates.

I would far rather use that gas than try to transport it to be safely disposed, not for cost reasons but safety. Plus I don't think I can get it transported before the storm hits (and will not move it inside) so it stands a good chance of spilling. I just don't have other containers to transport in, and the trash can won't fit vertically in my vehicles.

And again, the can was clean and dry before, not worried about dirt or water. Worried about the gas dissolving some of the can and then ruining the generator if I use it.

Anyone know the chemistry of those cans, and whether gas will stay in them for 2-3 days without becoming corrupt in some way?

If it matters it's a 20hp Honda engine in which I would use it.



PS. Please don't suggest I go buy more gas cans, as I mentioned we are days away from the hurricane and there's nothing like that to be had anywhere in S. Florida. I can probably find more gas, not an issue, but I have 10 gallons in a can and don't know what else to do with it before the wind hits.

  • I'd expect that there'd be a stamp or molding somewhere which tells you what kind of 'plastic' it's made of - HDPE, ABS, whatever ...
    – brhans
    Sep 6, 2017 at 14:10
  • 1
    Indeed there is, thanks, found it under the cover: HDPE. Also, the gasoline is Rec 90 (no ethenol) if that matters.
    – Linwood
    Sep 6, 2017 at 14:13
  • Which now that I know that on further reading looks like it may be OK.
    – Linwood
    Sep 6, 2017 at 14:15
  • @JPhi1618, thanks, I will if no one chimes in. What I found was "internet wisdom" in other forums saying it was OK, but nothing exactly authoritative, so hoping there's a chemist or someone with a more solid answer before leaving it here for posterity.
    – Linwood
    Sep 6, 2017 at 17:59
  • 1
    Well, wiki says that automotive fuel tanks use HDPE. So put that in the pro column.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 6, 2017 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


Here is what I know from reading and a real life experiment. LOTS Of sites (google HDPE and Gasoline) say that it can be used for storage, but I saw none that looked very authoritative so I will not quote them. Some few similarly say no. Wikipedia comments that over time they may become saturated as gasoline permeates the material, but later goes on to mention their use in autos, so pick your answer.

I needed to use it for a short term (about 4 days). It worked fine. The resulting gas did not appear affected (no cloudiness, and it ran fine afterwards), and the can did not appear significantly affected (not soft or distortions on the surface where it was). The can stinks strongly of gasoline despite repeating washing so it may be a permanent odor effect. My guess is even a few weeks would be fine.

Note my can had been used previously for producing RO water for an aquarium so I knew it was very clean; contamination is clearly a risk. And it won't be used for RO water now, obviously.

My conclusion is that in a pinch this works great, but I think I would be reluctant to trust it for longer periods. Since the top is hardly a solid seal, I think trusting it for long term would be wrong for all sorts of other reasons also.

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