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In my country of residence (developing nation) I sometimes see people stopped alongside the road because they apparently forgot to buy fuel or couldn't afford it. I also would like to be able to push a bit further on my motorbike since the fuel light comes on pretty early. For those purposes I'd like to bring a TINY amount of gasoline with me on the motorbike, in the under-seat compartment. My motorbike does 40 km on a liter so if I bring 200 ML it should be more than enough to reach a gas station. I can just empty it out in my gas tank every month or so, and refresh it, so longevity shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Now I know I shouldn't be storing fuel in inappropriate containers, so what would a decent solution for this be? I cannot find jerry cans of such a tiny size. Glass is not recommended for fuel, but would it matter for a small amount, if not filled to the top? And would a glass jar not leak?

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    Also worth checking to see if your bike has a reserve fuel switch!
    – RomanSt
    Aug 16 at 12:38
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    @RomanSt it doesn't have one Aug 16 at 13:10
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    200mL seems like an awfully small amount of fuel - it's enough to get you another 5-10 minutes down the road, but that's it. I guess this is useful in an emergency, and I suppose it may very slightly reduce the frequency of your fuel stops, but I don't really see much point in a reserve this small. It's bad to run a gas tank dry - the better solution is just to stop for gas a few minutes earlier. Aug 16 at 17:02
  • @NuclearHoagie the point is not to use the reserve fuel but to be able to not worry about the fuel light too early. Since it seems I can still easily do another 50 kilometers after it turns on, but it makes me nervous that it might suddenly just run out. 200 ml is roughly good for 8 km on my bike, so enough to always reach a gas station. Aug 17 at 1:45
  • Here in my UK, it's very clear that I may store a maximum of two litres of petrol in a vehicle or a garage. Nothing less matters and nothing more is legal. In your own jurisdiction either there are no rules, or you should be able to get a copy of the rules from your equivalent of my British Ministry of Transport, if not from your police station. Aug 17 at 21:21

5 Answers 5

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You can use a camping fuel bottle. They are usually made of aluminum, they are made to hold flammable liquids including gasoline, and they do not leak. I have seen them as small as 500 ml, and you might find a smaller model if you search.

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  • That works! I found a 325ml one but not locally, but I did find 500/530 ml ones! Aug 15 at 13:49
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    One consideration with this is to ensure wherever it is stored on the motorbike, you want to ensure heat is not an issue. If the bottle were to heat up too much, it might get ugly. Some sort of insulation sleeve over it might help in that respect. Also, as far as the fuel longevity goes, if the bottle is full and is completely sealed where there is no air transfer, the fuel inside will last a long while. It is usually the air and moisture carried by the air which causes issues with fuel. Aug 15 at 15:37
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    Please do label it as Gasoline in whatever terms will be widely recognized. If someone mistakes it for any other camping or heating or lantern fuel, and uses it in such an appliance, they will almost certainly have serious consequences.
    – CCTO
    Aug 15 at 20:57
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    And note that some stoves are built to be able to burn gasoline. Thus, their fuel bottles certainly are capable of safely storing it. Off the top of my head: primus.us/products/omnifuel-stove Aug 16 at 21:27
  • I second the proposal to use a metal bottle, subject to the seal in the cap being compatible with gasoline/petrol and not just kerosene/praffin. In the UK metal 5L/gallon cans have been superseded by plastic, but I recently had the lid on one of those disintegrate. Aug 18 at 14:58
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One possibility is if you can find small engine gasoline / alkylate gasoline sold in a one-liter container. That gasoline burns very cleanly, can be stored for about 4 years with no degradation and exhaust emissions of that gasoline are very clean. It's about ~98 RON octane usually.

When buying small engine gasoline in such a small container, expect to pay around 6 euros / dollars / pounds for the liter. You can use the gasoline you buy for that money in practically every application and then some, for example it's very good for storing lawnmower during the winter. But what you want is the container. It's a plastic container that can be used to store gasoline, and it's clearly marked as a gasoline container with the appropriate "flammable" signs.

Of course one liter container may be bit overkill for transporting 200 milliliters, but I'm not aware of anybody selling gasoline in smaller containers than that.

And if you don't consume the alkylate gasoline immediately but rather let it stay in that container, you can store it for 4 years, no need to rotate that gasoline several times per year.

One difficulty might be that the one liter bottles haven't been made for refilling, so if you want to store regular gasoline in that you need a funnel, you probably can't fit the gas nozzle in a pump through the bottleneck.

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  • Thanks, I didn't know you could buy fuel like that, although I have never seen it here. However, the size is kind of the problem. I don't have (or don't want to dedicate) tons of space for this so I would prefer a container with just a volume of something around 200 milliliters. Aug 15 at 11:43
  • It's made at least by Aspen in Sweden and Neste in Finland. Aspen is exporting it to many countries although it may be bit too expensive for developing nations.
    – juhist
    Aug 15 at 11:44
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How to carry a spare gasoline:

  1. Container made of metal. Steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, any common-use metal will do.

Plastics that can safely contain fuel are expensive and could be fake. The wrong plastic means static electricity and sparks. Sparks and gasoline don't play well.

Glass is fragile and can build up static as well.

Besides containers made specifically for gasoline, some alcohol beverages are sold in metal containers. These bottles are OK for gasoline, too. It is OK for the cap to be plastic as long as the rest of the container is metal.

  1. Container tightly closed.

Leaks are dangerous. A small leak can soak its immediate environment and then a single static spark can make fire.

  1. Never fill the container to the cap. Always allow about 20% of the container volume to be available for the thermal expansion of the gasoline.

Gasoline expands thermally a lot more than water (it is like 10% form 15C to 40C). It will expand no matter if there is enough space in the container or not. If there is no space to expand anymore, the container will crack open.

The fuel tanks of cars and motorcycles, as well as the canisters made for petroleum fuels, have a complex shape that makes filling all the space with fuel hard or outright impossible. A simple bottle doesn't have such feature. It is up to you to fill it to 80%.

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    I'd be very cautious about mixing unknown plastics with gasoline in any way. Most plastics are fine, but some dissolve.
    – Mark
    Aug 16 at 23:52
  • @Mark food-safe plastics are OK in this regard.
    – fraxinus
    Aug 17 at 6:16
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The camp fuel bottle is the way to go. When I still had my dual-sport bike, I carried three 1L bottles in my Wolfman saddle bags. Most of my riding was off-road, and many miles from any gas station. I never had any leaking issues, or issues with the 100+ F Utah heat. Three bottles gave me over 50 more miles.

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I have reused a 2L screw-top tomato-sauce bottle for holding petrol, and it seemed to work acceptably. Tomato sauce is a acidic food and any bottle that can hold it should hold petrol/gasoline okay. You may have similar foods in your location.

The lid must be a screw-top that fits tightly and doesn't leak. Clean bottle out well, make sure its bone-dry. Ideally, the nozzle would be wider than the handle at the service station's bowser, but narrower than the one on your bike's fuel tank. Clearly label bottle as "NOT FOR FOOD"

To be sure, try half-filling your candidate bottle with petrol and leave it for a month. Then pour out the petrol through a mesh strainer. Look for discolouration or strings of plastic, and check the smell. If anything seems wrong, then its not suitable.

One consideration is whether your engine needs to be mixed with oil, as in some 2 stroke configurations. Most 2 stroke motorbikes have an automatic oiler, but if not you may need to bring some in an additional container, or choose to go without while on reserve. Storing mixed petrol/oil is another option.

Store whatever bottle you get so the lid is clear of the content, ie, it is standing up. The bottle should not be on the outside of the bike in case of accident, and it should not be exposed to heat either.

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    I don't see the relevance of the original container holding an acid - gasoline is neither acidic nor basic. I'm not sure that a material being resistant to acid is a good indicator that it won't be degraded by gasoline. Aug 18 at 14:40
  • @NuclearHoagie well I tried other plastic containers and the petrol either dissolved the plastic or made it go "stringy" In my experience, the sauce bottle survived petrol/gasoline/benzine/etc so that is an accessible option for OP to try. OP is in a developing nation so getting the perfect fuel can may be difficult/expensive whereas a food container should be easier.
    – Criggie
    Aug 18 at 19:43
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    200ml = <7 ozs. Tried auto supply stores for ideas of small plastic bottles of motor oil, brake fluid or other petroleum fluids? Small containers for brake fluid or motor oil may be reused for holding 200ml of gasoline. Finding empty containers, flushing them clean then testing with some fuel may help. Squeezing the container before capping will purge air and allow fuel to expand without bursting the cap. Polyethylene is one plastic used in large petrol containers for portability as well as motor oil containers. Find one that can be strapped or fastened securely for your portable gas can.
    – F Dryer
    Aug 23 at 16:24

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