How fast does gasoline evaporate – Experts answer

There’s that one question every person looking to store gasoline has on their mind. It goes something like this: hey, does gasoline evaporate and if so – how fast? Of course, that seems way too naive of a question for someone who owns a vehicle. Still, it’s nevertheless a good question that deserves a precise answer.

We’re kinda guessing you want to know how fast gasoline evaporates. Well, you’re reading this text, so… Yeah, it’s safe to say you’re on the lookout for some useful information. That’s exactly what you’re gonna get in the article below. We’ll tell you just how fast does gasoline evaporate.

Once the outside temperature is above -40°F (-40°C) gasoline releases (toxic) vapors. You’ll want to know that gasoline is very volatile. In simpler words: it evaporates pretty fast. How fast it’ll happen depends on the temperature of the fluid itself and the surface it’s spilled onto. 

That’s, of course, only a brief preview! Feel free to check out the whole thing!

Table of Contents

What is gasoline?

First things first, it might be good to cover some basic info concerning this substance. Here’s something you’d call a regular definition of gasoline (sometimes called petrol). Gasoline is the end result of the crude oil/petroleum-refining process. It’s most commonly used as fuel for internal combustion engines. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a world without gasoline. Although, as each day passes – more and more alternatives to it are found.

Here’s a fun fact: it’s one of the most widely used products in the world. It’s no wonder once you realize most vehicles rely on it. We’ve got another set of cool facts in store. If you’re wondering what’s the difference between propane and natural gas, click here.

Wait, are gasoline and petrol the same thing?

Yup, there’s absolutely no difference between the two. In other words: petrol and gasoline are two names for the same type of fuel. The term petrol is mostly used in European and Asian countries. In the USA or Latin America, you’ll hear folks calling the same fuel gasoline.

What’s the shelf life of gasoline?

You’ll want to know that gasoline’s got its own shelf life. The term represents just how long can your gasoline can stay in storage without going bad. Anyway, it all depends on the type of gas you’re using:

  • Pure gasoline without any additives will last you anywhere from three to six months. 
  • The ethanol-blended type will last you about two to three months. 
  • Fuel-stabilized gas has the longest shelf life from one to three years (!). 

Now, we have to emphasize one thing: this stands only for gasoline that’s properly stored. Also, spoiled gasoline isn’t unusable. Consult this interesting article to see how to rejuvenate old gasoline.

Wait, what’s a fuel stabilizer?

As one can assume, adding a fuel stabilizer can prolong the mentioned shelf life of your stored gas. It will improve its stability and make the gasoline more resistant. More resistant to the many things inside your storage that can cause it to go bad. It will keep your gasoline fresh from one up to a fantastic three years.

What’s proper gasoline storage?

Now, we’ve talked about it quite a lot on this site. Still, there are never too many safety tips, right? Okay, let’s see how should one conduct the storage of gasoline:

  • Consult your local & state laws and regulations on the storage of gasoline/petrol. You’ll know exactly what type of storage is prohibited.
  • Store it away from your living quarters, and never inside them. An outside shed is your best option.
  • If you’ve got kids, make sure they avoid the storage area. This should go without saying.
  • Store gasoline only in containers approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). They’re made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic.
  • Check your homeowner’s insurance policy on gasoline/petrol storage. You’ll know how much you’re able to store without compromising the policy.
  • Put a piece of plywood between the container and the concrete floor. If you’ve got a concrete floor inside your storage, that is.
  • Store gasoline away from the path of direct sun. Nor should there be any heat sources inside the storage room.

There’s no denying proper gasoline storage is very important. That’s because gasoline vapors (we’ll get to that in a sec) are highly flammable. Do you know that even the tiniest spark from a cigarette butt can cause mayhem? Now that you do, make sure you stick to the safety tips we’ve shown you above.

Oh, and don’t forget that breathing in gasoline vapors is highly toxic and dangerous, too. Even though breathing in a little gasoline gets some folks a bit high, it should, by all means, be avoided.

Now that we’ve shown you some basic info, it’s time to dive deeper into our main subject field. Let’s find out if gasoline evaporates and if so, how fast?

A row of gasoline pumps.

How fast does gasoline evaporate – Experts answer

Okay, so shall we begin? We might want to tackle a more general question first.

Does gasoline evaporate?

The answer probably won’t come as a surprise. Yup, gasoline does evaporate when exposed to air. Here’s an interesting fact: if gasoline didn’t release any vapors – it wouldn’t burn. That’s because it’s the fumes that are flammable not the liquid itself.

The temperature at which gasoline releases toxic fumes is called a flashpoint. When we’re talking about gasoline, you’ll want to know its flash point is at -40°F (-40°C). As we’ve already stressed, these fumes are highly dangerous. That’s why proper storage of gasoline doesn’t have an alternative.

How fast does gasoline evaporate?

You’ll want to know that gasoline’s very volatile. In other words: it evaporates easily. This allows the fuel and air to mix before ignition inside an internal combustion engine. There’s a good chance you’ve spilled some fuel while filling up the car at some point. Did you notice how quickly the spill dissipated into the air?

The speed at which the gasoline will evaporate depends on two things:

  • the temperature of the fuel itself.
  • the temperature of the surface it lands on.

The higher the temperature of the surface, the quicker it dissipates. If you spill some during wintertime, gasoline will evaporate slower than during summer. Now, that’s exactly why petrol blends are always adjusted between these two seasons. During cold winters, more butane is added to the fuel to make it more volatile. During the summer, less butane is allowed since. That’s done to prevent the hot weather from producing excessive hydrocarbon emissions.

Can gasoline catch fire once it dries out?

It depends on the type of gasoline we’re talking bout. For instance, pure gasoline disappears completely from a damp-proof surface. In other words: it leaves nothing behind to burn. However, you’ll rarely find an impermeable (damp-proof) surface. That being said, petrol will soak in to almost every surface other than glass or metal.

Still, it’s good you know that even a dried-out permeable surface is pretty vapor-free. Once the gasoline dries out there’s a good chance it won’t be flammable anymore. However, it’s best you play it safe.

Bonus round: Does gasoline dissolve plastic?

Again, it depends on the type of plastic that’s in question. Remember the HDPE acronym from upstairs? Let’s talk a bit about it what it stands for.

Here’s a simple answer: HDPE stands for high-density polyethylene. Now, that doesn’t tell us much? The thing is: it’s the type of plastic EPA-approved containers are made of. And, of course, gasoline won’t dissolve ’em.

What about other types of plastic?

You’ll want to know gasoline does dissolve other types of plastic. Now, the process won’t happen right in front of your eyes. It will take some time until the substance bursts through milk jugs. Speaking of milk jugs, here’s a tip: never put gasoline inside unapproved containers. Never.

Unapproved containers don’t do anything to keep the vapors inside. Storing your gasoline inside ’em is a recipe for disaster. You’re putting your whole community at risk. Also, you’re showing a bad example to your little ones.

Why does the dissolution process happen?

Here’s the thing: some forms of plastic have a similar chemical structure as gasoline. There’s an old chemistry class saying: like dissolves like. That’s essentially how it happens. Now, HDPE EPA-approved containers are carefully made to resist this process. For instance, gasoline tends to shrink or expand when the temperature changes. HPDE containers are cleverly designed to handle these turmoils.

Where to find EPA-approved gasoline containers?

You’re bound to find them in lots of stores around your town. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking online or offline stores. As far as we know, most gas stations sell ’em.

Final thoughts

That’s about it, dear folks! This was one long answer to the question: how fast does gasoline evaporate? Hopefully, you’ve had enough patience to read it thoroughly.

For more tips on a good number of gasoline-related topics, click right here.