How long are gasoline fumes flammable after spill?

In the last article, we talked about how to clean a gasoline spill on concrete. There are, of course, a couple of things we didn’t mention. One of them’s closely tied to the topic we’ve covered. Still, it couldn’t fit inside the standardized margins of the text.

Did you guess what’s the subject we’re talking about? It’s as if it wasn’t in the title of this article, right? Anyway, let’s get on with it! Today we’ll cover the following: how long are gasoline fumes flammable after a spill? 

Gasoline fumes are flammable, period. However, once you’ve handled the spill, there won’t be any fumes left. Of course, how well you can finish the job depends on a couple of facts. You’ll need to consider the amount that’s been spilled. Also: the surface onto which the gasoline landed. 

Of course, that’s not mildly close to what we’ve got in store for this one! Keep on reading to find more useful information!

Table of Contents

An introduction (FAQ)

Before we dig deeper into what’s our main subject for today, let’s see if we can deal with some FAQs. All of these are questions related to spilled gas folks like to ask Google. They deserve to know the answers, don’t they?

Can spilled gasoline catch fire?

It absolutely can! A gasoline spill is more than just a regular spill. If you were to spill Coke or any other sugary drink, it would only cause the floor to be sticky. However, a gasoline spill is something that could create a total catastrophe! That is, of course, if it’s not properly taken care of!

Gasoline’s a highly flammable substance and it needs to be handled with care. It has a low flash point. In other words: it releases pretty hazardous fumes once in contact with air that’s above -49°F (-45 °C). Unless you’re living somewhere in the North Pole, a gas spill can easily catch fire. All that’s needed is a heat source; even a cigarette that’s able to cause mayhem.

Can gas spill fumes in garage ignite?

If the gasoline’s not properly stored, it can create havoc inside your garage. This one’s a bit of an oxymoron. Why? Well, because it’s recommended you store gasoline in an object outside of your home.

Of course, if the garage’s not attached to your main building – it’s totally fine. Just make sure there are no heating sources present inside it. Also, steer clear of placing gasoline containers in the path of direct sunlight. Lastly, make sure you’re using the right gasoline containers. Check your local regulations on gasoline storage. They most likely demand you only use approved (HDPE) containers.

Using improper containers might cause the gasoline to melt through plastic. In other words: you’ll have a gasoline spill to deal with immediately. Forget about milk jugs or other unsafe storage experiments. Anyway, if you’re looking for more info on safe gasoline storage, you’ll find it here.

Can gas fumes explode?

Last but not least in this segment, let’s consider some serious business. Why all this talk about safety measures regarding gasoline? It’s just so we stay true to the good old saying: better safe than sorry. Anyway, YES, gas fumes can explode!

When do these gasoline-related explosions occur? They happen once the gasoline fumes come into contact with flames or heat. That’s also why there are no smokers in the 50-meter radius around the petrol station. Gasoline releases fumes even when it’s not spilled. Improper storage, as we’ve implied, will make it release the poisonous vapors.

That’s all for the intro (FAQ) section! Let’s deal with the issue in question: how long are gasoline fumes flammable after spill?

A person lighting a single gasoline burner.

How long are gasoline fumes flammable after spill?

And now, without further ado, let’s answer the question of all questions. At least when it comes to the article you’re reading at this very moment.

So, for how long are gasoline fumes flammable after spill? We’d want to avoid the “well, it depends” type of an answer, but that’s not possible here. How long are gasoline fumes flammable after spill depends on many factors:

  • How fast you’ll clean up the spill
  • What’s the type of surface the gasoline’s been spilled onto? 
  • How long will the traces of the spill service the conditions they’re surrounded by?

Let’s provide an example! Imagine a gasoline spill on concrete. It’s a non-pervious surface, right? Right. So, once you’ve cleaned it thoroughly, there’s a good chance none of the gasoline has survived. Therefore – no fumes!

What about the fact that gasoline evaporates?

That’s right! We also need to consider how fast the spilled gasoline will evaporate! The first thing you need to know is: gasoline’s very volatile! That means it evaporates pretty darn quickly. However, how quick will it happen depends on two things:

  • the structure of the surface it’s spilled onto (whether it’s (non)pervious).
  • the temperature of the gasoline itself.
  • the temperature of the surface. 

If it lands on a hot, non-pervious surface, it will dissipate pretty quickly. Unfortunately, if it ends up soaking up a permeable surface (soil, for instance)… Yeah, you’ll have a hard time getting rid of it completely. It will leave traces for as long as a couple of years, or even decades. It all depends on how much you’ve spilled.

So, what’s the answer to the question in the title?

Here’s our final answer: gasoline fumes are immediately flammable after a spill. However, you can clean up the spill and they’ll disappear. How thorough can you get with the spill depends on the surface where the spill has landed. If it’s a non-pervious surface we’re talking about, gasoline won’t stay for long in there. Therefore, fumes won’t be present, too.

Now that we’ve closed off the topic with a conclusion, let’s see if there any bonus tips we’ve prepared.

Bonus round: How to handle a gasoline spill?

Here we’ll give you a summary of the text we’ve talked about in the beginning. In other words: we’ll show you how to deal with a gasoline spill.

Phase one

See if you can get the spill under your control. If the source of the spill was a container turned over, make it stand upright again. However, there’s a chance the source’s not so easy to battle against. For instance, it might be an unstoppable leak coming from a pump. In that case, you’ll want to put a bucket underneath it big enough not to overflow.

Additionally, use pieces of wood or large boxes to control the spillage. In other words: to make a barrier against the gasoline spill.

Phase two

Once you’ve successfully stopped the spill at its source, it’s time to soak it up. The most household-ish of items you’ll use for this is baking soda. It will serve to clump up the spilled gasoline. Even clay kitty litter might work well in this scenario. Anyway, make sure you cover the whole spill area with the substance. Be very liberal with it; you’ll want to soak the spill with it!

After the spill’s been covered with the clumping substance, make it stay like that for about 1-2 hours. That will give you enough time to ventilate the premises. If, of course, we’re talking about an indoor gasoline spill.

Phase three

Okay, so the gasoline’s all clumped up and ready to be swiped. Find a trashcan or a bin you won’t need ever again. Collect all the clumped-up gasoline inside it. Don’t cover it or anything. The trapped fumes might become a serious health risk.

Once you’re done with collecting the chunks, call up the professionals. Your local waste management department will know how you’ll dispose of the hazard. They’ll either pick it up and throw it themselves or tell you how to organize it yourself.

For more tips on disposing of gasoline, here’s an article about it. You’ll want to give it a thorough read!

Phase four

The final phase is the one where you’ll utilize the good ol’ hot water and dish soap combo. You’ll wanna use a piece of cloth or a sponge for this. Soak the affected area with the liquid dish detergent. Feel free to scrub until a thick layer of foam has formed.

After you’ve scrubbed the stain into oblivion, flood the area of the spill with water. Use regular bath towels to finish the ordeal.

That should’ve done it! Don’t forget to give your body a thorough wash after the process. Pay close attention to your hands or any other part of your body that has come into the contact with fumes. And that’s pretty much it! 

A few words before we head off to another gasoline-related adventure

That’s about it for the how long are gasoline fumes flammable after spill? issue! We hope you’ve had some fun reading about it! Even though there’s nothing fun with gasoline spills… Anyway, before we get too gloomy, here’s a piece of friendly advice. Feel free to visit our blog for more interesting info and tips.