Why are gas cans so expensive?

You’ll find this question appearing all over the internet’s most popular message boards. How come gas cans are so expensive nowadays? Many folks remember things being different back in the day. So, what happened, and when?

Let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves here. There are many unanswered gas-related questions we can tackle today. The answers to some of them (including the one in the title), you’ll find in the text below. We’ve singled out everything you need to know about the subject.

In 2009 EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) introduced stricter policies. Gas can manufacturers were banned from using anything else than high-quality plastic. Also, the production of containers with separate venting holes was outlawed. Subsequently, the prices have gone up. Today, many folks think that was a wrong decision. 

If the previous sentences weren’t enough to satisfy your curiosity, continue reading! You’re bound to find some new info on age-old topics! Also, make sure to check out what else we’ve got here, at Gas Answer!

Table of Contents

A brief look into the history of the gas can (and other info)

The title of this paragraph might sound like something out of a Monty Python sketch. Still, we’ll try to use a bit more serious tone than the legendary comic troop. So, what can we say about the history of this fascinating product? There’s much to tell, so we’ll try to be quick & concise.

Also, you might be wondering why are we looking into the past here. We’re not completely sure either. Digging into the past can sometimes provide us with answers to questions we wanted to ask but were afraid to do so. Maybe we’ll dig up something together today? Keep scrolling to find out!

Where did the first gas cans appear?

Our journey starts in 1930s Germany. Yep, we know – it’s definitely not the best time & combo one could pick. Still, you were better off as a can than certain people… But, we’ll try to stay away from lecturing you on historical inhumanity and cruelty. Anyway, Germans were the first to make the so-called jerry can (or jerrican).

What’s a jerry can?

Jerry can is a liquid container Germans produced for military purposes in the 1930s. In the early days, jerry cans were made from pressed steel. A standard jerry can contain about 5.3 US gallons (20 liters). Today, most jerry cans are made from high-density plastic (HDPE). The term jerry can is still in use today since the design of the container hasn’t changed a lot since WWII.

In 1970, finish industrial designer, Eero Rislakki, designed a plastic jerry can. It had a small screwable stopper on the top. The opening was there to enable the airflow for easier sipping. The redesigned container was lighter than the German original but just as sturdy.

How to recognize a jerry can?

That’s fairly easy to do. Here we’ll show you characteristics almost all jerry cans have:

  • A rounded, rectangular cross-section with three handles. The three handles are there to ensure easy carrying.
  • Stamped indentations on the sides. They allow bigger space for expansion/contraction of the contents. Temperature changes make gasoline expand and contract.
  • Dependent on their content, they come in different colors. Red’s for gasoline, blue’s for kerosene, and yellow’s for diesel.

Anyway, you’ve seen the jerry can design probably a million times by now. It’s buried deep in our collective unconscious. Also, jerry cans…

Wait, who’s Jerry again?

Oh, we didn’t say a word about how jerry cans got their name. Jerry was actually a slang word for Germans. Allies named it after their enemies in the war since the design was originally German.

Are jerry cans dangerous?

Regular folks use jerry cans mostly for gasoline storage. Since gasoline is a flammable substance, jerry cans can be quite dangerous. If not properly stored, that is. Gasoline’s a substance you don’t want to play games with. That’s why we’ll show you some tips on proper gas can storage near the end of the text.

How many gas cans are you allowed to store?

It depends on where you’re living. If you’re an urban dweller, that might mean you can’t store more than 2.5 to 3 gallons of gas. On the other side, if you’re a rural resident – that might just mean you can store ten times more. Make sure you check your local regulations and, of course, homeowner’s insurance policy.

Gas cans today

As we’ve already mentioned, contemporary gas cans are made from HDPE (High-density polyethylene). Also, the original German design is still in use in the NATO army. On the other hand, their use in residential homes is well-regulated. That’s something will elaborate on in the main section of this article.

So, that was a quick historic overview of a jerry can (gas can). Also, we’ve mentioned some basic gas can information. Are you ready for the main dish on today’s menu? Let’s see why gas cans are so expensive. But first – a photo of two original jerry cans.

Two orginial jerry cans viewed from above.

Why are plastic gas cans so expensive?

Okay, let’s see what all the fuss is about. Firstly, we’ll check out the famous regulations everyone seems to have an opinion on. A mostly negative opinion, that is.

What happened?

It all started in 2009. That year, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) outlawed venting holes on gas containers. We’re talking about the USA, of course. Before then, most gas containers had a vent that helped the airflow while sipping. Nowadays, you can get fined for using gas cans that have a separate vent.

This has caused public outrage. At least that’s what a person can guess from reading posts on forums and message boards. Their message is clear: it was a major mistake to ban vent holes on gas containers.

Why are people mad?

As one can assume, it’s harder to sip gas using a container with a single opening. Many users claim that containers with a single, self-venting opening only provoke spilling. That’s kind of ironic, they say. One of the reasons why the government banned old gas cans was spillage prevention. 

The main reason was to prevent gas cans from releasing vapors when stored. The pressure bottled up inside can cause gasoline to expand.  EPA-approved containers are designed to withstand those contractions. That’s also something some folks disagree with.

If you’re looking for more info on gasoline venting and storage, visit this page.

Wait, that’s why gas cans are more expensive?

Well, kind of. The regulations also banned the usage of low-quality plastic. As we’ve already said, most gas cans today are made from HDPE. The mentioned material is one of the most versatile plastic you can find on the market. It’s basically a thermoplastic polymer created from petroleum.

You can find HDPE just about anywhere. From snowboards and food containers to plastic surgery operating theater. Yep, that’s right. Plastic surgeons use HDPE mostly for face reconstruction surgeries. Anyway, manufacturers use high-quality plastic for the gas cans they produce. It shouldn’t surprise anyone prices have gone up.

Now, as we’ve mentioned near the middle of the text, we’ll show you some safety tips.

Additional safety tips on gasoline storage

We can talk forever on proper gasoline storage, and it still wouldn’t be enough. That’s why we’ll dedicate the last part of the article to the issue. Here are some tips on how to safely store gas cans:

  • Make sure they’re kept in a building separate from the one you’re living in. Never store them inside your home.
  • Keep them away from potential heating sources. Also, store them out of the way of direct sunlight.
  • Don’t let your children anywhere near the storage room. Gasoline’s not what they should be handling.
  • Check your local regulations on safe gasoline storage. Also, take a look at your homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • You should dispose of old gasoline the way your local government suggests. There’s no going around that one.

We’ve might’ve forgotten to mention something, but that shouldn’t worry you a bit. You’ll find quality the complete list of gasoline storage tips right here.

Why are gas cans so expensive? – a quick resume

Alright, we’re getting near to the end of this article. Traditionally, let’s do a quick resume.

So, what have we learned today? Let’s take a look:

  • Gas cans (also called jerry cans) were first made in Germany. American soldiers named them after the slang word for Germans. The NATO army still uses them.
  • They were designed for easy carrying. Most jerry cans have three handles.
  • How many gas cans can you store is a question regulated by your local government. 
  • In 2009, the EPA passed a law banning the usage of gas cans with separate vents. Many folks don’t agree with this decision.
  • The same law prohibited the usage of low-quality plastic in the production of gas cans. Subsequently, the prices have risen.
  • Last but not least, read up on safe gasoline storage. As you already know, safety comes first!

Final words

Alright, that was that. Now you’re a bit closer to finding out why gas cans are so expensive. As you can see, the 2009 regulations are the most important event that occurred lately. When we’re talking about storing gasoline, that is. Whether you agree with those laws or not – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we can all agree that safe storage of gasoline doesn’t have an alternative!