Off Grid and Free-My Path to The Wilderness 

by Ron – Author of “Off Grid and Free-My Path to The Wilderness

I want to thank MD and all the wonderful people who read my first post and made such thoughtful comments last week. All of you have made me feel welcome here. Thank you!

I had lots of questions which have given me good ideas on things I can write about for future posts. One of the questions dealt with fuel and it’s storage.

Long ago, I had questions myself in regards to fuel storage and did lots of research on the topic. I found a lot of confusing information and nothing really definitive. Depending on the source, there was a wide array of viewpoints on the subject.

What I will do is simply pass on to you what works for us. Because we are a fly in location only (via float plane) and we only shop and get supplied twice a year, we need to inventory a lot of things, including fuel. The three fuels we have here are diesel, gasoline and a small quantity of kerosene. The kerosene is for a small kerosene heater used in the greenhouse in spring.

Equipment we have here includes a small 6KW single cylinder diesel generator and gasoline powered chainsaw, brush cutter, rototiller, brush chipper, Honda water pump, ice auger, boat motor and snowmobile.

I hate to make this so simple but… we do very little special with our fuel as far as storage itself. I’ve heard and read the arguments that gasoline must be used within a certain period of time or it goes bad, gets stale, loses octane, won’t run equipment well etc.

set-upI have no problem taking one to three year old gasoline and using it in any piece of equipment I have. Every piece of equipment runs like a top. Same applies to the diesel. I’ve tried gasoline additives and have found them to be of no value. Please keep in mind, this is what works for us.

So let’s get to the finer points. All gasoline is stored in RED 5 gallon plastic jerry cans. All plastic cans are sealed tight and are stored in a shed out of sunlight. I think those are three important points. Airtight, out of the sun and plastic containers. We have some radical temperature extremes and I think the plastic containers help keep any condensation in check.

Diesel is shipped in in either a 55 gallon drum or YELLOW 5 gallon plastic jerry cans. The same air tight, out of the sun stored in the storage shed applies to the diesel. The exception to the diesel storage is I have built a stand where a 55 gallon drum rests on it’s side in a cradle. This setup is for diesel storage for more immediate use. The drum is positioned so the ¾” pipe bung is down and I have a filter housing with 10 micron filter and shut off valve. I favor a filtration unit that has a clear bowl so I can visually see any water accumulation. This unit should also have a small valve at the bottom of the bowl to be able to bleed that water out. All diesel is filtered through this setup before ever going into the generator. The generator also has it’s own 5 micron filtration as well. With any of our fuel storage, my biggest concern is fuel contamination, whether dirt or water.

It’s hard not to take note of the color specification for the storage containers. I’ve put the colors in capital letters as they are a very important component of proper fuel storage. I’ve worked in remote exploration camps where hundreds of drums of fuel are stored in berms along with many additional 5 gallon jerry cans of both diesel and gasoline. In theory, 55 gallon drums have a yellow or red band to signify what type of fuel it contains, or is marked appropriately, but many times, the drums are sent out to be refilled, flown back in and then at that point, it’s a guessing game. Is it really gas or diesel?

Save yourself some grief. You never want to take a stab at guessing what fuel you are putting into a gasoline powered piece of equipment or diesel engine. Yes, I have done the feel and sniff test and lit a little on a small wad of napkin to see how flammable it is. I’ve always been right, but all it takes is that one time to be wrong and it’s lights out. Ask the guy in camp how his diesel truck ran when he filled it with gas. Not terribly well.

A couple of final points. If you are storing significant quantities of fuel, regardless of whether it is legally required in your area or not, please consider storing it in a berm, something that will catch and contain any spill should it ever occur. Whenever possible, I fuel up equipment using a funnel with a fine paint filter to catch any course junk in the containers. I do randomly use a small quantity of gas line antifreeze (based on isopropyl alcohol) generally in the winter. Good luck!

Ron and his wife currently live 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness on a remote lake. As part of the back to the land movement that originated in the 70’s, they have spent their adult years living the homestead dream. You can follow and contact Ron at https://www.facebook.com/offgridandfree.mypathtothewilderness or http://www.inthewilderness.net/

Comments

  1. Is you gasoline real gas or does it have the ethanol additive?

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hi believer,
      That’s a good question and one I can’t answer with certainty. My guess would be there is a percentage of ethanol blended in. Thanks for the comment.

    • FL Prepper says:

      Did you try PRI-G for Gas and PRI-D for Diesel. Those are far superior fuel additives that will help prolong the life of you fuel and even bring back old fuels. Forget Staybil gas additive. not very effective. Just saying I did the research. Kerosene will keep for a long time. If I was in a remote area even cold area, I would be purchasing Solar panels, Controller like an Outback 80, inverter from 12V to 110, and a battery bank of good Duracels 6Volt hooked in series for 12Vt then parallel to the inverter. I live off the grid and with 1200 watts of panels I power my entire off the grid BOL. Power tools, fridge, A/C, lights, etc. I also keep 35 Gals of Gas in 5 Gal Jerry cans and rotate out about ever 6 to 9 mths using PRI-G, and 10 gals of Kerosene, which I have not used in 2 yrs off the grid yet.

      • Ron Melchiore says:

        Hi FL Prepper,

        I have found that additives does nothing for us to extend the fuel life. As mentioned in a few places in this thread, how fuel is stored is key.

        I’m not sure if you have viewed my video or know much about us, but we have quite the deluxe setup here. We’ve been off-grid going on 37 years so we’ve got all the amenities one could wish for living 100 miles in the bush. Solar panels, turbine etc. We have Trace products but Outback is top notch too. At some point, you might consider a 24 VDC system and 2 Volt true deep cycle batteries configured to make proper voltage. I am not familiar with the 6 V cells you mention. We have almost a ton of batteries that have been flown in. Thanks for comments. Good luck! Ron

        • FL Prepper says:

          Ron,, I am not privy to where you referring to as 100 Miles in the bush? Are you in Alaska? What State or Country are you in? Maybe the fuel additives are not as effective in a colder climate. How many KiloWatts a day are you Using and Producing off of Solar? Scale is determined by demand. My inverter gives me 110 Volts and everything runs fine off that. Just a small cabin here, in warm FL. The 6V are the size of Car Batteries. With 2 hooked in series makes 12Volts. Then 4 sets paralleled to stay 12 Volt consistent. Keep it simple and its easy to maintain. Only maintenance I have is once a month check the water level in the batteries. And add Distilled Water. I also heard that solar panels work more efficient in colder weather. unless they are covered with snow. ha. Take care.

          • Ron Melchiore says:

            FL Prepper,

            I don’t pay attention to KW demand. Varies too much by season and day. We have an inverter as well.

            I suspect the cooler weather may play a part in our fuel longevity.

            You are right, solar panels don’t work too well covered by snow. We are in Northern Canada. You might enjoy this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DgNHm9_h9M That will tell you a lot more about us.

  2. Right on, colors are far easier than labeling!

    (I do the same for fuel AND ammo) makes it easier to store tote and grab -whats necessary when necessary

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hi Jesse,

      Thanks for the comment. Something as important as fuel is a top priority and as you note, insuring yellow is associated with diesel and red with gas will go a long way to making sure equipment has the proper stuff put in the ol tank.

    • j.r. guerra in south tx. says:

      Amen Jesse.

      Colored duct tape patch on lid, front / back faces helps keep your storage organized. One color for each ammunition cartridge. If mixed quantity in same container, two or more stacked on top to indicate where it is in container (that helps when trying to locate a particular item).

      Besides gasoline, don’t forget other vital fluids (oils) and filters which engines require for long term maintenance.

  3. I concur with your fuel storage methods. I have regular gasoline complete with ethanol that is 5 years old and runs my gennie, mower, chainsaws, etc. just fine. I have diesel that is 6 years old and performs no different than new. No so called fuel savers or preservers either.

    THE KEY is how it is stored. It must be stored in a stout container that absolutely will not “breathe.” I use military Scepter fuel cans, heavy steel safety cans and a 100 gallon mobil tank that seals but has a 5 psi pressure relief cap. The issue with fuel storage is keeping the more volatile components of the fuel in the tank and keeping moisture out. Do those and fuels keep a long time.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hi Bill,
      Good feedback. Thanks for your input. I would only add, regardless of plastic or metal containers, but especially with metal containers, try to store those containers full. Full that condensation does not accrue over the years but not so full that the fuel expands and creates a problem. I can’t recall ever seeing a pressure relief cap on fuel cans but I like the idea as long as that pressure valve re-seats itself if it ever vents. Which it should. All the best! Ron

      • I use new GI standard metal cans, filled within an inch of top, I do put an additive in, but have one can im sitting on to test, (the others rotate regularly) a few tens of gallons (never release exact numbers sorry) always. I keep them at a regulated temperature and out of the sun. (Arizona/ not as much moisture but ALLOT of extremes in temp) so far I have been able to get upwards of 2 years out of a can, I simply hesitated to say anything to others because…well, knowing the oil companies, wouldnt want them changing the recipe to mess with us.

      • If the can/tank can not breathe then being full is irrelevant. Condensation can not occur if outside air can not move in and out of the can. That is why leaving fuel in the tank of a mower, chainsaw, etc. is bad: the tanks on those are vented. As the temperature or barometric pressure changes, air pumps in and out of the tank. When cool weather is followed but hot humid weather the moist air can get in the tank and the moisture will condense when that air contacts the cool gas. The water sinks and can’t evaporate as the hydrocarbon fuel traps it. The ethanol dissolves the water which increases it’s corrosiveness potentially damaging the engine. Further, the lower vapor pressure constituents of the gas will evaporate away exiting the vent which leaves the thicker harder to ignite molecules chains. In extreme cases even those can evaporate away leaving the gooey additives in the fuel that are to provide valve lubrication and other functions for emission reduction. Store the gas in a can that is absolutely sealed and all the above issues pretty much go away.

  4. Ron, I rec’d & read your book last week & loaned it to a friend on Mon. Thanks for your stories & adventures.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hello RedC. So good to hear from you. Wow, you read that fast. 🙂 Thank you for getting back to me. Glad you found the stories of interest. If you would care to put a quick Amazon review up, that would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, if you have any follow questions, just drop me a note. Always glad to do some banter. Have a nice day! Ron

  5. Ron, I will be picking up your book, I have given away so many of MDs book (dirt cheap survival retreat) I lost count, guessing based on recent articles that yours will be the ones I add to that stack!
    (I generally give away a short stack of books- Hurricane Katrina (6.95 atm) MDs dirt cheap/ Mas Ayoobs In the Gravest Extreme/ a space pen, pencil and two waterproof notebooks with a morakniv knife)

    People talk about it being hard to get people thinking…show them. Wherever you live there are easy visual indicators, shoot even New York City has its hurricane jeff or whatever its name was- people are visual creatures. 3 days today is more than what you had yesterday- and I always, ALWAYS, share my fresh produce above and beyond canning/ freezing it. That gets people thinking too.

    Anyhow thank you!

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      It’s me that should be thanking you Jesse. I truly appreciate the book support. That’s what it’s all about. Sharing. Whether knowledge or items. One of the goals of my book is to offer a bit of confidence and inspire others to pursue their dreams. I’ll look forward to any feedback you might have in regards to the book. All the best! Ron

      • Heck, ill probably write a review here on it! If MD is okay with that, I should do a review on the three books I currently recommend, and add yours in after reading it…- hmmm good idea! Thanks again!

        • Ron Melchiore says:

          I treasure every review Jesse. The more reviews, the more people will have confidence that it is indeed worthy of their time to read.
          Happy reading!

  6. I call the above my introduction package to the end of life as a sheep…

  7. Ever consider brewing your own alcohol and converting some engines to run on it? It’s renewable, if you can grow corn, etc.

  8. Chuck Findlay says:

    But wait, you can’t store fuel without stabilizer, it just won’t work.

    All the experts, the writers of survival fiction (Patriots) says it won’t work.

    So it must be true…

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Yeah Chuck, as I mentioned in my original piece, there certainly is lots of confusing information for people on the internet. Fortunately I and a host of other people on this site have practical experience which takes precedence. I think my next post will build on this theme a bit. Until then…have a good one.

    • Lmfao, I believe that author is a city boy who rarely (may claim otherwise) tests his own expensive theories…he and I have gotten into it on more than one ocassion, of course, as he said, “you’re (me) not famous, no one will listen…” to which I responded, more zombies for me 🙂

      Lol

  9. Ron Melchiore says:

    Hello Nolan,
    I am aware of alternative fuels but that is a topic I have never explored. Our fuel requirements are fairly minimal and a couple of gallons of gas or diesel do a significant amount of work for us. If I was going to go alternative, I would have explored wood gasifiers since we are surrounded by toasted forest. I would encourage you to look into alternative fuels that make the most sense for your particular application. Be safe. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. As other posters have mentioned, the sealed containers is indeed the key to long term storage, sealing and holding a couple PSI is all you need to keep gasoline usable for a long time.

    Gasoline is an ugly mix of light hydrocarbon fractions, and refiners try to put as much butane as they can legally get away with into the gasoline (since butane is not much in demand).

    Butane, like the CO2 fizz in soft drinks will eventually come out of solution, fortunately it takes a lot longer than the CO2 “fizz”.

    “stale” gas, is gasoline with no butane left, and it won’t ignite via spark in c0ld weather. You could add butane back to restore stale gas (mixing lighter refill butane back in is not very safe), or start the engine with fresh(er) gas, and then consume the stale gas in a warm, running engine.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Good info Shazaam. I didn’t know about the butane being the component responsible for stale gas. I still remember a long time ago, although it’s getting hazy, overhearing a small engine shop mechanic doing a repair on a piece of equipment and him sniffing the gas and making the statement it won’t run because of stale gas. The person needed to get rid of the stale gas and yet, I never had a problem I could attribute to stale gas in my lifetime regardless of engine. So I am confident as you state, engines run fine on properly stored gas even if a little of the “fizz” is gone. I agree with you, it doesn’t sound like adding lighter fluid is the best idea and would advise against that. Thanks for your input!

    • Curley Bull says:

      As Shazaam stated, when the butane evaporates very few engines are capable of starting up on the fuel. The fumes you smell when fueling up your vehicle are butane. I had a VP of a major oil company tell me 40 years ago to use a metal fuel can that can be completely sealed, put a little more in it than it’s labeled for (but do leave a little room for expansion), store it where it will get the least amount of temperature change, and rotate/invert it every 90 days. I have used gasoline that had been stored for 4 years without additives and the engine started right up. Don’t have any near that old currently as I’ve been rotating it out.

      • Ron Melchiore says:

        Thanks for the input Curley Bull. I occasionally hear of someone sniffing gas to get high, (actually may have known someone that had brain damage from it) and never knew it was the butane they were getting high on. I think I’ll pass on sniffing the butane and will stick to clean wilderness air. 🙂

  11. Few years ago I ran across an article in Mother Earth News about Wood Gassifiers. Some guy in Alabama has wood gassifiers in several Dodge Pick-up trucks. Pieces of wood (size of 1/2 apple) are heated and the gas given off the heated wood can be plumbed directly into a carburetor style engine. During WWII they were commonly used on farm tractors (since the gasoline was needed for the War Effort). I ran across a company a couple of years ago that manufactures a metal pallet mounted gassifier that is coupled to a small car engine with an electric generator attached. These are shipped all over the world (to 3rd world countries) where junk pieces of wood can be heated to result in electricity. I told a friend about this just yesterday he found a lot of info online including photos of trucks and busses with gassifiers mounted on the back, as well as cars towing trailers with gassifiers mounted in the trailer. I definitely want to build one for myself since I still have 50 acres of woods in a nice remote location and electric is not available there. The Mother Earth News article told of the Alabama guy driving from coast to coast and also to the Bonneville Salt flats for speed testing (60 mph) and his calculated cost for his wood fuelled Dodge truck came out to 1 cent per mile (no road tax on wood chips).

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      I think the gassifier is a great idea to explore Steven. If for nothing else, the independence it gives a person. I can’t talk intelligently about it because I have zero experience with it. But the concept is a good one and certainly worth considering. Thanks for contributing to this thread! Ron

    • Curley Bull says:

      Check out the Mountain Man TV series. Mr. Conway had a small/mid sized 4×4 that runs on nothing else but woodgas.

      • Ron Melchiore says:

        I have watched the show a few times. Surprising really, how many of these reality TV type shows are on.

  12. Chuck Findlay says:

    I can’t remember for sure, but I think I read that an engine that used wood gasifier system to run produced 1/2 the power that it does on gasoline.

    I never had the desire to play with a wood gasifier other then the wood gas camp stove I made 10-years ago. It works very well and is the hottest camp stove I have. It’s a great stove for a disaster as it burns twigs that are free and plentiful. But that’s all I ever expect to play with as far as wood gas goes.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      It doesn’t surprise me that gasoline has more bang per unit than home made wood gas. But the knowledge of how to build and utilize a gasifier would be invaluable in a crisis or fuel shortage.

  13. Thanks Ron for this article on fuel & storage.
    Good going.

  14. Ron, thanks for sharing your experience and practical knowledge. I noticed on your website a picture of your wood cook stove connected to a standard hot water heater instead of a range boiler. Could you explain the plumbing as seen in the picture? I would love to be able to have hot water when there isn’t any power but don’t know about the plumbing.
    Again, thanks for the help and be blessed.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hello Cal,
      Thanks for stopping by and your kind comments.

      The hot water system is about as simple as it gets. The stove has a water jacket made for the purpose of heating water. The water heater you see is purely a storage container. Obviously it is NOT hooked up to any power.

      The system is called a thermosiphon loop. We are capitalizing on the principle that hot air or in our case, hot water rises and is replaced by colder water. There is no fan or pump needed. It cycles due to temperature differential.

      Two very important notes. A pressure relief valve is an absolute must as in any hot water system. And the water tank needs to be sized right for the amount of hot water used in a day and how often the stove is used in a day. In other words, too small a water tank and you risk setting the relief valve off frequently because the water is getting too hot and too large a water tank and it will take much longer to heat the water up. An insulated tank such as we have makes sure we have hot water for a few days even if we don’t run the stove every day. I hope that helps point you in the right direction. All the best! Ron

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