“What If?” Series Presents: Fuels and Storage

“What if?” the worrisome words, appear in the topics spinning constantly in our minds, from safety and financial security to loved ones and pet health.  Asking, “What can I do?” leads to a proactive decision to invest time in the ultimate insurance policy—valuable life skills comprising security, shelter, food, water, and medical care! In any emergency, from extreme weather to a personal disaster, you have the power to take charge of your fate by making plans and taking action!  

Our power grid and fuel stations are an accommodating source of readily available energy. Moreover, by paying a premium cost, sometimes monthly, the expectation is a working, uninterrupted system.  But over the last year, homeowners and drivers were called upon to assess a range of substitute fuel options to accommodate their needs. The first thought was to obtain numerous containers to have on hand.  

A Variety of Fuel Options 

Did you know Crisco, Olive oil, and crayons can burn with or without a wick, and Pam Cooking Spray ignites to light a campfire?  When fuels are in short supply, consider suntan oils, petroleum Jelly, Vaseline, and lip balms.  

Available fuels: 

  • Charcoal:  By burning pieces of wood, eliminating impurities, the coal remains.  (Try making your own charcoal with the use of a burn barrel and metal trashcan, hardwood pieces, and a fuel source.)  
  • Firewood requires six months to season and dry.  Hardwood burns longer.   
  • Alcohol stove fuel is lightweight and designed for heating boats. 
  • Butane is a popular fuel for camping stoves, relatively light in weight, resealable, and offers easy connection to stoves and lanterns.  (Does not perform well in cold temperatures and is non-recyclable.) 
  • Kerosene is odorless and offers an intense heat source. 
  • Paraffin lamp oil is smokeless and odorless.
  • Propane is odorless in its natural state. 
  • A layer of turpentine can create waterproof matches. 




Designed from a heavy-duty plastic, most containers have a built-in handle, air release, and spout.  Color-coding makes it easy to identify the array of fuels.  For instance, gasoline containers are red, diesel is yellow, blue associates with kerosene, and white identifies propane. Off-road diesel requires a label written with a Sharpie marker. (Mixing fuels could be lethal!) 


  • Since fumes are explosive, a safe container is one that you do not smell.  Check your containers frequently, ensuring no leaks have occurred or vents popped open.  
  • Never store in your basement or garage; instead, contain, at minimum, 30 feet from the house. 
  • All liquid fuels lose potency over time.  For example, diesel can last 12 months if stored in temperatures below 70 degrees in an environment that is dark and cool.  Higher temperatures, on the other hand, will degrade it within six months.  Always label containers with storage dates.  
  • Fuel stabilizers prolong an engine’s life and offer a quick and easy start after storage.  As an absorbent, it can prevent corrosion while cleaning carburetors and fuel injectors. 
  • Always use a funnel when pouring fuels.

What is Biodiesel? 

Biodiesel, an alternative fuel type, is a viable solution to reduce carbon emissions. While most people connect biodiesel with vehicles, it can also be applicable in other diesel-based engines, such as in-home furnaces, generators, and fishing boats.  

  • Petroleum Diesel:  Petro diesel is sold at gas stations and suited for colder temperatures.  
  • Biodiesel:  Comprised of vegetable oil rather than crude petroleum, it’s a clean-burning alternative.  You can find Petro diesel and biodiesel mixtures labeled as “B-factors.” B5, for instance, contains five percent, while B100 is 100% biodiesel. Find out what B-factor best accommodates your engine.  
  • Straight Vegetable Oil, SVO:  Most restaurants with a high quantity of corn, soy, palm, and other vegetable-based oils left over are thankful to have individuals willing to extract barrels regularly.  Conversions require a property-installed two-tank system, where oil is preheated and filtered.  The concept of SVO involves dedication and a commitment of time and money.  In older diesel engines, the system can work flawlessly.  Newer systems, however, will not accommodate biodiesel methods, limiting the operation.  Vehicle owners need to ask themselves if it’s worth it. 

Warmth and mobility are vital topics to contemplate today, but not when you are without resources and cold; therefore, consider expense, storage, and availability in your plans!   

Next Month:  Wielding Power Tricks


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