If you have any gas-powered tools at all, a gas can is a necessity in your shed. After all, you don’t want to push the lawnmower down to the gas station every time you fill up! Even worse would be dragging all your other tools, too. Instead, a gas can lets you get a few gallons and have it on hand when needed. It also makes it easier to fill those small tanks!
Gas cans were developed in Germany shortly before World War II to make it easy to transport fuel for military vehicles. They were quickly nicknamed “Jerry cans” by the Allied Forces – “Jerry” being short for “German.”
You might not think much about a gas can. After all, it’s just a container to hold fuel temporarily. But there are at least a handful of factors to take into account.
What To Look For In A Gas Can
We don’t want to make this sound complicated, but even with something as simple as a gas can, you should pick wisely. These are some things to think about:
There are gas cans of many different sizes, but the most common hold 1, 2, 2.5, or 5 gallons. And picking the right one depends on what gas-powered tools you have and how often you use them.
For instance, if you have a ride-on mower and a big yard, you may want a large gas can. You’ll be mowing numerous times and each time uses a good bit of fuel.
On the other hand, if you have a small tool like a hedge trimmer, a small gas can will be enough. The tool doesn’t use much fuel and you don’t use it as often.
Sometimes government regulation is a good thing, and this is one of those times.
Gasoline (or other fuels) is dangerous if not handled properly. And not every container is designed to prevent leaking, damage, or escaping fumes.
Also, you won’t be allowed to fill a non-approved tank at any gas station.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re buying a tank from a major retailer like Home Depot, as long as the container is designated for this purpose. But don’t pick up any old container from around the house or from a yard sale to hold gas.
Metal vs. Plastic
Like many products, metal has been almost entirely replaced by plastics. However, a metal Jerry can is still more durable than a plastic one. So you can expect it to hold up longer.
On the other hand, plastic cans are lighter. They also offer better spouts that are more flexible and available in various sizes. They usually have better safety features, too.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. The plastic ones are tough enough, but metal is still tougher if that’s what you’re looking for. We like the advantages of plastics, though.
The nozzle is another key part of your gas can.
A nozzle that also seals the can is a modern convenience that improves safety and makes life easier at the same time. That’s still true on some modern nozzles, but others close themselves, prevent spills, and keep fumes from escaping. They may still include a separate cap to use when storing or transporting your gas can.
The level of difficulty is an important consideration, though. You want a nozzle that can’t accidentally be opened, but it still has to be easy to pour when you want it.
A flexible spout is a quality-of-life feature, too. It makes it easier to add gas to your tank no matter what position you’re in or how hard it may be to reach the tank.
Of course, you also want a spout that’s long enough for what you need without getting in the way.
Of course, pouring gas from your can means that the contents of the can will be shifting. It’s important to have a can where the handle is well-positioned so that you can pour easily.
That means the handle should be a good match for the size of your hand. The can’s weight will also shift while filling or emptying it, but the handle should still be easy to hold.
Safety And Storage
It’s important to buy a gas storage can that’s safe, but you still have to handle it safely.
Be sure your can is sealed properly when not in use. That is, it should be closed whenever you’re not filling it or pouring from it.
Store it in a cool, dry place where it’s out of reach of children. Keep it locked in your garage or shed so that it can’t be stolen and misused.
No shed yet? Having a safe place to store dangerous chemicals – like your gas supply – is just one of the reasons you should consider getting one!
Be sure to clean up any gas spills as quickly as possible.
It’s also important to remember that gas has a “shelf life.” It doesn’t keep forever, so don’t plan to stock up on it. Try to use up your supply before winter and refill in spring. In a properly-sealed container, it will only keep for three to six months.
You could choose to add fuel stabilizers, though. This can preserve the life of the gas for one to three years. But if your gas has already been sitting, it’s probably not worth it; it doesn’t restore “old” gas.
Our Picks for the Best Gas Cans
We’ve found some great gas cans out there. To make it easier for you, we’ve broken them down by size. So let’s have a look at your best options in the under-2.5-gallon and the 5-gallon categories!
1 – 2.5 Gallon Cans
This can’s nozzle is what impresses us most. It rotates 180° to let you easily pivot and fill your gas tanks. It even hooks to the side of the can to keep it out of the way. And it fits any tank we can imagine.
The can fills on the opposite side, meaning you won’t have to unscrew the nozzle to fill it. The cap is child-proof for added safety.
You have to use the thumb trigger to pour from this can, but it’s easy to operate. It also helps control the flow.
The can holds 2.2 gallons.
If you want something even smaller, this one from No-Spill holds 1.25 gallons.
It’s a simple unit with a ⅞” nozzle – the perfect size for most power tool tanks. The thumb control helps regulate the flow and you can empty the full can into your gas tank in less than half a minute if you want.
One of the best features is that you can see exactly how much gas is in the can at any time. There’s a view stripe on the front and the back. It’s not graduated, but you can at least see where the gas level is.
A big drawback is a short nozzle, though. It’s perfectly fine for most tools, but if you need it for your car, it’s a poor choice.
It measures 11” by 7 ⅜” by 9”.
Easy Can gives us this easy-to-use model that seals tight and pours easily. The nozzle is a decent length and can help fill any tank, even a motor vehicle. However, it would be hard to empty it into a car since you won’t be able to tip it high enough.
The thumb button provides great control and starts and stops the flow quickly. Of course, whatever’s already in the nozzle will drip out, but the flow will stop. And the flow can reach about 3 gallons per minute, allowing you to quickly fill whatever tank you’re working with.
It measures 10” by 8” by 13” high.
5 Gallon Cans
Here’s another solid gas can from No Spill. It’s a simple can that does the job without any bells and whistles. But it’s sturdy and gets the job done well.
The nozzle is durable and the right size for tools. It has a ⅞-inch diameter, fitting pretty much anything. However, like the smaller version above, it’s too short for cars or other street vehicles. We’re glad they at least mention that in the product description, too!
There’s a mesh screen at the base of the nozzle to prevent contaminants in the can from getting into your motor – a nice feature.
The can itself measures 16” by 10” by 15” high.
As we mentioned, metal cans have their place, and this one from Eagle fills that spot with distinction.
The nozzle is a bit more basic than others. It’s actually a funnel instead of a nozzle. It’s durable enough but doesn’t offer much flexibility when pouring.
It can bleed the pressure that builds up due to temperature changes, too.
It does the job – it’s great at holding gasoline waiting to be used. It’s not going to wear out anytime soon. It’s also safe. Flames are prevented from rising up the spout in case of an accident outside.
It’s 12.5” in diameter and 13” high.
This 5-gallon Jerry can from Easy Can is easy to use. The nozzle is a good length and the security features suitable for the purpose.
It’s not the most versatile nozzle, but it is long enough to use with most tanks, including cars. However, you probably won’t be able to lift the can high enough to empty it into most cars.
Start and stop the flow easily with the push of your thumb. And the flow can reach a peak of 3 gallons per minute.
It has a flame mitigation device – a shield that prevents flames from going up the spout if a fire ignites outside.
The can measures 15” by 9.5” by 15” high.
If you have any gas-powered tools for your yard work, you’ll want to have a gas can on hand! There are great options in different sizes. Metal cans are more durable but plastic ones are lighter. Be sure to always use an approved can for storing gas to keep you and your family safe!