Two Letters Re: Jerry Cans Killed Nationwide by California Political Correctness

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to get the word out to all that have not heard yet, all non-CARB (California Air Resources Board)-approved fuel cans will be no longer be sold nationwide [in the US] after January 1, 2009. That means you will not be able to buy any more of the ever-so-useful NATO gas cans to store fuel in and I assume any other fuel can that does not meet this new regulation. I know this is a little late to post this, I just found out myself a few days ago. I talked to Maine Military Surplus this morning and they still have a few left and are expecting a new shipment soon although they had to pay more for the latest ones. With shipping these were just over $26 apiece. Anyone who thought this was a free country needs to think again.

Thanks so much for all you do, Mr. Rawles. I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas. – S. in Oklahoma


I read the recent post on CARB compliant gas cans that are going to be mandatory for the US in January. Here in Pennsylvania we’ve had them in place for a while now. It might be good to let your readers know what they’re in for.

My first words of advice to anyone in a non-CARB compliant state — go buy any “old style” gas cans that you can find now if you need them. The new CARB compliant cans are a real pain in the rump to use. The CARB compliant cans are the most over-engineered product I’ve ever seen. They’re airtight, child-proof, and typically require 3 hands to get gas out of them. The first models used a spout that hooked onto the lip of a gas tank and needed to be pressed in to actually let gas out. Newer models use a lever-style handle that’s easier to deal with, but there’s a child-proof tab that needs to be pulled back before the lever can be pressed. Fortunately that child proof tab can be removed out in about five seconds to make the cans much more user-friendly. The CARB compliant cans are ventless; there’s no more little vent opening and the venting is actually done through the spout. This prevents evaporation that occurs when the vent spout is open, but it means that air has to come in while gas flows out and that makes emptying a can much slower. It also means that older spouts won’t work well with new CARB compliant cans because they aren’t designed for venting through the spout. Emptying a 5 gallon CARB compliant gas can through its supplied venting spout takes about 5-to-6 minutes — but it seems a lot longer when you’re holding the heavy can with one hand and pressing the pour lever with the other.

Fortunately, I’ve found a solution to the whole CARB compliance debacle — the tried and true siphon hose. I recently bought a “Super Siphon” from Boat Show Products — what a great product! Unlike the CARB compliant spouts, the Super Siphon can empty a fives gallon can in two minutes or less. I was looking for the fastest and easiest way to fill up my cars from gas cans. The super siphon fits the bill. It uses a ball-check valve to let liquid in but not back out, so there’s no manual sucking gas through the hose required. You just shake the check-valve end of the siphon hose up and down into the gas can until the gas fills the hose and starts the flow then physics takes over and the gas moves. I position the gas can I’m filling from on a step ladder to keep it higher than the car’s gas tank opening. No mess, no heavy cans to hold and the fuel gets transferred quickly. Plus, I don’t need to stand there holding the can while it fills – my hands are free and I can pay attention to something other than the gas can (Like getting the next can ready to go).

I have no business connection with the Super Siphon or the vendor, I’m just a happy customer. I just wanted to pass the info along to anyone who stores gas for a bug-out situation. There are other similar siphons on the market and it might even be possible to build your own if you can find the check-valve piece somewhere. I highly recommend that everyone who intends to fill their car with a gas can at some point actually try it. Most CARB compliant cans don’t have nozzles long enough to fill a car, and even if they did it’s a challenging if not impossible hold the can, fumble with the child safety lock and the gas release lever all while trying to keep the gas flowing into the 3/4 inch opening of the gas tank. Siphoning is definitely the way to go.
Thanks for you blog; I’ve enjoyed reading it. – Doug in Pennsylvania

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter. An even faster method than a siphon pump is a homemade 12 VDC fuel transfer pump. Every prepared family should have one or two of these.