How long can your emergency supplies be safely stored?


E. M. Smith, blogging at “Musings from the Chiefio”, is using up his cache of emergency supplies prior to a big move. He brings us a long list of emergency supplies that he’d accumulated, and how well they performed after extended storage.  It’s a very useful “reality check”.  Here are a few examples.


The gas I’d stored about 1.75 years ago start of the plandemic was smelling just a tiny bit funky, but not “varnish” yet. Started the 1 kW Honda generator and ran one whole evening on it (nominal run time 8 hours, I got about 7 as I had it partially choked to stay running). Figure “one fill per night” if running a TV some lights and a bit more.

White Gas / Coleman Fuel

My “Dual Fuel” single burner stove and dual mantle lantern have been fired up. The stove has been my primary cooking appliance for about a week now … The lantern was found to have a full tank already. I’d guess about 2 to 3 years ago was the last time I fired it up. It smelled fine and worked fine … The cooking has taken about 1 cup / day. Maybe a bit less … I’d plan on about 2 gallons / month for cooking. More if you have a bigger tribe.

Wax / Candles

Wax just keeps forever. It just does. Only thing that can go wrong that I’ve run into in about 40 years of using it as an emergency light source is that candles will melt in the trunk of your car in the heat of summer.


What’s gone first?  Fresh milk, butter, yogurt, fresh meats & fish, fresh eggs, cheeses, fresh vegetables & fruits. (Followed more rapidly than expected by canned fruit… something about that syrup 😉 Also cans of “meals in a can” like ravioli and stews. Ritz Crackers, cookies, snacks like jerky and trail mix, and chips all disappear rapidly too.  Knorr Sides (in those foils packages for about $1 each) and canned milk get used rapidly too … In between was the canned meats.


For fuels, what stores easiest, is easiest to use and with fewest issues is Propane, followed by the little Butane cans for the “Asian Stove”. Camping Iso-Butane stoves come next but are harder to cook on, have less control and pots want to fall off, and the fuel costs more … Alcohol Stoves work well, and easy … Gasoline / White Gas work well, but storage is more problematic. Not just the flammability issues if it is open or spilled in pouring; but for Gasoline, you get a year, 2 max, and need to rotate it before it goes all varnish on you … I’m very much of the opinion that a Survivalist Generator of about the size of the Honda 1 kW, but running on Diesel OR Kerosene, would sell to a LOT of folks around the world. I’d pay double the going rate of a gasoline version.

There’s much more at the link.  Very interesting information, particularly when so many of us are preparing for the hard times that so clearly lie ahead.  Highly recommended reading.



  1. I would add that the ethanol on the fuel shortens the lifespan. Epecally in newer containers. I put gas a 1 year every with a stabilizer in it.

    I keep, the expensive cans of Tre fuel premixed for my saw as they are legitimately good for 2 years. If un opened.

  2. I recently used some stabilized gas from 6 years ago; it looked funny but ran ok in both large and small engines.

    I feel the life if medical supplies is important. I've had several brands of antibiotic ointment lose effectiveness by the expiration date, generally about a year. Unopened hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol stay effective much longer.

  3. You can get AvGas and it will last a lot longer….no varnish and it simply evaporates over time.
    If an airport near you has it, get "Swift UL 94" which is unleaded as well (Be aware that leaded aviation fuels from aviation contain Tetraethyl Lead, which can cause issues with some engines that have a catalyst in the exhaust over time)
    Sealed properly, Avgas will last forever if it can't evaporate. Much like Coleman Fuel, it is pretty much pure with no varnish.
    Expensive, though.

  4. If you live in Texas, find a Buc-ees. Most of them have a separate bank of fuel pumps offering 'No Ethanol' pure gasoline. Whatever blend you are storing for gasoline, use a fuel stabilizer – it will extend its storage life and scavenge moisture. I use Sta-bil 360 Marine. I never keep gas more than a year though, I just pour the can into the truck and refill it.

  5. Husqvarna sells 1-gallon cans of pre-mix chainsaw fuel that says it should be good (unopened, I assume) for years. I've been told by many a small-engine repair tech that bad gas accounts for a lot of ruined saws.

    And chainsaw fuel is my #1 concern, even more than transportation fuel. Because if I really have to hunker down, I'm heating the house with wood, not commuting to work.

  6. I have several bags of charcoal put aside for Dutch oven cooking if I need to. Been stacked for a dozen years or more and looks brand new. Just have to keep it dry. Old school works. The stack of old newspaper for use to light it in the charcoal chimney is looking a bit ratty, however.
    Used some flour the other day that'd been vacuum packed about ten years ago. Didn't notice any difference in it from the more recent flour.

  7. Jonathan H: Oooh… life of medical supplies. Right. Also, read carefully the storage instructions.
    Some meds have a decent shelf life. Others, nope. Epinephrine autoinjectors have a short shelf life, even if stored in the very narrow approved temperature range. Epinephrine inhalers are marginally better in terms of storage, but cheap enough (and OTC) to be replaced annually.
    Storing meds in an airtight container in the refrigerator seems obvious, but some come with warnings against refrigeration (and generally no explanation for this).

  8. If at all possible, don't store gasohol. Especially if you have vehicles or equipment that is not new. That blend is very bad on carburated equipment, to start with.
    The utube channel "project farm" has a video of how to remove alcohol from gasoline, if needed.
    The idiocy of burning food…

  9. There are several kits out there to convert the Honda EU1k to run on tri fuel, gasoline, propane or nat'l gas. Converting to straight propane is pretty simple for the competent diy folks.

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