If you’ve ever heard of gas siphoning on the news it’s probably been from thieves stealing gasoline from honest people. However, siphoning has plenty of honest and survival-related uses as well, and it is actually a very important skill to have available. Thankfully the skill itself is fairly easy to learn, though if you have to improvise the materials there can be some danger of fume inhalation. Let’s see what you need to have with you and how to siphon gas safely.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately many people use these skills to steal gasoline, and this guide is never intended to assist in stealing property from other people. With that in mind, know when your local laws may forbid the practice in the event that you wish to siphon gas from abandoned cars or in other special circumstances. If you’re siphoning from your own property, try to keep identifying documents on hand to present to concerned people or curious police officers in order to avoid an altercation.
The basic idea of siphoning gas
Before we get into the supplies and whatnot that you need, let’s explain how you’re going to pull that gasoline out of the tank. Essentially you’re trying to stick a tube into the gas tank and cause the gasoline to flow down that tube into your container. Of course, to do that it needs to go uphill a bit to get out of the tank, which is the reason you need a siphon.
The siphon uses the fact that water, gasoline and other liquids will flow from a high pressure area into a low pressure one with enough force to overcome gravity. Your siphon creates that difference in pressure, usually with a pump or some form of sucking action that causes air pressure in the tube to become lower than the high pressure inside of the gas tank. The low pressure in the tube sucks up gasoline and sends it down into your container.
The methods for siphoning
So, you have one goal in mind with a siphon: create that low pressure in the tube where you want the gasoline to flow. The “traditional method” which is largely used for safe liquids like water is extremely simple. You stick one end of a clear tube into the gas tank until it is deeply submerged into the tank, then you suck on the other end until you see the liquid start flowing out. Once it starts flowing, you lower the tube and stick it into your container and watch the gas flow in. I do not recommend this method as it is extremely dangerous. Gasoline fumes or even liquid gasoline can easily enter your mouth and besides tasting horrific they can also cause severe side effects including death if ingested. There are safer methods that don’t involve sucking directly on the hose that will soon be filled with gasoline!
The safest method is to use a specially made siphon, preferably one that is manually powered. These can be bought cheaply and don’t involve sucking on gasoline fumes in order to pull the liquid out. Manual ones tend to have a pump or a squeeze valve on them that simulate the same sucking force that you create in the traditional method, but much more safely. Electric pumps also exist, but as you can imagine these are less reliable during survival situations and also tend to just pump the gasoline out rather than siphoning. This means that if the pump were to suddenly stop working, the gas would stop as well since it isn’t being carried by a low-pressure flow.
Why you would siphon (honestly!)
Some can feel uncomfortable with the very idea of knowing how to siphon gas, as it just seems like a dishonest skill. However, it is indeed a very useful skill and can be used for a variety of situations such as:
- Removing gasoline from a vehicle you plan to leave for extended periods of time. Not only does this keep it from being stolen, but it reduces the fuel available if a fire should touch the car.
- Sharing gasoline in a convoy. Different vehicles have different mileage, gas tank sizes etc which may allow you to share some around if you’re travelling with multiple cars, trucks etc.
- Salvaging gasoline from abandoned or non-functional vehicles. I will stress that the idea of what constitutes “abandoned” can vary from government to government and even person to person, but there are times when this may be helpful. An EMP, for example, might leave some cars unable to operate and their gasoline stores rather useless unless they’re siphoned out.
- Pulling gas out to power a generator or other more important item. Even if your car is perfectly usable, you may want to take a gallon or 5 in order to power a generator.
Safety concerns when siphoning
Obviously, you want to be careful to siphon only in a well-ventilated area since you’ll probably have fumes that escape. Gasoline is harmful to breathe, deadly to swallow, and highly flammable so take care to avoid ingesting fumes or causing sparks. Finally, always use a sealed container such as are normally used rather than pails and buckets in order to minimize escaping fumes or splashes.
Gas siphoning has its honest uses, and is truly a valuable skill for any motorist. Make sure you have the gear and skills needed to do so safely when the need arises!
Are there other situations when you’ll need to siphon gas? Let us know in the comments below!
This article first appeared at Prepared For That: Survival Vehicle Skills: How to Siphon Gasoline Out of the Gas Tank