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Why Are Gas Cans So Expensive? Explaining Their Expensive Price Tags

Gas containers have increased in price.

It's no secret that gas prices are constantly on the rise. But have you recently purchased a container at a gas station and noticed heavy inflation?

This may lead you to wonder why gas cans are so expensive.

Gas cans are so expensive due to a recent increase in government regulations. With new requirements for plastic can's material quality, prices have swelled. There are also supply and demand issues for jerry cans, the most desired model. Gas cans typically come in 1 to 5-gallon sizes, with an additional climb in pricing for larger cans.

Most people store gas cans to keep an extra gallon or two of fuel for their vehicle. You may be interested in keeping the fuel tank of your car or truck full without visiting a gas station, but new cans are becoming more challenging to find at a reasonable price. Let's discuss all the reasons why gas cans are so expensive.

Table Of Contents [show]

    Gas containers have increased in price.
    Gas containers have increased in price.

    Why Are Gas Cans So Hard To Use Now?

    More accurately called portable fuel containers, gas cans are so hard to use now, mainly because of the regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented in 2009. These include:

    Outlawing Vent Hole

    Due to environmental preservation reasons, purchasing a gas can with additional venting holes is now illegal. Fuel now must exit the nozzle from the only hole in the can. This makes pouring gas significantly slower; completely impossible if the tank is full.

    Permeation Resistant Container

    This permits 0.3 grams or less of vapors in the air. This is another reason for the new lack of vent holes.

    Self Closing

    The nozzle will return to closed when the gas can is not in use automatically. This is, again, to prevent ventilation when the gas can is not in use. These restrictions in vent holes are the main reason gas cans have become so hard to use.

    What Did The Government Do To The Gas Can?

    The government has recently implemented regulations that have made using modern gas can significantly more challenging.


    Gas can regulations from the government first came about in 2000 from the California Air Resources Board. As mentioned above, the EPA caught on a few years later. The EPA adopted the new regulations listed above in 2007, which went into place in 2009.


    The original idea was to prevent spillage, avoiding potential gas fires, burns, and other hazards. There was also concern about hydrocarbon fumes hurting the planet's already compromised environment. For these reasons, the new safety regulations made more sense.


    Although the environmental benefits are sound, many people report that these regulations have hindered their ability to use gas cans.

    They are extremely slow pouring and create arguably more spillage due to the awkward angles you must situate the can into to pour the gas. This frustration also leads to people practicing unsafe methods, such as storing fuel in milk jugs.

    Filling a car with gasoline from a portable container.
    Filling a car with gasoline from a portable container.

    Are All Gas Cans The Same?

    The short answer is no; not all gas cans are the same. Gas cans vary depending on their usage and the type of fuel they carry. There are also different sizes, which include large jerry cans. There are two main types:

    Type 1

    Traditional gas cans use a funnel to dispense gas and have one opening. This opening is used both to fill and dispense the fuel inside. They can be found at most local hardware stores.

    Type 2

    The second type of gas can has two openings; one to dispense gas and one to refill the can. These make filling and pouring easier, but due to the above regulations, owning a gas can with a vent opening is no longer legal.

    What Materials Can Gas Cans Be Made Of?

    Containers used to store gasoline can be safely made of the following materials.


    Plastic is one of the most popular and accessible materials for gas cans. These cans are typically made of high-density polyethylene (HPDE), an insulating material compatible with gasoline.

    This type of sturdy plastic is resistant to rust and bacteria when used properly and replaced frequently.


    Metal is heavier and more durable than plastic. When it comes to storing gasoline, metal cans offer the benefits of easy stacking and longer shelf life.

    How Are Gas Cans Differentiated?

    The critical difference between gas cans is the color; each one indicates a different fuel type.

    • Red - gasoline
    • Blue - kerosene
    • Yellow - diesel fuel
    • White/Beige - propane

    Why Are Metal Gas Cans Better Than Plastic?

    Metal gas cans are better for storing gasoline than plastic ones for a few reasons:


    Metal is harder to puncture or damage and can withstand high temperatures, whereas plastic will melt. Gas can also leak into plastic after a few months, making the metal more sustainable.


    Storing gas cans is important for space management and safety. Metal cans stack more efficiently on the ground, avoiding clutter and spills.

    Long-Term Fuel Storage

    Metal gas cans are ideal for storing gasoline for long periods. They provide an extended shelf life in comparison to plastic cans.

    No Plastic Chemicals

    Plastic gas cans contain chemicals, such as lead, that can be harmful to humans to be exposed to.

    Disadvantages Of Metal Cans

    Metal gas cans offer plenty of advantages over plastic models. However, with new regulations, you may wonder whether metal gas cans are illegal. While you can still use these models, they cost more than the alternative.

    Metal is not necessarily flammable like plastic, but it will explode in the event of a fire.

    Do Plastic Gas Cans Expire?

    Yes, plastic gas cans do expire. Plastic containers will need to be replaced after three to six months. The stabilizer can be added to prolong the shelf life by a few extra months, but at most eight months maximum.

    Are Plastic Gas Cans Legal?

    Plastic gas cans are still legal, but they must meet government regulations. They must be less than 5 gallons, have a flash arresting screen, and a spring closing nozzle. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has stricter regulations than other organizations, such as the EPA. As a result, the DOT will not approve most inexpensive plastic gas cans.


    You may be accustomed to a single or double-opening gas can. In the past, cans with additional ventilation were preferred but have now been outlawed for safety reasons.

    In addition to the different models you may be familiar with, there are two main materials used to make gas cans: plastic and metal. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

    The recent economy of fuel cans has caused frustration for millions of consumers looking to keep their gas tanks full at a reasonable price. New safety cans are harder to pour and refill without the extra openings, besides being more expensive.

    The supply and demand of popular models like the jerry can have caused a steep increase in price. Nowadays, it isn't easy to find a can online for under $100, which is only expected to increase in the future.

    While the requirement intended to limit fumes from gasoline and contribute to reducing spills, it ended up causing a headache for vehicle owners. So whether you are in the market for a plastic or metal can, you can expect to pay more than you're used to.