How to get rid of old gasoline, the hard way

Every other year or so we take the lawn mower to a local business, A. W. Brown, to it have cleaned and the blades sharpened. They remind us that it’s important to run the engine completely dry at the end of the season and not to use the leftover gas the following spring. The same rule applies to snow blowers. So what is one supposed to do with the leftover gas? Put it in the car’s gas tank, says A. W.

It sounds counter-intuitive to me to put old gas in a $25,000 car and not in a $500 lawn mower.  I brought this up at the gas station yesterday and some guy said it was because the car’s gas tank is so much bigger it can absorb the impurities in the old gas more easily than the little gas tanks can. That made sense to me, but what do I know? More to the point, what does he know? This wasn’t the service station guy, just someone getting gas for his own lawn mower. But I trust A. W. Brown and he said that’s what we should do so that’s what we were going to do—for the first time in the sixteen years he’s been telling us that. Maybe if we’d followed his advice earlier we wouldn’t be such regular customers.

I pump my own gas and I love the way it smells, so pouring gas from a can into a car seemed like a simple enough project for me to manage, but I quickly discovered that it required more than two hands. The first problem was that our two-gallon plastic gas can (which clearly can’t be a can if it’s plastic, but you get the idea) was awkward to manage with one hand. But even if I could have, the funnel that we use to get gas into the lawn mower was too short to push open the metal flap that covers the opening where the gas goes into the car.

plastic funnel

To do that, we needed to stick something through the funnel. I had just the thing. Before I’d gotten distracted by what was meant to be a five minute project emptying old gas into the car, I’d been uprooting dandelions with this:

dandelion tool

Even with four hands and the clever application of a tool for something other than its intended purpose, we weren’t quite there. We needed a smaller container for gas; something I could hold with one hand. A quick trip to the basement turned up another, smaller, funnel and a plastic bottle that we were willing to sacrifice to the project.  Thus armed, we returned to the strip of lawn that runs alongside our driveway to attempt transfer number one. Andrew held the smaller funnel in the bottle while I poured gas into it. I got some on my hands and some on the lawn, but mostly it went into the bottle.

Next, Andrew put the original funnel into the car and inserted the dandelion tool through it to push the flap open. I then poured the contents of the small plastic bottle into the funnel. It worked. Elated, we did it again, and again, and a few more agains, until both our good spirits and the gas can were drained. Then it was off to the gas station to refill the can so the cycle could begin again.

Today’s errand? A trip to the hardware store for one of these:

gas can with spout

Welcome to spring!


5 responses to “How to get rid of old gasoline, the hard way

  1. Let me be the first to welcome our new gas jug and its pointy spout.

  2. Only Judy could make such a project so very interesting! Happy spring indeed!

  3. This makes me wonder what my husband does with the old gas from the lawnmower. I’ll have to ask him. I swear he beats the crap out it every year because he loves the challenge of taking it apart and fixing it.

  4. For a lawn the size of yours, you totally want a a battery electric mower — here’s the one we have that we love:

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