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Collapsing Gas Cans, EPA Regulations

Updated: May 28, 2019

Collapsing Gas Can

Have you ever gone to use your gas can, only to find that it has collapsed in on itself like the picture above? For some of you, you may think this is a defect and that you got a bad can. You may have even contacted the manufacturer and asked for a replacement.

Did you know that this is not a defect at all and it is actually doing what the EPA requires a gas can to do? We will explain exactly what causes this collapse in just a minute. But First here is a little more information on EPA regulations.

In 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instated new regulations for portable fuel containers (AKA gas cans) and outlawing all those that have a vent hole in them. In these new regulations it states that a gas can cannot vent on its own while not in use. Here is a list of other regulations that the EPA requires.

  • A permeation-resistant container that permits no more than 0.3 grams per gallon per day of hydrocarbon emissions. This means while your gas can is not in use and sitting idol it cannot release that much vapor into the air per day.

  • Automatic closure, such as a nozzle that automatically springs to the closed position when the user is not pouring from the container.

  • Self-venting opening for dispensing fuel with no separate vents. This is the only time a gas can is allowed to vent.

  • Childproof features as outlined by the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act

We fully support the EPA in their quest to protect the environment and that is one reason why we built the SureCan the way it is today. It not only meets these standards but it exceeds them! SureCan is built with 6 layers wall thickness to prevent vapors from escaping as well as to be the most durable gas can on the market. Not all other fuel can manufacturers can say this. The gas cans that allow vapor to escape into the air through the walls of the can release that vapor and it sits inside your garage or enclosed trailer.

Alright, so why exactly does my gas can bloat or expand in the sun and collapse in the cooler temperatures? This is due to what is called the Combined Gas Law which states that “the ratio of the product of pressure and volume and the absolute temperature of a gas is equal to a constant”. Thus, if the gas temperature inside the can increases so will the pressure and volume inside the can (Bloated Can). Likewise, if the gas temperature inside the can decreases so will the pressure and volume inside the can (Collapsed Can).

When fuel vapor is trapped inside a closed container without any way of escaping as it increases and decreases in volume and pressure, the laws of chemistry and physics tell us that it has to go somewhere.

Here are some examples of gas cans that have collapsed in due to the change in cooler temperatures.

Now, how do I get my collapsed gas can to go back to normal? Simply make sure the cap is off and the can has properly vented, then place the cap back on and seal it up tight. Next place the gas can in the sun for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour. The increased temperature will cause the can to swell pushing the walls back to the original shape.

Restored SureCan Gas Can after collapsing

How do I prevent this from happening again? Well, there really is not a sure way to prevent this from happening when your cap is sealed tight and vapor trapped inside. Unfortunately, due to the EPA regulations, fuel can manufactures are not able to place an automatic pressure release into the can design. So for now you will have to periodically open your cap and release the vapor before the temperature drops.

Ironically enough, OSHA on the other hand does require a fuel can to have an automatic pressure release feature incorporated into it for use on industrial jobsites and other construction sites. Why two government entities contradict each other in regards to venting is beyond us!

For more information on SureCan and our products please visit our website at


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