How to Create Insta-Gas

Have you ever run out of gas and been stuck on the side of a highway just blocks from a gas station? Well no more! With Insta-Gas, which can be made for $20, that humiliating, dangerous experience is a thing of the past! You still may run out, but with your own small, safe fuel supply in your trunk you will never be stranded again. Our container,costing $20 in supplies, can be assembled in less than a half hour over two days, has survived a 30 mile an hour impact, and after rigorous fire testing a fire marshall on hand stated that the "safety factor is going to be a very very large number".

The container is composed of a basic Nalgene® water bottle containing the fuel, and an outer shell of drain pipe padded with fire retardant Great Stuff®. This combination has survived a 30 mile an hour impact, the standard for fuel tanks, and sustained only an insubstantial fracture on of the outer shell that did not create a fuel leak. Even in a fire situation which we created with the assistance of a local fire department, the container withstood direct exposure 1400 degree fire for 5 minutes while placed just 3 inches from the source of flame. After this, the outer shell was burnt, but the inner Nalgene® was still intact.

Our invention is not just a container, but also an alternate fuel, which consists of methanol and mineral spirits. This mix has a high enough octane rating to prevent knocking or misfiring of the engine, and a high flash point, meaning that the liquid will not vaporize fast enough to become a fire hazard.

First off, you need to gather the materials:

Fire resistant Great Stuff® (a type of expanding insulation)
9 inches of 4"diameter PVC pipe
2x 4" diameter PVC pipe end caps
A standard 1 liter Nalgene® bottle
Popsicle sticks
Paper towels
Basic funnel for easy pouring
600ml of mineral spirits
400ml of methanol

Step 1: Making the Caps

To make the caps, you will need:

-Your two 4" PVC endcaps
-Popsicle sticks
-Lots of paper towels
-Great Stuff®

WARNING: Great Stuff® is extremely sticky, so wear gloves and eye protection while using it. Also, it is practically impossible to clean great stuff off of a surface, so put down cardboard or the like while making the caps.

1. Place the caps upside down on a flat surface.

2. Apply great stuff in a small dome inside the cap, leaving plenty of room from the edges as it expands. Keep the great stuff away from the inside edge of the cap, as this will prevent the cap from working properly.

3. Repeat with second cap.

4. Leave both caps to dry undisturbed for 12 hours (overnight is recommended).

5. After the caps have dried, you may want to drill a small (1/4" hole) in one endcap through the plastic and Great Stuff®. This will make it easier to remove the cap as it prevents the container from forming a vacuum.

Step 2: Add Great Stuff to the Bottle

1. Place the Nalgene bottle on a small riser to raise it up about 1/2 inch. A cut-off piece of a paper towel tube works well. You should do this in a place where it can be left over night undisturbed

2. Carefully set the pipe around the bottle, leaving equal space all the way around between the outside of the bottle and the inside of the pipe.

3. Insert the Great Stuff ® dispenser straw into the space between the bottle and the pipe and apply the Great Stuff ® while drawing the filler out, creating a pillar of Great Stuff ® in the crack around the bottle. Make sure to stop squirting about an inch from the top to prevent it from sticking to the cap. Also, keep the Great Stuff ® away from the lid as it will glue the lid shut. Repeat this about 5 times radially around the tube

5. Leave the enclosure to dry. Moving the container while the great stuff is drying may cause undesirable shifting of the Great Stuff ®

Step 3: Creating the Insta-Gas Fuel

1. Pour a 60:40 ratio of mineral spirits to methanol into a sealed container and shake well to mix the two.

2. The liquids will gradually separate over time, but a quick shake before pouring it into your gas tank will eliminate this issue

This picture is of a fire marshal with our Insta-Gas can after it was burnt in a controlled gas flame, the Nalgene was not damaged; the fuel did not escape or contribute to the fire.

Step 4: Wrapping It Up

When the container and caps have dried you are nearly finished. Just put the cap with the hole on top, this is the lid, you can easily fill the bottle with your fuel, and put it in the back of your car along with a funnel for easy pouring. The Insta-gas can has been tested for impacts up to 30 miles an hour, and has also survived being run over by a car; it has also been tested by the fire department to withstand direct flame for 5 minutes. Nonetheless, it is wise to secure it in the back of your car away from the gas tank, to ensure maximum safety.



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    10 Discussions

    mr. clean

    8 years ago on Introduction

    do u know the octane rating of ur gas mixture and what does it do to fuel injectors, rubber O-rings, bearings. valves, valve seats, spark plugs, various sensors such as O2 sensors in the exhaust pipes, catalytic converters, cylinder walls pistons and rings, will it work in a high compression motor, a carbureted motor, a diesel motor, and does it cause excessive smoke when running, excessive carbon build up in intake or exhaust manifolds. and why was mineral spirits and methanol chosen?

    1 reply

    the octane rating was around 100. So all our test vehicles knocked while we drove up hills but we got there.

    The purpose of the mixture is to power your car for a SHORT way to get you to a gas station or simply off the highway. Given that the tank would have residual gas in it, then you are mixing in a quart or so of mixture, the damage to o-rings from the methanol should be minimal. AGAIN, we are NOT suggesting that this is a solution to power your car indefinately, the methanol would CERTAINLY have a negative effect on non-hardened parts if used at length.

    The Methanol and Mineral Spirits were chosen because of their high vaporization temps. The reason a container of petrol (gas for us Americans) in the boot (trunk) is NOT a good idea is that on a hot day the substances added to gasoline to make an engine easy to start in winter will vaporize and create a toxic/expolosive situation. Very bad idea to carry gas in your trunk.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Why use a questionable mixture of mineral spirits and methanol.  Why not just store gasoline?  I'd be concerned about burning such a mixture in my car.

    2 replies

    We have tested the mixture for a significant amount of time in our car, it does have an octane rating lower than gasoline, but this only causes knocking in high load situations (such as going up a hill) and since this is intended to be used to get you quickly to a close by gas station, that shouldn't be a major problem. Our mixture is also much less flammable than gasoline so it presents much less of a fire hazard should you somehow have a fire in your trunk.

    Huh, that is interesting. I was under the impression that gasoline was the only viable option, and everything else would ruin your car. Have you tried this on modern car engines?


    9 years ago on Step 3

    I had run out of petrol on my way to work, in the boot I had a gallon of parafin, this seem to work fine, but  the car would not turn off on the key and had to be stalled, now I just carry a plastic jerrycan full of petrol, and you know what? I have never run out since.
    (it was an old nissan, and the diesel effect kept it running even with no spark!)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Aren't nalgene bottles usually just for water? I think campers use aluminum SIGG bottles to store fuel so I don't know if "solvent" type fuels will react with the plastic cap or bottle causing it to leak.  Maybe you could have used a thermos vacuum bottle and foam it with the fire-retardant stuff.  I would be uneasy storing something like this in the trunk during the summer.  Vapor buildup might leave a smell in the car and become hazardous.  You might have to do a lot of explaining if they do check this device when you are crossing a bridge or tunnel.

    1 reply

    The mixture has been left in the Nalgene bottles for about a month and it had no noticeable corrosive effect on the bottle during this time. If you want to use a thermos vacuum bottle, feel free to do so, but we found that the Nalgene worked fine and is also pretty cheap. Our fuel mixture has a low flash point which means that it takes a lot of energy for the liquid to vaporize and thus build up the pressure to burst the Nalgene lid's seal. This kind of pressure could potentially build up if you left the bottle in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, but leaving it in your trunk will most likely not present any gas leak hazard.