Running on Empty: How NOT to Suck at Siphoning Gas

by Todd Walker

Gasoline in your mouth is not pleasant – or safe!

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

This doesn’t happen – not to you!

Growing up on a rural farm there were times when we needed gasoline for our non-essential combustion engines (dirt bike or go-cart). Daddy would never notice a gallon missing from his work truck.

Our technique was crude. We’d stealth-fully shove a length of hose into Daddy’s plumbing truck gas tank and coax our youngest brother to suck on the other end of the hose if he wanted to ride to the bottom fields. The thing is, he wised up after his first mouthful of gas.

You have safer options today. Of course, in an extreme emergency, you could use a hose to siphon fuel orally, but it’s not advisable.

I purposely ran the tank of my daily driver below empty this week. A very rare occurrence. I needed to rotate my gasoline storage. The fuel was just over six months old. Though I treat my stored fuel, I don’t trust the ethanol mix to last. Corn gas isn’t good for your vehicle.

If you want real gas, here is a site to help you locate non-ethanol laced fuel near you. It’s more expensive but is so much better.

Siphoning Gas Without Sucking

First, let me say how much I hate Government Approved gas cans! The Usurpers on the Potomac screw up everything they touch. Even a simple gas container.

As of January 10, 2009 all portable fuel containers are required to conform to two new regulations:[3]

  1. They must meet new federal Mobile Source Air Toxic regulations, based on the California Air Resources Board’s regulations.[4]
  2. They must meet the requirements of the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act.[5] – Source


I suppose the switches, buttons and pouring handles on approved containers are for our safety, right? Well, they suck!

Okay. I’m better now.

To keep from sucking from Government cans, or any gas cans, you need a Shaker Siphon.

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

Just shake and it works!

You can purchase these online. I found this one at an auto parts store and bought two. They cost about 8 bucks a piece.

For my Forerunner, I have to elevate the gas can above the vehicle’s tank. Holding a 5 or 6 gallon tank of gas while filling your vehicle tank is not practical. I sit my on the top of the Forerunner or on the ledge of my turn signal with my backdoor open.

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

That’s me suspending a 5 gallon Jerry Can. Not really. It’s resting on my turn signal.

The hose is only six feet long. Keep that in mind for your can placement. When on the roof, I have just enough hose length to reach my vehicle gas tank.

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

A slight tilt allows the valve to suck more fuel from the can.

It would much easier to place the can in the back of a pick up truck and just shake the hose. I’m truck-less at the moment.

Warning: If you place the tank on top of your vehicle, make sure you hold the hose in your vehicle’s tank as you shake the siphoning valve in the 5 gallon can. You may not have a decent length in the opening of your car’s tank. Shaking the valve end can pull the filling end out of the tank opening. There’s no shut off valve. The gas will pour all over the side of your vehicle and your shoes until you re-insert the hose into your tank.

Don’t ask me how I know.

This Shaker Siphon will drain a 5 gallon can of gas like it’s nobody’s business. A couple of minutes and you’re ready for the next transfer can.

This device is not limited to fuel transfer. It can be used to transfer water and other liquids. Just be sure to label clearly and keep different hoses separated to prevent cross contamination.

You’ll want to wear gloves (do as I say, not as I did) and have some Gojo on hand to remove any gas that may have spilled on your skin.

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

Consider adding Gojo to your vehicle kit.

No water needed. Just rub a dab of Gojo on your hands and wipe off with a towel.

My next gas siphoning project is to build a portable filling pump from a spare electric fuel pump. Just hook it up to your car battery and transfer fuel to another tank.

What’s your best method fuel (liquid) transfer? Share in the comments if you’d like.

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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Categories: Gear, Preparedness | Tags: , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Running on Empty: How NOT to Suck at Siphoning Gas

  1. Pingback: Preparedness Quick Tip #9: Keep Your Car Filled with Gas | Mom with a Prep

  2. No one told me all this when I was three and decided to siphon gas like I saw Daddy do it. I swallowed two huge mouthsful before I decided to stop. I had my stomach pumped out and was never tempted to try to siphon gas ever again, even as an adult when I learned how to do it without getting gas in my mouth at all.

    If you want to siphon with a tube and not get it into your mouth, use a clear tube. When you see the gas coming up to your mouth, pinch off the hose and insert it into the gas tank. Then, let go where you pinched the hose.

    I do have the jiggler siphon now.


    • Michael

      Dont use a shaker siphon. If your worried about swallowing a mouthful of gas like our fathers did seeing when we were kids. Get yourself a bulp pump siphon. Its so easy to use that even this idiot who created this site could use it. Shaker siphons are just the same if you took a damn garden hose to siphon gas with. The bulp pump siphon is easier and safer to use than the shaker from getting gas in you mouth or all over your hands. Sheesh people do you not remember those if you had a boat growing up whether it was for recreation or fishing. The bulp pump siphon is used on boat in such to pump gas from the gas can to the boat motor.


      • Michael, I’m the “idiot” that created this site. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. You say the bulb siphon is easier that using shaker hose. Have you used a shaker hose to transfer fuel? From you’re comments I can see you haven’t. A garden variety hose ain’t the same as a shaker siphon. But you’ve never tried one so I understand your ignorance in this area.


  3. Tammy

    This is extremely helpful to know about. I have a vehicle that I need to sell for scrap metal, but it has to have an empty fuel tank. I have a new gas guzzler that could use the gas from the old tank. I’ll check into this. I appreciate your sharing this information.


  4. Anonymous

    Timing is everything, I just rotated my gas fri. And utilized the shaker siphon for the first time.Wow! Love this thing, I was always getting a awesome forearm workout holding cans up pouring through nozzles.Saw some at harbor freight, plan to acquire backups.Thanks for the read. HDlivin


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  9. Ditch Doctor

    Thank you for the information, I especially liked the Pure Gas site and loaded the app on my iPhone.


  10. Pingback: Jim’s DiY Fuel Transfer Pump: Don’t Spit or Swallow | Survival Sherpa

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  12. John Supel

    Those shaker hoses work great but not good for removing gas from a car tank,,, tried and lost the shaker end it got caught in the fill tube of the car when taking it out


  13. Stan

    Thanks for the siphon info you non-“idiot” :-)


  14. Pingback: Preparedness Quick Tip #9: Keep Your Car Filled with Gas - Mom with a PREP

  15. You don’t have to have a shaker hose just a hose and a rag. Insert hose in tank stuff rag to make a tight seal, then BLOW air into hose to pressure tank transfer hose to gas can!


    • Good addition. I’ve seen it done just never was successful with this method. I guess I never got a good seal on the opening to create the pressure. Thanks for the comment, Louis!


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  17. Grampa

    Growing up we never had anything but a normal tube to get gas out
    If when you put the tube into the tank cup your hand with the tube between thumb and forefinger. hold all tightly around the filler pipe. Blow into the tube and lower the tube into the bucket. the build up of air preasure in the tank pushes the gas out . The new tanks are harder because they are flat but a rag wound tight and held on the hole will work.


  18. If you are transferring fuel from can to vehicle wouldn’t a funnel be a wee bit simpler? From what I read in the pre-article I thought this was about siphoning fuel from all the aboandoned vehicles left after shtf. Thanks for ..…… nevrmind.


    • Here’s the scenario, guess. In a true SHTF situation, wouldn’t you rather have both hands free while putting gas into or taking it out of another vehicle? With your head on a spindle checking your surroundings, it would be tough to concentrate on pouring flammable fuel.

      As far as abandoned vehicles goes, it would depend on whatever hypothetical doomsday scenario you’d like to come up with. I just think the shaker hose is a practical tool to have for filling my tanks and transferring gas from container to tank. If the SHTF, I’m not so sure there will be abandoned cars and trucks lining the roads anyway. I’ve never experienced any of this kinda stuff in the real world anyway. Just in fictional novels.

      Thanks for the comment.


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