My father was a car dealer for over 35 years. As a young child, I remember learning how to manually siphon gas. The thing that stuck in my memory the most was that my dad had to spit out the gas after sucking the tube to get the gas flowing. That was 40 years ago, surely there is a better way of doing it now?
When it comes to siphoning gas, there are three main methods; siphoning using air pressure, siphoning using a siphon pump, and siphoning manually by sucking on a tube.
The best way to siphon gas is by using air pressure. You need two tubes, one at least 5 feet long and the other about 1 foot long. Ideally, they should each be 1 inch in diameter.
- Insert the first tube down the fuel neck as far as it will go and put the other end into your fuel container.
- Wrap a cloth around both tubes to keep the fuel vapors off your face.
- Insert the short tube halfway into the fuel neck hole and blow into it until the fuel is flowing.
Or, if you want to do it the easiest way possible you should use a pump, like this inexpensive one.
The rest of this article will walk you through each of these different methods and the best way to perform them. Also, I’ll point out some of the problems these methods have regarding performance and your health.
Siphoning Gas Using Air Pressure
The first method is not that well known but isn’t much more complicated than manually siphoning gas. For this method, you basically blow the gas out of the fuel tank instead of sucking in the gas to make the gas start flowing. In order to do this method, you’re going to need two tubes of different lengths.
It should be noted that, even though you’re blowing the gas instead of inhaling it, there’s still a risk of inhaling gas fumes, which poses the same problems as we discussed in the previous section. Therefore, you should still practice extreme caution if you plan to use this method.
How To Siphon Gas Using Air Pressure
Like the previous method, the steps are not that complicated, but trying to siphon gas using air pressure may be a little more difficult for some people.
- Step 1: Collect your materials. As we said before, you’re going to need two different length tubes, ideally about 1 inch each in diameter, to perform this method. I recommend a 6 foot tube and a 1 foot tube. You’re also going to need a rag or some sort of cloth to seal in your fuel tank hole.
- Step 2: The longer tube should be connected to the tank and the gas container, and the smaller tube should be connected to the fuel tank on one end and left open for blowing on the other end.
- Step 3: Once both tubes are connected on the fuel tank side; you want to put your rag over it in order to seal the fuel tank and preserve the air pressure. This is crucial because this method only works if you maintain the air pressure inside the fuel tank. Otherwise, the fuel will never start flowing into the gas container naturally.
- Step 4: Once you’ve sealed it in the fuel tank, you can start blowing through the shorter tube to make the gas start flowing out of the longer tube. Again, you really want to make sure that you don’t accidentally inhale the gas or the fumes and to help prevent this, you can put your thumb over the open end once you finish blowing.
- Step 5: Once the gas starts to flow out of the fuel tank through the longer tube, you can stop blowing; the gas should continue to flow naturally.
- Step 6: When you want to stop the flow, just put your thumb over the open end and raise that tube over the level of the fuel tank, and the gas should drain back into the fuel tank. If that doesn’t work, you can also try removing the seal.
This video details the process:
To simplify the process, you can use an air pump. Let’s discuss this more below.
Using an Air Pump or Compressor for Siphoning Gas
Another factor to consider is that siphoning with this method can be even more convenient if you use an air pump. The pump can be any type of air pump because it’s meant to only help blow through the tube.
Using an air pump for siphoning gas can:
- Make siphoning significantly easier by doing the blowing for you
- Also potentially cause damage if the pressure is too great
- Require you to have another piece of equipment at hand
Depending on how prepared you want to be for this kind of emergency situation, you can decide how valuable it is to have an air pump to help you. The great thing about this method is that even if you don’t have an air pump, it’s still very manageable and convenient to do.
Here is how it is done using an air compressor:
Effectiveness And Practicality
As you can see, the overall process of siphoning gas using air pressure is not that complicated, and in some ways, it’s more practical than the manual method. A lot of that has to do with the fact this method doesn’t require you to potentially inhale gas which severely reduces health risks.
These two methods are very similar; the only significant differences are that a manual siphon technically requires fewer materials, although the difference is negligible, and it requires you to suck instead of blow. Again, the differences are minor, but it’s enough to make air pressure siphoning a lot more practical to many people.
Siphoning Gas Using A Siphon Pump
The last method we’re going to discuss is using a siphon pump. Now, this is very different from the air pump we mentioned in the previous section; a siphon pump is a special type of pump that is entirely dedicated to siphoning gas from a car.
As the saying goes, it’s better to have and not need it, and a siphon pump, like this one, should definitely be in your car emergency toolkit.
You can imagine that this method is definitely the easiest out of all the techniques we’ve discussed so far because the pump basically does all the work for you. However, this also makes it pretty shocking that very few people have one prepared in case of emergencies. So again, it relates back to the idea that most people never anticipate that they’re going to be in that kind of situation.
How To Siphon Gas Using A Siphon Pump
The steps to siphon gas using a siphon pump are very easy to follow:
- Step 1: You begin by opening your fuel tank and gas container, and you connect the tubes of the siphon pump into the corresponding parts. The siphon pump should distinguish which piece is for what part.
- Step 2: After connecting the pump, you simply squeeze the bulb until the gas begins the flow.
- Step 3: After the gas starts flowing, you can stop squeezing, and it should continue to keep flowing naturally.
- Step 4: In order to stop the flow, you simply disconnect the pump. It’s recommended that you raise the level of the pump above the fuel tank when you want to stop so that the excess gas will flow back into the tank.
So as you can see, this method is straightforward to perform, and it practically requires no work or effort. And what also makes it great is that you only need one piece of equipment to do it; you don’t need any tubes or extra rags. As a result, there are essentially no drawbacks to using a siphon pump, so this should be the method that you should try to use in all cases.
Siphoning Gas Manually
This is most likely the method that you were familiar with before reading this article. It’s basically just using a tube as a straw to suck out the gas from the car into a container, and it’s the stereotypical method portrayed in the media. It’s pretty easy to perform, but not something I recommend. But, for you, purists out there, here is how to do it.
How To Siphon Gas Using Your Mouth
The actual steps behind this method are not complicated at all; they’re relatively straightforward, and the only part that might give you trouble is the step where you quickly need to transfer the hose from your mouth to the container.
Here are the steps you can take to manually siphon gas using your mouth:
- Step 1: The first part is simply preparing your fuel tank and gas container in order to siphon (by basically just opening them up), and then you insert one end of the tube into the fuel tank.
- Step 2: Next comes the part where you start inhaling in order to move the gas from the tank into the tube. For this step, it’s recommended that you use a transparent tube so that you can easily see the gas flowing.
- Step 3: This step is the most uncomfortable part; once the gas almost enters your mouth, quickly move the end of the tube into the gas canister, and then you want to place the container below the level of the fuel tank so that the gas will flow properly.
- Step 4: It’s crucial to emphasize again that you need to place the gas container below the level of the fuel tank so that the gas will flow from the tank into the container naturally. This is due to the science behind how siphoning works.
- Step 5: You want to make sure that you clear out your mouth of any gas that may have entered it and rinse it with clean water.
It’s reasonable why some people may have problems with the inhaling and transferring stage, and some people may not be comfortable enough to even do it. And, that part of the process also poses many potential health problems, so you should only siphon gas manually as a last resort. We’ll talk more about the health problems in the next section.
Health Problems From Manual Siphoning
The main reason why manual siphoning is treated as a last resort is because of the health risks it poses when you perform it. I highly recommend NOT using this method!
It’s sort of unfortunate that this method is the most well-known because it’s also the most dangerous. This is, of course, due to the fact that you’re essentially inhaling gas into your mouth; the other siphoning methods don’t require you to make contact or handle the gas directly.
The main health problems posed by manual siphoning are:
- Inhaling gas fumes
- Accidentally consuming gas
- A fire hazard
Now, most people should know that inhaling gas fumes and touching them isn’t the best thing for your health, but many people simply don’t know how dangerous it can actually be. Let’s look at each of these health concerns for siphoning gas manually or with your mouth below.
Accidentally Consuming Gas
Accidentally swallowing the gas when siphoning is probably the biggest concern for most people, and for a good reason. Consuming gas is very toxic and could lead to gas poisoning, which requires medical attention.
Inhaling Gas Fumes
Gas fumes can essentially damage all of your major organs, especially your lungs, which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Inhaling gas fumes can also cause you to become dizzy and/or faint. In extreme cases, it can even cause unconsciousness and brain damage.
Potentially Create a Fire Hazard
Lastly, siphoning gas manually can potentially create fire hazards due to the fact that the gas is exposed. Of course, this is only a legitimate concern if you’re in the presence of an open flame or you’re smoking, but it’s still something worth mentioning.
These reasons are why it’s recommended that you don’t manually siphon gas when you’re alone and/or are in a remote area because, if you were to be knocked unconscious or would require immediate medical attention, you wouldn’t be able to do so and could cause further damage to your body.
Siphoning gas is often thought of as a method used by criminals to steal gasoline from parked cars. Still, there are many other valid situations where you would need to remove the gas from your vehicle. The idea itself is simple, but many people may not be familiar with the actual process and some of the challenges and risks posed by it.
I hope this article has helped you see that the actual process is not that complicated no matter which method you choose to use, but certain methods are definitely more practical than others. Unless you happen to have a pump or decide to order one specially designed for the task, the air pressure method is the way to go. Thanks for reading!
For more, check out 20 Car Emergency Kit Essentials | You Must Carry These Items.
Hey, I’m Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!