What Is the Difference between a Gas can and a Safety Can?

For the protection of yourself, your workers, and your workplace, make sure you are storing and carrying flammable fuel in OSHA-regulated safety cans. Here’s what you need to know.

That old rusty can in your outdoor shed, basement, or garage is safe enough to hold gasoline, right?


Today which containers are manufactured to specifically store, dispense, and transport flammable liquid or fuel are regulated to prevent fire or other disasters. It’s incumbent for people to understand new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that require people to now use “safety cans,” which are designed to protect the safety of users and their environment.

There’s a good reason why hazardous materials regulations are needed: According to EHS Today, “flammable solvent is a powerful explosive that careless handling or storage can detonate.” In fact, “1 gallon of vaporized gasoline can explode with the same force as 20 sticks of dynamite.”

Gas cans, otherwise known as portable fuel containers (PFCs), are receptacles mean to carry just a small amount of liquid fuel. This is the can you’ll likely find in the garage or shed since they’re mostly used to fill snow blowers, golf carts, or lawn mowers. Depending on the can, these containers can carry between one quart to five gallons or more.

Typically, gas cans, or PFCs, are coded by color to indicate the kind of fuel inside. They range from red (gasoline), blue (kerosene), yellow (diesel fuel), and green (oil).

Safety Cans

The safer alternative to gas cans or PFCs is the so-called “safety can.” According to OSHA, a safety can is defined as “an approved closed container, of not more than 5 gallons capacity, having a flash arresting screen, spring-closing lid, and spout cover and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.” Today all cans carrying flammable fluid must follow these restrictions.

Even among safety cans, there are two sizes: Type I and Type II.

Type I Safety Cans carry a maximum of five gallons and have only one opening — You pour and fill from the same spout.

Eagle Type I Safety Cans are constructed of 24-gauge, hot-dipped galvanized steel. Each features a double-interlock, no-weld bottom seam. A baked-on, powder-coat finish helps to provide additional corrosion resistance. A spring-closing lid with neoprene gasket helps to vent at 5 psi internal pressure. A non-sparking flame arrestor and pour spout also helps provide added safety.

Type II Safety Cans have two openings — One to pour and one to fill. The fill opening serves as a vent when pouring.

Eagle Type II Safety Cans are constructed of galvanized steel and help reduce the danger of explosion while dispensing flammable liquids through a flexible 12-inch metal spout. Non-sparking flame arrestors are in the filler opening and pour spout. They are available in red, yellow, blue, and green. They’re FM, UL and ULC approved and meet OSHA and NFPA Code 30 requirements.

Today, making sure your storage containers are in compliance with all of OSHA’s regulations is a matter of life or death. You’ll not only protect yourself, but you are also protecting your workers and your workplace.

How to Properly Store Different Types of Flammable Liquids