I was filling the mower with gasoline and some gas splashed on my hand. Not even 2 seconds later it was gone...

1) Does gasoline turn into vapor that fast? And if it does, why doesn't it evaporate in the gasoline can?


2) Does it seep into your skin and into your blood?

Also.. after it had 'dried' there was a white residue leftover, what is it?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yes, gas vaporizes quite easily which is a big help in the engine. That is why there is a lid on the gas cap to limit the escape of vapor. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 3 '16 at 22:56

It evaporates, but it will first take some hydrocarbon compounds in your skin

Gasoline is a mixture of a variety of volatile hydrocarbons, some branched chain alkanes and some aromatics. The warmth of your hand is enough to cause small quantities to evaporate. But it will also dissolve some of the hydrocarbon-soluble oils from your skin. Then when it evaporates, they will be left but they will form a microcrystalline powder rather than returning to the parts of the skin they were extracted from: this is the white residue. This is a common when volatile non-polar solvents are spilled on the skin (don't do it too much or your skin will be deprived of the oils that keep your skin flexible and impervious to outside contamination). Small quantities are nothing to worry about, just don't get into the habit or it will hurt your skin.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You might want to add that some (admittedly, very small) portion of it actually does seep into through your skin. Back in the days of leaded gasoline it was quite a thing to worry about. $\endgroup$ Jun 4 '16 at 6:31
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, this is great information! Thanks a lot for your sharing of knowledge ;) and, p.s. don't worry; I don't intentionally pour the gas on my hand - it just falls on accident when trying to refuel :P $\endgroup$ Jun 5 '16 at 3:04

Gasoline is a mix of light hydrocarbons, and it is meant to vaporize quickly. In countries where winters are harsh, gasoline is even lighter than the one fabricated in warmer places; that is done to prevent the formation of hydrocarbon crystals in the gasoline (the temperature in which those crystals begin to form is called "cloud point"). Small amounts of gasoline evaporate fast on your hand because of your body's warmth and the large superficial area of the spill, but if you pour some amount of gasoline into a glass and leave it in contact with the air, there will be no more gasoline left after some time.

The "white residue" is your dry skin, because gasoline washes out your skin's natural oils.

You shouldn't be concerned about occasional gasoline spills on your skin as it doesn't penetrate too deeply into your body, but constant contact with the product may irritate your skin.


why doesn't it evaporate in the gasoline can?

It does. But the air in the can quickly gets saturated with gasoline vapors, and -- just like on a day with 100% humidity -- no more evaporates.


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