Quick Guide to Handle and Store DEF Correctly


As a business owner of a company that utilizes large machinery, you purchase, handle, and store large quantities of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) from reputable DEF suppliers. It’s vital that both you, and your employees, have a clear understanding of the requirements and safe handling practices involved when working with DEF.


The Facts

  • Diesel Exhaust Fluid isn’t inherently a hazardous compound when used and stored properly.
  • Diesel Exhaust Fluid has a shelf-life of up to two-years when conditions are right.
  • You must purchase from a trustworthy company that only uses approved DEF containers and valves.

The Delivery

Upon delivery do a 360-degree inspection of the containers.

  • Are they made of carbon steel or any alloys that contain trace amounts of copper or zinc? If so, refuse them and send them back to the def manufacturers. DEF cannot be stored in these materials.
  • Are they clean after transport?
  • Are the closed loop valve-seals intact?
  • Is the date stamp within calendar limits?

The Location

DEF containers protect the fluid they carry, but how you choose to store these vessels until you use it matters a great deal. External factors can degrade the diesel fluid. If you have contaminated DEF, it becomes unusable.

  • Choose a cool, dry space to store DEF containers.
  • To an extent, DEF is temperature resistant. Optimal temperature for maximum shelf-life falls in the window of 12-degrees to 77-degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures outside of these parameters won’t necessarily affect the quality of the fluid, but will affect shelf-longevity.

Interacting with DEF

  • Because DEF is a non-hazardous material, your workers do not need any specialized protective wear when handling it.
  • Never add any forms of matter, either solid or liquid, to the containers.
  • Designate pumps for use only with the DEF containers. Do not use them for transporting any other fluids. Cross-contamination can happen easily. If you need these supplies, contact your DEF distributors.
  • Use only water that’s been deionized to clean DEF pumps, containers, and equipment.
  • Use a single or dual-scale refractometer if you’re unsure if the DEF has been contaminated. It measures purity by assessing the percentage of water dilution (single scale) and the refractive-urea index (dual-scale).

You have many choices of DEF suppliers. Choose one with a long-history of delivering high-quality product in standard-approved containers. Store them properly and you’ll have two years’ worth of diesel exhaust fluid to use in large machinery.