Gallons of stuff that cost more than gasoline

In response to Sarah Palin’s complaints about gas prices around four dollars per gallon, GOOD, in collaboration with Dylan Lathrop and Sara Saedi, takes a look at other things priced per gallon. They probably could’ve done more to show a sense of scale, but the list works fine here, too.

[GOOD via @stop]


  • I find it shocking that they’re complaining about it being $4 a gallon. In the UK its nearly $11! I’d say the world has to wake up and realize that oil is a finite substance but I’d be wasting my breath.

  • I’m not sure what the point of such a comparison is. I don’t think anyone expects to consume 1 gallon of, say, nail polish or shampoo in the same time frame/with comparable benefits of 1 gallon of gasoline. If you use one or two tablespoons of shampoo you have your hair clean for the rest of the day, I doubt that your car would move much from your garage (thus allowing you to do some practical stuff) using the same quantity of gasoline.
    But, given that I’m not American and I don’t live in US, maybe I’m missing something useful in this graph…

    • Gerard St. Croix March 22, 2011 at 12:42 am

      Your missing the US partisan bickering. And you don’t use ten gallons of nail polish a day? You’re obviously not in the coastal metrosexual target group for this thing, in that case. The loss, I’m sure, is all yours.

    • I completely agree Carmelo. Not nearly the same value proposition and I am not sure you could develop an apples to apples comparison in terms of utilization for nail polish and gas. It is also an economies of scale problem too. If we bought gas as often as we bought tide, I am sure it (gallon of gas) would be much more expensive too.

  • Indeed, at over $10 per gallon (nearly $12 in the Highlands) in the UK, you guys have got it easy! And yes, given how much fuel ones uses per week (say) compared to how much of any other liquid product, it’s not really a relevant comparison.

    I use about 55 litres of diesel a week (~£77) – Google tells me that’s about 12 gallons (~$132). No way do I use anywhere close to that much of any other liquid per week, unless you count water, which is a flat rate utility (in Scotland) anyway. Which at a rough estimate works out at about £2.50 ($4.08) a week.

    The only thing more expensive than commuting by car is commuting by public transport :D – the same trip would cost me about £125 that way ($204)!

    • Baloney. I used to commute from Southwark to St Albans every day, which currently costs about £5 each way. Commuting 20 miles in most US cities will cost you 4 bucks in gas and at least 4 bucks wear and tear (IRS tables)

      I’ve lived in the US and the UK. Petrol costs more in the UK, but TRAVELLING costs less. While not all the UK has the same transit service as London, almost all of it has some. I lived in a US metropolitan area of more than 1 million people, but the nearest bus service was more than 8 miles away and only ran express routes to the center of the city. The nearest supermarket, movie theater, fast food, was 5 miles away and unreachable without a car. The nearest medical facility (doc-in-a-box) was also 5 miles away. The nearest theaters, concerts, sport venues, library, hospitals and museums were 10 to 20 miles away, and only accessible by car. There are parts where you can’t even walk or bike just 10 to 20 miles because motor and waterways create another 5 mile detour.

      The rails still aren’t perfect in the UK, but you actually have them. You can get from almost any point A to any point B – at least within a few miles. Sometimes the schedules stinks, but you can do it. The only way to get from most MAJOR cities in the US is by plane or by car (and you need a car to get to the plane). Memphis to Little Rock is about 130 miles, or about the same as London to Lincoln. If you take the train, it’s 700 miles, takes 28 1/2 hours, including a switch to a bus, and you arrive at 3 AM. You can skip the bus and stay on the train for 1,200 miles through Chicago, eliminating a 14 hour layover in St Louis. The fare is $260. Driving will cost about $70, using IRS tables. The fare on East Midlands to Lincioln? 50 bucks.

      Even excluding the extra cost of time, travel in the UK is just plainly CHEAPER. Petrol costs a lot more, but that’s like saying eating costs a lot more in the US because biscuits in the UK cost about half what they do here (and we don’t even get Hob Nobs!)

      • Of course, the US has at least ten states larger than the entire United Kingdom. While one could expand public transport, it isn’t reasonable to assume the same solutions that work in on a group of islands work on half a continent. That said, gas in the US needs to get more expensive. Another interesting analysis would be the cost of gas on an inflation-adjusted basis.

  • A pity they didn’t include printer ink – in the UK you can (if you wish) pay £12 for a 9ml inkjet cartridge, which I think works out at around $8000/gallon.

  • I agree with the consumption comparison failure. However one might be able to get somewhat around it by looking at the cost of buying in a standard say 20-40 gallons of the item. At that point I am fairly sure that stuff like Coke, Milk, and likely many others fall closer or below the cost of gas.

  • Where is milk $6.04/gallon? Unless it’s some crazy organic milk it’s probably more like $4/gallon in the American midwest.

    • Where the heck is milk even $4 a gallon? I bought a gallon of 2% at Aldi in Dallas just this weekend for $1.19. I bought a gallon of whole milk at Wal-Mart for, I think, $1.89. (I have seen it as high as $4, but $6? Come one, that doesn’t pass the smell test.)

      Also, $7.68 for orange juice? Not buying it.

  • to the best of my knowledge the most expensive liquid commodity is bovine sperm. a half-mililiter straw of a top bull semen will retail for $200, which puts the gallon at approx $1.5m.
    then again, it’s probably a good thing that GOOD omit to represent a gallon of that on their page.

  • Brian Burke March 22, 2011 at 6:03 am

    I always dislike graphs like this because they are eye-catching and sound interesting, but when you look closer, they’re pointless. First of all, no one is spending 6 bucks on milk. And the nail polish? A gallon would be enough for a dozen women for several lifetimes. Compare it to something similar in usefulness and for lack of a better term, shelf life.

  • +1 for printer ink. It’s probably the most expensive liquid substance of all.

    In Brazil it’s around US$ 20 for a 9ml cartridge for my printer. Of course that varies a lot.

    This goes for US$ 8 412 / gallon

    • Renato Rocha March 22, 2011 at 6:39 am

      I guess “Super Bonder” surpasses even printer ink in terms of price. But will not make the calculations here…

  • Gary Rasmussen March 22, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Am surprised that so far has noted that this is like comparing Apples and Oranges, or maybe Apple juice and Orange juice.

    It seems to me the price of gasoline in the U.S. is being manipulated by speculators. It clearly does not reflect only actual supply and demand.

  • I think that this would be more effective if it was one gallon of gas to (for example) a little more than a half gallon of milk.

    More perspective, because, like comments before mine, no one buys that much nail polish.

  • It might be more interesting to see price relative to a realistic rate of consumption. I’m thinking about how much gas someone burns per week commuting versus one week of Starbucks coffee.

  • Glad that I’m not the only one that found this a useless comparison. How many gallons of hand sanitizer do I use in a month? Only a fraction of my gasoline usage.

  • Frank "Grayhawk" Huminski March 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Here’s a fun one for comparison: Mylicon (gas relief drops for infants) 16.95/.5 oz on Amazon, which works out to $433,920/gallon.

  • I’d like to see this normalized. Cost per day, cost per use, percentage of income/expenses – there are myriad better, more useful comparisons that could be made.

    Sure, nail-polish is $1,024/gal, but I’ll bet it’s less that one-hundredth of a percent of a normal person’s annual expenses.

  • This is misleading. The price of gas isn’t a trivial thing. It’s not just about the price to fillup your car. If you doubt the impact of a rise in gas prices, see what the price of rice did in Tunisia. See the recent economic recession.

    70-80% of gas is used as transport fuel…diesel and jet fuel to support the worlds economy. All of that stuff gets even more expensive when gas prices go up. Also, food. Especially food. A volcano in europe delaying planes for a month was nine days off of causing food shortages in europe.

  • Where do they do their shopping. I can buy a 2 liter bottle of coke for $0.99 on sale or about $1.50 at regular price!

    I also pay about $3.25/ gallon for milk in Iowa!
    OJ doesn’t cost $7 per gallon! $3.50-4.50 in Iowa!

  • Before you continue bashing the graph, note their source is Casey’s Pub Downtown L.A. I go to them for all my raw data and think they are spot on with these prices.