When you’re done with the propane tank that helped you fuel your cooking flair during your camping trip, you might wonder what you can do with it especially if it’s your first time.
Maybe you’ll just just throw it into a recycling bin once you get home, but that’s a bad idea.
Why shouldn’t you try to recycle propane tanks?
Propane tanks are usually not recyclable in curbside bins because they usually have very small amounts of gas in them and when compressed they will explode.
This can have devastating effects, such as causing a fire in the recycling facility, so recycling your propane canisters with the rest of your trash is never a good idea.
While you might be wondering what on earth to do with your empty propane tanks, luckily there are other solutions to keep them safe and prevent horrific consequences.
Can You Throw An Empty Propane Tank In The Trash?
Since you can’t toss your propane tank into the household recycling bin, your next thought might be to leave it out with the trash so that it will be picked up by the garbage collectors. But should you do this?
Although throwing a propane tank that still has some gas in it into the trash can be dangerous, it depends on the type of propane tank that you have. If it has a key that you insert into the tank to release all the gas inside it, this ensures that it won’t have trace amounts left inside and this enables you to safely put it in the garbage.
However, this can still be risky. Some claim that this is not a good idea because these tanks are considered to be hazardous waste, so you might want to rethink that option to be on the safe side or at least consult with your local trash collecting facility to find out what they will accept.
In some areas, disposing of empty propane tanks is illegal because it’s been said that they can still cause an explosion even if there’s no trace of fuel in them.
In other areas, municipalities will allow you to dispose of empty propane tanks, cylinders, and bottles in the household trash. They will, however, request that you follow some important rules.
These include emptying the tank properly, removing its regulator, and puncturing the tank so it can’t be pressurized again. This procedure can be difficult and potentially dangerous if you’ve never done it before, so it’s best to get it done by a professional, such as a propane supplier.
It’s always worth considering bringing your empty propane tank to a scrap metal recycling facility, if you have one in your area, and only consider throwing out the empty tank in the trash if that’s a last resort and if your municipality allows it.
Note: if your propane tank doesn’t have a key that you can use to release all of its gas properly and safely, you can release the gas yourself by following these steps.
First, connect the tank to your lantern or stove and then light it. Give it a chance to completely burn out so that any gas is released.
Check With Local Camping Shops
Did you know that some camping shops accept empty propane tanks for their recycling programs?
This is a fantastic way to breathe new life into empty propane tanks because what else are you going to do with them? It’s worth checking in with your local camping shop to find out if they accept and recycle empty propane containers.
If your camping shop can’t help you, then check with local gas stations or propane suppliers. It’s probably a good idea to collect empty propane tanks in the meantime so that you’ll have a lot to give them and this will make it worth your effort and time.
Wait, What About Refilling Your Propane Tank?
You don’t have to let your empty propane tanks go to waste. Why not just refill them with propane so that you can use them on your next adventure trip? This seems to make the most sense. But, it also comes with some important things you should know.
For starters, not any old tank can be refilled. If your tank has any dents, rust, or other damage on it, or it has expired, it’s best to avoid refilling it because it’s just not safe in these conditions. In some places, it might even be illegal to do so, so you really want to avoid that.
Another thing you should know is that if you have a single-use propane canister, you should never try to refill it. This can be dangerous because single-use cylinders are meant to be used only once (hence their name) and they can leak propane gas if they’re refilled.
Since propane is flammable it can explode, causing damage to the environment or hurting people.
Does Propane Tank Size Matter?
Sometimes what you do with the empty propane tank or cylinder really depends on its size.
If you have a large propane tank you want to dispose of, you should reach out to a licensed propane company like a local supplier of propane. They are equipped to remove any leftover gas from these tanks because they have special tools to do so. It’s also worth giving them larger tanks that could be reused in a safe way.
On the other hand, if you have a smaller tank your local household hazardous waste collection site could be able to help you dispose of it in the safest way. It will also be easier to go with this option because of the tank’s smaller size.
How Can You Tell If Your Propane Tank Is Almost Empty?
It’s not always easy to gauge how much propane you have left in the tank.
There are two methods that will help you get a good estimate of how much propane you’ve still got.
Use The Water Method
To use this method, you need to fill a container with hot water and pour it along the side of the propane tank. Slide your hand down the tank and feel for a cool spot.
The top of that cool spot tells you where the propane level is. This is because the propane absorbs the water’s heat and this makes the tank cool to the touch. The place above the fill line of the tank will be warm to the touch.
Weigh The Propane Tank
Another way you can get a good estimate of how much propane is left in the tank is by weighing the tank. You can use your bathroom scale for this one.
Now, the thing to know is that propane tanks weigh 18 pounds when they’re empty and approximately 35 pounds when they’re full, so you want to subtract 18 pounds from the total weight so that you will be able to guess how much propane is left in your tank. For example, if your propane tank weighs 30 pounds, that means it has 12 pounds left.
Once you have the weight of the tank in pounds, you can calculate how many cooking minutes you’ll have left. You can do this by multiplying the amount of pounds that are in the tank by 30 to get the amount of cooking time you will be able to get out of the tank.
Can you take your empty propane tanks to Walgreens?
There are many stores that will accept your empty propane tanks, such as Walgreens and Ace Hardware. They might allow you to trade them in or make use of the disposal programs they have in place.
How can you upcycle your empty propane tank?
If you’re feeling creative, you might want to upcycle your empty propane tank. You can do this in various ways, so check out this article on Hunker to get your creative juices flowing.
Propane comes in very handy when you’re on a camping trip, but what should you do when its tank is empty?
While you might think that refilling or recycling it is a good idea, this is sadly not always the best solution. As we’ve seen in this article on how to dispose of camping propane tanks, there are times when doing that can actually be dangerous.