How To Dispose Of Camping Propane Tanks

The camping trip has come to an end and you are wondering what to do with the propane tank? We all agree, it served you pretty well during your escapade but now you have to get rid of it. But how do you dispose of camping propane tanks?

You might be thinking of throwing it in your community recycling bin back at the estate, which might not sit very well with the neighbors.

Why shouldn’t we dispose of propane tanks as we do with every other kind of waste? When we use these tanks, we rarely exhaust the gas in them and when crushed in the recycling factories, these rather small tanks can cause explosions.

 This can cause harm to the factory workers or result in fires. Do not treat these gas tanks like any other kind of waste.

To effectively handle empty propane tanks, there are a few aspects about them we need to understand.

How Long Does A Camping Propane Tank Last?

Propane tanks are used mainly for grills and water heaters. Some manufacturers call them DOT tanks. They carry around 20lbs to 100lbs with the length of activity heavily dependent on the grill size and frequency of use.

Researchers however state that for every meal cooked on high heat, a medium-sized grill will expend around 2 pounds of fuel. With this math, a 20lb tank will have around 19 hours of life on a medium-sized grill. Larger grills might burn through the same tank in under 9 hours.

How can you tell your propane tank is almost empty?

Gauging the exact amount of propane left might not be easy but with a few methods, you can get a rough idea. You wouldn’t want the thing running out with the food still raw.

  • You Can Use The Water Method

The method is pretty simple and all you need is some hot water. Splash the tank with the water and wet it all up. Now, slide your hand along its side and try to feel for the cool spot.

This method works because propane absorbs the water’s heat leaving the surface cool. The top of the cool area is the propane’s level. The area above this cool spot will still be warm.

  • Weight The Propane Tank

Weight is an effective method to estimate the amount of propane left. You can use any scale you can find, providing it is credible and accurate.

The point worth noting is the empty tank’s weight compared with the full tank’s weight. In normal situations, the empty propane tank will be around 18 pounds and 35 pounds when full. You can subtract the empty tank’s weight from the total weight to get the propane’s weight.

If the tank weighs 30 pounds, you can subtract 18 pounds to get the propane’s weight to get 12 pounds.

With this figure, you can estimate the amount of life your tank has left. There are several formulas to calculate the cooking minutes your tank has left.

How To Dispose Of It After Camping

Propane tanks are a special kind of waste that needs to be managed carefully. Since the recycling bin is out of the question, what shall you do about your tank?

  • You Can Offer Them To Camping Shops

These shops run recycling programs that cater to all camping waste. They would be more than glad to take the tank. This can be a great way to do something worthwhile with empty tanks which you do not need. They will find ways to put the DOTs to good use.

Propane suppliers and gas stations also accept empty propane tanks. Communicate with your local camping shop or gas station manager. If you like you can collect others from friends and deliver them all together so you don’t make the trip all because of one tank.

They might or might not pay for the tanks but they will get them off your back.

  • The Manufacture

Have you thought of returning the tanks to the propane manufacturer for reusing? This might seem like a big leap but they would never turn their customer away. They are the best persons to handle this waste because aside from creating it, they have the machinery to safely recycle it.

The only downside with this idea would be the fact that manufacturers deal in large tanks which suppliers break down and avail to us in DOTs. Find this out before making the trip.

  • Local Hazardous Waste Management Facility

If the manufacturer will not take the tank, you can deliver them to your local hazardous waste management facility. Not all areas have these faculties but you can always utilize one in another area.

  • Refilling The Tanks

As we talk about delivering the tanks to facilities and entities for reusing, have you thought about reusing the tanks yourself?. There are refill options for propane tanks and since trips never seize, you can always use them on the next trip just like water containers.

This might be the best idea you have heard so far but it might not work in all instances.

There are some things about these tanks you need to understand.

The first is that not all tanks are reusable. If the tank is dented or rusted, don’t refill it with gas. These leaks might be disastrous if exposed to heat sources.

A credible refill station will advise you on the effects of refilling damaged or expired propane tanks. In some areas it is illegal and no refill station will accept your tank.

The other rather obvious thing about tanks you must understand is that single-use tanks cannot be reused. As the name suggests, these tanks are meant to be used only once, and refilling them can be dangerous. They might receive the gas but you can expect leaks afterward.

A Leaking gas tank is the last thing you want in your house.

Can You Throw Empty Propane Tanks In The Trash?

Dumping propane tanks in the recycle bin is not safe; the most obvious second option is the trash can. The question is, is it safe?

Throwing it there with some gas left might be unsafe. There are however some tanks that can be emptied of all the residual gas before disposal, these are safe. They come with a feature that lets you release all the gas left before any form of disposal.

Some experts discredit this method claiming that despite the release of the residual gas, the tanks are themselves hazardous waste. They recommend responsible management of not only the gas but the tanks too.

Disposing of your propane tank might seem like an easy throw-away job but the safety and environmental threat you pose should have you thinking twice. The law might not dictate how you dispose of your tank but you should take the initiative to be responsible about it.

You can utilize multiple methods to rid yourself of these tanks and still conserve the environment.