Propane tanks are universal around campsites and outdoor grills, but knowing how to recycle them properly is critical.
Whether you’re a grillmaster or an RVer, we have all the details on refilling, maintaining, and recycling your propane tanks.
Let’s light it up!
The Details About Propane Tanks
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) make the majority of propane tanks in the country.
DOTs are portable fuel tanks that look like giant white tomatoes. You’ll typically find them on the back bumper of your towable RV. Backyard grillers often have one in the shed, ready for a summer barbeque.
DOT cylinders usually come in 20-pound or 33-pound tanks, each holding five gallons and eight gallons of propane, respectively. But you can also get large tanks ranging from 100 pounds to 1,000-gallon tanks.
That said, the majority of RV tanks will be under 100 pounds.
What Are Propane Tanks Made of?
Since propane gas is highly flammable, proper storage is essential. They’re designed with the necessary specifications to withstand changing temperatures, pressure, and other environmental conditions.
Some DOT cylinder models use aluminum or composite materials, as their smaller sizes open up more options for safe containment. But all propane tanks are designed to withstand transport and motion, and each is scrutinized before getting its approval stamp.
Should I Recycle or Refill My Propane Tank?
Propane tanks can be refilled many times before being recycled or disposed of. They’re designed for reuse, and your initial purchase includes a deposit on the tank.
It’s always a good idea to make sure you have enough propane in your tank or cylinder before you start cooking. Although picking it up is one way to find out, it’s not the best. And not everyone has a scale lying around.
So try the water test. Pour one cup of hot water down the side of the tank. Where the topmost part of the tank feels cold is where the propane level starts.
When your tank is empty enough to disconnect, bring it to a station for refill. Keep refilling it as long as it’s in good shape and relatively rust-free.
This means no significant dents or damage that could affect its ability to store propane safely.
But even if you have the best propane tank around, you’ll eventually need to recycle it. All tanks come with a production date stamped on their handle area, and federal law mandates that they must be recycled no later than 12 years from that date.
Where Can I Recycle My Old Propane Tank?
You can recycle used tanks and cylinders at propane exchange companies like Blue Rhino. Any local propane supplier should be able to recycle it or point you to a company that can.
Another option is to call your local public works department or hazardous waste disposal site. If you’re a New York resident, you can call 311. Some have even found information via online communities like a Facebook mutual aid group. It can’t hurt to ask!
Hardware stores with propane exchanges will also sell you a new tank and take your old one if it’s in decent shape. They’ll deduct the deposit from your total cost, which is nice.
No matter what method you choose, remember that you can’t recycle propane tanks with regular household waste. You could endanger lives by tossing them where they can be compressed and explode.
Where Can I Refill My Propane Tank?
Before you hand your propane tank over to recycling professionals, remember that refilling is better when possible. With proper care and a little luck, you could use one tank for up to twelve years. Here are some of the best spots to go for a refill.
Our favorite place to refill propane tanks is at a local gas station. The problem is that it can be a bit of a treasure hunt. But we like the challenge, especially when we’re exploring new territory.
Propane availability varies wildly by region. But big truck stop chains like Flying J and Pilot almost always have them.
RV Parks and Campgrounds
Some RV parks have propane refill stations that are highly convenient and save time. So although refilling your tank at a campground is more expensive, many people say it’s worth it.
Most places will note if they have refill stations on their website. However, you should call the office to confirm. Some spots may have the service even if it’s not listed. And if they do, they might have certain times of the day when a ranger comes by for tank refills.
It might surprise you that many local hardware stores have propane refill services. Although bigger retailers like Home Depot generally don’t, ACE Hardware usually does. And mom-and-pop shops typically have the best deals.
Once you find a supplier, ask whether they charge by the gallon or per refill. You want to avoid paying too much if your tank isn’t empty. Also, stores like Lowes and Walmart offer propane tank exchanges. Although this is less cost-effective, knowing where to go in a pinch is good.
Refill and Recycle Your Propane Tanks
Recycling old propane tanks is pretty straightforward, so don’t ever toss them out with the garbage. Find an exchange company or local hardware store that can help. But also make sure you use that tank as long as possible.
You can always print or bookmark this page for a handy reminder of the best places to refill or recycle your tanks!
Did you know: Can You Dispose of Used Motor Oil at Walmart?
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