Propane is a highly flammable gas, so it is crucial to empty all traces of propane from a tank once the levels run too low to use. Emptying propane tanks ensures safer transport and storage until they are refilled with propane gas. In this article, we’ll peruse the entire process of how to empty a propane tank. Let’s dive in!

When and Why Do I Need to Empty a Propane Tank?

Propane gas is commonly used as fuel for heating systems and power forklift trucks. Some people feel it safer to empty traces of propane when the levels are reduced below productivity. You may empty your propane tank for safe transport or proper tank disposal.

Propane is a type of gas that is highly flammable; thus, if not genuinely empty, propane fumes are prone to explosions, causing severe damage and death. When traveling or transporting propane tanks, you may be required to prove that your propane gas tanks are entirely empty and un-pressurized. Some of the reasons that may require you to empty your propane tank include:

  • The possibility of your propane tank is damaged, hence requiring disposal.
  • Scenarios prohibiting full gas tanks include shipping rules requiring empty tanks to be tagged and certified as “gas-free.”
  • When your recreational vehicle (RV) is going for service or being transported, your propane tank needs to be empty.

What Should I Know Before Emptying a Propane Tank?

As much as the entire process of emptying the propane tank takes a few minutes to complete, it is imperative to be extra careful when emptying.

Precautionary measures

Emptying a propane tank can be costly; thus, it should be handled with the utmost care and safety. Propane gas has the potential to explode if not handled carefully. Compressed propane gas is usually invisible and heavier than air.

It’s safer to burn or transfer propane gas rather than release it into the atmosphere. Here are instructions to observe and avoid when emptying propane cylinders;

  • Don’t disconnect the gas cylinder from the plumbing gas line/ piece of equipment attached to it.
  • Don’t bring the propane tank to an outdoor location in open surroundings. When the gas is drained in an open-air location, you can’t see where the gas is settling.
  • Don’t invert the propane cylinder. Don’t rest the gas tank by facing the bottom upwards and the handles facing the ground.
  • Don’t open the valve to allow propane gas to flow out. Propane gas can flow and travel long distances to settle in low points. In such a case, the gas forms a pool of invisible explosive gas that can lead to a fatal explosion.
  • Don’t close the valve.

Safety Precautions for Storing Propane Tanks

It is always essential to follow the stipulated guidelines when using and storing propane tanks. Some of the safety precaution measures by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) include;

  • Store unused propane tanks in open-air storage containers. Propane gas is heavier than air; hence, it doesn’t easily escape from the cylinder.
  • Position the grill gas cylinders upright.
  • Never keep propane tanks in the garage (empty or full).
  • Use the propane gas cylinders in the proper orientation.
  • Inspect the requalification date on the collar of the tank prior to refueling. Exchange the tank if the requalification date has expired.
  • Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when disconnecting or reconnecting cylinders.

How Much Does an Empty Propane Tank Weigh?

Most propane cylinders have an accumulative weight of 17 pounds when empty. The tank can hold about 20 pounds of propane. You can use a fuel gauge to determine how much propane gas is in a cylinder.

Ideally, by weighing the propane cylinders, you can tell how much empty liquid and residual vapor fumes there are in a given tank. A full propane tank weighs about 37 pounds. Weigh the propane tank on a scale, then minus the TW number to know how empty your cylinder is.

How to Empty Propane Tank Safely: Step-by-Step Instruction

Whenever you want to empty your propane tank, you can opt to burn the gas off or transfer it to a different cylinder.

How to Burn Propane from a Cylinder

Burning propane gas is safer because you can see and know where the gas is. You can either take the propane tank to a propane professional or empty the propane tank yourself. Follow the procedure as indicated below;

  1. Hook the propane tank to a propane burning appliance
  2. Ensure the appliance has a visible flame, or use your recreational vehicle’s propane heater.
  3. Light the burning appliance and allow it to burn until the flame is out or the gas cylinder runs out of gas
  4. Let the propane professional verify emptiness. Once the propane tank is empty, tiny bits of propane vapor are still available in the tank. Thus, don’t remove the tank valve yourself; instead, allow a professional to inspect whether all the explosive vapors are purged out.

On the other hand, propane professionals will organize the cylinders to burn the gas completely off. Using hose attachments, the professionals connect the propane tank with an extension of a sizeable propane-burning appliance. The large patio burners take a lot of gas to power, thus burning off the propane as quickly as possible. The propane professionals may use the empty tanks for inert nitrogen gas.

Transferring Propane Gas from a Tank

You can safely empty a propane tank by transferring the gas to another tank. Use the available propane gas to refill propane cylinders for your camping equipment. The simple refilling procedure is as follows;

  1. Check the condition of the gas cylinder to transfer to (1 lb. cylinder)
  2. Chill the empty propane gas cylinder to facilitate adequate propane transfer
  3. Weigh the empty propane cylinder to know its initial weight before filling
  4. Thread the propane refill adapter into the valve of the larger propane tank to be emptied. Use a wrench to snug the adapter firmly.
  5. Connect the empty propane tank to the propane refill adapter. Then, invert the connected propane tanks to ensure maximum liquid transfer.
  6. Open the valve of the larger propane tank until sounds of gas transfer are audibly taking place.
  7. Listen for sound transfer as it stops. Then turn off the valve of the propane tank being emptied.
  8. Turn the propane tanks right-side up and remove them from the adapter.
  9. Weigh the newly transferred propane gas tank to ensure it’s within the rated capacity of the cylinder

How to Empty Propane Tank for Welding

Step 1: Disconnect the tank

Remove any hose connections and attachments. Then, close the valve. Remember to wear gloves when disconnecting full tanks.

Step 2: Take the propane tank into an open space

Take the cylinder away from humans and trees prior to opening the valve. Propane is toxic to greenery; hence, find an open-air location that allows dissipation as the gas escapes.

Step 3: Tilt the cylinder sideways

Tilting the propane tank to the side where the valve opens allows optimization and manageability of the released gas.

Step 4: Inspect for gas remnants.

Connect the propane tank to your grill and check for any remnants upon releasing the gas entirely. Light up the grill to use any remaining flammable chemicals left.

Step 5: Shut the valve

Propane odor is just as fatal as the gas itself. Thus, you need to close the valve to deter the scent from getting into contact with potential fire agents.

Step 6: Remove the top

Remove the handles from the head of the tank.

Step 7: Re-check for any propane vapor.

Reopen the plug to check for any sound of gas escaping. Cutting open a propane tank with traces of propane can be deadly.

Step 8: Remove the valve

Take out the valve by breaking it loose using a hammer. Twist the hit valve to disintegrate.

Step 9: Leave the tank inverted

Invert the propane tank overnight, and don’t cover the opening.

Step 10: Wash the propane cylinder

Use liquid soap and water to fill up the cylinder to remove all gas traces and odor. Shake the washing agents until they are well combined. Rinse twice to get rid of all the soap. Alternatively, use dry ice to eliminate all traces of propane.

How to Release Propane from a Tank (For Propane Professionals)

Although it is not recommended to release propane gas into the atmosphere, you can find a secure outdoor space away from flammable substances. You can quickly release the gas from the tank by attaching a release valve to the tank. Steps to follow include;

  1. Disconnect the propane cylinder from the existing attachments and hoses. Then take the cylinder to an outdoor location.
  2. Attach the propane release valve at the end of the propane cylinder’s OPD valve. Fasten to secure the release valve by turning in a clockwise direction.
  3. Wear a pair of leather gloves to protect against propane gas
  4. Strategically position the tank so that the valve points sideways. Then, activate the release valve by pressing and holding the release button.
  5. Listen as the gas escapes from the release valve. Let the gas escape until you can no longer hear any gas being released. The propane tank is now empty.

Conclusion

Propane gas can be fatal if poorly handled when emptying the tanks. Thus, comprehending how to empty a propane tank ensures safety during transport and storage. Never release propane gas into the atmosphere. Rather always burn it off or transfer it into another cylinder. That’s a wrap, and we hope the guide was helpful!