Are Camping Propane Tanks Refillable? (Let’s Know This)

Are Camping Propane Tanks Refillable

Camping propane tanks has made powering your camping gear more effortless and inexpensive. 

Instead of getting the more expensive ones, you can buy camping propane tanks for the camping period. But what do you do when it becomes empty? Should you refill?

Camping propane tanks are refillable. You can refill them when they become empty, and many people usually do. However, filling disposable propane tanks is dangerous, as valve leaks can put you and others in your environment in danger. You can cause fires and explosions, which is why the U.S. Department of Transportation has declared the process unsafe and illegal.

In this article, you’ll learn why refilling disposable propane tanks is unsafe. Let’s get straight into it.

Is It Safe to Refill Camping Propane Tanks?

Are Camping Propane Tanks Refillable

Even though some internet users will tell you that camping propane tanks are refillable and safe, the United States Department of Transportation says otherwise.

The United States Department of Transport has expressly declared refilling camping propane tanks unsafe and illegal.

The manufacturers of propane tanks design them for one-time use only. After you are done using your propane tanks and they are empty, you should dispose of or recycle them. 

The propane gas could be leaking without your knowledge. The valves of propane tanks can become impaired after refills.

If that’s the case, and you light a fire when there’s a gas leak, you’ll cause fires and explosions. That is unsafe for you and those around you.

The manufacturer didn’t design the containers to tolerate the harsh conditions of emptying and refilling.

Therefore, the walls of the cylinder tank can get progressively weaker with each refill. That can also contribute to the hazard.

If caught, the penalty for filling empty propane tanks ranges between a fine of up to $500,000 and up to five years of imprisonment.

There have been previous incidents of propane gas fires and explosions caused by refilling empty propane tanks.

Propane is a highly flammable gas. You should keep your propane cylinder tanks away from open fires and other things that can create sparks, like phone devices.

Can You Refill Disposable Propane Tanks?

Yes. You can refill a disposable propane tank. However, the process is frowned upon by the U.S. Department of Transportation as being illegal and unsafe.

 The U.S. The Department of Transportation declared that the public should refrain from refilling disposable propane tanks.

That’s because of how potentially dangerous the process can be. There had been propane gas refills that resulted in gas fires and explosions because of a leaky valve.

Therefore, even though you can refill a disposable propane tank and save some money, it’s best to avoid it.

That’s because the valve may become deficient during the refill process, and you may not notice. 

Additionally, disposable propane tanks have weaker walls because of the nature of their design. 

They are easier to leak from the stress of repeated refills. That can lead to the leakage of gas, which can cause fires and explosions if you light a fire or there’s a spark from a phone.

That is not safe for you or those around you.

Some users claim that the process is safe and that they haven’t had any experiences with gas leaks before.

They may also tell you they have been refilling propane tanks for years without issues. But you have to be careful because you won’t know when the gas leaks will occur.

Furthermore, refilling disposable propane tanks is a crime that could land you in jail or cost you huge sums. So it’s best to avoid it altogether.

How to Refill Camping Propane Tanks?

Camping propane tanks are refillable, and because they are not biodegradable, they can be a nuisance to the environment. That is why some people refill their propane tanks.

People usually prefer disposable tanks because they are cheaper than refillable ones. It would be best if you filled the tank when it’s empty.

Here are the tools you need for the refilling:

Propane gas cylinder The empty gas cylinder to be refilled
Propane gas cylinder 20 poundsThe gas cylinder you’ll be transferring propane gas from
Propane refill adapterTo transfer propane gas from the bigger tank into the smaller disposable tank 
Safety glassNot generally needed, but it’s for safety reasons for your eyes.
Kitchen scaleWith gram/ounce measurement
Work glovesA good idea to use, but it’s not essential.

As a general precaution, you should refill outside your house, where there’s enough ventilation. Also, try to follow all the safety precautions provided by the manufacturers.

Confirm the levels of propane gas in your larger tank and ensure enough for the refill process. If the larger tank is low, you need to top it up first before beginning the refilling.

Look for any propane refill station nearby and refill the bigger tank before beginning.

Below is a step-by-step process for conducting an empty propane gas refill:

Step 1: Cross-Check the Condition of the Empty Disposable Propane Cylinder 

The first thing you need to do is examine the state of the disposable, empty cylinder. That ensures it’s still in good condition and the tank walls are not rusty or dusty.

Also, check the threads to ensure that they are working well. This step helps prevent gas leaks that you don’t want.

If the tank is not in a good state, don’t refill it. Empty the tank and discard them. It would be best only to fill propane cylinders in good physical condition.

Step 2: Chill the Empty Disposable Propane Tank

During refill, you transfer gas from the bigger tank to the smaller disposable tank through a pressure difference.

The higher pressure in the bigger tank will drive propane gas into the smaller disposable cylinder with a lower pressure until it is filled.

You can facilitate this refilling by leaving the larger cylinder full of propane in the sun so that the sun can warm it up.

That’ll raise internal pressure. Place the smaller disposable tank in a colder environment like a refrigerator, freezer, ice chest, or shade.

That lowers the internal pressure significantly. This way, the transfer is easier and faster to execute.

Step 3: Confirm the Weight of the Disposable Cylinder

This step ensures that you fill the smaller cylinder effectively. Confirming the weight of the cylinder helps you know how much gas you should have in the bottle.

Use the kitchen scale to check the weight.

Step 4: Thread the Adapter to the Larger Cylinder

The next step is to connect the adapter to the valve of the larger tank, which has left-handed threads. Tighten the adapter by turning it to the left. To get a tight fit, you can apply a wrench.

Step 5: Connect the Adapter to the Disposable Propane Tank

The next thing to do is screw the empty tank onto the adapter. Try not to cross-thread during the process.

Step 6: Invert the Connected Propane Gas Tanks

Since the two tanks are now connected through the adapter, invert the contraption and position it on a flat surface.

Step 7: Open the Valve of the Longer Cylinder

Keeping the whole system inverted, open the valve on the larger cylinder very slowly until you can hear the movement of propane.

Keep the system inverted to ensure that propane gas transfer is at its maximum during this process.

Step 8: Pay Attention to the Transfer to Stop the Refilling

You can know when to end the refilling by listening to the propane gas’s sound during the transfer.

The sound will stop when the pressure on the two cylinders is equal. That should be below one pound, which is within the safety limits.

Step 9: Turn Off the Valve of the Larger Cylinder Valve

When the sound of propane transfer has stopped, close the valve on the larger cylinder and turn the tanks.

Step 10: Disconnect the Adapter from Both Tanks

The next step is to remove the adapter from both tanks. After disconnecting the adapter from the disposable cylinder, safeguard the threads by replacing them with the plastic thread protector cap.

Step 11: Weigh the Disposable Refilled Tank

That is to confirm the propane level inside the tank to ensure you didn’t overfill the tank. The weight should be, at most, the maximum rated capacity of the disposable cylinder.

Subtract the previous weight from the new weight to get the net weight.

Josh Matthews

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