If you’ve ever gone camping or fired up the grill for a family cookout, it’s pretty likely that you have some old propane cylinders laying around that you aren’t quite sure what to do with.
Your first instinct might be to toss it in the garbage can or recycling bin and call it a day, but since old propane tanks can have some dangerous leftover propane in them, most standard recycling facilities won’t take your propane tanks.
In general, to dispose of 1 pound propane cylinders, attach the cylinder to an appliance. Turn on the appliance and light the burner in a well ventilated outdoor area. Run the appliance until the flame is completely extinguished then turn the empty cylinder into your local household hazardous waste collection site.
Instead of throwing it out, check out your local options to recycle your propane tank. Alternatively, if the tank is too damaged to get recycled, there are some different steps you can follow to dispose of it safely.
If you want to keep your propane tank instead of getting rid of it, some tanks can actually be refilled. Although most 1-pound tanks can’t be refilled, check with the manufacturer of the tank to see if it can be safely refilled. If it can, bring the tank to a propane supplier and they will be able to fill it for you.
Your best bet to get rid of old propane tanks (as long as they’re still usable!) is to get in touch with someone local who sells propane. Whether you check at a major retailer like Home Depot or Lowe’s, or with someone at a smaller operation, they should be able to point you in the direction of a specialized recycling facility that’s equipped to take care of your empty propane tank. You can also contact a hazardous waste disposal site directly, or you can try to get in touch with the local public works department to see if they can help you recycle your propane tank.
If you have a really old propane tank that you don’t think could be reused, there are some different steps to follow than if you needed to recycle it. Like before, you should still check with your local propane supplier to see if they can take care of it. Most propane suppliers can dispose of 1-pound propane tanks with specialized tools to keep them safe.
In the worst case, if you can’t find a propane supplier or a local agency that can dispose of your propane tank, check the rules of your garbage disposal service. If your propane tank is empty, some services will allow you to dispose of your tank with the rest of your normal household trash.
If you do this, make sure you stay safe and follow these steps:
- Make sure the tank is completely empty.
- Remove the regulator from the top of the tank. The regulator is the metal piece with a dial that you use to control the amount of propane coming from the tank.
- Put a hole in your propane tank so that it can’t be repressurized.
Since there are flammable chemicals involved and with the possibility of hurting yourself when you puncture the propane tank, disposing of your own propane tank is a risk that you should try to avoid. If you have no other option, take all of the necessary precautions, and follow the guidelines carefully. The best way to get rid of a propane tank is always to contact a professional who has the equipment to handle the tank safely so that nobody gets hurt.
Remember, it is illegal to throw pressurized gas tanks in the trash in almost all areas. If recycling is not an option in your area, make sure that the tank is completely empty before you throw it away!
When in doubt about how to handle your old propane tank, your best and safest bet is to check with a propane supplier. They’ll be able to help you regardless of if you want to recycle your tank or reuse later on.