Can You Recycle Helium Tanks

Can You Recycle Helium Tanks?

Whether it’s a party or a special event, helium balloons add more color and joy to the occasion. Helium being lighter than air rises high in the air. While you can buy pre-filled helium balloons from the store, there is nothing more convenient than using your own helium tanks for blowing up balloons whenever you need them.

Can You Recycle Helium Tanks?
Can You Recycle Helium Tanks?

Helium tanks are recyclable. Since they are made out of metal, they can be recycled with other metals by a metal recycler. However, care has to be taken to make sure that the helium tanks are prepared properly before recycling. A few steps can ensure that you’re confident to drop your helium tanks at your metal or local recycling center.

In addition to the use of helium in balloons, you can find it used in MRI machines in hospitals, cryogenics, and quantum mechanics research. As helium gas is pressurized and contained in helium tanks, it is advised that you be careful in handling these tanks as improper handling can lead to disastrous consequences that can result in personal injury and even death. With proper preparation for recycling, you can give these tanks a new life as a useful metal product.

How to Recycle Helium Tanks

Helium tanks that are completely empty can be recycled and taken in by your local recycling center. However, you will have to take a few important steps to be sure that the helium tanks are indeed empty before giving it away for recycling. This is to ensure the safety of you as well as the safety of sanitation workers who will handle these helium tanks during the process of recycling.

We will go through the steps to understand how to properly prepare helium tanks for recycling so that you can be sure that it is safe to be handled.

Ensure the following items are available before you prepare your tanks for recycling,

  1. Hammer
  2. Flat-head Screwdriver
  3. Protective Gloves
  4. Protective Eyewear
  5. Permanent Marker
  6. Pliers (optional)

Once you’ve ensured the availability of these items, you can go ahead with the steps for recycling helium tanks.

Step 1: Open the Valve Handle

Take your helium tank to a well-ventilated area. The reason we want to do this is to have a lot of clean air so that you do not breathe in helium, if any, left in the tank as you empty the tank. Once you’re in an area with good ventilation, open the valve handle on the helium tank fully by turning it in the counter-clockwise direction until it stops.

How Long Will Helium Last If We Keep Using It?

Helium is being consumed at a rapid rate. If we continue to consume it at the levels that we currently are, we may run out of helium in 25-30 years.

Step 2: Press Down on the Tilt-Nozzle

Press down and hold the tilt-nozzle until the tank is empty. You can hear the pressure discharging from the nozzle. When you no longer feel any pressure and sound from the nozzle, you can be sure that the tank is empty.

Step 3: Remove the Tilt-Nozzle

After you’re sure that the tank is empty, you can unscrew the tilt-nozzle and remove it. You can remove the tilt-nozzle with your hand.

How Much Helium Is Exported From The United States?

The U.S. exported 83 million cubic meters of helium in 2019 and the trend continues to increase.

Step 4: Rupture Disc on Tank

You will have to wear safety gloves and eyewear before rupturing the disc on the shoulder of the tank. Take the flat-head screwdriver and place it on the top of the disc. Use the hammer to lightly tap the screwdriver so that it ruptures the disc. Make sure you completely open the disc and use your gloved hands to pry the disc off.

Step 5: Circle and Mark the Tank

Take the permanent marker and draw a circle around the opened disc and write “EMPTY” near it. This will be a clear indication to the sanitation workers who handle your tank to know that the tank has been emptied and does not have any helium gas in it.

Step 6: Drop at Recycling Center or Curbside Bin

You can drop the empty helium tank at your local recycling center once you’ve got a confirmation that they will accept your tank. In case you have a recycling pick-up service, you can drop the empty tank in the curbside bin from where the workers can safely take the tank and recycle it. If the local recycling program doesn’t accept helium tanks, you can get in touch with the local metal recycler to recycle your metal tank.

The empty helium tanks can be recycled with other metals and be back to use again as a useful product. If you’ve followed the steps to prepare your tanks properly, you can be rest assured that they will be recycled and be given a new life.

Is Helium Bad For The Environment?

Helium is an inert, naturally occurring, gas. It doesn’t directly affect the atmosphere and is so light that it continues to rise in the atmosphere until it eventually leaches out into space.

Where You Can Recycle Helium Tanks

When it comes to recycling helium tanks, they are accepted by local recycling centers and metal recyclers. Since the tanks are made out of metals, they have recycling value and are readily taken in.

It is, however, advised to get in touch with your curbside recycling program to get to know if they will accept your empty helium tanks. Since the tanks contain pressurized gas, like propane tanks, your recycler will want you to ensure they are empty.

Local Recycling Centers

The local recycling program will accept your empty tanks. They might ask you to ensure that the tanks are empty before dropping them at the center or availing a pick-up facility.

Your helium tanks may be classified as household hazardous products or metal products for recycling. You can get more information from the local recycling center.

Note that the recycling center rules in your municipality might be different from others. Hence, it is recommended to get to know about them from the recycling center.

Metal Recyclers

In case your local recycling program does not accept your helium tanks, you have the option of taking the tanks to your local metal recyclers who will recycle them. The metal used in the helium tanks can be used with other metals in the metal recycling process.

Contact your local metal recycler to know about metal recycling for helium tanks.

Repurposing Helium Tanks

There are a lot of interesting options for repurposing helium tanks that you might consider to give a new purpose for the tanks.

Before you consider repurposing, see if there is a way for you to reuse the helium tanks. The store from where you’ve picked the helium tanks might have the option to refill the tanks with helium so that you can reuse them again.

If you still want to go ahead with repurposing, we’ve got some good ideas that you can take inspiration from to convert your empty helium tanks to serve another useful purpose.

DIY Halloween Pumpkin Tank

The shape of the helium tanks makes it a perfect fit to sit beside pumpkins with Halloween art on it. Be it if you’re looking to create a spooky and scary art on the tank or one that complements and accentuates your Halloween set up, you will not be disappointed with what you can do with an empty helium tank.

You can cut the tank to create a jack-o’-lantern and cut a little door at the back with a hinge to put in a candle. The design inspiration for your metal carving lies with you. There are so many ideas to choose from and you can pick an appropriate carving that best exemplifies what you want to achieve with the Halloween set up.

Since the helium tank can last for years, you can reuse the Halloween pumpkin tanks for each Halloween. Besides adding a whole new look to your Halloween, you’ll get noticed for your thoughtful creativity.

Minion Helium Tanks

You can have your own army of minions to watch your back. All you need are empty helium tanks and a few items to create your little army. For each minion helium tank, you will need a pair of toddler shoes, 2 tin cans, epoxy glue, masking tape, and paint.

Some tools needed for the creation are a small grinder to cut the metal, tin snips, and a hammer. You can begin by using the grinder to cut the helium tank close to the base of its handles. This will allow you to bend the handle a little bit, which will then be perfect to put on the toddler shoes.

Once you have the toddler shoes on, you can place the little minion in the making on its shoes and use the tin cans to create its spectacles. Once you’ve found the right place to fit the goggles, use the epoxy glue to set them in place.

After this is done, use the masking tape to tape the goggles. Now, you can begin to paint the body of the minion. You can sand and prime the tank before beginning to paint. Bring your yellow buddy to life with paint colors. Your creativity will come to the fore here to give the finishing look to the little minion.

Now, you have a little minion. You can go ahead and create a team of them or if you love, even an army of little minions with your empty helium tanks.

You have a lot more DIY options when it comes to repurposing your helium tanks. Get some inspiration from Pinterest and begin repurposing your tanks.