How to Dispose of an Empty Propane Tank?

Two propane white canisters against brick wall.

For any avid camper or someone who frequently grills, propane tanks are great resources that make these things easier. But not everyone who uses these tanks know what to do with them after they seemingly have run out of propane. So, what is the safe way to dispose of an empty propane tank?

Empty propane tanks can be disposed of through a licensed propane company or by recycling them. Disposing of propane tanks can be dangerous, so it is best to leave the actual disposal to professionals. Tanks can be recycled through licensed propane companies or even reused.

There is a lot of information that can be found when researching the best ways to dispose of an empty propane tank. After going through a lot of this information, a compilation of the most relevant information has been created.

Safe Disposal of an Empty Propane Tank

It is important to safely and properly dispose of empty propane tanks. The ways in which you dispose of propane tanks will depend on the local regulations. In some areas, it is possible to dispose of empty propane tanks with the rest of your household trash.

Propane tanks are considered hazardous waste, so it is important to check with local officials to learn the regulations of your specific location.

In many areas where local regulations do not allow an individual to dispose of a propane tank in their household garbage, it has to be done through a licensed propane company. These companies have the resources to safely dispose of these tanks without the risks and dangers that accompany the disposal process. (Source)

Things to Avoid when Disposing of an Empty Propane Tank

It is important to never try to pierce the canister or tank yourself. This can be extremely dangerous and should only be done by someone who is qualified to do so. While some chose to depressurize these mental containers and allow the excess gas to be released by puncturing the tank, this is something that should be done very cautiously.

It is important to never put the empty propane tank into a fire. While you assume this tank is empty, it is rarely completely empty. Placing a tank with even a small amount of propane remaining in a fire can result in an explosion and will cause someone to get hurt.

It is also important to be aware of your surroundings. If you have decided to attempt to empty the remaining gases and depressurize the tank on your own, it is important to make sure you are not near anyone else or anything that could potentially get damaged. Make sure to review the risks and dangers that accompany trying to completely empty and depressurize these tanks on your one. In many cases, it is safest to allow professionals to empty these tanks.

Recycling an Empty Propane Tank

Many local recycling plants will not accept empty propane tanks. This is due to the fact that many “empty” tanks still have some amount of propane remaining. These recycling plants do not want to risk the safety of their employees by attempting to recycle these tanks. It is important to be aware of the potential risks and dangers that accompany recycling empty propane tanks. These risks are very similar to the risks of disposing of propane tanks.

In order for a propane tank to be recycled, it needs to be depressurized and completely emptied of any remaining hazardous gas.

Despite local recycling plants being unable to accept empty propane tanks, it is still possible to recycle them. Many licensed propane companies will come and pick up empty propane tanks that are still in good condition and recycle them. These companies are certified to handle these tanks, which reduces the risk of danger and allows them to reuse to metal these containers are made of. (Source)

Other Uses for Empty Propane Tanks

Rust orange LPG or propane tank

Some people choose to use completely empty propane tanks for target practice, but that is not a good idea. The gas residue could still be in the propane tank. When a bullet hits the metal propane tank, sparks will appear. If there is still gas residue in the canister, there will be an explosion or fire. However, it is still something that you can do with an empty propane tank. (Source)

Another option for repurposing old empty propane tanks is turning them into yard art. It is important that before turning these empty canisters into art, you make sure that there is not any remaining gas inside. Once this has been completely emptied, it can be various art pieces for the yard. Some ideas for repurposed propane tank art include birdbaths, compost bins, and birdhouses. (Source)

A larger empty propane tank can be converted into a meat smoker. After the canister has been cut, it is important to make sure that it is completely cleaned out to avoid contaminating the food cooked on the smoker. This can be done by filling the tank with detergent and water. Continue putting water through it until it eventually comes out clear. It is recommended to burn wood in it for a few hours after cleaning out the remaining propane to guarantee that the detergent doesn’t affect the taste of your meat.

Alternatives to a Disposable Propane Tank

There are two types of propane tanks. There is the traditional disposable one-use propane tank that many individuals are familiar with. However, there is an alternative to this. There are refillable propane tanks that can be used multiple times. Rather than only being able to use a tank once and then having to discard the empty tank, the refillable tanks allow for individuals to reuse the tanks many times as long as they remain in good condition. My dad uses these propane tanks, and they are extremely useful.

By using refillable propane cylinders, you are reducing the amount of waste that accompanies the use of one-time-use propane tanks. By deciding to switch to refillable propane tanks, there becomes fewer risks involved because the need to dispose of the tank is not as frequent. Also, it is typically cheaper to refill a propane tank than it is to purchase a new one.

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