How To Properly Dispose Of Propane Tanks

An image of a rusty propane tank in a field.

Table of Contents

Take a typical case whereby you’ve realized that your propane tank has expired and needs to be replaced. How do you discard it? Do you just dump it into a landfill, or are there some safety measures you must undertake before casting it away? 

If you’re in for this, we got you covered. A propane tank is essentially highly flammable. Because even when it’s empty, it could have some gas residues. Hence, you must undertake immense caution lest you create a significant fire hazard. 

Nonetheless, portable propane cylinders are very environment-friendly. The tanks can also last over 20 years with professional inspection and maintenance. But when you realize that your tank has run its course, you must be careful how you dispose of it. 

Would you like to save money on your propane costs? If so, you’re in the right place! Click here to get 100% free, no obligation quotes from propane dealers in your area.

Here, we’ll guide you on how to dispose of a propane tank if it’s old or broken. But you must understand that disposing of a propane canister may be more complex than getting rid of your standard garbage. 

We’ll cover how you can dispose of a small propane tank, among other insights on proper propane tank disposal. Safely discard propane tanks with expert tips. Follow guidelines for proper disposal and ensure safety and environmental responsibility.

How Do You Empty an Old Propane Tank?

Propane fuel or fumes may explode if a propane cylinder is not truly empty. That’s why you want to know the safe propane ranges in a tank – both when you’re filling up and lowering propane levels. Such explosions can be fatal, leading to severe damage. For example, it can trigger a fire that destroys property and causes bodily harm or death. 

You can avoid these damages and losses by emptying a propane tank before disposing of it.

But why is propane gas highly flammable? Typical Propane vapor is heavier than air. Hence, if you only release it from its cylinder without ensuring it burns, it can accumulate somewhere and settle. Later, it’ll burn when exposed to flames. 

Therefore, freeing and burning the propane may be the best way to empty the container while guaranteeing people’s and property’s safety. If you prefer emptying a small propane cylinder by yourself, here are quick tips to follow: 

  1. Hook the propane cylinder to an appliance that burns or uses it.
  2. Light the appliance. Ideally, you should choose an appliance that uses much gas to quickly empty the small propane cylinder.
  3. Let the propane-burning appliance run until the apparatus shuts off or the flame dissipates.
  4. Once the propane cylinder is empty, engage a professional to remove the tank valve. The professional can verify that the propane cylinder has no remnant explosive vapor. They’ll inert the empty propane tank with nitrogen to ensure it is empty and safe for disposal.
  5. Finally, If you have a large propane tank that you may struggle to hook with a propane-burning appliance, you can contact a propane tank provider regarding its draining. They have the expertise and tools to drain the propane cylinder quickly and conveniently.

Ways To Not Empty a Propane Cylinder

The internet is awash with varying ideas and suggestions about methods of emptying a propane cylinder. But beware, the ways to not empty one can save you from the so-called gurus who may get you into big trouble. 

So what are some of the ways never empty a propane cylinder:

  • Don’t disconnect the propane cylinder from the plumbing gas setup or equipment the installation personnel attached to the tank.
  • Never open the valve and allow the liquid propane to escape when emptying it.
  • Avoid inverting the propane cylinder to empty it.
  • Don’t leave the propane tank outdoors in an open space to empty it.

What we’ve just covered above are some of the dangerous ways how to dispose of propane canisters. Remember, propane is an invisible and in instances almost odorless gas that propane tank fillers compress when filling the tank. 

Hence, freeing propane vapor without burning allows it to settle in a low location where flames can ignite it. Its fire can burn property and cause bodily harm.

How Do I Dispose of a Small Propane Tank Near Me?

Propane tank disposal requires more care than the average trash. This is actually why most recycling and waste facilities reject propane cylinders because they may have propane, which is a flammable, hazardous waste.

Primarily, Propane tank users can exchange or recycle their cylinders. You can also contact a supplier to refill your propane cylinder. But remember that Propane canisters can have limits to the number of times you can refill or recycle them.

Federal law prohibits propane cylinders from being more than 12 years old. You can check your tank’s age from the numbers on its collar or the handling area. The numbers show the original manufacture date in a month-year format. 

For example, manufacturers can stamp a propane cylinder made in June 2011 as 06-11. If the tank has the letter ‘E’ after the date stamp, a supplier has recertified it. You can reuse or refill the recertified propane cylinder for five years before it requires further recertification.

Propane tanks over 12 years old and not recertified can’t be reused or refilled. Similarly, reusing or refilling a defective, corroded, worn, or damaged propane cylinder is inefficient. 

Here’s what to do to dispose of your old tank. 
Search ‘propane tank disposal near me‘ to find professionals to help dispose of your propane cylinder. Propane cylinder disposal can take various forms. The following are some ways to dispose a small propane tank:

Take an Old Propane Tank to a Specialized Recycling Center

Ordinary recycling centers may lack the expertise and resources to recycle an old or defective propane cylinder. So, If you take the propane cylinder to the regular recycling center, you can pose a risk to people, property, and the environment. 

You may think of an empty propane canister as safe and convenient for you. However, the ’empty’ propane tank might have residual explosive vapor that can cause an explosion in the ordinary recycling center.

This is why we advise you to find a specialized recycling center to recycle your propane tank. They have employees with the expertise and the tools required for safe handling and disposal. 
You can contact a local propane dealer to discover specialized recycling centers in your area. Local governments’ websites may also have details on where and how to dispose of propane tanks.

Contact Your Local Propane Provider To Dispose of Large Tanks

Disposing of large tanks is complex, and many refillers may be unable to deal with them. So confirm from the propane supplier whether they can take the large propane tank. 

You can ask them to pay you for the cylinder or ask them to replace it with a better or newer one. Good propane delivery providers will help you dispose of propane. If you doubt whether you should dispose of the tank at that period, they can assess it and confirm whether you should dispose of it then or later. In case the company doesn’t help you solve this issue, consider switching your propane service providers.

Take Small Propane Cylinders to a Hazardous Waste Collection Site

Small propane tanks, such as portable heaters and propane cylinders one uses when camping, tailgating, or having a barbeque, may also require specialized disposal. These canisters may still have flammable propane fuel or vapor like the others we’ve covered. 

One disposal solution is to take them to a hazardous waste collection facility. There are many such companies, and you can find information about such sites online. 

Alternatively, consult with a hardware store, recycling center, propane supplier, and garbage disposal service. They’ll guide you to a waste collection site where you can dispose of the canister.

Exchange an Empty Propane Tank for a Refill

Disposing your canister is not the ultimate solution if it’s still in good shape. You can also exchange your empty propane cylinder for a refill. Many sellers of propane tanks can accept owners of empty propane tanks in good condition to trade them for full propane tanks. 

We advise this disposal option for owners that use propane regularly. There’s a host of many exchange sites in local hardware stores, convenience stores, or cast stations. These depots allow self-service throughout the day.

Can You Store Empty Propane Tanks on Your Property?

As you consider how to dispose of propane tanks, you may want to know whether you can store empty propane tanks on your property. The good news is that there’s no harm in storing an empty propane tank on your property. 

This option is ideal for people who reuse or refill empty propane cylinders. But if you are not using the propane tank, consider disposing of it to avoid the risk of remnant propane vapor posing an explosion threat.

Storing an empty propane tank may involve taking some steps to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property. The following are some considerations when storing an empty propane tank on your property:

Do Not Store Indoors

Don’t keep the propane cylinder indoors, even if you think it is empty. If the tank has some propane, the gas might leak and fill your property, making your home a dangerous environment. 

Heat or flames could ignite the leaked gas or remnant vapor and cause a fire that can burn your house or property and harm your loved ones. Hence, avoid such occurrences by keeping the propane cylinder outside your home. 

Find a dry, well-ventilated place to put the propane canister. Also, ideally, ensure that it is a secluded place; the limited interactions around the tank will minimize its risk of explosion.

Keep At a Stable Temperature

Keep propane tanks at stable temperatures to avoid leaks and explosions. You can ensure your propane cylinder doesn’t get colder than -40 degrees Fahrenheit during winter or hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. 

Keeping the propane canister in an environment with a temperature beyond these limits can pose a leak or explosion risk. Moreover, avoid leaving the propane cylinder in direct sunlight. The sun’s rays can warm the canister and increase the risk of a leak or explosion. 

You can keep the cylinder shaded to protect it from direct sunlight. If you don’t have an outdoor space to keep the propane cylinder, consider constructing a simple setup for keeping it.

Keep the Propane Tank Upright

As we said earlier, an empty propane tank might still have remnant propane vapor. Hence, you need to store it in an upright position to avoid a leak. Don’t leave it upside down or on its side. 

Look for a stable and secure spot to keep the propane cylinder. If you want to store it in a raised position, you can keep it on a stable platform, such as a milk crate. But check the crate’s stability to ensure the tank doesn’t fall over or tilt after you’ve left. 

Also, always inspect the canister’s positioning regularly to ensure it is upright.

Make Sure the Gas Valve Is Turned Off

Turn off the gas valve to avoid any leaks. If you forget to turn off the gas valve, the remnant propane vapor can leak into your property’s atmosphere. This leak can pose a safety risk. Other appliances’ heat or flames can ignite the leaked vapor and cause a fire. If you’re struggling to understand complexity of propane tank parts make sure you check this piece.

The valve knob might have a dial containing an arrow showing the direction for close. Turn the valve knob in an off way—often in the clockwise direction. Turn it all the way to ensure no spaces for potential leaks.

Keep Away From Flammable Materials

Put the empty propane cylinder away from flammable materials. If it has any remnant propane vapor, keeping it close to the flammable materials can make the vapor ignite. Keep the propane cylinder away from lighters, firepits, grills, and candles. 

An accident around these areas can be more catastrophic if the empty propane canister has propane vapor.

The Best Way To Dispose of Your Propane Cylinder

Asking professionals to handle propane tank disposal can be the safest way to dispose of a propane cylinder. 

Their expertise and resources can ensure the tank’s disposal poses no risk of an explosion, safeguarding your loved ones and property. They’ll assess the propane tank and recommend the appropriate disposal method. 

Also, expert recommendations can save you from potential losses, property damage, and legal troubles. Contact a propane tank disposal provider near you for professional and safe services.

Keep on Reading

Propane Powered Generators
Propane Facts to Know About Gas, Heaters, Prices & Refills
Understanding Your LP Gas Delivery Cost
How to Choose a Propane Delivery Company

Ryan McCabe

Ryan McCabe

Ryan is a home and small business energy expert, having overseen retail propane, heating oil, and HVAC services companies. On ComparePropane, Ryan writes about things that people should know when shopping for or using propane in their homes and businesses. 

Read full bio

Lower Your Propane Costs Today!

What Customers Say

Lower Your Propane Costs Today!

Over 35,000+ people have saved! You're one step closer to reducing your monthly utility costs. The average customer saves 30% on their yearly propane costs.

Signing up to get price quotes is 100% FREE