How to Dispose off Camping Propane Tanks and Propane Canisters?

how to dispose of camping propane tanks

One of the best experiences of a camping trip is cooking and eating your favourite meals in nature. Portable propane tanks have made cooking food while camping in the outdoors easy. Sadly, camping propane tanks or canisters run out of gas after some time. Even if they are refillable ones, they have a certain expiry date. You can also damage them, making them unsafe to use.

Gas and pressure inside a propane tank or canister make it unsafe to recycle with household items. A fire or explosion can happen at the landfill or recycling site due to any residual gas. Camping propane canisters once unusable, need to be disposed of safely and responsibly. You need know how to dispose of your camping propane tanks and canisters safely. 

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I have created this guide for you to share information for how to dispose of camping propane tanks and propane canisters safely.

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How to Dispose off Camping Propane Tanks

How to Dispose of Camping Propane Tanks Safely?

If you have a camping propane tank or canister that you want to dispose of, follow the steps below.

Empty the Tank or Canister

To dispose of a camping tank, you need to empty all the residual gas in it. For this, connect the propane canister to a stove or lantern. Then turn the stove or lantern on and light the gas on fire using a match or lighter. Let it burn as long as it can.

Once you have used all the leftover gas and are still unsure if it’s empty, you can use a hammer and screwdriver to puncture a small hole in the propane tank.

Some camping propane canisters come with keys. You can insert the key in the cylinder to release any leftover gas. Once the propane canister or tank is completely empty, it becomes safe to dispose of.

Coleman propane canisters include a special tool called “Green key”. The green key allows you to make sure all the residual gas is removed. Instead of using a stove to remove gas, the green key remains lodged, so all the gas is removed.

Related: How to Attach a Propane Tank to a Camping Stove

Labelling your tank

After burning all the residual gas, disconnect your propane tank from the stove. Now write “empty” on the tank or canister. This will help you and others to keep track of propane canisters that are safe to handle and dispose of.

Where to Dispose of

You can dispose of camping propane canisters only at certain recycling facilities. Call your local recycling station and ask if they accept propane gas canisters or not. If they do, you can give them the propane tank for disposing of. Propane canisters can only be disposed of by specialized companies with the necessary expertise.

You can also give the camping propane tank to shops that run a recycling scheme. You can get a discount or some money by doing this. Another place where you can drop off your empty propane tank is at your local department of works.

Provincial parks will sometimes have designated enclosed collection cages. You can dispose of your camping propane canister at such points. Don’t leave your propane tank at campsites, as it can start a fire and destroy the beautiful place.

You can also take your camping propane tank to a hardware store like home depot. They will exchange your empty propane canister for a full one for a small fee.

Don’t just get rid of it.

If you have tried your best and couldn’t find a recycling facility, look for a safe drop off location. Pack your camping propane tank and wait till you find such a place.

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How to Dispose off Camping Propane Tanks


What not to do when Disposing of Propane Canisters or Tanks

If you are unsure about how to dispose of a camping propane canisters or tank, at least don’t do the following things.

Disposing of in the trash

Whatever you do, don’t dispose of your camping propane tank with your trash. Depending on where you live, you can be fined or even jailed. Check with your city for proper disposal of your camping propane canister. Propane cylinders should never be thrown in household garbage or recycling containers for roadside pick-up.

If you dispose of your camping propane tank with house trash, accidents can happen. Any residue gas can result in a fire. If the camping propane tank is accidentally compressed while recycling, it can explode.

Leaving Camping Propane tank at the campsite

It is a selfish thing to leave your empty propane canisters at the campsite. We should never litter on our camping trips. Disposing camping propane tanks at the campsite is both dangerous and unethical. The propane tank might catch fire, resulting in a forest fire. Also, camping propane canisters are not biodegradable and will damage the environment.

Be responsible and do not discard your camping propane tanks while camping. Take it back with you or see if there is a designated disposal place nearby.

Disposing of a tank with gas

Empty camping propane canisters are safer than ones with very little gas. You should not try to dispose of your camping propane tank with gas. Removing all the gas eliminates chances of accidental fires. Many manufacturers include guides and tools for proper emptying of propane tanks.

Punching a hole

Never try to empty your camping propane canister by punching a hole in it. If the canister is pressurized and has residual gas, it can burst. Only punch a hole when you are positive that there is no gas in the propane tank and it is not pressurized. Punching a hole is an extra step to ensure all the gas is removed from the camping propane tank. However, I would advise you not to take any chances by punching a whole.

Refilling and Reusing

If your camping propane tank is made for one-time use only, don’t try to refill it. Only refill your propane canister if the manufacturer has stated that you can refill it. If it can be reused and refilled, get your camping propane tank refilled by a professional. Don’t try to refill yourself if you don’t have any experience. It is best not to take any chances when it comes to propane camping tanks.

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Camping propane tanks have made cooking your favourite foods at camping trips easy. However, they should be handled responsibly and properly. You should know how to use one as well as dispose of one after it is empty. Improper disposal of camping propane tanks can result in accidents. So, learn how to dispose of a camping propane canister before getting rid of it.

Smaller propane tanks are easier to dispose of safely. Before going on your camping trip, call the park management. Ask for their policy for disposal of propane canisters. Some camping places have the facility for disposing of your used camping propane canisters. You should never leave your camping propane canister at the campsite, no matter what.

Take your camping propane canister home if there is no option for disposing it at the camping park. Look for disposal location in your area and drop your camping propane tank there.

Disposing of a camping propane tank should not be taken lightly. After going through this article, you can safely and properly dispose of your used propane canisters.

Steve Hudson

I have been an outdoor activities enthusiast from teenage. I have been going out with my parents on different outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. After moving to a town surrounded by three well known fishing spots, I started fishing and started using all kinds of tricks and equipment to make the most out of each adventure I pursued. Over the years I have been camping outdoor, hiking and following my passion of enjoying life at full. Few years ago, I started writing about my thoughts, experiments and ideas about outdoor, fishing, hiking and more. This blog is a compilation of that plus tips, ideas and products that can make life more meaningful, enjoyable and a pleasant.

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