Wondering whether or not to refill your camping gas cylinder? Or want to know how to go about the refilling? Whatever your queries regarding refillable camping gas be, weâ€™ve answered it all here.
Running out of gas too often, but donâ€™t want to overspend on new canisters every single time? If youâ€™re an outdoorsy person with extensive use of camping gas stoves or backpacking and hiking canisters, then purchasing new canisters every time must feel like an added weight on your wallet.
To reduce your expenses over a longer period of time, it is advisable that you either look into stocking up on canisters in wholesale, or look to refilling your portable gas cylinders. Both these methods have their pros and cons â€“ and finally, it boils down to your personal preferences.
In this article, we discuss the steps to refill two kinds of cylinders â€“ isobutane gas canisters and propane gas cylinders.
If you want to know more about the different kinds of camping gas stoves available, or are confused about choosing the right fit for you from the overwhelming variety that is present in the market â€“ or if you have any other unanswered queries such as how to attach a propane tank to your camping gas stove â€“ we recommend that you go through our previous articles on related topics â€“
#1 Should I Refill My Camping Gas OR Exchange It Instead?
Now this is a question of burning confusion for many among us â€“ refill or swap?
The answer to this isnâ€™t a definite one, as it all boils down to your budgetary preferences and comfort with using and reusing the used-up tanks. Let us compare the two processes â€“
The primary parameter of comparison is the cost of the two.
While an exchange of propane tank varies in the range of $5 – $6 a gallon on average, the cost of refilling a propane tank is somewhere between $3 to $4 at many refilling centers. What this means is that by refilling your propane tank, you save up to $1.76 per gallon on average for your every visit!
This is an often-overlooked parameter when it comes to deciding between reusing, exchanging or disposing your propane tanks.
If youâ€™ve been working with propane tanks for a long time now, you must be familiar with the general rule of the safety of propane tanks â€“ never let the tank run empty.
Empty propane tanks are both an accident risk and a legally murky situation.
This means that whether you exchange or refill your propane tank â€“ it will not be completely empty.
So, by refilling the propane tank, you are saving yourself from wasting that precious amount of propane still in your tank; whereas when you exchange the propane tank, not only do you spend more money, you also give off unused propane along with the tank.
3. Under-filled propane tanks
You will not always get the amount of propane you pay for, when you exchange the propane tank. Many companies and manufacturers or refilling centres fill 20 â€“ lb tanks with only 10 â€“ or 12 â€“ lb propane.
This means youâ€™ll not only be spending money and giving away remaining propane, you might even be spending more for less in return â€“ a very visibly unprofitable scenario.
#2 Precautions You Absolutely Need To Follow When Refilling
Having compared the two, refilling your propane tank seems like a more lucrative and viable option than exchanging your tank.
However, it finally boils down to personal preferences. Now, if you do opt for refilling your propane tanks, there are a few precautions and risks involved that you must know of.
1. Do NOT refill the unrefillable propane tank or canister. Period.
With many DIY guidelines available all over the internet about â€œreusing your single â€“ use canisterâ€ are nothing but sure shot ways of getting yourself into a legally murky and potentially risky situation.
In fact, there are laws and regulations against refilling unrefillable propane tanks across many states in the USA.
Why put yourself in legal or explosive risks when you can save a lot in the long term by investing in the right refillable propane tanks?
2. Use good quality regulating valves and attachments.
A few of these attachments may come for $30 – $50. While it may seem like an expense, it really isnâ€™t. It is important to understand that a good quality attachment makes the process of refilling safer.
3. If youâ€™re not comfortable refilling a tank by yourself, get it done by professionals.
Take help if you need â€“ but do not risk a DIY refill if you arenâ€™t confident enough.
#3 Risks Associated With Refilling Single â€“ Use Propane Tanks
Hereâ€™s why it is advisable to not fall for the DIY â€œreuse your single â€“ use propane tankâ€ schemes â€“
1. Can be legally murky.
There is no denying that, when there are legitimate laws and regulations AGAINST it. Even if you arenâ€™t a stickler for rules, this clearly isnâ€™t an area where youâ€™d choose being the rule breaking cool dude.
2. Overfilling of gas.
If you do go for it, then you should know the risks associated too. The first and foremost of the risks is the chances of overfilling your gas.
This can happen with refillable gas tanks too! You might think. Well, yes. But the whole point of a refillable gas tank being different from an unrefillable is the added safety in the manufacturing of the tanks.
Refillable tanks have safety relief valves meant to deal with accidental overfilling of gases. The function of this valve is to automatically provide vent by opening up an escape route for the excess gas.
Unrefillable tanks may or may not have this feature depending on the model, size, make, manufacture etc.
3. Exceeding safe pressure.
Propane tanks are high pressure vessels â€“ both refillable and unrefillable kinds. What this means is that the walls of the tanks are made to withstand high pressure.
However, in order to provide for an extra margin of error while refilling, the refillable gas tanks have relatively sturdier walls capable of withstanding more pressure than unrefillable ones.
This means that in case of an excess of pressure in unrefillable tanks while refilling, it could lead to explosion, gas leaks, or damage of the tank â€“ all consequences that will ultimately cost you way more than what itâ€™d cost you to invest in a proper refillable tank with all good quality attachments.
#4 Safety Tips Before You Begin Refilling
1. Wear proper safety gear / clothing when dealing with flammable gases.
2. Whether itâ€™s using your propane canister to cook, or refilling your propane canisters â€“ any application of propane canisters is supposed to happen in well-ventilated areas only. Propane needs ventilation.
3. While setting up a camping stove, or working on the refilling process â€“ when you work with flammable gases, it is recommended that you use tools made of brass to reduce the chances of sparking.
4. The only way to properly measure the amount of fuel in a canister is by weight alone. Canisters should never be over filled beyond the manufacturers original weights (approximately 80% of the canisterâ€™s total capacity). It is a good practice to always weigh these canisters when purchased and record the original weights on the canister.
#5 Steps To Refill Your Canister With Isobutane
1. Weigh the cannister.
For refillable canisters, it is important to know how much the original canister weighed. That original weight is the maximum capacity which should never be exceeded while refilling.
While refilling, the first step is to weigh your cannister and note down its current weight.
2. Calculate the amount of fuel you need to refill.
This is a simple calculation. Just subtract the current weight of your canister from its original weight â€“ thatâ€™s how much fuel youâ€™ve consumed and now need to refill.
3. Prepare the receiver canister for the fuel transfer.
You will need a screw-on transfer valve for isobutane transfer. Attach the valve to the receiver canister, and ensure that the transfer valve is shut off.
4. Transferring the fuel.
It is good practice to put on stabilizer legs on the donor canister before attaching the receiver. Also ensure that the base surface is level and stable.
Next, place the receiver canister with the valve on the donor canister in the inverted position.
Open the transfer valve and the fuel transfer begins. This could take a while depending on the amount of fuel being transferred, as the entire process is run by gravity.
After the sounds stop or you have transferred enough, close the transfer valve. Invert the canisters so that the Donor canister is on the bottom and unscrew the Donor canister.
5. Re-check the weight of the receiver canister.
Weigh the canister again to see if you have transferred enough fuel. If too much fuel was transferred, purge off using purge valve.
#6 Steps To Refill Your Tank With Propane
Since propane has a much lower boiling point that isobutane, liquid propane can cause serious injury in prolonged exposures. Protective gear is a must during the refilling process. Transporting propane requires extra precautions as well.
Parts Needed To Transfer Propane:
(1) 1/8″ ID barbed hose splicer, brass ($1.50)
(2) Size 4 hose clamps, fits 7/32â€ to 5/8â€ ($0.60)
Wooden fruit crate for transport and refilling (about $9 at home centres)
optional: universal toilet lift wire to make a brass purge tool ($2)
Assembling the “transfer hose”:
Remove 26â€ of hose from the “Flame King YSNMT48 Flexible 5′ Extension Hose” and splice with a 1/8â€ splicer and two hose clamps.
Removing this length of hose shortens it to a more manageable length while allowing the valve end to rest on the bench top.
All thatâ€™s left is to attach the shortened â€œFlame King Extension Hoseâ€ to the Propane Refill Adapter and itâ€™s ready to use.
Propane Tank Stand:
Cut a hole in one end of a fruit crate to accommodate the tanks propane protective collar.
Safety Features in Tanks:
With isobutane over pressure situations, the bottom of an isobutane canister will absorb the impact and change shape to allow expansion if needed.
Since the pressures are much higher with propane, a separate safety over pressure valve is installed on the top of the canister next to the connection port.
Steps to refill:
1. Weigh the tank, calculate the amount of fuel to be transferred.
2. Place the donor propane tank upside-down on the fruit-crate propane tank stand.
3. Check that the transfer hose valve is off â€“ then attach it to the receiver propane tank.
4. Open the propane tank valve and transfer hose valve â€“ transfer fuel until the required amount is reached.
5. Shut off the valve and weigh again.
For clearer understanding, check out the following video:
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know how to refill your propane and isobutane tanks, go ahead and get those tanks refilled â€“ save extra bucks, and enjoy a fun weekend outdoors with friends and family!