Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Cutting Open Old Propane Tanks

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Cutting Open Old Propane Tanks

    Because I've built a few BBQ pits and known as the local "welding expert", I get this question all the time. It's also asked quite often on BBQ forums.

    Although I think I know how to do it safely, I don't want to give out advice that would get someone else hurt. And frankly, it makes me nervous the few times I've cut one open.

    I know there has to be a procedure from a reliable source like OSHA or something like that. Otherwise, how are old tanks cut up and recycled? Anyway, it would be nice if there were such a procedure that I could point people to that ask me about cutting open tanks.
    Millermatic 35
    Miller TB302G
    Ellis 1800
    Smith & Victor Torches
    Optrel Satellite
    Arcair K4000
    Ingersoll-Rand 175CFM Diesel Air Compressor
    Home Made Welding Trailer

  • #2
    Can I add to the question? How would you safely cut open a refrigerant container. I have some (look like 20lb propane tanks, but green) that I would like to cut and use. I think they are from R12, and are empty.

    Thanks,
    Joshua

    Comment


    • #3
      Remove the valve and purge with air, these gases are easily removed and do not leave a residue that burns. Then you can pierce with a torch. If you are nervous you can fill it with water up to the level you want to cut.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Gary,

        I think I have seen a few of your pits on the BBQ Forum over the years, If you are in fact the same Gary B Davis that is. Well if you are you do some mighty fine work pal, those are some of the nicest BBQ pits I seen. I don't personaly know the correct and safest way to cut into a lp tank but I'm sure there are quite a few on this forum that do. Are you doing any Compettion bbq these days?? We only got a chance to hit a couple this year..

        Good luck
        Pete "pgk" on the bbq forum

        Comment


        • #5
          I have cut quite a few propane tanks (company that I work for has a propane business), and I normally fill them up with water, empty, and check with a gas monitor. I would not recommend purging a propane tank with air, because if you do not remove all of the flammable vapor, it is more dangerous with the air mixed in. Propane will normally not burn back into the tank because there is not enough oxygen to support combustion (propane will only burn at a concentration of about 2-10% in the air), so if you do not want to use water, you can purge with nitrogen, argon, or any other inert gas. If you don't have a gas monitor, check with your local fire dept.-most depts have one and would probably check a tank if you asked (that is what I do.).
          One final note, don't go by the odor in the tank. Propane is odorless, what you smell is ethyl mercaptan, which is added so that you can tell if you have a leak. The smell will normally remain in a tank even after it is safe to cut. Just remember, DON'T TAKE ANY CHANCES. If you have any doubts, find someone with a gas monitor to check the tank before you cut it. Hope this helps, if you have any questions, I'll be glad to help if I can.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a guy up the road from my house who deals in delivering gas grill propane tanks to peoples houses,He takes there old tanks and recycles them drains off all propane and devalves fills with water and then cuts them up.around halloween he takes old tanks and cuts jackolantern faces out of them and paints them orange and sells them on his front lawn for $10.00 ea

            Comment


            • #7
              I have found that a sawzall works well.You can get nice straight clean cuts.

              Comment


              • #8
                PKG,

                Yeah, I'm the same Gary B. Davis who posts on Ray's BBQ forum. I mostly lurk there these days. Small world isn't it?

                You guys have given me much of the same practical advice Iíve heard before, but I would still like to find a written procedure somewhere. If anyoneís seen one, please let me know where to find it.
                Millermatic 35
                Miller TB302G
                Ellis 1800
                Smith & Victor Torches
                Optrel Satellite
                Arcair K4000
                Ingersoll-Rand 175CFM Diesel Air Compressor
                Home Made Welding Trailer

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by garybdavis
                  PKG,

                  Yeah, I'm the same Gary B. Davis who posts on Ray's BBQ forum. I mostly lurk there these days. Small world isn't it?

                  You guys have given me much of the same practical advice Iíve heard before, but I would still like to find a written procedure somewhere. If anyoneís seen one, please let me know where to find it.
                  i think you will have a hard time finding a "written" procedure on this subject, no one wants the liability of printing such a thing. there are mant ways of welding/cutting on flamable containers none of wich are 100% safe. my neighbor was badly burned cutting apart a large propane tank, he thought he was doing it the "safe" way. i wish you luck and be safe!
                  The one that dies with the most tools wins

                  If it's worth having, it's worth working for

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tigman250
                    i think you will have a hard time finding a "written" procedure on this subject, no one wants the liability of printing such a thing. there are mant ways of welding/cutting on flamable containers none of wich are 100% safe. my neighbor was badly burned cutting apart a large propane tank, he thought he was doing it the "safe" way. i wish you luck and be safe!

                    Yep, thats's what I'm always told - no one wants to be liable.
                    Millermatic 35
                    Miller TB302G
                    Ellis 1800
                    Smith & Victor Torches
                    Optrel Satellite
                    Arcair K4000
                    Ingersoll-Rand 175CFM Diesel Air Compressor
                    Home Made Welding Trailer

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I pulled this off the internet, but have never tried it. I suggest you get other opinions as to whether this is a safe method or not before you proceed.

                      CUTTING A PROPANE TANK

                      Warning: Propane is a highly inflammable gas. Make sure that the tank is completely purged of all propane before working on the tank. If you have any doubt about your ability to purge the tank correctly donít proceed.

                      Propane is a gas that is heaver than air and settles in the bottom of a tank. Therefore, you will need to completely force all of the propane out of the tank. This can be accomplished by filled the tank either with water or compressed air. Either way you need to force the propane completely out of the tank

                      One method is to make a long wand out of 1/2" copper and rigged it with a ball valve and quick disconnect. Then couple it to an air compressor hose. Stick it all the way to the bottom and open the ball valve 1/2 to 3/4 open and let it blow from the bottom out the top. You can start cutting immediately; just keep air blowing until you are done cutting or welding. Gas tanks can be repaired using this method also.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To walker, mixing air into the propane tank gives you 2 of the components needed in the triangle needed for an explosion the other componant is the torch used to cut the tank open, You may have used this method in the past and got lucky enouph to remove enouph of the propane, However this is not a safe way by any standards.
                        And to Tig man, if you fill the propane tank up to the very top and leave the water in it while you are cutting there is zero chance of an explosion, so there are safe ways of doing this.
                        Every tank I weld on or cut apart is done this way, I do not do this type of work without being 100% shure that there is no chance of an explosion.

                        I dont mean to be rude to Walker, However the wrong methods of doing something like this can kill some one in a hurry.

                        With me being a portable and shop welder I often come across dangerouse situations. Trailer hitches, steering gear boxes and steering componants are some top safety issues I come across, I just had a guy wanting me to weld mild steel to a cast steel portion of his steering shaft at the rag joint.
                        He acted like I was a jerk for not wanting to weld on this, I told him dont let any one weld on it. I told him that summit would have the proper steering knuckle for his modification, I ran into him a week later and he said ( You were right) and then thanked me for the good advise.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Portable Welder
                          And to Tig man, if you fill the propane tank up to the very top and leave the water in it while you are cutting .
                          Do you cut with a grinder, saw or torch? Do you have any problem with water coming out and getting on your equipment? I have never tried it, just seems that it would be difficult cutting a hole in something that is full of water.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would think if the tank was filled w/water and set for a while, drain the water off, that the propane/butane residue would be removed. Any thoughts?
                            Also seems like on one of these weld forums someone spoke of purge w/carbon monoxide, but my memory isn't what it use to be either.
                            Good luck
                            L*S

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Bump.........

                              still hoping to get a reply from Portabe Welder on this

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X