Sunday, October 14, 2012
Refilling 1 lb. Propane Cylinders
1 lb. propane cylinders are very handy and great at powering camping stoves and camping lanterns. In times of emergency these two appliances can be life savers and very comforting. The camp stove can cook your meals as well as sterilize drinking water and at night the propane lantern is hard to beat with a single mantle lantern putting out nearly the equivalent of a 100 watt light bulb. The trouble is these small cylinders don’t last forever. After 4-5 nights for a lantern and a dozen or so meals on the camp stove they expire. Because they don’t run things forever you have to stock dozens of them and that’s very expensive today.
Fortunately, there are a number of companies that make refill adapters so we can refill these smaller cylinders repeatedly from larger cylinders like those used for your BBQ or an RV.
The process of refilling the 1 lb. cylinders is very simple, just do it outside in case of a propane fitting leak.
Here’s a photo of one of my 30 lb. RV propane tanks used for this demonstration.
Here’s the refilling adapter I used. They are durable and very simple. You can purchase one at, http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/Propane-Tank-Re-fill-Adaptor/55151/&?&affiliateid=3707 or many other outlets on the web.
I’m using a 32 oz. kitchen scale to show the weights before and after. In this photo is a totally empty cylinder now weighing 15 ounces. Notice the frost on the side of the tank. In order to completely fill the cylinder with 1 lb. of propane you must put the cylinder in your freezer for about 1 hour before refilling.
Here’s the small cylinder attached and filling from the large tank. Notice the large tank must be upside-down. Also the tank is resting on a couple scrap 4x4’s so I can easily get to the main valve to turn it on and off. The time it takes to fill one cylinder about 60 seconds. There’s no weighing involved or timing how much propane goes in. Just open the valve, after a few seconds the small cylinder is full, turn off the large cylinders valve and disconnect the small cylinder.
Here’s the cylinder after filling and as you can see it took just slightly more than 1 lb. of propane from the big tank for a total weight of just under 32 ounces, close enough for me. I just saved $3.00 and now have a full cylinder for my camp stove or lanterns.
When you get your adapter follow precisely the directions supplied with it.
Refill cylinders outdoors. Any mishap of say a broken valve or dropping the large cylinder with the small one attached there is the possibility of a serious leak. All propane is under very high pressure, between 250 and 275 PSI.
Place the 1 lb. cylinders in the freezer for about an hour. The cold will allow filling the cylinder with 1 lb. of propane.
I have tried to fill room temperature cylinders but could only get 6-7 ounces in them. Although this will be fine if the grid is down and you don’t have an operating freezer, you’ll just have to refill more often.
Do not store propane cylinders in your garage or in your house.