FAQs on gas canisters

Should I store canisters in the cellar or in closed rooms?

No! If the canister or outlet valve is not gas-tight, any gas that escapes will remain in the room as a low-lying stratum, since the gas is heavier than air. This can result in dangerous explosions.

What does LPG smell like?

Liquefied petroleum gas is in fact odourless. However, to give warning of potential gas leakage, an odour similar to a strong garlic smell is added to the LPG.

If I can smell LPG, am I in danger?

In general, the smell is a warning of potential danger. As soon as you smell gas, you should be very cautious. However, it is not the case that even the faintest whiff of gas indicates an imminent danger of fire. The threshold concentration for smelling LPG is roughly 150 times lower than the flammability threshold for LPG. In other words, if there is a faint smell of gas close up to the canister, this is no cause for concern. But if you can small gas at a distance of more than one metre from the canister, that is cause for alarm.

What should I do if there is a strong smell of gas?

Avoid bringing any sources of ignition (cigarette lighters, electrical tools or appliances) into the area where the smell is detectable. Even the smallest electro-static spark could ignite the gas.

Wet the gas canister before touching it.

Move leaking canisters into the open air to a place where the gas can flow out, e.g. onto open ground.

Try stemming the flow of gas by shutting the relevant valve (e.g. the outlet valve on a canister, the main gas tap at the point of entry to a building, etc.).

Try to locate the leak by spraying soapy water onto possible leakage points. This can be done using a simple plant sprayer. Soap bubbles will form around leaks.

Will my canister be damaged if it becomes very hot or very cold?

Gas canisters are designed to easily withstand all temperatures naturally occurring in our latitudes. Gas canisters may perfectly safely be left outside in the hottest summer sun and in the harshest winter frost. Even if left in a hothouse, the gas inside would never become dangerously hot.

But beware! The blue camping gas canisters are made of much thinner metal than propane gas canisters. Camping gas canisters must never be left exposed to the sun inside your car!

I have noticed ice forming on my gas canister. Is that dangerous?

Propane is stored in liquid form and then vaporises inside the canister. To do this it requires heat, which it absorbs from the surroundings. Normally this is scarcely noticeable. However, if you are using a lot of gas or the canister is nearly empty, the temperature of the contents may fall below 0°C. The moisture in the air will then condense as ice on the canister. This in itself is not dangerous. In the worst case, the gas pressure might drop so low that the flame is extinguished.

Is there anything in particular I should be aware of when exchanging canisters?

The valve of the empty canister must always be properly closed! This is especially important if the canister is covered in ice. In this case, if the valve is not properly closed no gas will leak out initially, but as the canister warms up later, gas will leak out in substantial volumes and go unnoticed – which is highly dangerous!

Can I use a butane canister instead of propane?

No! Because butane and propane involve different ratios of gas to combustion air, your burner, radiator or stove will not work properly with butane. Contact the manufacturers of the gas appliance you want to run on butane: they will have to supply you with a different mixing nozzle and a different pressure regulator.

For how long can I use the same gas hose and pressure regulator?

Rubber hose soon becomes brittle, especially when exposed to heat and sunlight. It should be replaced at least once every two years. A good pressure regulator should last for at least five years.

Can I test my barbecue equipment and pipes for leaks?

Yes. Connector pipes, pressure regulators and other components through which gas is
channelled may be sprayed with soapy water. Even the smallest leaks give rise to easily visible soap bubbles.

For how long can gas canisters be used?

By law, gas canisters must be tested every 15 years. SOCAR separates out those canisters that require testing before they are filled. Experience has shown that gas canisters are very durable. This means that you are not at risk even if you have a very old canister in storage for a very long time.

Does the gas in the canister spoil over time?

No, the gas does not undergo any chemical change for many years.