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How to Dispose of a Small Propane Tank – 5 Best Ways 2023

Propane tanks are well-known among campers. They use it for making food, warming, igniting, and using it as a substitute for a bonfire. Many of us use propane tanks while camping. They are easily reused and give great pay to our camping.

Aluminum and iron are used to make small propane tanks. Remember that plenty of power is used in the manufacturing process of these tanks. Getting rid of these tanks after using them once would be unpleasant. It is excellent to reuse your propane tanks for a longer run.

Gas grills with a small propane tank are well-built and planned to last long when used. But intense use sometimes goes with dint and beep, hole and decay. One neglected element of propane tanks is to certify it again after 12 years of its production date, which they mention on the tank.

It is easily mix-up with what time and when to talk about the tank damage and the certification process. Small propane tanks need more attention than your regular waste. Disposing of a propane tank is not the only possibility; some residual propane tanks involve proper disposal to reassure safety.

In the USA, Approximately 40 million propane tanks are put on sale annually. It raises a significant question: How to dispose of a small propane tank? There are other methods to dispose of small propane tanks, which I will share below.

How to dispose of propane tanks (safe and legal)

As per the above discussion, small propane canisters are safely and legally thrown away by four methods applicable for camping and outdoor recreation activities (grilling). There needs to be more than just camping; being a citizen, you should first know about clean camping and should adequately discard the empty propane tanks, or you can exchange them at shops.

Some assigned retailers deal in exchanging good-condition propane tanks. You have to give them an empty container, and they give you a filled tank in place. Gas stations, hardware shops, and other assigned stores primarily contact propane supplier companies to exchange propane tanks and refill them. And In these stores, there is 24/7 service available.

It depends on the location and supplier policy of taking any fees for this exchange service, but the guaranteed thing is that you will get a filled tank with you in exchange for an empty can.

1. Exchange them at various retailer

Usually, propane tanks remain filled for two hours, and their volume is about 16.4oz. After usage, these tanks are just recyclable trash. The refilling facility is valid on the same border, and you cannot deal with refills across state borders. These regulations are according to DOT and acceptable worldwide.

You can carry an extra pouch for refilling propane tanks, or you can take help from nearby campsite retailers. With the help of an adapter, the smaller propane tanks quickly filled from bigger propane tanks. Bigger propane tanks are of the size of 20lb and remain in use for an extended period. At some point in time, you can exchange your cylinder with nearby associated retailers.

The excellent feature of this exchange is that you have to pay only for the refill gas. But for this opportunity, your propane cylinder should be in good condition to use further for filling. There should be no damages available.

Many brands are dealing in this exchange service of refilling. So you can exchange any brand cylinder with any other propane gas cylinder. Retailers accept brand exchanges, making things very easy for users. For instance, you have a rapid X change cylinder, and a retailer has a Coleman cylinder. So these can be easily exchangeable.

These are some of the famous retailers in the United States that deal in exchange for empty propane cylinders.


Many US states have RapidXchange stations where you get this opportunity of exchanging. You exchange your empty propane tanks of any brand with a filled propane tank of the same or another brand. It depends on availability. To gain more insight, visit the website of RapidXchange.

Lakes gas

If you are a resident of areas of the upper Midwest like Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, or Michigan, lakes gas stations help you in exchange for empty propane cylinders. You can search your nearby areas by your given zip code.


Ameri gas also has this policy of exchanging empty propane tanks with filled ones. It takes help from public gas stations, hardware stores, and convenience stores to complete their operations nationwide. Mainly the locations serve the purpose of exchanging old tanks with new ones, but not all areas have this exchange service. So, before going to any site, search the page\

or website, apply a filter of tank exchange with zip code and find your nearest location.

Blue Rhino

You exchange any propane tank at the blue Rhino tank station with a new filled one. The one thing necessary for exchange is the excellent condition of your old propane tank; the propane tank should be in acceptable condition. You can find Blue Rhino station nearby by typing FIND in the message and sending it to 75653, or you can visit a website with your zip code.


Walmart also provides help in exchanging old tanks with newly filled ones, but they accept only specific brands or stations’ cylinders, which are; Ameri Gas, Flame King, backyard grill, etc. Walmart’s price is low compared to other stations.

Home Depot

The stations also take all types of empty propane cylinders and then give you a filled one. So take your old empty cylinder with you to home depot to get a new one.

2. Take your empty tanks to the nearest waste transfer station

You can take your empty tanks to your nearest waste transfer station only if:

  • Your tanks are not refillable
  • Your tanks are dented
  • You do not want it any longer

Different countries have services where you can throw your waste, containing your cylinders, at low charges. You can also find it on google by searching the locations of ‘propane tank disposal near me.’

Their charges differ according to the place; their work includes maintaining rubbish and recycling services. Hazardous waste experts moved the non-refillable tanks and reprocessed the tanks to make something different.

You can see on the internet how hazardous waste experts receive old tanks and how they handle and reprocess them in the most prominent rubbish place. Ensure that your old propane tank, which you send for recycling, is going to a suitable landfill, not land in the wrong place.

There is a page called bernzomatic where you can easily find waste disposal services near your home via your zip code. You can easily find your nearest location to send your old propane tanks for reprocessing.

3. Completely empty the tank and throw it in the trash

In your area, if your local act does not restrict you from anything related to throwing empty tanks in the rubbish, then you can throw your empty tanks into the household trash with other waste. Your trash pickup company may not pick up the empty tanks for safety reasons.

They cannot identify whether your tank is empty or not and cannot confirm it. To take care of this problem, Coleman presented a new tank called the green key tool in 2018. The function of this tool is to enter this key into the nozzle of the one-use propane tank to ensure it is empty.

The reason to use this tool is that when a pickup company comes to pick up the waste, they quickly pick up the tanks without any hesitation or can’t afraid of the blast during the compression process. Until now, it has not yet been much known and recognized.

Ensure that your local act allows you to throw your propane tank into the trash and confirm that your tank is entirely hollow.

To eliminate any excess gas in the tank, go after the following steps mentioned below:

Bring your liquefied petroleum gas tank outside and attach it to any machine. A plain Hob top Is a good choice.

Open the hob, light up the flame, and make it on fire till the compression lets fall and the fire withdraws.

Hold on for some time to permit any excess gas to break out.

Then detach your LPG tank and connect your green clue instrument ( you can purchase from here if u don’t have one)

Hold on to the key entered forever to discard the cylinder. The vibrant green color key on the head of the beak is a sign for garbage collector organizations that the vessel is entirely vacant of all uncovered LPG and is cautious to squash and reprocess.

4. Refill and reuse

Not all cylinders originate for refill and reuse. Some cylinders, like DOT 39, are not produced to refill again. It would be life-threatening to fill it again. Small 1lb propane tanks are DOT 39 tanks we grab for camping trips.

A tank’s certificate number is available on its backside. These are intended for one use only and are not allowed to refill. It’s a violation; if you transport and fill DOT 39 tanks, you have to pay the penalty of five hundred thousand dollars and spend five years in prison as punishment.

As mentioned before, many people reuse and refill their propane tanks at campsites and homes, but their transportation is not allowed over borders. Ensure it before filling the tank:

Inspect the tank for any physical damage that can compromise its consistency

Examine the sealing inside the cylinder to ensure it is strong, intact, and misplaced.

Inspect the internally threaded valve to see if it is incredibly sharp. Shabby threads are a source of unstable connection and exude.

You can check leakage after filling the tank with the help of a bubble soap test.

5lb and 20lb large tanks are not restricted; you refill them at any time in your home or from certified refilling stations and use them for a longer run. There is a specific period for a tank to work correctly; after that, recertification is necessary.

They mention the time and date for recertification on the back side of the tank. If you need to know when and where to recertify your tank, you must contact your nearby gas filling station for help, and they will guide you accordingly.

It is economical to refill your tank repeatedly because you only have to pay for refilling gas and not the cylinder itself. Ensure your tank is in favorable circumstances and has no tarnishing or distorting; otherwise, it would be life-threatening. The blast of the propane tank is devastating.

5. Sell your unwanted tanks on Craigslist

Many people are in search of old propane tanks which are on sale. You can sell your old propane tank for money on Craigslist only if it is in good condition and easily refilled and reused. You can buy an old tank and set it to good use. Rather than recycling, you can use your cylinder as much as possible, and it saves you money and power in producing a new cylinder. People purchase unfilled propane tanks and discounted deals on craigslist for household use and throw out old propane tanks in a moment.

What material is a propane tank made of?

It is essential to know about the recycling process of the propane tank. Before that, we should see the propane tank’s material because different materials have various properties and diverse recycling processes. In the US, liquid petroleum gas cylinders are prepared per the specification of DOT or ASTM. The cylinders we use for camping assemble according to DOT standards; they are primarily small propane cylinders—other specifications mentioned on the tank’s body. DOT propane cylinders are composed of aluminum or seam-welded stainless steel alloy. This stuff can easily reuse and melt and can stay in the store room. Besides the outer part, its inner part is hazardous if gas leftovers are inside. Therefore specialized staff is needed to handle any difficulty during the recycling process.

Refillable vs. non-refillable tanks

Some tanks are refillable, and some are non-refillable, but propane tanks which are reusable and refillable, are the best choice. Small 1lb Propane tanks (Coleman green tanks) or 20lb large cylinders are mainly used for camping. Other tanks are rare because of their sizes.

A small 1lb propane tank is non-refillable if made with DOT39 detailing. If you refill it, it means you break the DOT rules of transportation of harmful material. You can still fill the tank at home. During camping, many campers fill their small tanks from the 20lb large cylinder more often.

The main point is that you can refill a small 1lb propane tank but not transport it over borders. You break the DOT rules if you transport your tank. 20lb large cylinders are transportable and can reuse and refill at any time; there is no restriction on them.

The only thing you should care about regarding the 20lb tank is to recertify after every 12 years. For the tank recertification, you should go to the DOT-certified inspector to ensure it is suitable for service. Therefore, to Sum up, the debate:

Small 1lb propane tanks are refillable and reusable, but you are not allowed to transport them over the border
20lb large cylinders are refillable and reusable repeatedly

Why is propane tank disposal difficult?

You cannot throw a propane tank in your garbage; it is not like your usual home waste since there is a danger of gas leftover in the tank, which is like an explosion hazard. Waste-collecting trucks are frequently used to squeeze the rubbish they collect first to make more space for waste; they use the hydraulic compressor method.

Suppose if in the garbage there is a tank with gas residue inside, it will lead to an explosion, producing harm to the material and the labor force holding the waste. For this reason, waste management companies are cautious about the tanks and will not be convinced to collect them as this is not easy for them to find out which tank is unfilled, so they do not gather it.

To solve this disposal problem, Coleman introduces a green key device, but it’s still revising and validating. To completely reuse propane tanks, one must learn how and where they finish. Reusable copper and steel are utilized to make propane tanks.

But Coleman green key tanks can also be disposed of, so you can throw them in waste too. The excess gas can be the source of explosion or fire in the garbage if left in the tank.

Final Thoughts: How to Dispose of a Small Propane Tank

Propane tanks are a valuable source of energy for camping. They can be used for a whole year to warm your tent, make your food, ignite, and be used as a substitute for a campfire; throwing away a propane tank is difficult. Some tanks are reusable, and some are not, so you have to dispose of them on some level.

Disposing of requires more attention than the usual domestic leftover. These tanks are called household hazardous waste that requires appropriate handling. This article helps you answer how to dispose of small propane tanks. Follow the abovementioned methods to dispose of or recycle your unfilled propane tank safely.

Read More: Comparison between Propane and Butane Camp Stoves

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Dispose of a Small Propane Tank

Following are the frequently asked questions about how to dispose of a small propane tank.

1. How to tell if a propane tank is empty?

Answer: Take a glass of lukewarm water and pour it into the tank. With the help of your hands, touch the tank’s surface from top to bottom to sense the temperature of its surface. If its surface is hot from head to toe, the tank is empty, but if it is not hot from the lowest part, it means there is still gas inside.

2. How do I recertify my propane tank?

Answer: You can recertify your propane tank by scheduling your appointment from your local office. You can also bring it to the local office to recertify it. There are also recertification specialists at all propane tank places like Tiger, Gastec, Menards, etc.

3. How much does it cost to recertify a propane cylinder?

Answer: It costs around $35 to $60 to recertify a propane cylinder. It depends on the person recertifying the tank. You can easily find the cost by calling experts near your area.

4. Does the 1lb propane cylinder expire?

Answer: A sealed propane tank can last forever. The gas inside the propane tank may break down if its rubber sealing leaks gradually. They can only expire if they get damaged and are not possible to repair.

5. Can you get money for old propane tanks?

Answer: Yes, it depends on the condition of your tank. You can sell it online and in hardware shops. They can give you a lot of money.

6. Where can I return the propane tanks?

Answer: You can contact your retailer across the US and your Propane supplier to return propane tanks. You can receive cash or can fill your propane tank if you need. You just have to pay for the gas if you need to refill your tank.

7. How to dispose of Coleman propane tanks?

Answer: You can dispose of the Coleman propane tank after one use through the local waste transfer station. You can also throw it in the garbage If using Coleman green key.