What’s Inside a Propane Tank?

Get Familiar with the Ins and Outs of Propane Gas…and Propane Tanks!

propane q and a tennesseeWhether you’re using a propane cylinder for your BBQ grill or have a propane tank on your property for your home’s heating, cooking, and other tasks, you may be wondering what actually sits in there.

While the obvious is quite clear (yes, we know there’s propane inside), we’ve put together some commonly asked questions about propane and propane tanks themselves.

What are Propane Tanks Made Of?

The propane tanks used for your home or business—like the ones installed by Advanced Propane—are all made in the United States and constructed out of high-grade steel. They are certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for their safety specifications.

Propane cylinders—like what you use for your grill or other outdoor uses such as portable generators, and firepits—are usually made of steel, but can also be made with aluminum or composite materials. They are certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as they are made to be transported with propane inside them. That’s why you may sometimes see them referred to as DOT cylinders.

What Does Propane Look Like?

Propane (chemical formulation is C₃H₈) is stored in your propane tank in liquid form. Visually, it looks much like water. Propane needs to be stored as a liquid because, in its gaseous state, it would need a tank more than 270 times bigger to store!

However, to be stored in a tank or cylinder, the propane must first be compressed into a liquid by pressurizing it. Then, it’s stored below its boiling point of -44° Fahrenheit so that it stays liquid until it’s needed to be used.

So…How Does Liquid Propane Become Propane Gas?

Pressure. When the valve on your propane tank or cylinder is opened, the internal pressure drops. The propane coming out of the tank is exposed to outside temperatures. The liquid propane is instantly boiled and vaporized into propane gas!

That propane gas is what runs your propane heating system, grill, water heater, range, and other propane appliances. For example, let’s say you turn up the burners on your grill. The pressure in the tank decreases, even more, creating more propane gas to be supplied to your grill and its burners.

What Does Propane Smell Like?

Propane has no smell in its natural state. An odorant, most commonly ethyl mercaptan, is added during processing to make detecting propane leaks easier. The smell of propane with the odorant added is most described as being like “rotten eggs.”

It’s essential that you know that distinct smell because it can help you detect a propane leak, either in your home or with your propane cylinder. If you detect that rotten-egg smell in your home, follow these propane safety directions immediately.

Do you have questions about your propane tank or propane safety? Get in touch with Advanced Propane. We’ll be happy to help.

We’re one of the largest family-owned propane businesses in the region since our founding in 1992. We provide our customers with propane solutions including underground and aboveground propane tanks, reliable deliveries of propane, and the sale, installation, and service of propane appliances, including propane gas logs and water heaters. Give us a call today to learn how we can make a difference for you!