How to Completely Refill a 1lb "disposable" Propane Bottle

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Introduction: How to Completely Refill a 1lb "disposable" Propane Bottle

Summer Is here and its time to go camping! I go through a lot of the small 1lb cylinders of propane. They are used for my stove, Lanterns, Heaters, etc. At  $3 to $4 a Piece, they really start to add up, not to mention that when you are done with them, they are then thrown into a landfill. No more! for about $30 you can build a refill station and refill those bottles completely for about 50 cents a bottle!

I know what you are thinking, why build this when you can buy a refill adapter ready made for your tank. I used to use one, but you can only fill your bottles about 2/3rds full. This method allows you to completely fill a bottle. much the same way as they were originally filled in the factory. and with the quarter turn valve, the refill process is quick and easy.

Disclaimer: this is the way I refill cylinders. I do not claim to be an expert, and I take no liability for mistakes you make. BE SURE TO DO THIS OUTSIDE preferably with a bit of a breeze and no near, flames, sparks, cinders, etc. Propane is highly flammable and this can be dangerous if you don't use common sense. If you blow yourself up, don't blame me!

Step 1: The Anatomy of a 1lb Cylinder

A 1lb Cylinder has a pressure relief valve. This is a safety feature that will vent excess pressure from a bottle. This is also used to vent the gas during the filling of the bottle. It looks much like a valve from a tire.

Step 2: The Valve

The valve Consists of the appropriate propane connectors, a 1/4 turn valve and a street elbow to angle the bottle appropriately. I found all my parts at my local hardware store. I am sure they can be ordered on line as well.

Step 3: The Vent Tool

I no longer use the tire valve tool to vent the small tank. It is safer to use a needle-nose pliers to pull up the vent valve. The pressure relief valve is set at the factory. (as mentioned in some comments below.) it is difficult to get this back into the same setting and can lead to preventing the safety valve from working. the following is a link that I have since found that demonstrates the refill process with needle-nose pliers. (And yes it can be accomplished with a Harbor Freight valve adapter, but it is much easier to use an angled setup with more room.)

Step 4:

Attach the Valve that we have built to a 5 gallon propane tank. Close the quarter turn valve and open the tank valve. Then invert the entire setup.

Step 5:

Attach the 1lb Cylinder to the valve and then open the quarter turn valve. You should here propane rushing in to the bottle. Due to the fact that we have the 5 gallon tank inverted, we are pushing liquid in to the 1lb cylinder. Insert the tire valve tool into the relief valve, unscrew the valve until you hear propane escaping past the valve. I have found the most efficient method is to crack the valve open for  a few seconds and then close it. every time you do this, you will hear more liquid propane rushing in to the cylinder.

Step 6: Completely Fill the Cylinder!

Continue Venting the gas from the bottle in this manor until you get a small liquid spray out the vent. Once this happens, the cylinder is completely full.  Screw the relief valve closed until you hear it click. Turn off the quarter turn valve, and remove your completely refilled Cylinder! a full 5 gallon propane bottle will fill about 20 1 lb cylinders.

When I am done, I cover the top of the 1lb cylinder  with a bit of foil or plastic wrap to keep the connector clean and to mark the cylinder as full. If you save the plastic connector cap that came with the bottle, that is even better. IF you need more bottles, check the dumpster at the camp ground, there is always a plethera of them discarded by people who do not reuse...

You can now save money, and keep the cylinders out of the land fill.  Keep your cylinders dry and clean. replace the cylinder if it gets rusty or starts to leak. When in doubt, error on the side of caution.

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118 Discussions

0
marcbachman
marcbachman

Reply 1 day ago

I'm with you. Another post says use the refillable kind. I'm going to treat myself with the ones that somebody else makes. Of course I don't use a whole big lot of them anyway.

0
JaneSpangler2007
JaneSpangler2007

2 years ago

This looks like a great way to save money so you have it to spend at the hospital after this thing blows up in your face. You pay to play. Walmart has best prices

0
pcooper2
pcooper2

Reply 2 years ago

Your comment is not helpful.


I have been refilling disposable cylinders for over 30 years for personal use without so much as an incident, much less an accident.

0
KeithS22
KeithS22

Reply 2 months ago

I'm a journeyman welder and journeyman plumber/HVAC. Ppl blow them selves up because they dont know what they are doing or use improper equipment. Refilling cylinders is perfectly fine doing it the correct way. All though refilling a store cylinder I would not do more than once or twice. They are not made to withstand repetitive pressure .you can buy 1lbs cylinders specifically made for refillable next to nothing. 5$/$10$. Air gas used to carry them. I deal with argon, helium, acetylene, LP GAS, OXYpropane, OXY ACETYLENE on a DAILY BASIS AS A PROFESSIONALM

0
Deadhead024
Deadhead024

Question 1 year ago

Not sure why but I have filled hundreds of 1lb tank without a glitch
freeze small tank - connect - turn upside down fill for one minute little tank between 26 to 30 then one day I can’t get a tank past 21 even bought a new adapter and new one won’t get it past 18 tried leaving go for 2 minutes same result I’ve tried over 20 different 1 lb bottles some I’ve filled before some being refilled for the first time
I tried using a different 20 lb tank still won’t fill it’s driving me crazy

0
andersonalan82
andersonalan82

Answer 7 months ago

I have filled 20lb off of 100lb cylinders in cold weather by heating the 100lb cylinder. In cold weather its easy to increase the pressure enough to condense without exceeding safety guidelines on equipment.. no need to purge the tank and no fuel release into the atmosphere.. freeze one tank and heat the other.. i just set my tank on an electric hotplate and taped a thermostat to it.. caution dont exceed 120 f is labeled on every tank usually I recommend following that rule.. dont use old rusty tanks. Be safe.

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0
tb03102
tb03102

9 months ago

Hey friend. You're using a 20 lb propane tank to fill a 1 lb propane tank... not a 5lb tank. This is why you can magically fill 20 1lb tanks off of your 5lb master. The rest of your directions seem fine (except the gas tape as opposed to water).

0
zahilslmn
zahilslmn

Reply 9 months ago

I did a bit of a double take at that too, but they say 5 gallon tank, not 5lb. Glad I wasn't the only one, haha.

1
swander
swander

1 year ago

I'd shy away from forcing the OP valve with a tool. I cut one apart to see what the pick up was (none) and the OP valve is not robust. It looks like a one shot deal with a pathetic spring and little chance of resealing after it has been tripped. Looks like an inverted schreader valve from a innertube.

gasss.jpg
1
cnorris6
cnorris6

Question 1 year ago on Step 6

Found this on the tank is it illegal to refill??

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0
CaesarO
CaesarO

Answer 1 year ago

Illegal to transport after refill. The government can't stop you from filling your water bed with gasoline, but they can make it illegal for you to carry gasoline in a water bed strapped on top of your vehicle on public roads. These disposable cylinders are DOT 39 cylinders which are not designed to withstand the repeated stresses of rapid change in pressure and temperature (via refilling) on the cylinder. It's inherently dangerous to refill these cylinders even though accidents have been rare. An explosion caused by the rupture of a DOT 39 cylinder due to refilling was reported in Polk County, FL in 2012, killing the individual and injuring her husband.

https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/02/06/1-dead-1-injured-in-polk-county-garage-explosion/
https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/training/hazmat/phmsa-cautions-against-refilling-dot-39-cylinders

0
steve823
steve823

1 year ago on Introduction

It looks like the wrong teflon tape was used on this. It looks white in the photo. For gas it must be the "gas teflon" which is yellow in color. I just learned this today as I was shopping for the parts.

0
alfdena
alfdena

Question 1 year ago on Step 1

the pin part on the valve is shorter in the picture . i recently purchased the slime valve tool and the tip was too short. can you tell me where i might find a tool that is hollow in the tool set ?


thx

0
Moolla786
Moolla786

Question 2 years ago on Step 2

Where can I buy the fitting from. Can you please forward me a link on amazon or any other place. Thanks

2
cperkins153
cperkins153

2 years ago

in the original article said " the following is a link that I have since found that demonstrates the refill process with needle-nose pliers." I can't find the link, it might be there but I can't find it. Would you email the link or information to me?

Thanks,

elcheapo

0
johnnyk57
johnnyk57

2 years ago

I usually take my empty canisters and put them in the deep freeze for 24 hours, then quickly refill them. I usually get them pretty full this way. A lot safer than what is mentioned here, plus, you have room for expansion if the cylinders get warm.

0
Arhude
Arhude

3 years ago

I used needle nose pliers as you suggested and the valve would not re-seat, no matter what. All gas leaked out. I think unscrewing it would be better.