Introduction: Refill Disposable Propane Tank From a Standard BBQ Cylinder

I refill my littles 1 pound propane bottles from a big one. I'm going to show you how...

Step 1: Safety First & Disclaimer

Disclaimer : Whenever there is propane there is risk. If you decide to refill your propane tanks yourself, you have to understand that you do it at your own risk. These cylinders aren't DOT approved for refilling. This means that you can't take your cylinders to the local propane-equipped service station and have them refilled. That's against the law. And refilled cylinders can't be sold commercially. And commercial operators can't transport refilled cylinders across state lines. There are all sorts of limitations and potential liabilities associated with refilling these cylinders. It's perfectly legal to refill them for personal use, however.

There is some safety precautions that you have to take when refilling your disposable propane cylinders and you will need to handle it properly and observe all the best-practice safety protocols.

#1 Always do the refill process outside.

#2 Never smoke during the entire process.

#3 Be sure there is no open flame in the area.

#4 Wear safety glasses and protection gloves for added safety.

Again, I am not responsible for any accident that can happen when you refill your own disposable propane tank.

Step 2: What You Will Need

First you will need a propane tank refill adapter from Mr.Heater also called Mac Coupler. They are easy available on the Internet on Ebay or on the Cabela's Web Site.

Link for Ebay:

Link For Cabela's :

You will also need a standard propane tank at least 50% full, empty disposable cylinder, a kitchen scale an a notepad to keep track of the weight of your cylinders. For added safety I also recommend safety glasses and gloves (not show on the picture)

Step 3: Collect Empty Disposable Cylinders

I collect empty cylinders form the campgrounds I visit. Most of the peoples trow them away in the recycling basket I collect them. I also collect the plastic caps because I always store my cylinder whith them to protect the tread and the Shreader valve. Look for bottles that have not dents or rust and the ones that are not to old (the production date is stamped on the bottles)

There are 2 types of disposables tootles :

Type #1 With plastic Base (Coleman Type)

Type #2 With metal Base

I have a preference for type #2 because the metal base wont go off the bottle like the plastic cap but both type work. They have different empty weight and we gone a check this in step #6

Step 4: Chill Empty Cylinder

Chill Empty Cylinder for 1 hour for best result. This operation lower the pressure in the cylinder. To refill the cylinder, you have to create a pressure differential between the giver and receiver tank.

Step 5: Warm 20 Pounds Cylinder

Put your BBQ cylinder in warm water (not hot) for about 1/2 hour. This operation increase the pressure in the giver tank. If your bottle is under the sun a warm and sunny day, just skip this step, you don't need to do that.

Step 6: Weight Empty Cylinders

Weight the empty cylinders.
I give you my result after I weighted about 24 tanks :

Type #1 With plastic Base (Coleman Type)
Average empty weight : 384g
This mean a 100% full tank will weight 849g (384g tare weight + 465g of propane)

Type #2 With metal Base
Average empty weight : 417g
This mean a 100% full tank will weight 882g (417g tare weight + 465g of propane)

Step 7: Do the Refill Process

To do the refill process, do those steps :

#1 Plug the refill adapter on the big tank FIRST

#2 Screw the little thank on the adapter.

#3 Flip the tank over like on the picture.

#4 Open the valve. The instruction say to let in open for 1 minute but you will hear the flow of propane stop after 30-40 seconds. When the sound of the flow stop, close the valve.

#5 Flip over again the big tank and remove the little one of the adapter. Some propane will escape from the adapter during this process.

Repeat the operation until you have filled all of your tanks.

Step 8: Weight Refilled Cylinder

Weight the cylinder to check the results:

On the first image you see a coleman type tank filled at 89% (797g total weight)
797g (total weight) - 384g (empty) = 413g Propane Weight
413g / 465g = .888 or 89% full.

On the second image you see metal base type tank filled at 87% (822g total weight)
822g (total weight) - 417g (empty) = 405g Propane Weight
405g / 465g = .870 or 87% full.

I never refilled a cylinder more than 100% but if you do it, I suggest to put it on a gaz burning appliance so the extra gas will escape to the safe weight.

Step 9: Check for Leaks and Store Refilled Cylinders

Once you've refilled a cylinder, you should place some soapy water on both valves (the pressure relief valve and the regular valve you connect to your appliance) and check for bubbles. Bubbles = leaks. A leak never happened to me but it's better not to take chance.

I store my refilled cylinders outside just for precautions, in case of a leak.

I also put a protective cap like on the picture to protect the threads of the boottle.

Good luck refilling.