Propane Tank-ard Insulated Beverage Bottle




Re-Purpose a disposable Propane tank into an insulated beverage container.

Instead of throwing away those one-time use Propane tanks, this Instructable shows you how to turn them into a safe, reusable drink tankard. Best of all, it is a functional insulated container so, it will keep your drink cold, without sweating.

Perfect for the seasoned outdoorsman.  Fill it with a favorite beverage, and appear to be drinking propane right from the tank.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Propane and Propane Accessories

Whether you are a hardcore Tailgater, Backyard BBQ Chef or the Camp's Chowmaster, chances are you have propane flowing through your veins.

Or perhaps you just need propane fueled energy to keep you warm during the cold winter months?

What better way to show it, than by taking a swig right from the tank. 

In the heat of the BBQ season, or in the dead cold of winter, you need a shot of the good stuff, and now you can appear to be drinking it, with this incredibly authentic beverage container.  

"Strickland Propane may have Propane and Propane Accessories but, they aint got nothing like this!"

Disclamer:  Propane is dangerous!
 - Propane is extremely flammable
- The beverage container in this project is for novelty purposes only 
- Propane should never be consumed in any way, shape, or form.    
- This project uses EMPTY containers.
- Do not empty tanks by manually depressing the valve.
- Always empty tanks through an approved Propane appliance.
- Liquid propane expelled from its container is Dangerously Cold and will instantly freeze skin.
- Never heat propane tanks they will explode

Step 2: Finally, a Use for Those Tanks!

It never seemed efficient to throw away those empty single use tanks...but thy are so darn handy.

Here is a good use for them.  This project is fairly easy, and costs very little.

Empty Propane Tank - Free
Pop Bottle - forfeited deposit  :(
Rubber O- Ring -  $0.45
Foam - ~$6.00/can  Although the can is a one time use, it probably could fill 5 or 6 propane tanks if they were prep'ed and ready when the foam can is tapped.

Step 3: Tank Type

Select a Tank with the separate plastic bottom cap

Some tanks come with a welded steel bottom cap.  These could be a challenge. (Not saying it couldn't be done with this type tank but, the separate plastic bottom does a nice job of covering the hole in the bottom of the tank.)

Remove the plastic Bottom Cap.  This cap is held in place with a small dab of hot melt glue.  If the tank is cold, the glue becomes brittle and will allow the cap to pop off easily.  The tanks used here, were outside this winter so there was no trouble removing them without damage. 

Step 4: Empy the Tank

Make sure to start with an EMPTY TANK!

Shake the tank to make sure there is no liquid propane left in it.  It is a good idea to attach it to a propane appliance and keep the valve open for a while to make sure there is no resididual pressure in the tank.

As a mater of good practice, remove the valves before drilling into the tank.  A small pair of needle nose pliers, or hemostats, can be used to unscrew the pressure relief valve.  

The pressure relief valve (the one to the side) is the easiest to reach.  It is not necessary to remove the main center valve because the whole threaded tank fitting will be removed; valve and all, in a future step.
(Also, The valve in the center is more difficult to remove; requiring removal of an inner plastic sleeve and an O-ring before the schrader valve can be accessed.) 

Step 5: Cut a Hole in the Bottom

Cut a hole in the bottom of the tank.

The bottom of the tank needs to be removed to allow for installation of the plastic bottle "liner". The diameter of the cut hole should be just inside the fluted "peaks" of the tank's bottom formations.

Starting with the Bottom Hole first allows the tank to be cut while holding it by the top threaded fitting clamped in a vice.  (don't worry about damaging the threads on the top fitting; this whole stem will be removed later.)

Leave the "Peaks" of the tank's bottom arris formations (photo 2) so that the tank will sit level when the Plastic End Cap is replaced.

Step 6: Cut the Top Hole

Remove the tanks threaded fitting to allow the top of the plastic bottle to fit through.

A series of small holes drilled around the base of the tank's threaded fitting is the easiest way to remove the fitting.  This will create the start of the the tank's Top Hole.  The Top Hole is where the top of the plastic bottle will pass through.

Holes are drilled under the overhand of the fitting's threads (right were the fitting's neck meets the tank).  This ensures that the resulting overall Top Hole in the tank is not too large for the plastic bottle.

Use a small pair of cutters or needle nose pliers to remove the remaining web between the holes.

A file or grinder can be used to size and smooth the final Top Hole.  It should just be large enough to allow the threaded portion of the plastic bottle to pass though.
The largest bottom flange on the bottle's neck should not pass through the Top Hole. The bottle flange should be the "up" stop; bottoming-out on the under side of the Top Hole.

Step 7: Remove Valve Stem Tube

The pressure release valve stem tube needs to be removed.

The metal tube that housed the stem valve, will interfer with the "shoulders" of the plastic bottle if left in place.
The Valve Tube can be drilled out from the top of the tank.
Note: The photo shows the top of the tank cut off - this is not required.  It was done only to better show the Valve Tube
The Valve Tube narrows just below the top surface of the tank thus, a proper size drill bit will remove the tube without disturbing the  flared shoulder on the top surface of the tank.

Paint the inside of the cut tank.

After cutting the Top and Bottom Hole, filing the edges smooth, and removing the Valve Tube, the inside of the tank, and any raw edges of the tank, should be painted.  As shown in the photo below, the exposed inside of the tank will start to rust within a few days if left untreated.

Mask the outside of the tanks so that it does not get paint on it, and give the inside of the tank a shot of spray paint.  Make sure the edges of the top and bottom holes also get painted. 

Step 8: Shrink the Bottle

20 oz PET bottles are too tall to fit in the tank so they must be shrunk.

Even 16 oz bottles are too tall (same height; just narrower)  That leave 8 oz bottles.  They fit but, most people drink more than a cup at a time.

Solution:  Shrink a 20 oz bottle.  PET bottle are manufactured via a blow molding process.  Essentially, a molton blob of plastic is inflated like a balloon and then cooled to hold its shape.  This process leaves a lot of internal stress in the plastic.  With a little applied heat the softened plastic will shrink.

Process:  Fill a 20 oz bottle about 3/4 full of water.  Place it in the microwave and heat.  
(Start with hot water from the tap; it will shorten the micowave time.)  Put the bottle in a shallow bowl. There is a good chance that water will overflow as the volume of the bottle decreases.

Be carefull!  The bottle filled with boiling water will be Hot.  Remove it from the microwave carefully.  Pour out the hot water, and run the bottle under cold water to stop the shrinking process.

It may take several attempts to get the bottle to the right size.
Try not to over shrink the bottle; the goal is to reduce its height enough to fit in the tank, yet retain as much usable volume as possible.

Note: After shrinking a 20 oz bottle to fit in the tank, it should still be able to hold the contents of a 12oz. can (with room to spare)

The photo below show the before, and after, size of a 20 oz plastic pop bottle.

Step 9: Install the Bottle

Place the shrunken bottle in the bottom of the cut-out propane tank

In order to reinstall the tank's plastic Bottom Cap, the bottle should not protrude beyond the bottom of the tank.

Step 10: O-Ring Holds the Bottle

Place an O-ring around the flange of the plastic bottle to hold it in place.

Use a 7/8" diameter O-ring with a 1/8" thickness

Step 11: Foam in Place

A can of household insulating foam will hold the bottle in place and keep your cold beverages cold. 

Note: There are two types of  foam available.  One cures rigid and the other remains soft (like seat foam).  Given the possible expansion of carbonated beverages, the soft foam was used for this project.

With the plastic bottle and o-ring in place, turn the tank over and fill with foam through the Bottom Hole.  

Note: Be sure to plug the tank's drilled-out pressure relief Valve Tube, or foam will flow out this hole.  A small wad of aluminum foil stuffed in the hole works well.

Insert the applicator straw to the bottom of the inverted tank and slowly spray the foam.  It will expand, so several small shots, a minute or so apart, will help to keep from grossly over filling the tank.

Note: This foam needs moisture to cure so, the inside of the tank was spritz with a water mist before foaming, and in between the several small shots of foam.

After the foam expansion slows (minute or so), scrape off the excess foam.  Leave about 1/2 inch of foam above the tank.  This foam will be used to  adhere the Bottom Cap.  
While the foam is still tacky, press the plastic Bottom Cap in place on the bottom of the tank. Clean off any foam that may squeeze out.

Be prepared when using this foam! This can be a messy operation.

Urethane foam sticks to everything; including skin.  Once cured, the only way to get it off skin is to let it wear off - there is no solvent.

Step 12: Finished Product

A black bottle cap will make the illusion complete.

At this point the project is complete. It will looks strikingly just like a propane tank.

Fill it with your favorite beverage, and shock your friends as they see you taking a swig from a propane tank.

Step 13: A True Energy Drink

Fill it with an "energy" drink to "Fuel" all your outdoor activities.

Step 14: Built in Umbrella Holder

The pressure relief valve port makes a nice garnish / paper umbrella holder

Finish off your Manly drink with a paper umbrella just to soften your grizzled, propane swilling, tough-guy image.



    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge
    • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

      Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest

    85 Discussions


    2 years ago

    that is hysterical.


    3 years ago

    I need to find some darn cans like this

    Blue Hawaii

    6 years ago on Step 11

    Use disposable gloves to protect your hands and mask off the tank just above the plastic bottom piece to lessen the clean up of the tank.

    2 replies
    charding1Blue Hawaii

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    you want real winter gloves not latex. this gas is so cold it will give you frost bit. Propane hitting your skin will do nothing unless it's cold from pressure. but anything in a can is cold under pressure. latex gloves would be like putting your seatbelt on just before you drive into a brick wall at 150mph. rather pointless isn't it?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I don't want to repeat myself over and over, but as i read these posts i realize these people have no idea how chemicals and pressure works. so that being said, anyone that thinks their can is empty after it runs out of fuel and cuts, drills, or hacks their way inside with out properly draining COULD lead to and explosion, even under water. Do it the way I just told you and you'll be fine. I've done it a few dozen times. if you don't believe me I can show you how to do it email me.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My dad and i are thinking about building a Rat Rod if you dont know what this is Google it but we were thinking about using this idea as an over flow for the car would you reccomend this i wouldn't know what to put on the inside of the tank since there would be hot liquids draining any suggestions?

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Nothing at all. these are made of aluminum and disperse heat very quickly, if you needed a tank these work great. I have one on my kids go cart as a fuel cell, just drilled out the guts through the top valve and put a cap on, drill a hole in the bottom and screw in a nipple the size of your fuel like and use plumbers thread tape. been 2 years works fine.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You should be able to leave the bottle empty, just don't cut the bottom out of it.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I was nervous trying this out, but really all you need to do is attach the propane to a blow touch head, lantern, or camp stove to get rid of the propane inside and then use the pressure relief vulvae to let out anything more, and then take the vulvae out. I put my canister in water like NelsonStudios recommended. You should where a mask, and possibly winter gloves, feel free to correct me, I don't know a lot about this, but I know propane can do weird things and can spray really cold stuff that could burn/freeze your skin instantly.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    There won't be enough to hurt you if you followed throu on leaving the valve open. You will smell it, but it's no worse than what you smell everytime you walk by a gas stove. I think the underwater cutting is a bit extreme, you figure if the valve is left open and you take a file to it long enough to get a tiny hole started, at that point there is no possible way for any pressure to come back. or explosion, like i said if you used a power tool be aware that friction causes heat and sparks. yeah stick with what reiff said, do it in the kitchen sink. I know most of you won't find that necessary but there's always a couple people that don't follow instructions very well.. so yeah a hack saw, file will work fine just go slow till you puncture the tank. I shoot these empty tanks with guns everytime I go practice shooting and they do NOTHING except look like swiss cheese afterward.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    These little disposable cans work great for projects. I saw a post before I looked here on how to safely cut one of these in half. There was noting online on how to do it except don't because you 'll blow yourself up. well this is what I did. put the torch back on and left it open. Propane is heavier than air so you need to turn it upside down so the nozzle is facing down. then I have a triangle file in my jewelry files and I just filed until there was a hole. There was no noise of gas escaping, just could smell propane a bit strong after breaking throu but it's not enough to explode esp with the nozzle left open. locked. I know at least 9 of 10 of you are going to ask me why I would need to cut one? Well these tanks are pressure tight and finding something that can hole that kind of pressure when building tools or projects come in handy. it all depends on scale. they use the 20 lb tanks to make little kilns. I want this one to make a mini soup can forge, but mine is high Quality, spent the money on 3000 degree fire cement and Aluminum brackets. I am building this for my garage so I can heat steal on a small scale cheap and efficiently, It's a cheap way to get into metal fabrication without spending more than 10 or 20 dollars.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You can look up on youtube how to make a soup can forge but these cans would be so much better, they look to be aluminum. I just wanted to give someone instructions on how to do this without hurting yourself. Can Must be completely empty and left open on the valve. then file with low pressure the closer you get to the inside. worst case scenario would be to make a spark and it would throw a little flame out of the hole but it will not explode if you cannot light the torch with a lighter after left open. so make sure the valve is open and just use common sense. I don't suggest anyone under the age of 18 do this. have an adult or even take it to a shop to have it cut open. the only way to let the pressure out is through the topvwith an attachment.. thanks


    8 years ago on Step 4

    I know you are about to have 9 million tell you propane and air is a bomb but before that starts I would like to offer a practical solution. When you unscrew the valve submerge the tank and water to fill it. This will expel all residual gasses and make the tank totally inert for any further construction purposes.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 4

    I will do that, good idea, but this goes out to anyone, but I'm having trouble getting the pressure relief valve out. I don't know if any one has a suggestion.


    5 years ago on Step 3

    ok how the thing. be u cut the tank. and b4 u remove the valve. put the tank into 5 gallon bucket filled with water. then remove the valve. then only with the tank still under water. drill a hole. in the bottom near where yr going to cut the tank. that way u can be sure the tank is empty of propane and filled with water. b4 u cut the hole. an not being taken to the hospital e-room for 2d - 3rd freeze burns. witch are worse than burns.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    good job you should look into marketing this people will buy anything LOL and perhaps you can find a vendor to make a custom sized inner reservoir and insulate with a cheaper less messy means like fiber batting good luck
    PS. filling with water and then bumping will assure no gas is left in the vessel. Rust should not be a problem if you are spraying water inside to make foam work anyway it will speed up your process a little. cheers!

    Since you're already shrinking the bottle, instead of insulating it, couldn't you heat the PET, and then pressurize it such that it conforms (mostly) to the interior of the propane tank, and therefore get more "bang" for your buck? (pun intended)

    1 reply

    If you have no intention of insulating it, then sure, that should work. However, then you would essentially be making a large can of soda with the outside metal being cold and 'sweating' in the heat instead of more of a thermos keeping your drink cold. I do like the thought that the bottle would be larger, though.