Does Propane Go Bad? Plus Tips on Propane Tank Storage

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Propane is an extremely popular cooking fuel for quite a few reasons reasons.  There are many reasons why someone would want to primarily use propane when grilling or smoking.  It’s relatively cheap, burns clean, and is easy to ignite, among other things.

One question you may have about propane pertains to its longevity or shelf life – does propane go bad?

It’s a fair question, as many things in life have an expiration date.  In this article, we’ll answer that question and dive into how you can store it and what you need to be careful of when handling propane.

Does Propane Go Bad?

One of the greatest things about propane is that it does not go bad or expire. Propane is a gas that gets compressed and stored in liquid form which gives it an extremely long shelf life. Since it is a safe gas to use around your home, it can be used for many things like grilling, smoking (check out our list of the best propane smokers here), and it’s even used to fuel home heating appliances.

Propane is not like other fuel sources. Diesel and Kerosene are types of fuel sources that need to be used in a certain way or they will expire early. Propane, on the other hand, can be stored for long periods. The important thing is to make sure that your propane is stored up to code and in the correct containers.

When looking at the propane tank, you may see an expiration date on the tank or even the gauge. You are probably wondering if propane does not expire, why does it have an expiration date? This date is a reminder for you to change the tank itself, not the gas inside.

Can My Tank Explode?

One of the biggest concerns people have when getting a propane tank is the fear of it exploding or imploding. The great news is that propane can’t do either of these things. It is a safe gas to work with which makes it a safe gas to use around your home. It takes a lot of effort to blow up a propane tank.

The extremely rare occasion where a propane tank can explode is if the tank experiences a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. This happens when the tank faces extreme heat over an extended period. The liquid propane will expand in the tank and then the pressure exceeds the safety relief valve in the tank which causes a rupture. Unless you are keeping your propane tank above an open and consistent flame (which should never ever happen anyways!), you should be safe from any potential explosions.

The most important thing is to make sure the temperatures outside of the tank are not so high that they cause the temperatures inside the tank to rise and thereby explode.

How Do I Safely Store Propane?

It’s always best to make sure the tank is being stored in a cool and dry place. Lower temperatures in a dry space ensure that the temperatures of the tank remain low with no rust. It is unsafe to store propane tanks indoors, especially if the area inside is hot. Also, if the tank leaks, it can be extremely dangerous while indoors.

When you store your tank outside, be sure the area has a flat surface, is in a cool place, and is in an upright position. A little elevation of the ground can also make sure it stays dry and stable.  Many grills have a hook or drawer to house your propane tank anyways – this is a perfect spot to store your propane (be sure to check out our guide on how far to place your grill from your house).

How Long Will My Propane Last?

To know how long your propane will burn, you will need to calculate how often you will use it. There are a few factors you will need to take into consideration to come up with a working formula. For example, the size of your gas grill or propane smoker, as well as how long you intend to have the gas on. When smoking, the temperatures we use are lower so you’ll tend to use less gas than when grilling.

It’s hard to say precisely since each grill burns different, but when grilling on a medium-sized grill, a 20-pound propane tank should last you up to 18-20 grilling hours. Larger grills use more propane. One of the larger grills can burn 20 pounds of propane in 10 hours.

You can also keep an eye on your propane levels by learning how to calculate your burn rate. Some people choose to use an expert because it can be complicated. To do it yourself, start by weighing the tank. Then subtract this weight from the total tank weight and divide by the value of 1 gallon, which is 4.24 pounds. To know how many hours of gas you have left, divide the total gallons your tank takes by the hourly burn rate.

Can I Store My Propane Tank Outside During Wintertime?

Heat is the one element that you regularly don’t want your propane tank exposed to. That means the cold temperatures of the winter season will not affect your propane tank whatsoever. What you need to be careful of is damp areas or areas with moisture. These can promote rust in your tank. You can protect your tank from getting rust by covering your tank with a plastic coating. Other than that, your gas will be safe in the winter.

Final Thoughts

Since propane doesn’t expire and it’s easy to store, many people choose to buy propane grills. The upkeep and maintenance of them are easier than charcoal grills or grills of other grill types.

If you’re in the market for a new gas grill, we have a ton of resources to help you out!

Hopefully, all your questions about propane gas, including “does propane go bad?”, have been answered. As you can see there are many benefits for a person or family of any size to use propane gas rather than other types of grills. It does not expire, but you need to remember to change the tank once your levels get low. You should also store the tank away from moisture and always keep it outside.