One of the most common questions asked by people unfamiliar with propane is “will my tank explode?”
People think since propane is a gas, the tank that holds it has a high risk of exploding if the gas expands. But those fears are unfounded. It’s almost impossible to get a propane tank to “explode.” Propane101.com explains why.
A propane tank is specifically designed not to rupture. It’s built with safety features that prevent ruptures, leaks, and excessive pressure.
The best way to think of it is by picturing a 2-Liter soda bottle. Imagine it’s been emptied and laid on one side, with a small hole drilled in its other side. If you were to unscrew the cap and blow into it as hard as you could, would the bottle explode?
No. The air would escape from the hole you drilled in the side, and the pressure would never build up enough to cause an explosion. This illustrates how a propane tank normally functions.
Now, imagine instead of blowing into the cap, you hooked an air compressor up to it. The flow of air would build up pressure because it couldn’t escape through the small hole as fast as it comes in through the cap. Eventually, it would rupture. This is what happens when a propane tank is heated excessively: the air expands faster than it can escape.
But keep in mind: to cause a rupture, a tank has to be exposed to extreme heat, such as a fire. Starting a bonfire under your tank could result in a rupture. Leaving it outside on a sunny day won’t.
There’s no reason to worry about tank explosions if you’re using the tank as it is meant to be used and following the safety instructions outlined by your propane company.
Have more questions about propane tanks? Contact your local Lakes Gas office.