Can propane tanks explode (can gas cylinders explode)? Propane is explosive and propane can explode but a propane-LPG tank explosion is actually very rare. Propane tanks (gas cylinders) can explode but not easily or often. It is actually really hard to have a propane tank explode.
Propane explosions are almost always caused by a leaking gas accumulating in an enclosed space, combined with an ignition source, often not even close to the cylinder, not an LPG tank explosion.
However, if you listen to the news, you would think that propane-LPG tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion) or propane-LPG explosions are happening all the time.
How could they get it so wrong?
Can Propane Tanks Explode – Can Gas Cylinders Explode – Facts on Propane-LPG Tank Explosion
An propane gas leak explosion is almost always caused by the accumulation of leaking gas in an enclosed space, not an propane-LPG tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion). The propane gas leak explosion can be from the gas appliance or other source not involving the gas cylinder. In many cases, when an propane gas leak explosion-blast occurs, the gas cylinders are not even involved.
The propane-LPG tank explosions almost never happen because of the built in Pressure Relief Valve.
Many gas leak explosions-blast are caused by natural gas (piped gas), not bottled gas.
The gas cylinder involved in an gas leak explosion may also be welding gas or other non-propane gas cylinder.
There must be an ignition source for a gas leak explosion to occur.
Propane-LPG Tank Explosion isUncommon – Can Propane Tanks Explode – Can Gas Cylinders Explode
A propane-LPG tank explosion or propane gas cylinder explosion is a rare event. The gas leak is rarely from the gas cylinder itself and an actual propane gas cylinder blast (gas cylinder explosion) or propane-LPG tank explosion, resulting from a BBQ fire, would be very unusual.
Faulty barbecues can cause gas fires. Gas leaks are typically caused by worn or damaged gas regulators or hoses.
The fire will self-extinguish, without an propane gas cylinder blast (gas cylinder explosion) when the gas cylinder runs dry, as barbecues should always be placed safely away from other flammable materials.
James Bond Got It Wrong — Bullets Don't Do It
MythBusters, the popular TV series that tests urban myths, once tried to make a propane-LPG tank explosion with a 9mm handgun.
They were trying to replicate a stunt seen in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.
The 9mm bullet wouldn’t even pierce the LPG gas bottle. It just bounced off.
They then resorted to an armour piercing rifle bullet and managed to make the gas bottle leak but still no propane-LPG tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion).
Next, they shot it repeatedly with armour piercing tracer rounds, which are essentially bullets on fire. They still couldn't make the propane tank explode.
Finally, they resort to using actual explosives and they finally made the propane tank explode (gas cylinders explode).
Enjoy the videos…
Then, in a subsequent video, they use a Gatling gun (mini gun) with incendiary bullets.
The Media Just Loves to Report a Propane-LPG Tank Explosion
It should come as no surprise that the media is fond of reporting “propane-LPG tank explosions”, even if it did not actually occur. The reality is that propane gas cylinders or propane tanks hardly ever explode.
A good example of this is a front page story about a tragic house fire where supposedly there was a propane-LPG gas tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion) but the accompanying post-fire picture showed both gas bottles upright and intact.
Most of us have heard the news media expression: “If it bleeds, it leads!”
And it would not be an exaggeration to say that the media likes to sensationalise the news.
After all, that’s one way they keep their audience interested.
In fact, it would be quite challenging to cause a propane-LPG tank explosion, as the MythBusters discovered.
Welding Gas Cylinders Explode, Not Propane-LPG Tank Explosions
Gas leak explosions involving tradespeople are almost always when an acetylene gas cylinder explodes, not a propane gas cylinder blasts. In reality, most accidents when a gas cylinder explodes involving tradespeople are welding gas cylinder explosions and not propane-LPG tank explosions.
The problem is that there is also frequently a lack of detail in what is reported regarding the gas blast.
Pressure Relief Valve Prevents Propane-LPG Tank Explosions
Arguably, the single most important safety feature of a gas bottle or propane tank is the Pressure Relief Valve. It’s actually a propane safety valve within a valve. The Pressure Relief Valve is incorporated into the main gas valve on the propane tank, as shown in the accompanying picture.
If the pressure of the gas inside the tank increases, as the result of a fire or other heat source, the pressure relief valve releases some of the gas from the propane tank to relieve the pressure.
No pressure build up means no risk of an propane-LPG tank explosion or BLEVE.
Gas bottles have been around for about 100 years.
Over that time, the gas industry has had a lot of time to perfect the safety features of gas bottles and valves.
In yet another episode of MythBusters, they tried to see if a BBQ gas bottle would turn into an exploding rocketwhen placed in a fire.
They placed the bottle in the middle of a raging fire, burned down the demonstration building.
After it was over, there was no propane-LPG tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion). The gas bottle was still sitting there, looking almost brand new.
It only proved that the Pressure Relief Valve worked perfectly.
BLEVE – Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion (Gas Blast)
A gas cylinder explosion-blast is sometimes referred to as a BLEVE (blĕ-vē). BLEVE is the acronym abbreviation for Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion. The contents can be any boiling liquid, including water.
If a pressurised gas bottle or vessel ruptures when the contents are above their boiling point, it is referred to as a BLEVE. A BLEVE does not necessarily involve fire. A prime example of this is a steam boiler explosion.
Propane tanks rarely BLEVE (propane-LPG tank explosion) because of the Pressure Relief Valve that releases the excess pressure, preventing a rupture or propane gas blast.
Does Shaking Propane Gas Cylinder Cause it to Explode
Shaking a propane gas cylinder does not cause an propane-LPG tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion). The only result from shaking a gas cylinder is tired arms but no propane-LPG tank explosion-blast.
Evidently there is a hoax video online showing shaking a gas cylinder causing an propane-LPG tank explosion, but it is just not true.
What Causes Cooking Gas Explosion
A cooking gas explosion is caused by an accumulation of gas, typically from a leak. Cooking gas explosion are avoidable. The important thing is to make sure the flame is lit, so that there is no accumulation of gas.
There are built in safety devices, such as a flame failure device, which is designed to stop gas going to the burner of a gas appliance if the flame is extinguished. These safety devices helps prevent a dangerous buildup of gas within the stove and a cooking gas explosion.
Some stoves also have auto re-ignition, that can relight the burner if it goes out, helping prevent a cooking gas explosion.
There are also timers built into some of the starters, that cut-off the gas if it doesn’t ignite within a very few seconds, preventing the accumulation of gas and any possible cooking gas explosion.
A cooking gas explosion only happens if the safety devices fail and the stove is unattended, as you would smell the gas.
No gas accumulation equals cooking gas explosion.
Then what events are the media actually reporting?
In many cases, the gas bottle itself is not involved in the propane-LPG tank explosion, as gas bottles are always stored outdoors. It is actually much more likely to be a natural gas explosion versus an propane-LPG tank explosion (gas cylinder explosion).
Many times it’s a fire or gas leak explosion that may have been caused by leaking gas that has escaped from a faultyappliance or pipework.
The gas collects in a room or section of a structure before a gas leak explosion.
This is no more likely with bottled gas than with piped in natural gas.
A Raging Inferno
Even under very extreme conditions, gas bottles perform well.
A few years ago, a truck fire caused a major fire at a BBQ gas bottle filling plant.
A storage area with thousands of gas bottles was involved in the fire, in what can be described as nothing short of a major inferno.
Even with this extreme heat and rapid temperature build up, only a handful of propane tank exploded.
The Pressure Relief Valves did their job.
Propane-LPG tank explosions are the exception. Propane gas bottles are very safe and we hope you agree…MYTH BUSTED!
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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication.However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.
If the pressure level inside the tank level exceeds that at which the safety relief valve can expel it, the propane tank will rupture. If flames or a source of ignition is present, the propane will ignite resulting in an explosion.Can a propane tank just explode? ›
Can propane tanks explode (can gas cylinders explode)? Propane is explosive and propane can explode but a propane-LPG tank explosion is actually very rare. Propane tanks (gas cylinders) can explode but not easily or often. It is actually really hard to have a propane tank explode.Can gas cylinders explode? ›
LPG cylinders are safe when used correctly, following the accompanying safety instructions. But LPG is a highly flammable material. If a welding torch or power cutter is used on an LPG cylinder, even if it appears to be empty, it can explode violently.What happens if a propane tank explodes? ›
Propane tanks are made out of metal, and when thy explode, sharp shards of this material can come flying off in every direction. Depending on the size and shape of the debris that may come off of the explosion, these pieces can cause serious lacerations or other types of injuries.
A temperature below 120 Fahrenheit is safe, it does not cause an explosion. If it reaches above 120 Fahrenheit there are high chances that an explosion will occur. If the car temperature crosses the limit, keeping a propane tank for a long time can cause an explosion. Follow recommendations from near propane services.How safe are propane tanks? ›
This gas is normally compressed, stored and delivered in liquid form, and is non-toxic, colorless and virtually odorless. When you practice and use safety with propane, it is a totally safe gas product.Can a small propane leak cause an explosion? ›
Propane Gas Regulations and Safety Measures
Since LP gas is stored under pressure in a liquified state, even a small leak can create the possibility of significant gas explosion and fire.
At internal temperatures of 110-150°C and internal pressure up to 13 MNmm2 (1 900 psig), the cylinders burst violently.Can propane tanks spontaneously combust? ›
If the pressure inside the tank grows to a level exceeding that at which the safety relief valve can expel it from the tank, the propane tank may rupture. If flames or a source of ignition is present, the propane will ignite resulting in an explosion.How strong is a gas cylinder explosion? ›
The typical cylinder would probably only burst with pressures over 6895 kPa or 1,000 PSIG. That's about 5x the normal pressure.
The majority of gas cylinders are designed so that they can be stored in the open air and, as such, they will not be adversely affected by inclement weather. Storage areas should be located in an external area where there is good natural ventilation.What should never be done to gas cylinders? ›
A cylinder should never be emptied to a pressure lower than 172 kPa (25 psi/in2) (the residual contents may become contaminated if the valve is left open). When work involving a compressed gas is completed, the cylinder must be turned off, and if possible, the lines bled.Can a propane tank explode in a hot garage? ›
DON'T expose propane tanks to heat over 120˚ Fahrenheit. It may cause a leak or, worse, combustion. DO store propane tanks outdoors. DON'T store propane tanks indoors or in a garage, basement, carport, shed, sunporch, or carport.Is propane flammable or explosive? ›
Flammable Properties: EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE GAS. Can easily ignite. Can readily form explosive mixture with air at room temperature.How often to propane tanks explode? ›
How Many Propane Tank Fires Occur Each Year? According to Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates, roughly 600 propane tank explosions occur each year.At what temperature does a propane tank vent? ›
Liquid Propane is a hazardous material that vaporizes at -44 Fahrenheit.Where is the safest place to store a propane tank? ›
Propane tanks should always be stored outdoors, in well-ventilated areas. Storing propane tanks in garages or sheds is discouraged because if a valve isn't fully closed, vapors could escape and concentrate indoors. A flat, level outdoor area that is out of direct sunlight is the ideal location.Can propane cause a house explosion? ›
In rural Minnesota, it's more typical to see LP gas carried in trucks and stored in tanks for home use, Smith said. However, LP gas or natural gas can become dangerous if the gas leaks out of a tank or supply line. If enough gas builds up inside a building, it can cause a powerful explosion if the gas is ignited.Should you cover your propane tank? ›
Do not fully enclose the tank. No matter how far you place the walls of the enclosure from the tank, it is never okay to enclose your propane tank. Don't place it in a fully enclosed fence, box, crate, or other device designed to hide a propane tank.How can you tell if your propane tank is leaking? ›
Checking for a propane tank leak is easy. Apply soapy water or a special leak detector solution to where the propane tank's cylinder valve and regulator outlet connect. Next, you'll need to slowly open the cylinder valve. Bubbles will form if there is a leak.
This is not just the temperature the cylinder is exposed to at that point in time, but also the maximum temperature that the cylinder will be exposed to at any time in it's service. Catalina Cylinders, along with the CGA, recommends that CO2 cylinders not be used at temperatures exceeding 120 oF.How do you stop a gas cylinder blast? ›
- 1) Turning the stove and gas cylinder off when not in use. ...
- 2) Checking the gas appliances on a regular basis. ...
- 3) Checking the gas cylinder at the time of delivery. ...
- 4) Regular checking of cylinders from the LPG agency. ...
- 5) Taking preventive measures in the case of a gas leak.
Self-ignition temperature for fuel
Some of these faux warnings argue that on hot days, the fuel in a gas tank can become hot enough to spontaneously combust. But, the temperature required for fuel to self-ignite is around 246 to 280 C.
In addition to safety reasons, for LP (propane) grills, leaving the tank valve on can easily lead to a grill going into reduced gas flow state known as bypass. When in bypass, the grill won't reach its proper cooking temperature range, often getting no hotter than 250 to 300F.Will propane tank explode in sun? ›
Keep it in the shade.
The hotter your tank gets, the greater the pressure will be inside the tank. Portable propane tanks are equipped with a relief valve that activates when internal pressure builds up. Once the valve releases, the gas will slowly dissipate through the valve into the air and could ignite.
Propane is a hazardous flammable material that can have explosive force if ignited because the container is pressurized. If there is a leak, the propane can be ignited and cause a fire or burn the worker handling the container. Propane containers can also leak over time creating a fire hazard.What are dangers of a gas cylinder? ›
Improper handling of cylinders could result in sprains, strains, falls, bruises, and broken bones. Other hazards such as fire, explosion, chemical burns, poisoning, and cold burns could occur if gases accidentally escape from the cylinder due to mishandling.Can a gas explosion occur without fire? ›
Gas explosions can occur for a number of reasons including faulty appliances or equipment, a leak, or improper usage of a gas appliance. Gases are chemical substances, that when kept in an unstable environment or are exposed to an ignition source such as heat or fire, have to potential to explode.What are 4 hazards dangers associated with compressed gas cylinders? ›
Hazards associated with compressed gases include oxygen displacement, fires, explosions, and toxic gas exposures, as well as the physical hazards associated with high pressure systems. Special storage, use, and handling precautions are necessary in order to control these hazards.Can gas cylinders be left in the sun? ›
Store Gas Bottles Away from Heat
It should go without saying that gas cannisters should not be stored near a source of heat or ignition.
In order to reduce any risks associated with leakage, your gas cylinders should be stored in a cage which has good ventilation, and which is located in a well-ventilated area.Where do you store propane cylinders? ›
Cylinders should be stored preferably in the open air on a concrete or load-bearing surface. Flammable liquids, combustible, corrosive, oxidising materials, toxic materials or compressed gas cylinders should be kept separate from LPG containers in general.
Although gas is perfectly safe when it's inside its cylinder, it can cause severe damage if it leaks, especially into an enclosed space. Therefore, in the event of an accidental leak, it's important that you store your gas cylinder in a well-ventilated area so as to prevent issues related to gas build up.Is it safe to keep gas cylinder at home? ›
The ideal place to store a gas cylinder is in a well-ventilated space away from direct sunlight. Due to the nature of the substances within, it is important to keep the cylinder away from sources of heat, flammable substances, electric sockets or spaces where you receive transmission from the TV etc.Do gas bottles have to be stored in a cage? ›
The cylinders should be in a suitable outside store, ideally a solid cage which will allow for ventilation whilst protecting the gas cylinders from being tampered with. The store should be away from sources of ignition and any surrounding buildings should be taken in to account during a risk assessment.Can propane ignite open air? ›
Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames, smoking materials, electric sparks and static electricity. Severe freeze burn or frostbite can result if propane liquid comes in contact with your skin.What type of fire is a propane tank explosion? ›
Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids and gases such as gasoline, diesel fuel, paint, paint thinners, and propane.Can propane tanks explode in winter? ›
Always store your propane tank outdoors at least five feet away from your home – never bring it inside for the winter as it has the potential to explode at warmer-than-normal temperatures (and there's always that one family member who wants to crank the thermostat to keep warm…)Can a propane tank explode if grill catches fire? ›
You got lucky. Nearly 60 percent of residential fires starting from grills occur from May through August. Those fires include charcoal grills as well, but the more popularly used propane grills carry a special danger of explosion if the tank gets too hot or if there is gas buildup in and around the grill.Is it safe to leave a propane tank in a hot car? ›
Never leave a filled propane cylinder in a hot car. Heat causes propane to expand, which could lead to a gas leak or an explosion.
Keep in mind that propane tanks should not be stored in a shed, garage, basement or attic, or brought indoors for any reason – they should only be stored in a dry, open, well-ventilated area outdoors. It is only safe to store your propane tank inside if it has been completely emptied of propane.Where is the safest place to store propane? ›
Propane tanks should always be stored outdoors, in well-ventilated areas. Storing propane tanks in garages or sheds is discouraged because if a valve isn't fully closed, vapors could escape and concentrate indoors. A flat, level outdoor area that is out of direct sunlight is the ideal location.Do propane tanks need to be covered? ›
When storing your propane tanks in the winter, it's important to know that freezing temperatures aren't a problem for propane—in fact, you don't even need to cover your tank when storing it outdoors in the winter.Is it safe to leave a propane tank in the direct sunlight? ›
Keep it in the shade.
While your tank should not be stored indoors, it should also not be stored in direct sunlight. On a hot sunny day, the temperature of a tank that's not properly stored could quickly go above 120°F. The hotter your tank gets, the greater the pressure will be inside the tank.
Since LP gas is stored under pressure in a liquified state, even a small leak can create the possibility of significant gas explosion and fire.How do you handle a propane tank fire? ›
Cool containers by flooding them with large quantities of water until well after fire is out. Do not direct water at the source of leak or at safety devices; icing may occur. Leave the area immediately if you hear a rising sound from venting safety devices or see discoloration of the tank.