Does Propane Go Bad? [BBQ Gas Grilling Guide]

By Ben Isham-Smith


The biggest benefits of gas grilling are easy ignition and fuel longevity. But does propane ever go bad? Here’s everything you need to know.

does propane go bad

Are you thinking about switching to using propane for grilling or smoking? One of the reasons why you may be thinking of switching to propane is because it is an abundant resource, and it is cleaner. But how do you store it, and does propane go bad? These are valid questions especially if you will not be using a propane cooker every day, and want to make sure that you always have a stash of propane with you for whenever you want to grill or smoke your food. 

Propane is most commonly known as liquified petroleum gas or LPG. It is a common cooking alternative for many reasons. In this article, we take a look at the shelf life of propane, how you can store it, and what you need to be careful of when you hold it. Let’s explore propane’s shelf life, shall we?

Does propane expire?

The long and short of it all is, no, propane does not go bad or expire. Propane is a gas that gets compressed and stored in a liquid format. It has a long shelf life and is a favourite for several uses around the house. This includes grilling and smoking food, as well as heating the home. 

Propane is different from other fuel sources that do expire over time, which means that you have to use them up over a certain period. Diesel and kerosene are such gases. Propane, on the other handed, can be kept for a while. The important thing is to make sure that it is stored up to code and in the right containers. 

It can be confusing though to see an expiration date on a propane tank or its gauge if it doesn’t expire why does it have an expiration date. This date is a reminder for you to change the tank. That is what will need inspection and change. The gas itself is good to stay.

How long will my propane burn?

To know how long your propane will burn, you will need to calculate how often you use it and the rate at which you do this. There are a few factors that you will need to take into consideration to come up with a working formula. The size of your gas grill or propane smoker as well as how long you intend to have the gas on come to mind. Smoking generally tends to take longer, so you are bound to consume more gas than when grilling. 

When you are grilling on a medium-sized grill, a 20-pound propane tank should last you up to 18 or 20 hours. The larger the grill, the more propane it will use up. A large grill can burn 20pounds of propane in approximately 10hours. For an average-sized family meal on a medium-sized grill, you should only need to use about 2 pounds of gas. 

You can also keep a handle on how your propane levels by learning how to calculate your burn rate. You can do this by calculating your burn rate. An expert will do this better, its a tad complicated. If you want to give it a try, weigh the tank. If you look at the tank, you will likely notice that this indicated on 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 propane tanks explode?

One of the most common concerns with using gas is the potential to explode or implode. The good news is that propane does not explode or implode. It is a safe gas to work with, which is what makes it a safe gas to use around the house. It will take a lot of effort to blow up a propane tank. 

Several safety measures ensure that this does not happen. However, just like with every other gas tank, you must be diligent and avoid leaks.

The rare occasion when a propane tank can explode is if the tank experiences a boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion. It happens when the tank faces extreme heat over an extended period. When this happens, the liquid propane then expands in the tank. When the pressure exceeds the safety relief valve in the tank, this may cause a rupture. Unless you are keeping your propane tank above an open and consistent flame, you should be safe from potential explosions.

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

Can you store propane tanks outside in the winter?

Heat is the one element that you don’t want your propane tank regularly exposed to. This means that the cold winter months will have no impact on your propane tank stored outside. What you need to be careful of is damp areas or areas with moisture. These can promote rust on your tank. You can prevent rust by covering your tank with plastic coating. Otherwise, your gas will be safe. 

How to store propane safely

It is best to make sure that the tank stays in a cool, dry place. Lower temperatures in a dry space, ensure that the temperature of the tank remains low and also that there is no rust. The optimum temperature is below 120degrees Fahrenheit. When you finished with the tank, shut the gas tap off properly.

It is unsafe to store a propane tank indoors, especially if the area is hot. Also, if the tank leaks, this can be very dangerous if it is indoors. When you store your tank outside, make sure that the area in which you keep the tank is a flat surface, in a cool place, (you can build a shed over it). Also, make sure that it stays upright, and a little elevation of the ground can also ensure that it stays dry and stable. 

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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