How can I reuse or recycle empty bottled gas/propane cylinders?

Lyndon has emailed to ask about reusing – or recycling – propane gas canisters (the ones for heating, barbecues or patio heaters etc):

Trying to tidy up the yard at work, what can I do with some old gas bottles?

If there is a company name on the bottles (like Calor Gas, Flo Gas or TotalGaz – to name but three), the safest/laziest thing might be to contact them to see if they could pick them up – gas bottles get reused again and again by gas supply companies and if the canisters are still in reusable condition, they might be more than willing to take them off your hands and put them back into circulation. (They’ll be able to dispose of any remaining gas too.) (UPDATED: see the note below from Calor – you should really give their tanks back to them.)

Empty or old gas bottles also pop up quite frequently on Freecycle/Freegle, Gumtree and eBay as it is cheaper to refill old tanks than buy new ones every time (and hurrah for that!). Again, hopefully they’ll disappear from your yard with minimal effort and be reused again & again.

As for non-intended purpose reuses, some people turn them into outdoor woodburning stoves – but do be careful if you want to try anything like that yourself! Safety first, and all that.

Have you got any suggestions for how he could reuse these bottles? Or ways to recycle them? And any other advice (particularly about safety issues)?

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56 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle empty bottled gas/propane cylinders?”


  1. strowger says:

    anything large and made of metal will be gone pretty quickly if you leave it out by the roadside.

  2. Having owned a couple of campervans and having had them with partially filled gas bottles we found that you could only get them re-filled at the place where the gas bottle was bought! Not helpful when said place is 150 miles away! Something to bear in mind if giving them away to people :)

  3. Didoh says:

    You could make a rocket mass heater. However, get expert help first on how to handle the bottle because it will need careful venting before any cutting .
    We used one for a barbecue but it took an age to vent the gas completely.

    • Bob says:

      Just remove the valve and fill with water from a hose. It’s called negative displacement and gets rid of ALL the gas, even the bits hanging around the bottom on cold days

  4. Free Stuff says:

    If you want somewhere in Australia to recycle gas bottles just go to http://www.freetreasure.com.au and upload it there. Somebody will be more than willing to come collect it from you and re-use themselves. Enjoy

  5. Calor Gas says:

    Calor branded cylinders always belong to us, and should always be returned to the nearest Calor dealer/stockist when no longer wanted or for a refill. You can find your local Calor stockist via http://www.calor.co.uk/find-a-stockist/ or by calling Calor Gas Direct on 0800 662 663 and we will happily arrange a collection.

    Any other use of Calor cylinders – ie. selling them, scrapping them, or converting them is unlawful and may result in legal action being taken against the perpetrator. Converting into any other use, such as woodburners or bbq is unlawful and the health and safety implications are highly dangerous, to name just 1, there may be residue of gas still inside the cylinder and the tool use to convert the cylinder could cause it to ignite.

    • Anon says:

      Perhaps if Calor went back to returning people’s inital cylinder deposit then you’d have a case but as you now keep the deposit then you forfit any claim you had no the cylinder – Corporate Greed at it’s finest!

      • Calor Gas says:

        To clarify the above comment regarding the refund of the initial deposit paid by the customer the first time they acquire a Calor cylinder, the ‘Cylinder Refill Agreement’ is a one off charge and the customer is entitled, on presenting their paper copy of this agreement, to a refund of a proportion of the cylinder refill charge based on how long they have had the cylinder. Further information regarding the refund amounts can be obtained from your local Calor Centre, dealer or stockist or by consulting page 2 of the Cylinder Refill Agreement. If the customer no longer has their paper copy of this agreement, they can ring Calor Direct on 0800 662 663 and ask them to arrange collection of the cylinder for free. Calor will also give either a £3 ex gratia payment per cylinder to the customer or donate £5 per cylinder to Calor’s corporate charity. Please note that Calor cylinders always remain the property of Calor.

      • DoctorDee says:

        Since I cannot reply to Calor’s comment below, I have to reply to this comment – but this is directed at Calor since I agree with the previous poster’s comments on corporate greed:

        Expecting people to keep a piece of paper in the modern age, when you could easily provide an Internet service to keep track of bottles and agreements is just sharp practice. You are profiting off people’s inability (and lack of desire to) keep track of paperwork.

        I always need gas, can’t find the paperwork, have to buy a new cylinder. Then I find the paperwork some weeks later.

        If you want the cylinder back, you should give the deposit back! I’d rather add it to the pile of your Cylinders in my garage than have your “ex gratia” payment of £3. By the way, ex gratia means “by a big favour” – so it’s hardly the correct term to use when you are screwing people out of their deposits.

        From the look of all the empty cylinders for sale on eBay – I’m not the only one who feels this way. Surely a flat deposit system, rather than this stupid rental scheme would make everyone’s lives easier.

      • Bob says:

        I agree with Doctordee. If I pay a £20 deposit then I want £20 back. This is why so many of your bottles are being dumped on the roadside. Pay Up

    • Anonymous says:

      Well why are you guys out there picking em up? Then people wouldn’t throw em in the bush.

    • Scottishbaine16789 says:

      Point in question
      My local council collect unwanted gas fuel containers for a fee via the environmental waste collection services. They then store these containers untill they have sufficient numbers. They then contact the owners ie flowgas etc and charge the firms for the containers return as a service not a sale. If the firm refuses to pay and collect the materials are processed as scrap metal. The proceeds from this then cover the costs of overheads and make healthy profit also. Now legal or othwise I make no alligations. Over the six years they have been doing it no legal actions from canister owners have been upheld.
      I would like Calor and other firms to comment as well as individuals. Some feel this is one law for one and one for another.

      • Scottishbaine16789 says:

        Also other councils are adopting similar schemes. Again no alligations beeing made. Therefore I presume its legal. Im told by the council that if cyclinders are not collected from them,all interests and propety rights somehow transfer to the councils.

      • Scottishbaine16789 says:

        So why did we look into this?
        Calor in this instance refused to collect empties when no longer required.
        Yeah we had the paperwork but were concidered to have had the cylinders too long. Well as a loyal customer we did use use them ongoing for two years. We were expected to pay Calor 79.99 for the cylinder plus a refil fee then 15.00 if we wanted them to take it away. Well. Do the math. What a rip off as we lost the hire fees as it was. Not happy with the council charges either a two wway profit system in my opinnion. We took a cab and delivered them back to the agent who called the police and accused us of illegal fly tipping. Why because we were upposed to have an appointment no body told us about. The alligations were dropped. But Calor are the hardest company to return cylinders too. They do not do as they claim to.

        We were even encouraged to take back the cylinders aftr delivering them in case we might need them again. Oh yes we were about to do that after all that trouble eh.

        Even more intresting is the hipocrazy here. We were told no free collection as it costs too much for them and if they colleced all unwanted empties they would not have enough room for them. Its easier to buy more than collect old the manager stated.

      • Calor Gas says:

        I am really concerned to see your comments regarding the collection of unwanted cylinders by Calor. I would like the opportunity to discuss this further and would really appreciate it if you could contact me at calorgold@calor.co.uk. I can assure you that we do offer a free cylinder collection service and I would like to find out who has told you that it is easier for Calor to purchase new cylinders. I can assure you this is not the case and is certainly not our policy. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  6. Olia says:

    Make side table by attaching the table top to the cylinder.

  7. John says:

    Before attempting any cutting or grinding I always fill them with water first to drive out any residual gas.

  8. Virginia Smith says:

    Hi – you may be interested to check out the webpage http://www.ozpig.com.au.
    I have a home-made outdoor fire (pig) exactly like the ozpig that a skilled neighbour made for me from my 20kg empty gas bottle. It involves a bit of welding, angle grinder to cut off the end for it to be re-used as a door and also some round steel pipe for the chimney & steel angle for the legs. It has rusted over time but that all adds to it’s unique character. My door does not have a locking latch on it & can be left ajar to enable the fire to draw properly.
    Hope this helps!

  9. Calor Gas says:

    Further to Calor’s previous response and additional comments by other users, we must stress that the conversion of any Calor cylinder is highly dangerous and can result in serious injury or even death.
    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. The safety of our customers is Calor’s primary concern and we recently issued a safety warning regarding the conversion or mis-use of Calor cylinders – http://www.calor.co.uk/about-calor/press-centre/safety-warning/
    As well as the safety implications of a potential gas explosion, tampering with LPG cylinders or attempting to change their use is an unlawful offence which could result in prosecution.

    • clive says:

      calor trawls through ebay etc under the name of welshboyo1968 offering payment for cylinders advertised. they then arrange collection and time but turn up with police and claim the cylinders are stolen and prosecute, io know i was victim to them. i never got £3 each it’s just a con

  10. wong wear says:

    I don’t recommend using these around the home. They are pressure vessels with some gas still inside.

    Sell them to a scrap metal merchant who will organise for the metal to be recycled.

    • Scottishbaine16789 says:

      If the major bottle gas firms are right and cylinders remain company property upcycling a bottle into a bbq or planter or whatever would perhaps be illegal. I make no alligations against those who make things from them albeit legal o otherwise.

      I would point out for those interested. Many bottle gas firms will sell you an un used i.e never filled bottle with no tap fitiiting to do as you please with.

  11. Nick Cater says:

    Reuse…
    For cylinder retrieval in the UK, if there is any identifying name on the cylinder, you can find out who to contact about old cylinders by checking here:
    http://www.uklpg.org/advice-and-information/cylinder-recovery/
    First name is the old brand, second name is the present company, third name is contact person with contact number who should know about local points where cylinders can be left.

    Recycle…
    Check your local recycling site or scrap yard to see if they can handle gas cylinders and know how to ensure they are empty.

  12. dave says:

    ok i wanted to get some money back from the collection of gas cylinders now finding out you dont get your deposit, as for the cost covers use/wear and tear, why? that should come out of your gross profits, you dont add another 10p extra for tyre wear, dont charge 20p extra for that cup of coffee that a team leader in a call center has etc, because these are overheads and so should the maintaining of YOUR assets, you say they are always YOUR property, so you should maintain YOUR assets such as cylinders, warehouses, vehicles, staff etc, if i cant get a refund i wont lie i will just dump them in the severn river on princible, so if calor want to recover them, start looking towards the irish sea, yet another eco problem due to company not making it worth while,

    • Calor Gas says:

      Hi Dave, as previously stated, the customer is entitled, on presenting their paper copy of the Cylinder Refill Agreement, to a refund of a proportion of the cylinder refill charge. Alternatively we will give either a £3 ex gratia payment per cylinder to the customer or donate £5 per cylinder to Calor’s corporate charity on the customer’s behalf. Calor invests millions of pounds of capital expenditure annually into the refurbishment and maintenance of our cylinder assets.

    • Matt says:

      I hope that you don’t dump the cylinders Dave. The amount of legislation you are breaching is astounding. Calor’s offer is reasonable just count it as part of your overheads and move on.

      Dumping the cylinders is highly irresponsible and if you are caught you deserve to have the book thrown at you.

  13. Gf says:

    Re. Cal or. What do you really think are the chances any average customer will have retained never mind be able to find the revolt. I for one started off with cal or many years ago but over successive refills have ended up with a flogas. Recently upgraded the barbecue and took out a contract with bp at home base because they wouldnt honour an exchange of the “old” type bottle. It does unfortunately look like you big companies are basic scammers

  14. PSW says:

    Being a recycling artist and steel fabricator, I can think of nothing more enjoyable than recycling these cylinders into worthwhile useable objects. I know what I have to do to make them safe so whats the harm? It makes no sense to merely get the old cylinders scrapped.

    • Calor Gas says:

      We couldn’t agree more that cylinders shouldn’t be scrapped, which is why we have in place an extensive refurbishment process to ensure we can re-use old cylinders wherever possible. In fact we refurbish over 250,000 cylinders each year! I would also urge you to please take note of the safety warnings regarding converting old cylinders – this is of huge concern to us as the safety of our customers and users is our number one priority. http://www.calor.co.uk/about-calor/press-centre/safety-warning/

  15. Joe says:

    A portion, or proportion as you put it, of a deposit is not the whole deposit. People want their money back, all of it, not a percentage. When I want to get rid of something, and im not getting all of my money back, in my mind your ripping me off, and I’ll dispose of it to someone else out of spite. You can’t give me all of my money back, so why can’t I just give you a portion of your cylinder back? Sounds fair to me

  16. Jamie says:

    Without any identifying marks on the cylinder, the scrappy will welcome them:-)
    The cost of refill varies so much across the UK that it is obvious that people are getting ripped off, they do make wonderful stoves, just google gas cyclinder stoves.
    If Calor or any of the other suppliers where honest and genuine then we would have a fixed refill price that reflected market prices, until then I believe that they probaly haven’t a leg to stand on.
    Pay a deposit , if they want the bottle back return then give us our deposit back, very few people have old bottles,they are exchanged each time you get a refill delivered. So no returned deposit then no bottle back simple.
    Don’t attack empty bottles though with grinders/blow torches or welding gear, leave the valve open, unscrew valve, fill with water a couple of times, then do what you want with them. these are only suggestions readily available on the internet which is where I got them from.

  17. Ron says:

    To calor gas people are going to convert empty tanks and you just keep on about safety, what do you do with old tanks. Which are unusable ? Perhaps you could make them safe and sell them for conversion removing the negative comments against your company and making you even greener. I have seen drums made from gvas tanks and want to convert some myself then offer the music they make to children in schools. A reply can be sent to my email address.

    • Calor Gas says:

      Hi Ron, thank you for your suggestion.

      Every Calor cylinder undergoes a full inspection and safety test at our specialist facility at least every 15 years – as well as being subject to inspection every time it is refilled. If any fault, safety issue, or damage is identified during these inspections, the cylinder undergoes a full refurbishment process, at the end of which it is as good as new and is put back into circulation. In a very small number of cases the cylinder is beyond repair and is deemed unsafe under the health and safety legislation within which we are governed. In these cases the cylinder is sent for recycling and the metal reused. As you can see this is a fully ‘green’ process with no metal going to waste.

      We do not make old cylinders available for conversion in the manner you suggest, as you can see from the above that we either refurbish or recycle ALL of our cylinders. Making cylinders available in the way you suggest would give the message that it is ok/safe to convert cylinders. As you will have seen from our earlier posts, we are extremely concerned about this as we have seen serious injury and even death as a result of people converting LPG cylinders and other such storage vessels. We dont want to do anything which could be seen as encouraging or endorsing this highly dangerous practice.

      • ifurnotfree wotru says:

        is an empty tank more dangerous than a full one?

        ” under the health and safety legislation within which we are governed”.

        The assumption that we are governed by legislation (weather we like it or not) can be understood better by questioning where it seeks the force of law.

  18. Keith says:

    In response to Calor gas:
    Your initial bottle rental is now circa £30 / cylinder, and for you to say you will get a proportion of this refunded upon return of the cylinder is been economical with the truth, as you know well that the refund value depreciates to nothing after 3 years. Furthermore you have what you describe as A and B group gas cylinders. Hence if a customer has a need to change from an A to a B group cylinder, then you hit them with another bottle rental agreement. I am convinced that the cylinder grouping size has been chosen to further maximise your profits.
    As others have pointed out, Calor cylinders frequently appear on ebay, gumtree, and freecycle. Hence why would I want to pay you £30 for a cylinder, when I can get a used s/h bottle for alot less (and sometimes free). The argument you use to counter this activity (ie its a safety hazard, its dangerous, etc, etc) is a smokescreen, because if the cylinder is defective, I can only get a refill by going to a Calor agent, and exchanging the empty for a full cylinder. Then at this stage you would become aware of any defects due to your “full inspection and safety test at our specialist facility at least every 15 years – as well as being subject to inspection every time it is refilled” process. I quite understand why you dont like this, as it theatens a very lucrative income stream to your profits. Whilst I agree with you regarding the modification of these cylinders (destruction of your property) is illegal, as long as you continue with the policy of a depreciating refund, some people will feel justified in their actions as detailed in the posts above. I for one would not mind paying a deposit, if I knew I could always get it back in full, but we all know that will never happen, will it?
    Finally see this link: http://www.reckon.co.uk/item/473×6064 which details how your restrictive business practices have been proven in a court of law to violate EU competition laws.

  19. cintia says:

    Once I made my husband turn around the car, to see this little pig on the brush, we laugh very hard when noticed it was just an old rusted propane tank.

  20. thomas scott says:

    if i was given an empty calor/propane gas bottle would any calor/propane refill company fill it for me for just the refill price, you see i only need a small bottle for a one off job on my flat roof.i have heard these companys will take a bottle off you if it has thier name on it, therefore i would,nt want any hassle. thank you.

  21. Calor Gas says:

    Hi Thomas, Calor will exchange Calor cylinders at any of our Calor Centres or network of Dealers and Stockists – see http://www.calor.co.uk/find-a-stockist/ to find your nearest retail outlet. You will pay for the gas only – ie. if you are returning an empty Calor cylinder you will not be required to pay for a new cylinder refill agreement. Please note that there are cylinder groups in place which mean that you should only exchange certain cylinder sizes for each other ie. you cannot exchange a 6kg propane lite for a 47kg propane, but a 6kg propane for a 7kg butane is fine. If you require any further clarification regarding this please let us know.

    • Andrew Lunt says:

      Further to the various posts by Calor and in particular that of May 1st 2012.

      I have a number old calor cylinders that my father, a retired farmer, collected over a number of years.

      I contacted Calor Direct on 0800 662 663 to enquire about the ex gratia payment and/or donation to charity. It was a franchised stockist and not actually calor: I was informed my father’s farm was outside their area and they could not collect. I contacted a local stockist, they were unaware of the charity scheme. I contacted Calor by web site and by phone to their help line, they were unaware of the operational details of the charity scheme and suggested I took the cylinders to a stockist.

      I was left unsure that any money would find its way to charity and faced with transporting Calor’s property at my expense.

      I should like calor’s help in achieving that which they say is possible. ie collection of more than half a dozen cylinders and a receipt and paper trail confirming the donation to charity.

  22. You can create music instrument.
    Here is an article (in French) with some photos: http://www.ouest-france.fr/actu/actuLocale_-Avec-ses-bouteilles-de-gaz-on-fait-de-la-musique-_40896-1839792——56260-aud_actu.Htm
    I already heard one of them and the sound is very pure, very interesting.

  23. cynric says:

    Calor gas are clearly abusing their position. A deposit is just that, it should be returned IN FULL whenever the cylinder is returned. If they do not then I agree they have forfeited any rights to the item.
    Whilst I can understand them not wanting to sell old cylinders for conversion they are lying when they say that their disposal is anything like ‘green.’ The home Conversion of a cylinder to another use is green, using vast amounts of energy to melt the metal and reuse that metal must be the last option.

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  25. Jamie says:

    my sister has just moved into a new place and we have discovered two empty bottles in the bush. after reading all the replies I don’t feel happy about contacting calor as one post stated they might turn up with the police.
    I would be happy to take the two bottles to the dealers if I knew I would get some money for the hassle but I’m sure that won’t be the case either.

    any one want to buy two bottles?

  26. Calor Gas says:

    Hi Jamie, if you email us your/your sister’s address details to calorgold@calor.co.uk we will arrange for our local salesperson to come and collect them. I can assure you we wouldn’t involve the police seeing you found the cylinders and are returning them to us in good faith. We have involved the police in only a very small number of instances where people have persistently undertaken unlawful activities. If you would like us to collect the bottles you have found we would be happy to do so at a time convenient to you.

  27. Calor Gas says:

    Hi Jamie, if you email us your/your sister’s address details to calorgold@calor.co.uk we will arrange for our local salesperson to come and collect them. I can assure you we wouldn’t involve the police seeing you found the cylinders and are returning them to us in good faith. We have involved the police in a very small number of instances where people have persistently undertaken unlawful activity. If you would like us to collect the bottles you have found we would be happy to do so at a time convenient to you.

  28. John says:

    After reading all through these posts, and seeing Calor’s position on this, I give up.
    I’d thought of this as a nice little project, and seen some stoves advertised, (even some really expensive ones are said to have come from this beginning), I’m wondering what Calor does about them. Good job I didn’t start buying new equipment, and materials. The old bottle that I have, has gone rusty at the bottom, but since Calor want to go around threatening people, it doesn’t seem legal to use. I was thinking of getting in touch with Calor to see if I could buy old bottles off them, now I know they won’t sell.

    You never know, I could have made a thriving business out of this one, seems some have!

    Another end to a great idea.

  29. Nicholas Henriquez says:

    You can use these as a steamer to melt ice in piping driveways or anywhere ice removal is required quickly.
    1. Very slowly screw off the valve letting the pressure out
    2. wash out
    3. Install a half inch or three quarter inch nipple with a barbed end for the installation of a hose suitable for high temperatures
    4. Install hose onto barb using a screw tightened clamp
    5. Fill the container with water halfway
    6. Heat the container with a torch until steam comes out and begin melting
    7. the hose can be fed into spaces where ice melting is required

  30. Chris Padley says:

    All credit to Calor for engaging with customers on this thread, but the claim that their primary concern is safety when they complain about people’s ideas for modifying cylinders for other uses rings hollow. The obvious way of avoiding this is to have a depost system that motivates people to return them and so takes them out of circulation. I would want Calor to require identification from everyone returning them – to avoid motivating theft. But if Calor know people are cutting them up with grinders and torches and believe this is very dangerous -and surely they are right – why do they continue a deposite system that encourages it?

  31. mbuynow says:

    Interesting topic. For one’s safety, I’d like to suggest to send the old gas cylinders to local recycling site. And they will handle them correctly.

  32. Tim says:

    To recycle a small propane tank, we live the USA and can have them refilled over and over. But a great repurposing of such a tank is to drain out all propane FULLY and then make a portable air tank. All it takes is a few plumbing connections and a hose with the appropriate pheumatic chuck for filling tires, balls, etc. or use an air nozzle for blowing off dust, wood chips, etc. It works great!

  33. JAMES says:

    The user may terminate this agreement by returning the cylinder(s) in good order to a CALOR outlet nominated for this purpose and shall be entitled on presenting this agreement to a refund of a proportion of the Refill Agreement Charge as follows:-

    1 year old = 70% refund

    2 years old = 60% refund

    3 years old = 50% refund

    4 years old = 45% refund

    5 years old = 40% refund

    6 years old = 35% refund

    7 years old = 30% refund

    Over 7 years = 25% refund

  34. David Gibbons says:

    I agree that cylinders should be returned to calor gas, it’s a responsible action, however calor gas say they will collect them but don’t. as they are empty they are not important, calor gas don’t even reply to emails! So it is hard to be responsible and calor gas should be ashamed of there customer service

  35. Mike says:

    I made a trash can from an old gas bottle.
    Look here:
    http://www.golfhaus.de/forum/viewtopic.php?p=21803#21803

  36. Ripped off says:

    25% back

  37. Ripped off says:

    £34.25 for empty Calor bottle (Calor agreement) plus £25.49 for Calor gas… equals £59.74 for a bottle of Calor gas, I know its £25.49 from now on for the gas.
    I will look forward to my £8.56 refund. But, I may have another use… a time capsule buried at the bottom of my garden when I no longer need the Calor bottle.
    Ripped Off again.



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