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


  1. Nyge says:

    Ok … lets say it needs to be just a big heavy empty bottle as there is a safety issue.
    Make a compressed air well pump with no moving parts:
    Bottle located correct way up and under well water. Drill a hole (guess 8 mm) as low down on bottle as possible which will not get blocked. Drill another bigger hole (guess 20 mm) at the base but in the side of the bottle and fit a water delivery hose.
    In the top of the bottle fit a compressed air line which can be vented to the atmosphere or used to supply a large flow of compressed air.
    Ok go … vent airline to atmosphere and bottle fills with water. Now supply compressed air fast enough so that most of water comes from delivery hose but expect some loss of water via water filler hole. Repeat cycle and experiment with different sized water filler holes.
    Could use a second bottle as a compressed air reservoir.
    Will lift water easily 10 metres if not more … tried and it works!

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