How To Cut A Propane Tank (Step-by-Step Guide)
Propane is very useful to have around the house. It powers barbecues, heats pools, fuels outdoor heaters, and much more.
The tanks that propane gas comes in can also be very useful. You could use one to build a propane forge, a quenching tank, or even a rocket stove. However, DIYers need to exercise extreme caution while working with propane tanks.
To cut a propane tank, you need to get every last remnant of gas out of it. Start by disconnecting the tank. Then, take the tank out into an open space and open its valve. Wash the tank with water and check for gas one more time. Once that’s clear, you can start cutting with a drill, grinder, or saw.
Why Safety Is Important
Cutting into a propane tank presents several risks. You need to be aware of these before getting started with your project.
The first risk is the most obvious one. Propane tanks are full of propane gas. If you cut into a tank that’s full of gas, you’re very likely to create an explosion. That’s why it’s so important to fully empty your propane tanks before you start to work on them with a power tool.
The next risk is a bit less obvious upfront. When you clear out your propane tank, most experts recommend doing so with water.
This means filling the tank completely with water, letting it sit for a while, and then emptying the tank. The remaining gases will leave the tank once the water goes in. When the water exits the tank, clean air will rush in to take its place.
The risk associated with this is using a power tool to cut into a tank that still has some water in it. Doing so could electrocute you. It’s another reason why DIYers need to use extreme caution when cutting into propane tanks.
What Materials and Tools Do I Need?
There aren’t very many tools and materials you need to cut into a propane tank. You can make the cuts with several kinds of saws, grinders, drills, and welding machines. Just select the tool that you plan on working with and make sure you have everything you need to operate it on hand.
You’ll also need enough water to fill your propane tank. If you want to go above and beyond to clear out the last remnants of gas from the tank, you could also dry ice. However, this isn’t necessary.
Finally, you’ll need a hammer, wrench, or another tool that you can use to take out the valve on your propane tank. Gather some standard protection gear, like gloves and boots, and you’re ready to get started.
Here’s a recap of everything you need in list form:
- Saw, grinder, drill, or welding machine
- Enough water to fill our propane tank
- Dry ice (optional)
- Gloves, boots, and other protective gear
- Hammer, wrench, or another tool that can take off the valve on your tank
How to Cut a Propane Tank
As discussed above, the actual act of cutting a propane tank is pretty straightforward. The challenging part of this project is preparing the tank to be cut. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to do it correctly.
- Disconnect the tank. First, you’re going to remove any hose attachments you may have and close the tank’s valve. Some tanks will leak after you disconnect the hose. If you think that yours might, make sure you put on gloves before getting started.
- Bring the tank to an open space. Propane gas can be toxic to people, animals, and even greenery and trees. That’s why you should bring your propane tank to an empty space before you start emptying it.
- Open the valve. Once you’ve identified where you’d like for the propane gas to be released, you can open the tank’s valve to start letting the gas out. You may need to use your wrench for this.
- Tilt the tank sideways as the gas exits it. This is a good precautionary step, which will make it easier to get more of the propane out of the tank.
- Double-check the tank’s gas contents. Do this by connecting the tank to a gas grill, or another appliance that you use it on. If the grill lights, then you know there’s still gas in the tank. Any remaining gas will be used up in the fire.
- Cut the top off. You may or may not need to do this depending on what you plan on doing with your tank. If you do decide to cut the top of your tank off, make sure that you don’t do so before taking the valve out. Instead, simply remove the handles from the head of the tank.
- Take out the valve. You should be able to do this with your hammer.
- Wash the tank. You’ll want to start by adding a little soap straight into the cylinder of your tank. Then, add water and shake thoroughly to activate the soap. After, continue adding water until the tank is completely full.
- Let the water sit overnight. This will make sure that every trace of the remaining gas is out of the tank. If you don’t have time for this, then you can create a similar effect by repeating step 8 multiple times.
- Use dry ice (optional). If you want to be extra cautious, then you can use dry ice on the tank as well. You can simply put the ice directly into the tank. However, you will need to rinse the tank out with water after removing the dry ice.
- Start cutting. Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’re ready to start cutting into your propane tank. You can do so with whatever tool you’ve chosen to use as long as you’ve made sure that there are no traces of gas or water left in the tank.
Can You Weld a Propane Tank?
Welding a propane tank may seem very dangerous, given the potential combination of sparks and gas. However, as long as you’ve thoroughly cleaned out your tank, you should be able to weld on it without issue.
That being said, it’s always a good idea to wear protective gear while welding. This is even more important when working on a propane tank.
Make sure to wear your protective gear even if you’re pretty sure that you’ve gotten all of the gas out of your propane tank. Experts recommend wearing compressed glasses, fire-resistant gloves, and safety footwear at a minimum.
You may also want to put on a breathing apparatus and hearing protection to ensure your safety. As long as you’ve put on this gear and take the steps detailed in the guide above, it’s perfectly fine to weld on propane tanks.
Are propane tanks difficult to cut through?
Propane tanks aren’t very difficult to cut through. They usually have metal walls that are about a quarter of an inch thick, although some may go up to a thickness of around 3/8-inches. Most tools should be capable of getting the job done.
What can you make out of an old propane tank?
DIYers have found practically endless uses for old propane tanks. They’re an excellent source of scrap metal, which can be utilized for a variety of applications. This includes wood stoves, fire pits, flower pots, and even art.
Kellan is a content writer who specializes in everything DIY. When he's not behind the keyboard, he enjoys spending time with his pets, playing music, and geeking out about basketball. He hopes to make your home improvement projects a little bit easier to accomplish.
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