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If you are a propane tank user, whether for a gas grill or a camper, you should be aware of the proper way to dispose of the tank. If a propane tank is still usable, you have the option to recycle it or possibly even sell it. 

Propane tanks, cylinders, and bottles—like most camping equipment—will reach a point where they are no longer serviceable and need to be replaced or discarded. With smaller containers like cylinders and bottles, this happens more quickly. 

A bulk tank is more durable and will reach this point later. Let’s discuss some of the options you have when disposing of a propane tank.

propane tanks

Are Empty Propane Tanks Worth Anything?

While empty propane tanks have no cash value unless you recycle them, stores often provide discounts toward the purchase of a new tank. 

Most stores that sell propane tanks will exchange an empty propane tank for a filled one at a discount. 

If you no longer need a propane tank, scrap yards will take them but the price they are willing to pay is the going rate of metal scraps. 

The amount you would spend on driving to the yard is the same as what you would receive in return, but this is an option for tank disposal when necessary. 

Selling Your Empty Propane Tanks

A propane tank that is still in good condition and not rusty can be sold to another user. However, make sure that your tank has not expired. 

Most used tanks will sell between $5 and $10. The best option for reselling a used propane tank might be a garage sale or an online marketplace. 

If you have a large propane tank, with a capacity of 50-1,000 gallons, it will be worth significantly more for resale. 

A 50-gallon tank will sell for around $400 and a 1,000-gallon tank will sell for close to $2000. The larger the tank in this case, the heftier the resale value.

What to Do With Your Old Propane Tanks Besides Selling It

Unless you are an upcycle DIY artist, there are only a few options for what to do with your tank besides selling it.

The first option is to refill and reuse it. This is the cheapest method of obtaining more propane. Many locations offer a propane tank refill station. 

You can find them at gas stations, hardware stores, and even U-hauls.

The process to refill your take is simple.

  1. Bring your empty tank to a refill location.
  2. A service technician will refill the tank.
  3. Pay for the propane used to fill the tank.

The second option is to exchange the empty propane tank for a full one. A retailer that sells propane tanks will offer this service to customers. 

Simply bring the old tank to the location and swap it for a full tank and a small fee.

A final option for old propane tanks is to dispose of them properly.

This can be achieved in a few ways.

  • Call a local propane supplier and ask if they have a disposal service.
  • Talk with your local hazardous waste site about taking the tank.
  • Contact the local public works department about recycling the tank.
  • Take the tank to a scrap yard. They will require you to remove the valve and puncture the side to ensure all the gas is out.

How to Tell When a Propane Tank Is Completely Empty

For smaller tanks, there are several effective methods for checking to see if a propane tank is empty.

Keep in mind that some of these will not work for larger tanks.

Here are a few of the easiest ways to determine how empty your propane tank is.

Use a Gauge

Some propane tanks come with a gauge. If the tank doesn’t have a gauge, you can buy one at a hardware store and install it quickly.

There are several types: analog propane tank scales, digital propane tank scales, and inline pressure gauges.

Then, it’s as simple as reading the gauge to know whether or not your tank is empty.

Test with Hot Water

For smaller tanks, you can take a bucket of hot water and pour it over the tank. Propane absorbs heat and the tank will feel cold where propane is located.

Take your hand and run it along the tank. If you find a cold spot, you can roughly estimate the level of propane left in the tank.

Weigh the Tank

A propane tank will provide numbers on or near the handle. One of the numbers represents the weight of the tank.

To figure out how much propane is left in the tank, weigh the tank and then subtract the weight of the tank from the total weight. This will give you the amount of propane left.

On average, tanks weigh about 17 pounds and can hold approximately 20 pounds of propane.

A man closing the knob on a propane tank

Propane Tank Safety Tips

Not taking precautions when using a propane tank can be hazardous.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe when using a tank.

  • Do not leave a tank inside a vehicle.
  • Never try to fix a tank by yourself; leave it to the professionals.
  • When transporting a tank, secure it in an upright position and make sure the valve is closed.
  • Store propane tanks outdoors in the upright position.
  • Do not store spare tanks near a grill or anywhere that will expose them to high temperatures.
  • Do not smoke near a propane tank.
  • Before lighting a grill, check the tank for dents, rust, and leaks.
  • Never use a flame to check for gas leaks.
  • If you detect a gas leak, contact the proper professionals.

FAQs

Does Lowes accept empty propane tanks? 

Lowes has a propane exchange program. The propane exchange allows the customer to bring in an empty tank and swap it for a full one.

The exchange for a full tank is a cost-effective way to replace an empty tank.

Be aware that the process differs across the country, so you will want to check with your local Lowes for the specifics of its program. Lowes will not exchange tanks that leak.

Does Home Depot accept empty propane tanks?

Home Depot partners with AmeriGas for propane tank services. It will exchange an empty tank for a new full one at its locations.

Home Depot offers to accept tanks regardless of condition. It does not allow tanks in the store, so leave your tank outside near the AmeriGas cage and see an attendant. Then you can make the swap.

Does Walmart take empty propane tanks?

Walmart is another retailer that will accept a propane tank in any condition. While Walmart does not refill tanks at its locations, it will exchange an empty tank for a full one for a discount. 

Does Blue Rhino take old propane tanks? 

Blue Rhino has an exchange program similar to those of other retailers. If you have an empty tank, drop it off near the Blue Rhino display cage and see a store employee to swap your empty tank for a full one.

Blue Rhino also has a store locator and text system for users who are traveling or new to an area.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are refilling a propane tank, trying to sell a propane tank, or recycling or disposing of a tank, you have options.

When handling and using a propane tank be sure to utilize the safety tips provided.

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Brandi Jangula is a writer for The Camper Lifestyle Blog

Brandi Jangula

Brandi Jangula is a writer born and raised in the Midwest. The Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota provide some of her favorite locations to hike and camp with her three adventurous boys. Brandi also enjoys cooking, reading, and attending her children's sporting events in her spare time.


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