What is Propane?

Propane is a gas byproduct from processing natural gas, or in some cases, crude oil. Also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), this gas is compressed and stored in tanks as a liquid. While propane on its own is colorless, and odorless, a rotten egg smell is added to help detect possible leaks. Propane can be considered a universal fuel, as it can be used to power, and heat homes.

Propane can also be used in engines converted to use propane autogas to fuel automobiles, and other machinery with an efficiency that competitors like gasoline find hard to match.

The utility of propane cannot be understated, and few energy alternatives can match the wide applications it offers with the cost-efficiency it operates with.

Where Does Propane Come From?

A unique feature of propane is that it is not produced for its own sake, but is a by-product of two other processes, natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

Natural gas plant production of propane primarily involves extracting materials such as propane and butane from natural gas to prevent these liquids from condensing and causing operational problems in natural gas pipelines. Similarly, when oil refineries make major products such as motor gasoline and heating oil, some propane is produced as a by-product of those processes.

It is important to understand that the by-pro- duct nature of propane production means that the volume made available from natural gas processing and oil refining cannot be adjusted when prices and/or demand for propane fluctuate.

In addition to these two processes, demand is met by imports of propane and by using stored inventories. Although imports provide the smallest (about 10 percent) component of U.S. propane supply, they are vital when consumption exceeds available domestic supplies of propane.

Propane is imported by land (via pipeline and rail car from Canada) and by sea (in tankers from such countries as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Norway, and the United Kingdom).

Are Propane Fumes Harmful?

Breathing in low concentrations of liquid petroleum gas is not harmful, however the release of large amounts can displace nearby oxygen in the air and your lungs, which can make it difficult to breathe.

If you suspect a propane leak, and become light-headed upon inspection, please move to a safe area with fresh air, and call emergency services if deemed necessary.

What Is Propane Gas Used For?

As stated above, the versatility of propane makes it a favorable option for many businesses, and homeowners. Within your home, it can be used to heat your furnace, fuel a premium kitchen stovetop, power your appliances, and keep your water warm whenever you need it.

You’d be mistaken if you think the uses for propane end at the door. Outside the home, propane can heat your summer pool, fire up your BBQ grill, provide beautiful light fixtures for the front and back of your home, and fuel a backup generator that’ll always be on standby for the next big storm.

Business owners will also be surprised by how much propane can be used with minimal changes to their existing environments.

Local restaurant owners can utilize propane to fuel their kitchens and cook recipes with an accuracy that professionals prefer.

Warehouse operators can use propane for their forklifts, which will keep them running efficiently while lowering the amount of annual maintenance.

Builders can increase the value of their homes by outfitting them with propane appliances and use space heaters to make sure their workers can still work comfortably year-round.

Commercial companies with automotive fleets both big and small, can outfit their vehicles to run on propane autogas.

Farmers can also integrate propane with many of their machines, using it to power combines, crop dryers, and more.

Can Propane Freeze?

Propane gas reverts to a liquid form when exposed to cold temperatures, so there’s no concern for propane storage even in chillier climates. The tank however can freeze and may affect your ability to use the propane in the tank if there isn’t sufficient pressure inside.

The best way to ensure that pressure remains at normal levels is to fill your tank once it reaches 20% capacity. It is not recommended that in the event of a frozen tank that you try to heat it up with an open flame as this can cause accidents. It is also not recommended to try to prevent tank freezing by covering it, as this will insulate the tank and may cause the problem to worsen.

Are Propane and Butane Interchangeable?

While propane and butane are both produced similarly from natural gas processing, they have some distinct differences that set them apart. Propane has a lower boiling point than butane, which means that it’s better to use in colder temperatures. It also exerts more pressure at the same temperature as butane, so it’s more ideal for storage and use in a wide range of environments.

What Does Propane Smell Like?

Propane is an odorless gas, but we add a rotten egg smell to make sure that if there’s a leak, you’ll notice, and be able to call a local technician to contain it.

ThompsonGas offers a 24/7 emergency service our customers can call in the event of a leak.

Can Propane Tanks Explode?

It is extremely rare for propane tanks to explode, and often when they do, it can be attributed to leaked gas being exposed to high temperatures or fire rather than the tank itself.

We prioritize the safety of our technicians and customers at ThompsonGas and have various resources available to keep you and your family safe in the event of any leak.

What Happens When Propane Is Exposed to Oxygen?

Propane displaces the oxygen in the air but will not be set ablaze when the two are mixed. This may cause an asphyxiating effect for unsuspecting passerby’s, so when a leak is detected report it immediately.

ThompsonGas offers a 24/7 emergency service our customers can call in the event of a leak.

Brought To You By Think Tank,

a ThompsonGas Blog.

Think Tank is a blog by ThompsonGas, started in 2021, dedicated to getting you to think more about your propane, whether it be for different uses inside and outside the home, as well as fun recipes you can make by cooking with propane.