Propane 101: Everything You Need To Know

What is propane?

Propane is a clean-burning energy source known as liquefied petroleum gas, LP gas, or LPG. It is nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless. The rotten egg odor comes from mercaptan, which is added to the propane so it can be readily detected by smell. Propane is a hydrocarbon (specifically, C3H8 for the chemistry folks out there) produced from both natural gas processing and crude oil refining. In fact, nearly 97 percent of propane consumed in the United States is produced in North America.

What is propane used for?

Millions of people use propane in and around their homes for furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, outdoor grills, fireplaces, and appliances. Farmers use propane to fuel equipment, control pests, dry crops, and power irrigation pumps. Propane is also used as an alternative gas to power forklifts and fleet vehicles like school buses, public transportation, and delivery trucks. Restaurants and hotels depend on propane for heating, cooking, and other uses.

Is propane easy to use?

Yes. With up to 56,000 miles of pipeline and more than 6,000 retail dealer locations, propane is readily available throughout the United States. And because propane is stored in portable tanks, it can be used in areas beyond gas mains.

To fuel homes, large tanks can be buried underground because propane is a nontoxic, nonpoisonous fuel that doesn’t contaminate aquifers or soil. Refueling a propane vehicle takes about the same time as refueling a gasoline vehicle. Propane is the only alternative fuel with fueling stations located in every state.

Is propane safe?

The propane industry has developed numerous methods to ensure the safe transport and use of propane:

  • Propane equipment and appliances are manufactured to rigorous safety standards.
  • Propane has a narrow range of flammability when compared with other petroleum products.
  • Propane won’t ignite when combined with air unless the source of ignition reaches at least 940 degrees Fahrenheit
  • If liquid propane leaks, it doesn’t puddle but instead vaporizes and dissipates into the air.
  • Because it is released from a pressured container as a vapor, propane can’t be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels.
  • Because propane is virtually odorless and colorless in its natural state, a commercial odorant is added so propane can be detected if it leaks from its container.

Is propane environmentally friendly?

· Propane is an approved, clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the National Energy Policy Act of 1992.

· Propane is one of the lightest, simplest hydrocarbons in existence, and, as a result, is one of the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels.

· Burning coal to generate electricity releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Per pound of fuel burned, coal emits more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide as does propane. By using propane gas instead of electricity, consumers can cut emissions and help preserve the environment.

· Propane gas is nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil and water. Because propane does not endanger the environment, the placement of propane tanks either above or below ground is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

· According to the EPA, much of the sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, which produces acid rain, is attributable to coal-fired electricity-generating facilities. In contrast, neither the process by which propane is produced nor the combustion of propane gas produces significant acid rain contaminants.

How do I get started with propane?

By reading this, you’re already off to a great start. Keep reading up on our materials in the New to Propane section. We have resources for those just getting started, moving into or building a new home with propane, or looking to tackle a specific propane-powered project. When you’re ready, or if you have specific questions about propane, feel free to contact us.

You’re also going to need to choose a trusted propane supplier. ThompsonGas has been the Trusted Name in Propane since 1946. Here’s why you should choose ThompsonGas.


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