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That Pig with the Metal Collar means something in Dangerous Goods World of Safety!

The other day I had a person ask me about refilling propane tanks and expiry date, and although his tanks were expired he said he would just restamp the collar and go get it filled!

Lets be clear the law on propane are put in place for many reasons not just of the fact that if you transport PROPANE in a pig that is not properly dated or over the dates is a Federal, Provincial or State Charge of TRANSPORTING LPG in a NON CERTIFIED Cylinder!

Most of us have a barbecue or some other PROPANE Pig devices hanging around the yard just waiting to be used, and the key here is remembering safety, not the taste burgers you maybe having for lunch. The most common type of LP Gas container is the propane cylinder, commonly known as a bottle. Cylinders range widely in size and use. Most people are familiar with propane bottles as the source of fuel for their gas grills. Industrial LP Gas consumers are also familiar as forklifts are commonly powered by propane and use cylinders as a portable gas supply source. Cylinders fall into two groups of propane service, liquid and vapor. Cylinders in liquid service are commonly found on forklifts while bottles in vapor service are easily spotted fueling a gas grill.

Still not listening,well to put it into simple terms this FAMILY guy got a propane tank refilled that was over its prime and this happened!

Like it or not propane pigs have a shelf life and those tanks are marked with a Dangerous Goods Language you must understand. Propane cylinders have identifying marks on the cylinder collar. The diagram shown is an example of a propane cylinder collar and some of the marks commonly present. Standards & Regulations

Strict standards and regulations are in place to govern the production, storage, transportation and use of propane to ensure your safety.

Its nice to know that;

Propane as a Fuel

·        Propane is non-toxic – it will not contaminate the soil or the surrounding environment.

·        Propane is odourized – an odourant called Ethyl Mercaptan is added to propane so that leaks are easily detected.

·        Propane is lead-free.

·        Propane contains extremely low levels of sulphur.

·        Propane has the lowest flammability range of all alternative fuels (2.4 – 9.5%) – so there must be the right combination of propane and oxygen, if there is too much or too little propane it will not burn.

·        Propane’s ignition temperature is approximately 920° – 1020°F, gasoline’s ignition temperature is 495°F – therefore, gasoline will burn or explode at a much lower temperature than propane.

Propane cylinders need to be requalified or replaced every ten years. • Letter H in the diagram shows the original qualification date (i.e. the diagram indicates April of 1994). • Letter I in the diagram shows where the retest date is to be stamped if the cylinder is requalified (i.e. no date is shown which indicates the ten—year requalification is overdue). The original test date (H) and any requalification dates (I) must be presented in a specific manner.

In Canada

As of January 1, 2008, all cylinders with a propane capacity of 45 lb (20kg) or less, manufactured or recertified, must be equipped with an OPD (Overfill Protection Device) valve. Cylinders with a propane capacity over 45 lb (20kg) are manufactured and recertified with a POL valve (left hand thread). Cylinders manufactured or recertified before January 1, 2008 will be allowed to be filled until 10 years after their date of manufacture or recertification date.

Propane appliance tanks that are permanently mounted to vehicles or structures do not have to be recertified but they must be visually inspected every time they are filled to ensure that they are acceptable for use.

Automotive tanks used for motor fuel must be inspected and recertified every 5 years at a government approved facility. PROPANE CYLINDER MARKINGS

Typical recertification stamp:


MM -> 2 digit recertification month

XXX ->3 character Re-qualifier’s registration number

YY  -> 2 digit recertification year

E    ->States the cylinder has been externally examined

WC -> Water capacity of the cylinder.

TW -> Tare weight of the cylinder (what the tank weighs empty)

ICC, DOT, BTE, CTC or TC -> Specification number eg. TC4BA240

10 89 -> Date of manufacture (October. 1989)

As in Canada and not unlike the United States, The following information, obtained from Transport Canada, indicates how that date information is to be presented (as per CAN/CSA-B339) and in the USA (By law, when a propane tank reaches 12 years of age, it can no longer be filled.):

• Firstly, month requalification performed (two digits), followed by a space.

• Secondly, requalifier’s registered mark, followed by a space.

• Thirdly, year requalification performed (last two digits only).

• Finally, for requalification dates, the procedure symbol, followed by a space, where applicable (for propane cylinders, it is the letter E, which stands for “External Visual”).

Along the top of the collar, you’ll notice serial numbers, WC (Water Content, or how much the water would weigh, if it were full of water to capacity), TW (Tare Weight, or the weight of the tank completely empty) and the manufacturing date (see photo above). The only thing you’ll need is the manufacturing date. As of the day of this post, any tank with a manufacture date before 07-01 we would not be able to fill. The OPD (Overfill Prevention Device) stops the tank from being overfilled automatically by shutting the valve when the propane level reaches a certain point. It also prevents propane from leaving the tank when the nozzle is opened and its not hooked up to anything.

Their is one exception for a tank that’s over number of  years old. Requalified tanks are tanks that have been inspected by someone who is trained to do so, who has deemed that the tank and its valves are satisfactory, and the tank is ok to be continued to be used for the near future. Requalified tanks usually have a sticker placed on, or have an additional date stamped on the collar that ends with an E.  If a tank has been requalified, it is good for 5 years from the requalification date. The new date will be stamped or etched near the original date.  Quite frankly it is easier to just exchange the BBQ size tank and be done with it. Rather than taking it somewhere and paying to have the tank re-certified, then having it refilled. I tag mine with a note once the year of expiration has been reached. That way I am reminded to completely use it up before I need a refill. I don’t take these on the road or to outings where I might run out and need a refill. Sometimes exchange locations are nowhere near. Since any reputable fuel dealer will not fill an expired tank you might get caught up with no propane.

When do I refill it or how do I know!

Find the TW followed by some numbers.  Those numbers indicate the empty weight.   In our example this is TW18.  This tank empty is 18lbs.    So since this is a 20lb tank (holds 20lb of propane) the actual full weight should be 38lbs (18+20=38).  You can simply weight your partially filled tank on a scale to get an approximate amount of fuel remaining.  If the actual weight was 28lbs (28-18=10) you actually have 10 lbs of fuel left, or half a tank.

Propane bottles all have the same operational and safety mechanisms in place that are required on ASME LP Gas tanks. Bottles are also required to have readable markings identifying them for propane use. All propane cylinders have:

§ Relief Valves

§ Service Valves

§ Bleeder Valves (Fixed Liquid Level Gauge)

§ Stamped Markings or Nameplates

§ Protective Collars (Neck Ring)

§ Foot Rings

Propane Cylinder Care

Propane cylinders must be cared for so that their usable life is extended. Cylinders will last longer than their normal life expectancy if they are properly maintained and taken care of. It is recommended that propane cylinders be located in a place that they won’t be banged or dented such as an area of high traffic or a location prone to flooding or water puddling. Additionally, cylinders that are handled roughly can damage the foot ring or neck ring which will cause the cylinder to be unsuitable for filling and unusable.

Bottle Corrosion and Rust – Because most consumer propane cylinders are made of steel, they are subject to rust. Rust can lead to pitting in the cylinder exterior and render the cylinder useless if the rust or pitting is excessive. If rust is noticed on the cylinder, a wire brush can be used to remove the rust followed by painting over the spot where rust was removed. The most common place rust is found is on the bottom of the cylinder and around the foot ring of the cylinder so it’s important to keep theses areas clean and painted.

Propane Cylinders

·        Propane tanks must be equipped with a pressure relief valve that opens and closes to prevent excessive internal pressure due to abnormal conditions.

·        The 2007 edition of the Propane Storage and Handling Code introduced a new requirement that cylinders, of 40lbs propane capacity and less be equipped with an Overfill Protection Device (OPD). The OPD is certified as a secondary device and is meant as a back stop device in case the attendant accidently tries to overfill the cylinder.

·        Marks are stamped onto the collar of cylinders identifying the original date of manufacture and any subsequent re-testing dates. For a diagram that explains how to read the collar, Cylinders must be inspected and requalified every 10 years – it is against the law to fill an outdated cylinder. The disposal or requalification of a cylinder must be done by organizations that have the appropriate equipment, training and certification to do so, and which have been certified by Transport Canada to do the work.

·        Never throw your propane cylinder in the garbage. To dispose of your old cylinder, drop it off at a municipal transfer station or depot that accepts propane cylinders. Your propane supplier may also accept cylinders for disposal.

·         Personnel are required by law to have a record of training (ROT) to fill propane tanks and cylinders (transfer propane from one container to another)

·        Always transport a tank in the upright position. If it is lying down, and the tank is overfilled, and the relief valve goes off, it will release liquid propane instead of vapor. This makes a bad situation much worse! Also, do not leave the tank in the cab or trunk for longer than the trip home. Again, it could get hot and the relief valve could release.

·        Finally, it is important to remember that propane is a great fuel, and incredibly versatile, but it must be treated with respect as it is highly flammable. As long as you follow safety guidelines, you can use it completely safely.

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