Camping propane is efficient for powering your gear.
It is easy, safe, inexpensive and environmentally friendly to re-use 1 lb propane tanks.
Why throw away “disposable” small camping cylinders when you can refill them with one of the best camping gear items you can find!
We’ll show you how to refill 1 pound propane tanks with a propane refill adapter in minutes … and, we’re guessing you are going to love this cool camping gadget!
Psst we’re compensated…see our disclosures.
NOTHING in life is 100% totally safe so please do your own research to make your own determination and answer the question: Is It Safe To Refill 1lb Propane Bottles?
- 1 Refilling 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Camping Propane Bottles
- 2 1 lb Propane Tanks vs. Refillable 1 lb Propane Tank
- 3 Tools Needed To Refill “Disposable” Small Camping Bottles / 1 lb Propane Tank Cylinders
- 4 Steps To Refill 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Propane Bottles
- 4.1 1. Check The Empty 1 lb Cylinder For Good Condition.
- 4.2 2. Chill The Empty 1 lb Cylinder.
- 4.3 3. Weigh The 1 lb Empty Cylinder.
- 4.4 4. Thread The Adapter To The Larger Filled 20lb Tank.
- 4.5 5. Connect The Empty 1 lb Propane Cylinder To The Propane Refill Adapter.
- 4.6 6. Invert The Connected Propane Tanks.
- 4.7 7. Open The Larger 20lb Tank’s Valve.
- 4.8 8. Listen For The Transfer To Stop.
- 4.9 9. Turn Off The Larger 20lb Propane Tank’s Valve.
- 4.10 10. Remove Both Propane Tanks From The Adapter.
- 4.11 11. Weigh The 1lb Propane Refilled Cylinder.
- 5 Print How To Refill 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Camping Propane Bottles Instructions
- 6 Materials
- 7 Instructions
- 8 Notes
- 9 Recommended Products
- 10 Camping Gear That Uses 1 Pound Propane Cylinders
- 11 Is Propane Cylinder Refilling Legal?
Refilling 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Camping Propane Bottles
Watch this VIDEO to see how easy it is to refill your camping 1 lb propane tanks!
P.S. There are FREE printable instructions at the end of this post.
1 lb Propane Tanks vs. Refillable 1 lb Propane Tank
There are many different portable propane tank sizes you can use to provide fuel to your camping gear.
For your equipment that requires 1lb cylinders, you need to know the two types that are available.
Most people use the Pre-Filled Disposable 1 lb Propane Tanks but there are also Refillable 1 lb Propane Tank Empty Canister types.
When you buy a disposable 1 lb propane tank, it comes with the propane in the can and after you use all of it, you throw away the empty cylinder.
The other type of propane canister is a refillable 1 lb propane tank.
When you buy this type of tank, it is empty and you need to fill it with propane before you use it.
It is intended to be refilled as you empty the tank.
Refillable 1 lb propane tanks are quite a bit more expensive than the disposable 1 lb propane tanks which is one reason people choose to use the pre-filled tanks.
Pre-Filled Disposable 1 lb Propane TanksRefillable 1 lb Propane Tank Empty Canister
Tools Needed To Refill “Disposable” Small Camping Bottles / 1 lb Propane Tank Cylinders
Assuming you already have a “disposable” small propane camping bottle and a larger propane tank, you really only need one tool, a Propane Refill Adapter, to transfer propane from the larger tank into the small one. Here are the items we use when we refill our cylinders.
- Propane Refill Adapter (connect the propane adapter 20lb to 1lb)
- 1 lb Propane Cylinders (the empty 1 pound tanks you want to fill)
- Propane Tank 20 Pound (the full tank you will be transferring from, these are the propane gas tanks you typically find on your home BBQ grill )
- Safety Glasses (not required, but a good idea to use)
- Kitchen Scale with ounce/gram measurements
- Work Gloves (not required, but a good idea to use)
Propane Refill Adapter1 lb. Propane Cylinders20 Pound Propane TankSafety GlassesScaleGloves
Steps To Refill 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Propane Bottles
NOTE: This process should be done outdoors for proper ventilation and all safety precautions in this blog post and those from the manufacturers should be followed.
ASSUMPTION: We are assuming you have plenty of propane in your larger tanks. You can check the level of your larger tanks with several easy methods. Here’s how to tell if a larger propane tank is empty.
If your larger tanks are low, fill those first by finding propane refill near me and then continue with the process we’ve outlined below.
P.S. Some of the most inexpensive propane refill purchases we’ve made with our large tanks were at Costco. To see if there is a facility near you, check out Costco Propane Refill: How To Use The Costco Propane Service.
1. Check The Empty 1 lb Cylinder For Good Condition.
Check the condition of your 1 lb Propane Cylinders to ensure the tanks are not dented or rusty and that the threads are in good condition.
If a bottle is not suitable for refilling, get rid of it.
Only refill bottles that are in good shape.
Here is how to dispose of 1lb propane cylinders.
Thanks to Dave for leaving this suggestion in a comment:
“Just a thought here… it may be a good idea to be sure the 1lb cylinder is completely empty before the cylinder is placed in the freezer for 15 minutes. This could be done by attaching to a grill, lantern etc… and run it until the flame goes completely out.”
Thank you Dave for sharing your tip!
1 Pound Propane Camping Bottles
2. Chill The Empty 1 lb Cylinder.
The propane is actually moved from one tank to another by pressure.
When there is a pressure difference between the two tanks, the higher pressure tank will force propane to move to the tank with the lower pressure until the pressure in both tanks equalizes.
To help this along, leave the Larger Propane Tank in the sun to warm it up and raise the internal pressure AND cool the 1 pound Propane Cylinder by placing it in a cooler environment such as inside a freezer, refrigerator, ice cooler or at the very least, in the shade which lowers the internal pressure of the bottle.
This will ensure adequate propane transfer into the smaller bottle.
3. Weigh The 1 lb Empty Cylinder.
Don’t refill the 1 pound cylinder beyond its allowable limit.
In order to know how much propane you have in the bottle once it is refilled, you have to know the weight of the empty bottle prior to filling it.
We use a Kitchen Scale for this step.
4. Thread The Adapter To The Larger Filled 20lb Tank.
When you connect the Propane Refill Adapter into the valve of the larger tank, remember it has left-handed threads (so turn the adapter to the left to tighten).
You may need to use a wrench to get a snug fit but firm hand-tightening with a pair of Work Gloves has always worked for us.
UPDATE: Thank you to Tommy who mentioned in a comment to tighten the propane refill adapter to the larger propane tank a little more than hand tight because you don’t want the refill adapter to remain on the refilled 1 lb camping propane bottle when you remove it from the larger tank.
Propane Refill Adapter
5. Connect The Empty 1 lb Propane Cylinder To The Propane Refill Adapter.
Just screw the 1 pound cylinder to the Propane Refill Adapter being careful not to cross-thread!
On a related note, these adapters make awesome camping gifts and are especially nice as inexpensive stocking stuffers at Christmas time!
Propane Refill Adapter
6. Invert The Connected Propane Tanks.
Now that both tanks are connected by the Propane Refill Adapter, you want to invert the entire “contraption” and set it on a flat surface.
As a side note: Propane Refill Adapters are some of the most popular gifts given to campers during the holiday gift-giving season.
If you are looking for more ideas, check out our Christmas Gifts For Campers And RV Owners: 100+ Ideas For This Holiday Season post!
During the season, we update this post DAILY so you can see the most popular gift ideas.
7. Open The Larger 20lb Tank’s Valve.
With everything inverted, VERY SLOWLY open the valve on the Larger Propane Tank until you hear the transfer of propane taking place.
Keep everything inverted during this part of the process so maximum liquid transfer takes place.
Note: If you are filling multiple 1lb propane tanks, don’t forget to refill your BBQ gas tank before your next barbecue party.
There is nothing worse than telling your guests you forgot you used your home tank to refill your camping gear and you begin frantically searching for the nearest propane refill near me that is open on a Sunday afternoon in order to finish cooking the hamburgers!
UPDATE: Thank you to Steve who mentioned in a comment that new propane valves have a “sudden lock out” safety feature (which is triggered in the event that there is suddenly an open line, such as a pipe rupturing.) To avoid triggering the sudden lock out, just open the valve much more slowly at first. There will be a point where there is enough pressure in the little bottle to keep the safety valve from closing, then you can fully open the large tank valve.
20 Pound Steel Propane Tank
8. Listen For The Transfer To Stop.
The sound of the transfer will come to a stop when the pressure in both tanks is equalized.
We usually get just under 1 pound of propane in a refilled cylinder which is well within the safety limits of the max-rated capacity of the cylinder.
9. Turn Off The Larger 20lb Propane Tank’s Valve.
After the transfer is complete, close the larger tank’s valve and turn the tanks right-side-up.
Note: Some people refer to the larger tanks as LP tanks (LPG – Liquefied Petroleum Gas) … propane is just one type of LP gas … other types include butane, isobutane and mixtures of these gases.
10. Remove Both Propane Tanks From The Adapter.
Unscrew the 1 lb propane refilled cylinder from the Propane Refill Adapter and replace its plastic thread protector cap to safeguard the threads. If the original caps are not in good shape, you may want to consider replacing them with Solid Brass Refill 1 LB Propane Bottle Caps.
Now, remove the adapter from the larger propane tank by turning the Adapter to the right (remember these are left-handed threads.)
Note: When people consider how to store propane tanks, they usually protect them from being dented but they often neglect to protect the threads because it is so easy to misplace the caps. Your camping propane cylinders will last much longer if you cap them during transportation and storage.
Solid Brass Refill 1 LB Propane Bottle Caps
11. Weigh The 1lb Propane Refilled Cylinder.
To ensure you have not exceeded the max-rated capacity of the 1 lb cylinder, use a Kitchen Scale to weigh the refilled cylinder and calculate the net propane weight by subtracting the empty weight from the new refilled weight.
Each model is different so check with your manufacturer for specific details.
UPDATE: Thank you to Tommy who mentioned in a comment to check the refilled bottle for leaks with soapy water … he suggests 1 part Dawn Dish Soap to 10 parts water. Use a soap that has no phosphorus which attacks copper and brass. Now you are done and ready to use your refilled camping propane cylinder with some totally cool gear … check these out!
After you get the hang of using your propane refill adapter, you’ll understand why we think it is one of the best propane camping gear items you should have in your toolbox!
Dawn Dish Soap
Print How To Refill 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Camping Propane Bottles Instructions
Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
- Propane (in the larger tank that will be feeding the smaller camping propane canister)
- Check The Empty 1 lb Cylinder For Good Condition: Not dented or rusty and that the threads are in good condition.
- Chill The Empty 1 lb Cylinder: A refrigerator or ice cooler work great. (about 2 hours will get it chilled.)
- Weigh The 1 lb Empty Cylinder: So you know how much propane to add without exceeding the tank’s allowable limit.
- Thread The Propane Refill Adapter To The Larger Filled 20lb Tank: When you connect the Propane Refill Adapter into the valve of the larger tank, remember it has left-handed threads and be sure to tighten firmly.
- Connect The Empty 1 lb Propane Cylinder To The Propane Refill Adapter: Be careful not to cross-thread.
- Invert The Connected Propane Tanks: Set on a flat surface.
- Very SLOWLY Open The Larger 20lb Tank’s Valve: You should hear the transfer of propane taking place.
- Listen For The Transfer To Stop: Which will happen when the pressure in both tanks is equalized.
- Turn Off The Larger 20lb Propane Tank’s Valve: Close the larger tank’s valve and turn the tanks right-side-up.
- Remove Both Propane Tanks From The Adapter.
- Weigh The 1lb Propane Refilled Cylinder: Make sure you have not exceeded the max-rated capacity of the 1 lb cylinder. (To calculate the net propane weight, subtract the empty weight from the new refilled weight. Each model is different so check with your manufacturer for specific details.)
See our post, How To Refill 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And “Disposable” Small Camping Propane Bottles, for detailed instructions and photos.
This process should be done outdoors for proper ventilation.
Laws vary by jurisdiction so check with local authorities to see if propane cylinder refilling is legal in your area.
Follow all safety precautions listed in our blog post and those from the manufacturers.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Camping Gear That Uses 1 Pound Propane Cylinders
Most people use 1 lb Propane Cylinders to provide energy for cooking food on their best camping grill stove.
We have used these cylinders with camping lights and other types of camping equipment too.
If you don’t know which is the best propane lantern for your needs, check out our reviews of the top models.
Here are some other cool camp items you may want to use with your refilled “disposable” small propane bottles on your next camp trip.
Propane LanternIndoor Safe Propane HeaterPortable Propane CoffeemakerPortable Propane Water Heater & Shower PumpGarden TorchPropane Outdoor Oven/StoveBottle Top Propane StoveCamp Propane Grill/StovePropane 2-Burner Folding Stove3-Burner Propane StovePortable Propane GrillPropane/Butane Dual Fuel Stove
We like using these tanks to power our propane heaters when tent camping in cold weather, see How To Heat A Tent Without Electricity for more tips.
We use our 1 lb propane tank with our camp torch to melt cheese in recipes like this yummy Camp Cast Iron Skillet Breakfast Nachos Recipe.
Is Propane Cylinder Refilling Legal?
Laws vary by jurisdiction, so there is not one-single answer to this question.
You should check with the authorities in your area regarding refilling 1 lb propane tanks … whether they are the pre-filled disposable types of propane tanks or the refillable 1 lb propane tank camping style propane canisters.
If it is not legal to refill these tanks, you might begin to call them “propain tanks” … get it … “pain” … because nobody likes getting tickets from the authorities! LOL
Cooking is one of the most common uses for 1lb camping propane tank fuel.
We have amazing camp stove recipes you will be thrilled to eat!