Why is a gas cylinder covered with hoarfrost: causes of freezing of gas in the cylinder and ways to prevent it

Vasily Borutsky
Checked by a specialist: Vasily Borutsky
Author: Alexander Mironenko
Last update: October 2019

One of the most common problems of gas equipment that runs on mixed propane and butane is the formation of frost on the surface of a gas cylinder. This indicates that the gas inside the metal container freezes. This problem contributes to the incorrect operation of gas equipment or the complete cessation of gas supply from the cylinder.

So why is the gas bottle covered with hoarfrost and how can this problem be avoided? This article contains comprehensive information about the causes of hoarfrost and how to prevent it, based on which you can ensure the proper operation of your equipment.

The reasons for the formation of frost on the tank

We will try to figure out why it happens that gas freezes in a cylinder located on the street when the air temperature drops.

So, for starters, you need to understand that the cooling of particles occurs during the intensive release of gas from a cylinder. Since the gas inside the tank is pumped under pressure, it is concentrated in a liquid state. As a result of this, partial freezing of the liquid gas occurs during its release.

As known, gas cylinders refuel about 80%. This is done for reasons of safe operation of gas equipment. Since the gas has the property of expanding, this can lead to the fact that the cylinder will burst due to excess pressure. The expansion of the gas inside the cylinder occurs from its heating, regardless of the heat source. The expansion process begins even when exposed to direct sunlight or another heating element.

Reason # 1 - low air temperature

Based on the practice of using cylinders, the optimal temperature at which the equipment will work normally is about 10 degrees, and when this mark is reduced, problems begin with the gas supply to the system.

If your equipment is located in a room with heating, then you should not pay attention to these indicators. Also, do not worry that your gas cylinder will freeze and fail if you leave it in a room without heating in the winter season. Winter temperatures are too low to completely freeze fuel.

What to do if the gas cylinder starts to become covered with hoarfrost
So that the gas cylinder does not freeze, the air temperature should not be lower than 10-15 degrees, for this it is necessary to transfer the equipment to a warmer place or install an electric heater

Reason # 2 - High Butane Content

Now let's see if the gas inside the cylinder can freeze, and how to prevent it. So, to ensure the correct operation of gas appliances, it is necessary to observe the correct ratio of propane and butane. The correct proportions will help to achieve maximum fuel consumption and the correct operation of devices at low ambient temperatures.

Fuel proportions in summer

As mentioned earlier, the freezing temperature of butane differs from the boundary freezing temperature of propane. Through practical research, the optimal proportions for the operation of the equipment in winter and summer were derived.

For the warm season, the fuel is mixed in the following proportions:

  • Propane - 40%;
  • Butane 60%.

This ratio is considered the most effective for consumption. It is worth noting that this option has a lower cost than fuel with a "winter" proportion.

Winter fuel proportions

For the use of gas cylinders in winter, the proportions will be different, namely:

  • Propane - 60%;
  • Bhutan - 40%.

In some cases, the amount of propane can reach 80 percent. But, based on the fact that propane is more expensive than butane, the final price of fuel will also be higher.

Large capacity of propane and butane at a gas station
Propane and butane are filled into gas cylinders at special gas stations, which are equipped with tanks filled with gas of the right proportion for optimal use at certain times of the year

We talked about the types of gas mixtures in cylinders in more detail. this stuff.

Gas freezing temperature

Now let's talk about the temperature at which gas in a cylinder usually freezes.

And the temperature of complete freezing of these components is different:

  • Propane freezes at a temperature of -188 degrees;
  • Butane freezes at a temperature of 138 degrees.

Therefore, in the summer season, propane is refilled in a smaller amount than cylinder butane. Very often, unscrupulous companies fill the tanks with the “summer” concentration option, since the price of propane is cheaper than the cost of butane.

Gas cylinders with frozen bottom
The main reason for the formation of frost on a gas cylinder is the physical properties of the gas molecules inside the container, which, with intensive release, cool and lead to freezing of the metal surface

As a result, the gas tank freezes quickly if the equipment is installed in an unheated room, and the gas supply stops.

Reason # 3 - increased gas consumption

But still, why is the container covered with hoarfrost only in the place where the gas is in a liquid state? Low ambient temperatures are not the only cause of frost. As you know, a gas stove, fireplace or other equipment that runs on a gas cylinder, functions when converting gas from a liquid state to a vaporous form.

There are two options for gas conversion, namely:

  • heating fuel;
  • natural evaporation.

In this case, all particles with powerful kinetic energy are rapidly sent to the upper part of the tank and are separated from the particles in a liquid state with a lower kinetic potential.

Designation of the gas state inside the cylinder in two positions
The gas, which is in a liquid state inside the cylinder, is always located below, and the vapor part tends upward. In this way, the fuel is released and supplied to a gas stove or other equipment

Due to such conditions, liquid fuel begins to lose temperature. It follows that with increasing gas consumption, the temperature of its liquid state decreases. Simply put, the more fuel the equipment consumes, the faster the gas cylinder will freeze.

As the particles cool, the ability to self-evaporate liquefied gas decreases. It follows that the colder the particles, the slower the gas will evaporate. In this case, the equipment starts to work intermittently or completely ceases to function.

Actions for freezing the container

If you notice that your equipment began to work intermittently, then you should pay attention to the surface of the gas cylinder. Most likely it was covered with hoarfrost. To resume the correct functioning of the equipment, it is necessary to create optimal conditions for this. If this is not done on time, then the gas appliance may completely stop working.

The first step is to determine why the freezing occurs. If this is due to weather conditions, then you need to create the optimal temperature regime for the tank, and how to do this will be written later.

If cooling occurs due to intensive gas consumption, then consumption must be reduced. You can do this by installing an additional cylinder, you can several. Depending on the amount of fuel consumed. The connection of several cylinders is carried out using a special unifying ramp.

Connection of several gas cylinders through a metal ramp
To connect several cylinders to the gas system, a special metal ramp is used, to which a certain number of gas cylinders are connected, a valve and a manometer are installed on the ramp

A pressure compensating valve and pressure gauge should be installed in the ramp to monitor the fuel level in the combined system.

How to warm a gas cylinder?

And now we will consider how to ensure the correct operation of gas equipment at low air temperatures, and what can be done to prevent gas from freezing. To resolve this issue, there are several options.

First of all, try moving the gas cylinder to a warm room, after some time the frost from the surface will gradually evaporate, and the conditions necessary for converting the liquefied gas to a vapor state will form inside the cylinder. After that, the gas supply will be restored, and the gas device can be used for its intended purpose.

But, if it is not possible to transfer the equipment, then it is necessary to heat the tank in place so that the gas inside does not cool. Very often, owners of gas appliances resort to heating the cylinder by direct exposure to fire. It is strictly forbidden to carry out such actions, since this contributes to the rapid conversion of gas into a vapor state, so the pressure in the tank rises rapidly and can cause an explosion.

To reduce the likelihood of cooling the fuel, you can insulate the cylinder with special materials that prevent the penetration of cold. But this method is suitable for small temperature changes in the environment.

What can insulate gas cylinders
In order to prevent freezing of the gas cylinder, it is possible to insulate the container with a special material with a thermo-regulating base, but you cannot create the effect of a thermos

If the street has a colder temperature, then you can use special heating equipment. An electric heater is able not only to warm a gas cylinder, but also to provide a constant temperature at which the device will perform its functions with the greatest efficiency.

Thus, fuel consumption is reduced by up to 30 percent.

Safety precautions

It is very important to observe the basic safety rulesto prevent the tragic consequences.Working with gas equipment is extremely dangerous, so it is not recommended to independently connect or change the structural elements of the equipment.

Torn gas bottle
If the gas equipment is used improperly, a cylinder explosion can occur, which in most cases leads to a severe fire with tragic consequences

Before connect the cylinder to the stove or take some action to repair it, it is best to contact gas equipment specialists. In case of improper handling of gas installations, or in case of violation of operating conditions, the gas cylinder may explode and cause a fire.

To date, a lot of tragic cases have been recorded, including fatal ones. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you responsibly apply to work related to gas, as well as while using the equipment.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Watch the video to clearly see why the gas appliance freezes. Here you will also see which heater to use to maintain optimal gas temperature inside the cylinder.

Now we know the main reasons why a gas cylinder can freeze. If you notice that your gas bottle is covered with hoarfrost, then you need to take measures to eliminate this problem. Otherwise, the equipment will not be able to function correctly, or will cease to work at all, since the cooled gas stops evaporating.

To ensure the normal operation of the release of gas molecules, it is necessary to create normal operating conditions (increase air temperature). If this is not possible, then you can use a special insulation for the cylinder, or install a heater.

Do you use bottled gas at home? Tell us how you deal with the problem of freezing, add useful recommendations on the methods of warming the cylinder, take part in the discussion - the comment form is located below.

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