Dodgy gas

Submitted: Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 12:35
ThreadID: 110878 Views:3978 Replies:6 FollowUps:12
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Hi, had a bbq gas bottle recharged at a hardware store while travelling. 2 nights later, go to light the bbq and it wouldn't ignite. You could hear the gas coming out of the element, but I could not get it to ignite. I held a lighter right on the element and it would occasionally light in different areas, but quickly die out, all the time the hissing of gas was evident. I took the hose off, turned the gas on and smelt it. It had a lpg hint to it, but not as overpowering as you would expect sniffing it straight out of the bottle.
Im wondering if the big filler bottle at the hardware was very low and all I got was condensation and vapour.
Any thoughts, like experiences or advice?
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Reply By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 12:55

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 12:55
Easy way to check if you have liquid content & how much
Remove the bottle to a safe area away from any source of ignition
Just crack the valve enough for some vapour to come out
Slowly tip the bottle onto it's side [with the outlet turned away from you ]
When white vapour comes out, you can tell roughly how full of liquid LPG the bottle is

AnswerID: 544887

Follow Up By: Kevin S - Life Member (QLD) - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 14:31

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 14:31
That's a great idea, but wouldn't the weight of the bottle give you a clue?
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

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Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 15:26

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 15:26
Pour hot water over the side of the bottle and liquid level will be visible in the condensation.

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Follow Up By: tikus tanah - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 17:16

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 17:16
the bottle is full, its weight was quite noticeable when I collected it, there is no question that there is gas in the bottle, but the gas that has been put in for some reason, will not ignite, I am trying to understand what could have been put in that bottle that the guy filling believed to be LPG, but obviously isn't
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Follow Up By: Member - Rosco from way back - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 18:23

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 18:23
As I understand it, your bottle takes the gas vapour off the top of the liquid. In this event you could try cracking the valve on the bottle to decant off the current volume of gas. This may purge out the impurities ... worth a try in any event.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 19:11

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 19:11
Tikus tanah - LPG comes in two forms - BBQ gas and Autogas. There is no set Australian standard for the makeup of the gases in either case.
They are both a mix of largely propane and small percentages of other gases - but Autogas quite contains quite a % of butane (up to 40% sometimes), which is more petrol-like in performance and energy levels. BBQ gas is generally about 98% propane.
The butane level in Autogas can vary widely, according to the refining source.

The general advice is not to mix the two. This is because of the variability in Autogas, and the fact that propane and butane require different burner jets to burn properly.

In the highly populated areas, BBQ gas is delivered separately into tanks reserved exclusively for BBQ gas refills - and Autogas is delivered separately into Autogas tanks.

However, in country areas, only one gas is delivered to save on transport costs - and it's pumped into both Autogas and BBQ gas tanks if they are separate. In some places, one tank provides both gases.
Thus, country gas deliveries consist of largely BBQ propane, to ensure that it can be used in both automotive and BBQ/household stove/HWS applications.

You may have acquired a gas refill that has been refilled from an Autogas tank that has been filled with LPG that is high in butane levels.
Thus, it will have trouble burning properly in any appliance that is jetted for propane.

I don't really know what you can do about it, except complain to the supplier.

Elgas - Gases - What's what?

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Honky - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:25

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:25
I have a canister stove and if you want the best performance when cold you always chase the ones with the highest Butane so I would assume that it would not make much.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015 at 09:14

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015 at 09:14
Best to chose one with a remote cannister connected via a hose. Then in the cold you can tip it upside down.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 19:04

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 19:04

As the cylinder feels "full", then I'd suggest that you got the correct amount of lpg. You could have a partial blockage in the jet, or maybe the burner has dislodged in your travels?

Hasn't happened to me, but have read on here where others have had "dirty" gas, and the jets needed cleaning. The donor cylinders decant from the bottom of the cylinder, so it's possible you got extra gunk, if the gas supply was low.


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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 19:15

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 19:15
Bob is spot-on, it is possible to have a buildup of carbon in the jets from the small proportion of less-desirable gases in the LPG mix - whereby a jet-cleaning exercise is the order of the day.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:51

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:51
In which case don't poke wire or a needle in there. Blow them out with compressed air.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015 at 09:10

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015 at 09:10
I once got a dirty load of gas in the bush. It clogged the smaller of the two jets on the stove. There was no hope of getting a small enough wire and I don't have a compressor to suit so I rang the distributor for a replacement. These guys are in the next suburb so it's easy to pop out there. They were no longer made, despite the stove being only 3 years old. This is a common and reputable brand for heaven's sake.
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Reply By: Slow one - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:54

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:54
gas can come from the original supplier that hasn't been filtered enough to remove oil, this will give you the same symptoms as you describe by fouling the jets. It is easy to clean the jets but it is more difficult to purge the system and the bottle.

The LPG smell is just an additive so the presence of gas can be detected.

If the bottle is full then maybe it is what I have described. You will notice the presence of oil in the lines and on the jets.

AnswerID: 544906

Reply By: TTD1 - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:55

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 20:55
Titus Tanah,
On the side of your gas cylinder there is a tare weight and a gross weight. Put the cylinder on your bathroom scales and if the weight is under this which I doubt, then look at the regulator. My thought is that cylinder is over full and the mixture is too rich to ignite.
As a gas fitter I would strongly suggest not to touch the jets only replace them or soak them in thinners as a last resort. Over filling of cylinders is a real problem in the industry.
Ron was nearly right about auto gas being a mix (usually up to 40percent Butane)but it will burn ok at that level except in cold conditions.
In the liquid phase Propane is 240 times too rich to burn, the solution to an over filled cylinder is place it in an open space away from any source of ignition and open the bread screw and leave it open till only vapour comes out then close it and your stove should then light.
AnswerID: 544907

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 21:21

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 21:21
TTD1 - So, if butane burns just fine in propane jets, why do they make jets specifically for "butane" or "propane"?
Not trying to be a smart-a$$, just trying to get to the nub of the situation.

If pure liquid LPG was coming through the jets, wouldn't that make the entire bottom of the stove area light up, as the liquid spread over the bottom of the stove and then vapourised?

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: TTD1 - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 22:56

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 22:56
Butane is what you see in cigarette lighters and turns to a liquid at 0 degrees C propane turns to liquid a minus 44 degrees C or compressed to about 60psi hence the steel cylinder. Propane is burnt using a regulator in most cases in low pressure appliances.Mixed downt 40 percent the mix will readily burn but perhaps blacken the bottom of pots. Propane is C3H8 Butane C4H10.
In high pressure appliances eg no regulator the jet is what regulates the fuel gas supply to the burner and the calorific value of butane and propane are very close. The one big difference is that when it is cold butane won't vapourise and burn whereas propane will continue to vapourise and supply fuel to the burner even in the snow.
I am sure many people have had those cheap butane stoves on cold mornings not want to light ant reason is the butane won't vapourise .LPG has a very narrow flammability range between 2 and 9 percent so if the mix is not right it won't light.
Ron I spen 20 years solving problems at the place you highlighted in your first post
Regards, TTD
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Reply By: tikus tanah - Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 21:11

Monday, Jan 26, 2015 at 21:11
thanks to all your replies, I can visualise an element of nearly everything put up here being possible on the day of the refill. There were 2 LPG filler bottles side by side in the yard of the hardware, the worker was a young guy, possibly just out of school, I have taken the hoses off and dismantled the burner element and checked for blockages by blowing through them, all ok there, but there was an element of what looked like grease on the end of the hose that connected to the bottle, possibly oil, and I have not weighed the bottle to check for overfilling, but will sure has hell be doing that tomorrow. I am now back in the town I had it refilled and will be beating a path to their door in the morning, but I want to thank everyone for their time and sharing their thoughts and/or experiences.
Will let you know.
AnswerID: 544909

Reply By: tikus tanah - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015 at 13:59

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015 at 13:59
ok, returned bottle to the hardware store, they were stumped as to what the problem could be. The manager argued that gas is gas and that the tank was refilled on the Tuesday (every Tuesday) before I got it filled. Suggested the issue was with the hose or a problem with the bottle itself. In the end they agreed to empty the bottle (its only a 2.0kg bottle so not a lot of gas!) and refill it. Picked it up today, first thing I did was opened the valve and smelt the gas, 100% better already, it smelt like LPG should. I explained the difference in smell to the manager but he still was not convinced that there was a problem with the gas.
Since connected it up and it lit first go.
So the upshot of this? I had a problem that no one could identify, and fixed it doing nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing that gave a hint of a problem was it did not smell like lpg should, so if your in a situ where your gas will not ignite, open the valve and have a sniff!
Thanks to everyone for your replies and suggestions, each one was read and many were tried.

AnswerID: 544985

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