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What to do with used 1lb propane cylinders?

Probably shouldn't put "empty" propane canisters in the trash and even if it's safe when totally empty, that's a lot of metal to just throw away, and I'm sure the recycle bin isn't ready for them either.  What should be done with them?  Does (or could) REI or any other outdoor retailer offer a recycling path?

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33 Replies

The special recycling process is for safety and stewardship. Waste handlers and processors regularly use compactors that exert enough pressure to rupture the tanks, causing explosions and fires. The proper recycling process for these tanks includes the extraction and reuse of any residual liquid propane but that work is "dull, dirty, and dangerous". 

NO, you cannot put them in the recycling bin! Even if empty, and with a punched hole. This is INCORRECT! They must be disposed of by taking to your local Hazardous Waste collection site.


My hiking buddy has a JetBoil stove that uses canisters of several sizes, and after we get back from a trip with empties he takes them out to a firing range (he's a former USAF PJ) for some target practice, then puts the punctured canisters into the recycling bin.  A hammer-driven screwdriver or punch would have the same effect.

Two birds with one round.

Check if your county or city has something similar to this:


It really doesn't answer your questions, but this item is a refillable propane canister and it's legal to refill it.

Got some at REI a while back but they don't carry them anymore I don't think.

You can still buy them elsewhere.


@aarond  REI still sells least as the full refill kit

There was a recall on these bottles to do with the valve coming unscrewed so check yours.



There is a new 1lb cylinder exchange program in California that uses the Flameking cylinder with retail sales and exchanges to reduce waste. You can get it from local stores around the SF Bay - it's called Little Kamper propane. Getting convenient access to a safe alternative to disposable tanks has got to be the future of 1lb tanks.  

That's great! I hope more places adopt a similar program.


While I dont believe it's technically legal, 1LB bottles can be refilled from a larger (ex 20lb) bulk tank. Lot's of vids on youtube and the attachment available on Amazon. It works well and saves $$. Keeps those bottles out of landfills.