How to Dispose of Butane Cans

Butane is a vaporous gas that is stored under pressure to provide a fuel source. Highly flammable, butane burns to form water vapor and carbon dioxide. It’s sometimes mixed with propane and is used in the manufacturing of ethylene and butadiene, which make up synthetic rubber

There are several ways to use butane as fuel. It’s utilized in a variety of products, including deodorants, cigarette lighters, aerosol sprays, deodorant derivatives, CBD oil, gasoline, fragrance extraction, and many more.

Butane cans must be disposed of properly to minimize any negative effects on the environment. You might also endanger adjacent animals or sanitation personnel.

Why Butane Cans Must Be Disposed Of Accurately

Butane is stored under pressure, and the pressure increases over time as the product disintegrates. Even a small spark can cause the canister to combust, contributing to serious injury.

When butane burns, it releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and oftentimes unburned hydrocarbons. While unburned butane is unlikely to have a serious environmental footprint (aside from the possibility of releasing some aerosols), the general goal is to burn off most of the solvent before discarding it—so there’s always going to be some environmental impact.

Local wildlife populations can also be negatively affected if butane isn’t discarded properly. The same dangers apply to similar petroleum-derived fuel gases like propane. Proper disposal minimizes or eliminates the risk of combustion and prevents environmental hazards from occurring.

In addition to potentially harming nearby animals and sanitation workers, butane cans contaminate water supplies.

In turn, other living beings, i.e., plants, animals, and humans, are at risk.

Because it’s a flammable gas, butane is recognized as a hazardous substance by regulatory bodies. If not properly stored, used, and disposed of, butane and similar solvents pose a risk to your safety and the environment.

SEE: How to Dispose of Brake Fluid

How to Dispose of Butane Cans

Before you try and dispose of a butane can, make sure it’s empty. If it isn’t empty use it till it’s finished. Do not try to purposefully empty it to use the can. 

Wasting that remaining gas is not ideal for the environment. In addition to that, you’ll also be wasting a bit of money as you won’t use the can fully. So, only get it ready for disposal when the gas is finished. 

Even if the butane can may seem empty, it will likely contain some remnants of gas. You can remove that by using it to light a fire. If the flame goes out, you can then go on to get rid of the can.

Still, ensure that the butane can is completely empty. If you attempt to dispose of it with gas still inside, you could risk an explosion.

Butane cans contain compressed air. Therefore, it can explode if it’s punctured or the pressure increases with excess heat (so, don’t place it under the sun). Emptying the can will prevent that from happening.

Once you have emptied the can, follow the next step.

Disposal of Butane Cans

1. Puncture The Can

It’s best to pick a suitable environment. Work in an open space when it’s not hot outside. Heat can make the can more volatile than usual. Avoid working near any heat source.

Also, an open environment will allow the traces of gas to escape into the atmosphere. This is to protect you from breathing in gas. At the same time, you should work in an area that isn’t close to an open flame. 

The can could explode if the gas meets a naked flame. With a solid pair of gloves and a sturdy, pointy puncturing implement, like a screwdriver or similar tool, put a hole into the side of the canister to compress it. 

You have to do this carefully by cracking open the canister’s bottom rim so the vapors can escape. Doing this releases the remaining gas and reduces the risk of injuries. So, it’s a crucial step in the disposal process. If you don’t do this, the canister may combust.

SEE: How to Dispose of Aerosol Cans

2. Recycle The Empty Cans

Your best bet is to recycle empty butane cans. Recycling will prevent the cans from going directly into a landfill.

Next, find a hazardous waste recycling center for households. Try to locate the closest one to your location to reduce possible dangers during transport. 

Take note, though, that if you have a damaged canister or your canister exceeds 25 gallons or 220 pounds, you might have to take it to an industrial hazardous waste management site. 

Most local recycling places won’t take large or damaged canisters so It is ideal to take it to the recycling center right after puncturing and burning off the excess. 

However, if you have to keep it until a later time, store it away from the regular trash and recycling. If possible, put it in a plastic or gas-proof bag and clearly label it. This will help seal leaking or escaping butane. You will need to take the can to an appropriate disposal or recycling facility. You cannot throw the empty can in your regular trash.

Doing so could still pose a risk to the environment and animals. In addition, you could incur some penalties, depending on the laws in your city or state.

3. Disposing Of Butane Cans To Waste Facilities

If you don’t recycle the butane can, you can hand it to your nearest hazardous waste facility. Before you take it there, it’s best to call beforehand to ask if they accept butane cans.

You can save yourself a trip that way.

In addition, it can help if you ask the facility for any advice on disposal or transportation.

They may provide you with some regulations that apply to your state.

Occasionally, a hazardous waste facility won’t accept a punctured can. Thus, asking them before damaging the canister is typically a good idea.

SEE: How to Dispose of Paint Cans

Safety Tips And Precautions

1. Store butane cans in a well-ventilated area

2. Make sure to keep butane away from children and pets

3. Always keep butane indoors and don’t put the canisters in direct sunlight, heat, fire, oxidizers, or near electricity. 

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