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Propane safety

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by hot diggity, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I got a little surprise this evening while testing a couple obsolete LP gas stoves. I'd converted my 41 year old Hank Roberts Mini Stove to run on available fuel, and on this absolutely still night, I didn't realize that the heavier than air vapors were collecting on the table every time I was slow in lighting the stove or adjusted the valve with it unlit. Nobody was more surprised than me when the collected vapors finally decided to ignite. (after the stove had been lit above them and while my hand was on the table top.) I don't miss the hairs on my fingers that got burned off, but I certainly won't forget the lesson. Valve on - flame on. Any delays between the two and you're asking for trouble.

  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    You just created your very own FAE.... Valuable lesson learned with only minor consequences...
  3. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Isn't just propane, was refueing ling a Coleman lantern 40 years ago on a picnic table in a national park with the fuel they used then, naphtha and not unleaded gas. The table was up slope and about 20 feet from an open fire in a fire pit. The fumes went down the hill, cool day, no wind, and caught fire. Big woosh and fire around my ankles for about a tenth of a second. No harm done, but woke me up. Old timers used to make sure wood stove in garage was up on legs, Grand dad said gas fumes would stay low and not catch fire, don't know if true, but he died of old age and cancer and not fire. Remember a woman getting killed about 40 years ago when she tried to relight a propane hot water heater in the basement, fumes caught fire, caused a flash fire, house didn't burn down, but she damaged her lungs and died. Propane man always said it was amazing how few people had problems if they used approved equipment, as BTPost said, It is heaver than air, boils at about -44 degrees, a closed tank has a pressure of about 100 psi at room temp, and one study of fuel air explosives showed that a perfect mix of propane and air was up to 10 times more powerful than TNT, but it explodes at a much lower rate. Thus you see pictures of a house totally destroyed, and still people survive, it "lifts" instead of explodes in simplest terms. Moral of the story, don't store large tanks inside, use approved properly designed equipment, and test it for leaks, and while it makes a heck of a boom, it is a poor explosive in less than ideal conditions. Surviving SHTF and then ending up dead after several painful hours after breathing in fire from a propane explosion fire doesn't seem to be an desired outcome. Again I yield to BTPost and his life experiences, but I do know that propane grills are not the desired way to cook on boats and I have seen examples where if they were used, they were suspended beyond the side of the boat. In the last 70 years, I have seen some quite dramatic photos of boat fires and explosions when the bilges were not properly vented using fans to keep the fuel air ratios out of the 3 to 10 % areas. PEOPLE, IT IS NOT A JOKE, IT CAN KILL YOU. An example of what a fuel air explosive can due, the Russians developed a weapon for their little Afghan vacation and have since modernized it. http://www.military-today.com/firearms/rpo_shmel_m.htm

    RPO PDM-A Shmel-M Thermobaric Rocket Launcher | Military-Today.com

    The US has something similar but with a solid war head that burns on contact with air and kind of down plays its effect as barbecuing your foes went out with John Wayne and the WW2 films M202 Multiple-Barrel Incendiary Rocket Launcher | Military-Today.com

    Either one would ruin your day if you expect to stay in your house and "shoot" at the blue hats as a burning house is hard to defend.

    If you are interested in fire arms and military weapons, do not go down this rat hole, you may lose a day or two. Firearms | Military-Today.com
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  4. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    One of the reasons so few hard-rock miners survive a mine explosion is that the when gas intrudes into a mine the miners breathe it in--and it settles in their lungs. Then when the flame front hits them, it runs right down their throats and explodes their lungs.

    The result is that the ribs splay out to each side like the wings of a butterfly, leaving the entire chest cavity open.

    Not a good way to go, but at least it's fast.
  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I came across something about propane that I found quite interesting...It has almost 2.5X more btu than Natural Gas so yeah, it's more powerful.

    @duane Yes, I had a similar experience as a very young man in Jr. High School while in Science class trying to get the damn Bunsen Burner to light...POOF! Scared the snot right out of me! Science teacher thought I was up to my old tricks and kicked me out of class...LOL!
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  6. Tempstar

    Tempstar Praeclarum Site Supporter+

    I still remember working on a lady's gas furnace early in my career. The blue flames on the floor were soooo pretty. Until my socks started melting. Lost eyebrows once under a house too. Don't miss that career.
    Gator 45/70, Bandit99 and Dunerunner like this.
  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Used to make hydrogen from muriatic acid and aluminum foil... only difference in my experience is that the combustible gas was not heavier than air. Oh, and combustion of said gas is not a Flooffff, but more of a Whooff. o_O
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    We used zinc with HCl. Sure isn't a sinker, used to use it for blimps until He got into bigtime production. Hindenberg was H2 filled.
    One dingleberry prof did that demo on the lab bench. Somehow the thistle tube to add acid got plugged and the pressure in the flask built up and stuffed the thistle tube into the ceiling of the lecture hall. Um, er, "surprised" didn't do the results justice.
  9. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    My self preservation instincts tell me not to test this, but I've read that natural gas is lighter than air, while LP in heavier.

    For an antique stove and heater enthusiast it pays to remember these things.

    Relighting a pilot light with the wrong gas accumulated in the low spots off the stove could make it the last light you see.
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  10. offgrittyt

    offgrittyt You gonna eat that?

    I have been using gas grill, (7 pounders?), bottles for the past six years to run my cook top burners, (I have a gas oven too but it takes too much fuel to run so i use a heavy cast iron dutch oven on top of a burner).

    I use one bottle every 4 weeks in summer and every six weeks in winter, (the wood stove is always on and heats all the water and does much of the cooking in winter).

    Yes, when concentrated there's enough gas in a small bottle to blow yourself up, "gas on flame on", is a good rule of thumb and always soapy water check your connections.
  11. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    A propane gas grill on a small boat is done over the water.
    Alcohol stoves are popular in sail boats though. Alcohol evaporates upward.
    3cyl likes this.
  12. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Then there was the novice sky diver whose chute didn’t open. As he is falling he sees another guy coming up, then is falling back to earth along side him. He shouts over, “Do you know anything about parachutes?” Man replies, “Not a thing. Do you know anything about gas furnaces?”
    3cyl likes this.
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