Butane canisters are essential gear when it comes to cooking outdoors. They pose less danger than open flames and fires, enabling you to keep the environment safe.
While a butane canister is one of the most resourceful items in your camping kitchen, it is also one of those that require some caution both in handling and in disposal.
Butane gas is stored under extremely high pressure. The disposal of a butane canister, therefore, can be hazardous to both environment and people if not done properly.
Here is a guide on how to dispose of butane canisters safely and ethically, to minimize the harm that butane gas can cause to people and the environment.
What You Will Need
For butane gas canister disposal, you will only need a puncturing tool. Still, you need to choose your tool carefully because it could mean the difference between safety and danger.
Any sharp object will work just fine for a puncturing tool, but a screwdriver is more recommended. Some people also throw in a Jetboil Crunchit, a lightweight tool that lets you vent fuel before puncturing. This tool is totally optional but it is a favorite of many hikers, campers, and backpackers because it also doubles as a bottle opener.
How To Safely Dispose Of Butane Gas Canisters
If you are just getting started with camping and handling a butane gas canister, you may be hesitant to dispose it of for fear that it might explode. However, once you become used to it, you will get a good grip on it making the entire procedure fun. Below is a step-by-step process on how to dispose of butane canisters easy and safely:
1. Let Out The Remaining Gas
The first thing you need to do is vent the gas in the canister. As we mentioned above, you can do this by punching a hole through the sidewall of the canister using a screwdriver or any sturdy, pointy tool. Alternatively, you can use a reliable tool like the Jetboil Crunchit to safely puncture and compress the canister.
Either way, this step is crucial, as it reduces the risk of injuries. If you do your butane gas canister disposal without venting the remaining gas first, the canister may burst.
The easiest way to effectively vent the gas is to let it burn until there is not much of it left to support the flame. It would be best to use it all for cooking. This way is more environmentally friendly and ethical than just burning hydrocarbons in the air and hurting the environment.
Important Tip: When working with sharp tools, make sure your hands are shielded in case the tool slips. And you don’t need expensive or fancy protection; even your hiking gloves sometimes can do the trick.
2. Look For The Nearest Hazardous Waste Recycling Site
Household hazardous waste recycling sites accept both empty and almost empty butane cans, so once you have vented the gas, look for the one near you. However, you want to make sure that your can is not damaged, as accepting leaking cartridges is against their policy. Besides, if your canister exceeds a capacity of 25 gallons or 220 lbs., there is a higher likelihood that they will not let you recycle it.
Presenting your canister to a recycling site is the last task in your butane gas canister disposal process. The only difficult part is puncturing the can to let out the remaining gas; everything else is pretty basic.
If you will not be taking your canister for recycling the same day you puncture it, make sure to store it properly. The best way would be to keep it separate from the rest of the trash awaiting recycling. If possible, put it in a plastic or gas-proof bag to seal any escaping or leaking fuel. You can also mark it as “used” so that everyone in the household can understand what it is.
Why It Is Important To Dispose Of A Butane Canister Properly
When it comes to selecting a camping stove or backpacking stove, butane canisters always are a preferred option. However, as with all gas stoves, you have to be aware of both the responsibilities and the dangers a butane can comes with.
Once your camping or backpacking trip is over, don’t just throw the can in the nearby bush or river. As stated earlier, the butane in these cans is under high pressure, which builds up with time. A small incident, spark, or puncture can blast the can, hurting the people around.
This can also pose danger to the environment. The toxicity released from the harmful aerosols can hurt the surrounding neighborhood as well as the animals that frequent the area.
Similarly, if you dispose of your canister in a thick forest, you risk causing a massive forest fire. Sometimes, it may be swept by running water, landing in an area with high heat. In such a case, the heat will cause the pressure inside the can to build up, which will result in the can bursting and sending flames in the surrounding area. And without emergency Fire Watch Service guards, the fire can spread quite far in a matter of seconds causing severe damage to anything it touches. Hence, how to dispose of butane canisters or any hazardous material, for that matter, often boils down to how responsible and mindful you are of the environment.
The Hazards Of Butane Gas
Even though butane gas has very low health risks when handled properly, it is a toxic gas and highly flammable and can pose a danger when used incorrectly. The risks of improper handling of butane are unpleasant and can be deadly. Let’s look at a few:
Butane ranks among the most misused substances today. Some people have turned to huff it from aerosols or bottles just to obtain a quick high. While this can result in a feeling of elation, inhaling butane could also bring myriad health problems like temporary memory loss, fluctuating blood pressure, drowsiness, frostbite, asphyxia, narcosis, cardiac arrhythmia, and in extreme cases, even death.
Being a highly pressurized and flammable gas, butane can easily explode if used improperly or exposed to heat. It has been seen to cause injuries or even kill people, damage property, or cause a fire when used incorrectly.
Exposure To Skin
If you pour butane on your skin or eyes, it may cause freeze burn or frostbite. This is the reason why butane gas refills must be handled carefully.
Safety Precautions To Take When Using Butane Gas
If you are going to add a butane gas canister to your backpacking or camping kitchen essentials, then you must know how to handle butane gas in general, so you can have a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are a few tips to help you work with butane gas safely and efficiently.
- Buy your butane canisters from a licensed seller. That way, you will always take them back, saving yourself the hassle of having to dispose of butane cans.
- Take all the necessary precautions to avoid inhaling the gas when using it for heating or cooking.
- Keep your butane canister as far away as possible from heat, hot surfaces, open flame, and sparks.
- Avoid smoking or lighting a cigarette near butane gas.
- Store butane gas in a properly ventilated area away from food and drinks as well as direct sunlight.
- Allow your butane canisters to cool off before doing a refill.
- Keep butane storage containers properly closed and clearly labeled.
- If you are using your butane gas industrially, wear protective heat-resistant gloves and an apron and make sure your eyes are covered with goggles.
- Don’t try to put off a butane-caused fire until you have turned off the gas source.
- Wash or, even better, dispose of any piece of clothing that comes into contact with butane gas. Sometimes the gas will start a fire even in the washing machine.
- Keep butane gas canisters away from children.
- Always use a butane gas stove in a well-ventilated area
- Never tamper with a faulty butane stove or attempt to repair it yourself. If your stove is not igniting or operating correctly, stop using it, and have it examined by a professional.
- If your eyes or skin is exposed to butane gas, use warm water to clean off the gas. Flush out your eyes for at least twenty minutes with warm water. Keep your eyelids open and hold them away from the eye to make sure the entire surface is washed out.
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Butane gas canisters make for a great smokeless fire source. However, if not handled or disposed of correctly, they can be quite hazardous to the people using them and the surrounding environment.
Luckily, now you know how to dispose of butane canisters ethically and responsibly to avoid posing danger to the environment. And as you can see, the steps are pretty easy and straightforward. You also know how to stay safe when working with butane gas and what to do if you are exposed to it.
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- How To Dispose Of A Gas Canister Responsibly, hippowaste.co.uk