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How to Refill One-Pound Camping Propane Bottles

When not supporting technology needs in the K-12 industry, Jeremiah enjoys camping and spending time offline in the great outdoors.

Gas camping stoves are convenient, but don't throw those cylinders away!

Gas camping stoves are convenient, but don't throw those cylinders away!

As someone that enjoys camping, I try to squeeze in as many weekend getaways as possible. There’s nothing better about camping than coming back to your campsite after a day of hiking to cook a nice hot meal, or starting your morning with scrambled eggs, sausage, or even pancakes.

Cooking those meals over a campfire isn’t always feasible, due to seasonal restrictions or the desire to "leave no trace." That’s why I often prefer using a portable gas cook stove, as sometimes firewood is scarce in more popular campgrounds, and often bringing your own firewood from home is prohibitive. It’s much easier to bring a gas cook stove along with a bottle or two of propane (just in case), plus propane is less expensive, and you can bring it with you and not take up as much space.

When those bottles are empty though, there are very few places available to refill them at, so they’re generally thrown away and another bottle has to be purchased. If you end up using propane often to cook while camping, that can get expensive, and creates more waste.

Refilling Propane Bottles is Easy

If you have a propane tank at home that’s used for grilling, you can easily refill those one-pound propane bottles yourself with an adapter. I purchased one sold by DozyAnt on Amazon a few years ago. For less than $10 it’s paid for itself a few times over in refilling two propane bottles from my propane grill tank.

This attaches to your larger propane tank first, and then you screw the smaller empty propane bottle onto the other end. Then it's a matter of flipping the larger tank upside down (so that only liquid propane flows into the bottle), opening the valve, and listening for the sound of the propane flowing through the adapter to slow down.

Propane Bottle Refill Adapter

Propane tank, 1 lb. cylinder, and refill adapter.

Propane tank, 1 lb. cylinder, and refill adapter.

Safety Warning

Filling propane bottles should only be done outdoors, not inside a building, tent, or other enclosed shelter, and well away from any source of flame or spark. If something goes wrong and propane begins to leak from the tank, bottle, or adapter, the best place for this to happen is outdoors where the gas can’t accumulate and can quickly dissipate. And always store propane outdoors, away from heat sources like stoves or campfires.

All that being said, it's safe to refill your own propane bottles without risk of injury, as adapters like the one I use limit the pressure that can build up in the bottle, stopping the flow of propane when it is full.

Cylinder, tank, and refill adapter connected. Don't open the valve while upright or you won't get very much propane transferred into the smaller cylinder.

Cylinder, tank, and refill adapter connected. Don't open the valve while upright or you won't get very much propane transferred into the smaller cylinder.

Propane Bottle Refill Instructions

Now that we've covered safety, let's go over how to actually refill those little bottles from your propane grill tank.

  1. Place your empty propane bottle(s) in the freezer to cool them down. I normally cool mine down for at least an hour before filling. This is so that the liquid propane being transferred into them later doesn't immediately begin evaporating, causing the pressure inside to rise and limiting how much propane can actually be pushed into the bottle.
  2. Attach the refill adapter to your propane tank. The large black knob on the adapter I use screws onto the fitting on any 5-gallon propane tank. This just needs to be hand-tight to prevent any leaks.
  3. Take your chilled propane bottle and screw it onto the brass fitting of the adapter. Gently tighten it onto the adapter until it is also hand-tight.
  4. Flip the propane tank, adapter, and bottle you've connected upside down. This is so that the compressed, liquid propane in the tank will be pushed into the bottle, keeping it under pressure. Trying to fill the bottle while the tank is upright will just result in a bottle full of propane gas, but not nearly as much as we want or need to actually fill it up.
  5. Open the valve on your propane tank and you will begin hearing a hissing noise as the propane passes through the valve and into the propane bottle. There should not be any gas escaping, but if you begin smelling propane at this stage, immediately close the valve and check for leaks. Otherwise, the hissing noise you hear will slowly decrease as the bottle becomes full. If you prefer, you can stop the filling at any time before this point by closing the valve.
  6. Flip the tank, bottle, and adapter upright again, and after making sure the valve is closed, remove the propane bottle from the adapter by unscrewing it, then unscrew the adapter from your propane tank and place the cap back on if you have one.
Propane bottle attached to refill adapter on a larger propane tank, ready to be refilled.

Propane bottle attached to refill adapter on a larger propane tank, ready to be refilled.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.