How to Dispose of Butane Cans Correctly?

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how to dispose of butane cans

Butane is an essential product when it comes to cooking and producing heat in remote areas. There are many areas where open fires and flames are not allowed mainly because of the threats they pose. We have seen many incidents where the open flames and fires resulted in a massive forest fire. Thus, prohibiting open fires is in a way a precaution to keep the environment safe.

Where butane canisters are great for cooking outdoors. Most of the backpackers have a butane can handy at all time but have you ever thought about how to dispose of butane cans? Butane is stored under high pressure; hence, it needs extra care while disposing of it.  

The first thought that comes to mind is giving the canister back to the person you bought it from. It isn’t that easy, if the seller does not have a license, he wouldn’t take it back. Other recyclers charge you for taking in the butane can, which is irrational, frankly speaking.

However, if you put in just a little effort, you can easily dispose of a butane can on your own. You don’t need to learn any new techniques or buy new equipment. The complete process is fairly easy once you get the hang of it, the only critical thing is to make sure you dispose of the butane can properly. In this article, we will show you the recommended way of disposing of a butane can.

Materials needed

The only tool you need is a puncturing tool and of course an empty butane can. Just the puncturing tool wouldn’t do any good. Anyways, you can use any puncturing tool you want but a Jetboil Crunchit is recommended by mostly everyone. This is a lightweight, yet durable and sturdy tool used for puncturing cans. While choosing a puncturing tool, you need to be critical since you can end up getting injured. If you are a regular backpacker, investing in a good puncturing tool might result fruitful since you might have to dispose of butane cans. The Jetboil Crunchit is compatible with all kinds of butane cans. It can double as a bottle opener as well.

Disposing of a butane can

girl sitting with camping stove
Girl sitting with camping stove | Tommy Lisbin

Disposing of a butane canister can be easy as well as tricky, depending on your efficiency level. The task looks easy on text but needs a little skill. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to carry it out within a few minutes.

Most individuals believe the can has a high probability of exploding while puncturing, be rest assured, this is a myth. The only thing you need to be scared off is the bang that follows the puncturing. Fearing the task is only natural but once you get done with it for the first time, you will understand there is nothing to be scared of.

Step 1

The first step is venting the gas in the canister. If you own a Jetboil Crunchit, the tool can help you in venting the gas. If you don’t, no worries, there are still other ways to do it.

This step is extremely important since it eliminates any risk of injuries. If you don’t vent the canister, there is a high chance it might burst. To properly vent the butane can, the easiest way is to light it up and let it burn till there is not much fuel left.

We recommend that you use your butane can till the last drop for cooking or something productive. It’s much more environmentally friendly than just burning hydrocarbons and hurting the environment so you can dispose of the can. Once all the flames die, it’s your cue to puncture the canister.

The dying of fumes doesn’t mean the butane can is totally empty. There is a high chance you will be greeted by a little amount of fuel that didn’t own the pressure to reach the gas valve.

If you don’t have a Jetboil Crunchit, you can use a screwdriver or any other sturdy but pointy tool. Make sure you have your hands protected in case the tool slips.

Step 2

Going to a nearby hazardous waste recycle site is your best option. Most of these sites accept almost empty and empty butane cans. However, if you have a damaged or leaking butane can, you might be stuck with it since accepting those is against their policy. Moreover, if you have a can that has a capacity higher than 25 gallons, there is a big chance they won’t let you recycle it.

Putting the cannister in a recycling site is your last task. The only tricky part in the whole process of disposing of butane cans is the puncturing part. The rest is pretty basic.

For recycling, it is necessary to keep the butane cans separate from all other products lying to be recycled. Hence, before you toss your can in the recycle bin, make sure you mark it so that the workers will understand what it is.

In case, you were too afraid to puncture the can, you can still toss it in the recycle container, but it will require more precautions. Make sure you wrap the container in plastic and seal it so that if it leaks in the future, the hazardous material does not affect all the items around it.

Moreover, an un-punctured butane can have a higher chance of blasting. Thus, making sure it is sealed is pretty important. Don’t forget to mark it after sealing it.

Why is it important to dispose of butane can properly?

camping stove with butane can
Camping stove with butane can | StockSnap

Before you invest in a portable gas stove, you need to understand the responsibility it comes with and the safety hazards it comes with. Once you are done using a butane can, it is never safe to just dispose of the can. This is neither safe for the atmosphere nor for the people in the area.

Butane is stored under pressure and the pressure builds up with time as the product inside disintegrates. A small incident, a small puncture or a small spark can blast the cannister hurting people all around. This might pose a hazard to the environment since a number of harmful aerosols will be released, it can pose as a hazard to the surrounding animals due to the toxicity and the same goes for the surrounding neighborhood.

Moreover, if the can is disposed of in the middle of a forest, it can cause massive forest fires. In another case, the can might end up in an area with high heat, in that case, the heat will increase the pressure built-up inside the can and will cause it to burst send flames all around the area.

Hence, ethics and morality only tell us to dispose of the hazardous material with care and responsibility.

Final thought

As seen in the article, the steps about “how to dispose of butane can” are pretty easy especially if you nail the technique of puncturing. For responsible and ethical disposal of the can, all you need to do is follow the steps. Another thing you can do is buy the butane can from a seller who is licensed to take it back. This way, you will never have to worry about disposing of the butane cans.

Featured image src: How to dispose of butane cans | Kyle Peyton