Frozen Butane!!

Jun 20, 2005
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No wonder I use propane . The calor fire in the workshop “ran out “ of gas. New cylinder fine . Initial temp was freezing. Flame failed as room warmed up. Still gas left in original about 25per cent. Didn’t expect a freezing failure in an outbuilding
 
Mar 17, 2020
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Strange how I read Dustydog's post as suggesting the weather was freezing and the low temperature stopped the Butane gassing.
I suspect with his experience he knows the stuff is not likely to literally freeze!
 
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Damian

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The posting by ProfJohn l has been removed as it is yet another "Point Scoring" post .

It was quite obvious that the ambient temperature was near freezing , and as most caravannners know, Butane does not work insuch conditions.

Those that don't know soon find out !!!!!!
 
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Sam Vimes

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We stayed in a holiday cottage one winter that used calor propane for the gas hob. The bottles were stored outside. It was not unusual for the gas flow to stop or be reduced and we were advised to just pour some warm water over the regulator.

We have the same setup on our house although the bottles are in a housing and we've never had a problem.

Maybe rain or moisture was the problem with the holiday cottage.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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In very cold weather our oil from the external tank would get very sluggish and once did not flow at all. That was when we lived in Dartmoor.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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My OP was deliberately high lighting the problems of butane use in cold weather. PCv is open to everyone including new comers to caravanning who probably don’t appreciate these type of problems.
That’s why I opened with “Now I know why I use Propane”!

This is the answer and will hopefully help everyone. I hope we are not going to debate the semantics and pedantics of “freezing”.

When it comes to LPG people get confused by Freezing point and boiling point.
For butane gas, the freezing point is around -140 degrees Celsius, but the boiling point of butane is -2 degrees Celsius so your blue butane gas cylinder might not work as effectively in colder weather as low temperatures make it difficult to produce gas vapour.
Basically put we need a higher ambient outside temperature to boil the liquid gas off in the bottle to allow it to change to a vapour.
If you want a gas bottle that will work in lower temperatures change your gas bottle to a red propane exchange type .
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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In very cold weather our oil from the external tank would get very sluggish and once did not flow at all. That was when we lived in Dartmoor.
I would think that in Dartmoor you would also have the wind chill factor making it even colder. We visited a friend there who managed a small sheep farm. Leaving Ipplepen it was nice and warm however by the time we got to his place on the moors the wind was like ice.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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jondogoescaravanning.com
When I started caravanning some 56 years ago, there was only one gas available. I continued to use butane for many years. I was still using it when I towed the van to Spain for the first time in 1995. Throughout the stay, using butane was no problem, but on the journey back to Bilbao, I pulled into a motorway service station for some sleep. I lit the fire and went to bed. A few hours later I awoke to find the fire out and the van's temperature below freezing. No alternative but to start driving and get the heater going. That was the year I switched to propane!
 
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If you want a gas bottle that will work in lower temperatures change your gas bottle to a red propane exchange type .
Just to be pedantic and hopefully not point scoring, propane or butane bottles can be any colour. I think it is only Calor that have the distinctive red colour for propane and blue for butane.

Flogas have yellow bottles for butane. I think propane maybe orange? Aren't the former BP bottles green in colour?

As a matter of interest generally what does LPG obtained from a pump at a service station contain regarding gas? Is it mainly propane or some other gas. Our Safefill bottle is red in colour, but our previous one was blue.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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My OP was deliberately high lighting the problems of butane use in cold weather. PCv is open to everyone including new comers to caravanning who probably don’t appreciate these type of problems.
That’s why I opened with “Now I know why I use Propane”!

This is the answer and will hopefully help everyone. I hope we are not going to debate the semantics and pedantics of “freezing”.

When it comes to LPG people get confused by Freezing point and boiling point.
For butane gas, the freezing point is around -140 degrees Celsius, but the boiling point of butane is -2 degrees Celsius so your blue butane gas cylinder might not work as effectively in colder weather as low temperatures make it difficult to produce gas vapour.
Basically put we need a higher ambient outside temperature to boil the liquid gas off in the bottle to allow it to change to a vapour.
If you want a gas bottle that will work in lower temperatures change your gas bottle to a red propane exchange type .
I learnt my lesson when on a site down near Tavistock. It was early November and a lovely sunny sky and a gentle whiteover of frost. I was puzzled as to why the kettle wouldn’t boil for the first cup of tea of the day. No electric kettles in those days for us. After that it was propane.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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I would think that in Dartmoor you would also have the wind chill factor making it even colder. We visited a friend there who managed a small sheep farm. Leaving Ipplepen it was nice and warm however by the time we got to his place on the moors the wind was like ice.
Wind chill doesn't affect inanimate objects like a gas cylinder - it has major effect on warm-blooded people and animals.
 
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Jun 20, 2005
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Just to be pedantic and hopefully not point scoring, propane or butane bottles can be any colour. I think it is only Calor that have the distinctive red colour for propane and blue for butane.

Flogas have yellow bottles for butane. I think propane maybe orange? Aren't the former BP bottles green in colour?

As a matter of interest generally what does LPG obtained from a pump at a service station contain regarding gas? Is it mainly propane or some other gas. Our Safefill bottle is red in colour, but our previous one was blue.
Excellent point. The Forum is all about spreading knowledge. I’ve seen Forums die where the old lags forget we may have new members who join to learn things
 
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Learnt my lesson when I started towing, when I found myself the proud owner of Trailer tent, cooker, gas heater, powered by Butane. it was massive when set up.
It was early spring and we set off, on a whim, to Derbyshire and camped near Foolow' in morning no gas,, it was freezing. no heating or cooking
 

Damian

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Excellent point. The Forum is all about spreading knowledge. I’ve seen Forums die where the old lags forget we may have new members who join to learn things
You are quiteright, I have seen it also. I hate it when a newcomer is told to "search the forum" for an answer when they have just found the forum and do not knowhow the search facility works yet.

On the other hand you have the situation where a simple question is asked, such as why has my butane stopped working in winter, when all that is required is a simple answer directing themto use Propane.

It then progresses into numerous in depth technical reasons as to why butane stops gassing at low temperatures.

Who cares if its actual freezing point is -148 or whatever, most folk are not going to places as cold, its bad enough if it stops gassing at 6 degrees.
 
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Jun 16, 2020
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No wonder I use propane . The calor fire in the workshop “ran out “ of gas. New cylinder fine . Initial temp was freezing. Flame failed as room warmed up. Still gas left in original about 25per cent. Didn’t expect a freezing failure in an outbuilding
To perhaps save the hassle and expense of changing gas. insulated botttle jackets can be purchased or made which might stop the problem reoccurring. Don’t know how effective they are.

John
 
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Jun 20, 2005
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Never heard of anyone doing that. I imagine the cost of insulation may well exceed that of change to propane cost.
 
Jun 16, 2020
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Never heard of anyone doing that. I imagine the cost of insulation may well exceed that of change to propane cost.
I have just done a Google search and the only ones I can find are industrial. Or propane. The propane one look fine for about £12, but not insulated. Just for appearance at the bbq. I know they used to be available, perhaps before propane became the norm.

Could drop it in a bin with a blanket stuffed around.

Not nice to be cold. We had a radiator updated yesterday. Must still have been some air in the system so pressure was lost overnight. Boiler refused to come on this morning, but an easy fix. Then a late shower.

John
 

Mel

Mar 17, 2007
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To perhaps save the hassle and expense of changing gas. insulated botttle jackets can be purchased or made which might stop the problem reoccurring. Don’t know how effective they are.

John
I have no technical knowledge but I seem to think that insulated jackets on gas bottles don’t work. Something to do with them needing to drag the heat from the air to enable gassing ( told you I wasn’t technical). If you could get heated jackets I suppose that might work, but then you are mixing electricity with gas which I believe is a Very Bad Idea.


mel
 
Jun 16, 2020
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I have no technical knowledge but I seem to think that insulated jackets on gas bottles don’t work. Something to do with them needing to drag the heat from the air to enable gassing ( told you I wasn’t technical). If you could get heated jackets I suppose that might work, but then you are mixing electricity with gas which I believe is a Very Bad Idea.


mel
Perhaps that’s why I can’t find them for sale. I feel sure they used to be a thing.

John
 
Mar 14, 2005
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To perhaps save the hassle and expense of changing gas. insulated botttle jackets can be purchased or made which might stop the problem reoccurring. Don’t know how effective they are.

John
Mel is quite right.

LPG cylinders need access to ambient air so they can collect heat from the air which it uses to
boil/evaporate the liquified gas inside the cylinder. (it works just like a pressure cooker but with fluids the boil at much lower temperatures than water.

When you use LPG the bottle actually cools down, and the more you try to use the more it cools, that's why when you see roofers or road surfaces that use propane tanks you may see a layer of frost on the outside of the tanks.

If you were to insulate them when in use, they would not have access to the air to replenish the heat energy used to evaporate the liquified gas and they can shut down just the same as in the OP.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Many years ago I had an Autumn half term holiday on the Norfolk Broads and on several nights we had severe frosts. The hire boat had butane cylinders, and when it came to the early cup of tea, we couldn't enough gas through to boil the kettle.

The solution was to collect some river water and carefully pour it over the gas bottle avoiding touching the regulator. The warmed the bottle enough to release gas for a cup of tea, and to fill a hot water bottle to put down the side of the gas bottle to release enough gas for the cooked breakfast.

Needles to say I told the owners hey should switch to Propane.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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The action of any fluid evaporating creates cold, so in the case of butane at very near its minimum evaporating temperature, will further cool the liquid to the point it can no longer evaporate.
So insulating the bottle will be counter productive as it prevents the now warmer ambient air countering the lost heat.
Unless heated of course, there was an old trick on the beach to tightly wrap a wetted towel around a warm pop bottle, then let the sun dry the towel and this would cool the pop down.
 
May 11, 2021
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The action of any fluid evaporating creates cold, so in the case of butane at very near its minimum evaporating temperature, will further cool the liquid to the point it can no longer evaporate.
So insulating the bottle will be counter productive as it prevents the now warmer ambient air countering the lost heat.
And this was a problem that the BP Gas Light bottles faced - since they were made of a plastic composite rather than steel, they had a low thermal conductivity meaning the liquid could cool enough in use to prevent further evaporation - even in mild ambient conditions.
 
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And this was a problem that the BP Gas Light bottles faced - since they were made of a plastic composite rather than steel, they had a low thermal conductivity meaning the liquid could cool enough in use to prevent further evaporation - even in mild ambient conditions.
I thought Gaslite bottles were Propane?
 

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