How Long Does a Camping Propane Tank Last: Burning Questions Resolved

You’re planning to go camping, which is smart. A back-to-nature adventure is an excellent way to relax, have fun, and get in some practical survival training time. Yet, like all survival skills, it helps if you pack right. Sure, you can last eating peanuts for protein, but who wouldn’t rather have a nice hot meal? Bringing your propane camping stove along can turn a cold meal into a piping hot delicacy.

Moreover, you can also use propane to stay warm, which is particularly useful when all the wood nearby is wet, or fires are prohibited. How much propane do you need? I’ll answer all your burning propane questions and help you find the right cookstove for your wild mealtimes.

How long does a camping propane tank last? Disposable propane tanks hold fourteen to sixteen ounces so that they will last for approximately two hours. Alternately a standard propane tank holds around twenty pounds of propane and will last eighteen to twenty hours. Naturally, the way you burn the fuel matters. A lower flame will use less propane. 

How Long Does Propane Last

There are two vital questions about how long propane tanks last for camping. First, you need to know how long you can cook or heat with this fuel. Secondly, how long does the gas last when not in use? Fortunately, these are both simple enough questions to answer.

Cooking with propane is one of the safer ways to make a meal outdoors. Not only does the gas burn clean, but you can get a high-quality camping stove like the Coleman Triton from Amazon. The innovative design on this double cooktop helps shield any wind or debris from getting into your food. Plus, you’ll have plenty of space to prepare two dishes at once and plenty of power at upwards of twenty-two hundred BTUs. Get a Triton by clicking here. 

Using Propane

Using a gallon of propane at a mid to high setting will buy you about an hour. Although you may get as much as two hours of heat or flames for cooking, assume that you’ll only have about sixty minutes. Plan and stock up accordingly.

If you plant buy disposable smaller bottles, they will typically hold fourteen to sixteen ounces. That’s about a gallon. Hence each cylinder will buy you an hour. Alternately the larger twenty-pound tanks hold enough propane for around eighteen to twenty hours of use.

Depending on the outflow, and how high you turn up the heat, you could get as much as twice the time. However, proper planning means budgeting for minimum effectiveness. Never assume you’ll get lucky.

Leaving Propane Alone

Assuming you’ve stocked up on propane canisters, then you may not need them all. Anyone with a car should recognize that most gasses don’t last forever. In optimal conditions, they’ll store for one to three years at best. Overbuying can be wasteful.

Is the same true of propane? Well, no. Propane, unlike other fuels, doesn’t go bad in the canisters. You should always heed manufacturer and distributor expiration dates, but the fuel itself won’t go off.

It’s incredibly important to make sure your storage containers don’t get contaminated, or leaky. I’ll cover the proper storage in a moment. However, assuming nothing goes wrong, you’ll have that fuel around until you need to use it.

Storing Propane That Lasts for Camping

Presumably, you’re planning to stock a few propane tanks away so they’ll last in case of an emergency. Proper propane storage is essential. There are a few crucial tips for keeping your tanks safe while you stock them away for your next camping adventure or SHTF scenario.

Always store your propane tanks outdoors. It’s not safe to keep them in enclosed spaces. Make sure you keep them somewhere they aren’t going to get rained on and perform regular safety evaluations.

Your tanks should be rust and dent-free. Likewise, check any hoses and all the essential fixtures for cracks, leaks, and other damage. It’s okay to place tanks under an awning, but not inside a storage building during the summer heat.

Use a cool, dry location for proper tank storage. Additionally, make certain there’s plenty of ventilation for your tanks. Air movement is essential in case of any leaks.  Keep the tanks upright and on a stable, flat surface that won’t collect any water.

How Long/How Much

It helps if you know how long it will take you to cook a given meal, and how many of those meals you plan to make. The length of time it takes you to prepare will tell you how much precious propane you need to do that job. Although cooking times vary, stick to assuming the longest probable time is what will happen, and you may have extra leftover.

Choose a smaller camping stove like the Willor Portable with piezo ignition and adjustable valve to help use less gas while cooking. The single, windproof burner is ideal for making small meals and conserving fuel. Plus, it’s incredibly lightweight and portable, which will save you space and energy as well. Check the reviews on Amazon right here. 

List of Stovetop Cooking Times

  • It takes ten to fifteen minutes to boil a quart of water. Assume it will take a quarter of a gallon of fuel or fifteen minutes for tea, or water to make pasta and boiled eggs. Then add the cooking time for your dish.
  • Soup will heat up in about five minutes if it’s premade.
  • Pasta and hard-boiled eggs both take around ten minutes once the water is heated.
  • Bacon takes two to twelve minutes per side and needs to be flipped. So double your cook time based on the first side.
  • Steamed vegetables take three to fifteen minutes depending on the type and how ‘floppy’ you want them. Greens take the least time while dense starchy veggies like carrots, beets, and turnips take the longest.
  • Burger patties (thawed beef or turkey) take two to five minutes per side.
  • Boiling potatoes, once the water is rolling, takes about fifteen minutes. This works for fingerlings, small red potatoes, and cubed (cut up bite-size) potatoes. For fuel conservation reasons, I don’t recommend using large whole potatoes on a propane cookstove.

Once you know what you plan to cook, then you can estimate how many gallons of propane you need per day. Reheating food or scrambling eggs takes less time than making mashed potatoes from scratch. In general, assume water liquids will boil in about fifteen minutes, and most other basic stovetop meals in pots or pans will take fifteen minutes per dish.

Warming Up With Propane

Using propane to heat the outdoors seems like a lousy way to make your fuel last. Instead, I recommend a small, portable indoor safe heater for camping and personal emergency use. It’s more fuel-efficient. Plus, you stay warm longer indoors for obvious reasons.

I recommend the Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy for camping or smaller bedrooms. Although it requires a four-by-four-inch square for proper ventilation, you don’t lose much heat. Moreover, a one-pound disposable propane cylinder should last you around five and a half hours. That’s enough to get some sleep even in the coldest disaster. Click here to learn more on Amazon

If you use your heater on its low setting and close your vent when you turn the heater off, you can maintain moderate indoor temperature for quite a while with very little propane use. Additionally, try to use it only when you absolutely need heat. During the daytime, bundle up and keep on the move to stay warm.

Meanwhile, at night, wrap up in blankets and stay near your heat source. Try to time it so you can get sleep while the heater is running. It will help you avoid body cramps and wasted energy.

Propane Safety Helps it Last

When transporting your long-lasting propane tanks, make sure you keep them upright in an open area like a truck bed. Don’t lay the containers down on their sides or let them roll around. Furthermore, you should make sure all the valves are in the off position.

Never refill a damaged tank. Propane has an additive that makes it stink like rotten eggs. If you can smell the gas, there’s a leak. You should not use a leaking tank.

Additionally, whenever possible, refill your undamaged tanks in the summer. The prices tend to drop while others aren’t using as much propane as they do in colder months. You can save a lot of money with good timing.

All propane tanks need to stay cool. Never store or move them anywhere over a hundred and twenty degrees. Similarly, you need to keep the tank itself away from heat sources, fires, and sparks. That means no smoking around your containers. Following basic safety protocols will help your propane tanks last and avoid injuries and accidents.


Final Thoughts

Using a long-lasting, safe fuel source like propane for camping will help you get the most out of your experience. Spending time outdoors doing survival activities as fun, like cooking with propane stoves or backpacking, enables you to prepare for real survival scenarios. Plus, it’s a great way to unwind while testing your equipment.

Instead of disposable propane bottles, get the longer-lasting refillable variety. You’ll save money, and refilling them is simple. The video above gives you tips on how to make the most of refillable propane tanks safely.

Propane doesn’t go off, so properly stored tanks can last you a lot longer than gasoline and other fuels that expire. More importantly, propane is less toxic and burns at a lower temperature than other flammable gasses, which makes it a better choice for the newbie prepper.


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