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shelley3
11-29-2006, 05:18 PM
This is my first time posting - so Hi to everyone. It's in the 20's here, with about a foot of snow (very unusual for western Washington), and I just went out to my cold cold garage to make some beads, but my propane tank won't fire up. Does anyone know if propane will freeze? I didn't think gasses did, but what do I know? I've never had this trouble before.

Thanks!
Shelley

baroness
11-29-2006, 06:41 PM
No, propane is used in below-zero temps. Maybe you are out of gas?

skookum
11-29-2006, 07:07 PM
Yes your tank sure will freeze. Your tank may be full, but if it's cold outside it will not allow the propane to flow. To give you an idea: a 100 lb propane tank will not even keep a pilot light lit in freezing temperatures.

Propane is used in below zero temperatures, but the tank must be heated (or kept warm) in order for the propane to flow.
What you need is a tank heater and they are available at stores like Home Depot. Look for a tank heater that is equipped with a thermostat that will shut off when it reaches a certain temperature.

Thermometer outside this morning was -30 with -40 windchill factor.
Good luck,
Sherri

shelley3
11-29-2006, 07:39 PM
Thanks for the info as my tank is definitely full.

Shelley

mckenzieglassworks
11-29-2006, 08:33 PM
I would be very interested to hear what you learn on this. Did the register freeze?

mckenzieglassworks
11-29-2006, 08:34 PM
:o oops. I meant regulator.

Padre
11-29-2006, 08:46 PM
...I just went out to my cold cold garage to make some beads, but my propane tank won't fire up. Does anyone know if propane will freeze? I didn't think gasses did, but what do I know? I've never had this trouble before.

Thanks!
Shelley

Welcome Shelley.

The freezing point for propane is -310 degrees Farenheit. I'ts unlikely you will get that cold:) .

What you are experiencing is pressure drop due to temperature. Although propane is tanked as a liquid, it 'boils' at -44 degrees F. Part of the liquid boils into a gas and fills the headspace (top) of the tank. It is this gas that flows through the hose to the torch.

The gas pressure (and flow) depends on the tank temperature. Pressure (and flow) increases as the temperature increases, and decreases as the temperature decreases.

Although propane starts to boil into a gas at -44 F, the pressure is only about 1 psig at -44 F. At -40 F the pressure is 4 psig, enough to operate a two-gas torch. However, a one-gas torch requires much higher pressure... more than 60 psig... and the tank temperature necessary to produce that required pressure is a minimum of +35 F.

If you are using a one-gas torch (e.g., hothead), the propane pressure will not be sufficient if the tank temperature is less than +35 F.

If you are using a two-gas torch, the tank pressure is sufficient all the way down to -40 F.

Again... Welcome to WC.

Me

Crispycritter
11-29-2006, 08:58 PM
Thermometer outside this morning was -30 with -40 windchill factor.
Good luck,
Sherri
Yes it was cold for November,
Propane shouldn't freeze, a little moisture around the valve could cause it or in the pipe. Windchill should only effect skin has no impact on non living things other than to accelerate the cooling off

skookum
11-29-2006, 09:26 PM
Hey Padre,

You're from Texas, have you ever torched in cold weather???
I can tell you from experience that there is not enough tank pressure to keep an any torch system going in cold weather unless that tank is heated. Theory is theory and then there is real life.

Shelley: I forgot to mention about thermostat-controlled heat tape that is used for keeping water pipes from freezing. That should do the trick. If the tank is cold the propane will have difficulty flowing (and if cold enough will not flow). If you tank is 20 pounds and smaller, it will be cranky in cold weather.

Sherri

shelley3
11-29-2006, 09:30 PM
Well, it isn't quite that cold here - thank heavens! I'm thinking it must be the regulator. We are supposed to be back in the high 30's with rain tomorrow, so I suspect the problem will be solved (hope so anyway). Thanks for all your input. I was so surprised that my propane wouldn't work!

Shelley

Padre
11-29-2006, 09:44 PM
Hey Padre,

You're from Texas, have you ever torched in cold weather???
I can tell you from experience that there is not enough tank pressure to keep an any torch system going in cold weather unless that tank is heated. Theory is theory and then there is real life.

Sherri

How about Denver Colorado? I don't know what you have against me that you attack me everytime.

I just state the facts. You used unqualified phrases like "propane freezes" without any clarification of what the freezing temperature is... and now "there is not enough tank pressure to keep any torch system going in cold weather"... without defining what temperature 'cold weather' is.

Maybe you just don't like people who live in Texas:) .

Me

grandbeads
11-29-2006, 10:34 PM
Jeez,I'm sure glad I moved away from that frozen part of the world and back home to the South Texas coast!If it weren't for the buildings across the bay, I could likely see Padre's neighborhood out my window.He's involved with some of the great products that keep lampworking moving forward and you can pretty much take his opinions to the bank...

richsantaclaus
11-29-2006, 10:52 PM
I don't get that cold here in Southern California but when I used MAPP gas it would freeze when I was torching. I put the bottom of the canister in hot water and it helped alot.

Rich

FireBeads
11-29-2006, 11:39 PM
I've heard that hanging a light bulb over the regulator will keep it warm enough to let the gas flow. There have been reported problems of the gas surging or pulsing and this seems to help that too.

Linda

Judy in MN
11-30-2006, 11:35 AM
Since there are a lot of folks in northern Minnesota who heat their homes and farm buildings with propane during long periods of sub-zero temps (and the tanks aren't heated), I'm guessing Padre's probably right and you may be dealing with low pressure or the regulator is at fault. While the propane may not freeze, the regulators we use may not be so hardy in the cold (especially if any moisture has gotten into them through condensation or other means). Some folks have used heating pads, electric blankets, putting the propane in a bucket with a lightbulb, and other manner of warming the tank and/or regulator to keep things flowing freely in the colder times.

Judy in MN
who has been known to light and use her gas BBQ grill in sub-zero temps

WeeMary
11-30-2006, 12:25 PM
Yeah, I'd guess at moisture somewhere, or a frozen regulator or connection, rather than the propane. Propane heating tanks, or smaller ones for running the stove don't have a problem here, though we don't get the extreme sub-zero temps some of you folks get.

Crazy Woman
11-30-2006, 02:17 PM
Hey, Padre ~ You here in Denver also???? Glad the sun is out today :)

Randomthoughts
12-01-2006, 12:48 AM
I assume that when regular people talk about propane "freezing", they are talking about tank freeze, a common problem with small tanks, one pound size on a hot head being the worst. This is more evident at low ambient temperatures, but the real culprit is the "latent heat of vapourization", or the energy required to boil liquid propane. Most people notice their torch failing, then look at the fuel bottle and see frost "frozen" on the side of the tank. The remaining liquid in the tank has given up so much heat that it is below the freezing point of water vapour in the air, and it's vapour pressure will drop to almost nothing. If you are using enough propane to make beads, most small tanks will "freeze" before the last 30% is used up. The larger the tank, the larger the amount of heat it can "give up" before the internal temperature drops below the point where there is suffiecent pressure to run a torch. So, although propane "freezing" is not academically correct, anyone who actually makes beads with bottled gas will know what another beadmaker is referring to on the subject of "frozen" propane (or MAPP gas)

Hope this junior science class approach helps clear the air

crzycooky
12-01-2006, 02:37 AM
Just a quick note I live in Canada and its been -27 yesterday and I had my torch going and my propane and regulators are outside.
Lynne

shelley3
12-01-2006, 11:44 AM
I have a 20 lb tank, keep it outside, but this is the first time cold weather has affected it to the point that I couldn't use it at all. I haven't made beads for over a year, and I had the itch bad, so I was frustrated with non-functioning equipment. Not to worry, yesterday it warmed up above freezing, and I'm back in business, It feels so great to be back at the torch!!

Shelley

mckenzieglassworks
12-01-2006, 01:01 PM
I wonder if you can wrap them like you would your hot water tank.

Cheng076
12-01-2006, 02:08 PM
Wrapping the tank may not be a good idea. Insulation works both ways. It will keep heat away from the tank so that the heat required to 'boil off' the propane gas has to come from the liquid itself with no additional make up from external sources and accelerate the 'freezing'. Better to get some form of 'dog house' size container and a heat source to warm the propane tank. IMHO

Interesting numbers you have there, Padre. I, for one, would like to see them saved in the 101 thread.

PJ

flameonglass
12-01-2006, 04:15 PM
I torch all winter. My propane tank has always been fine outside. I used to work in a greenhouse & the propane was only a problem after it got down to below -30C.

polka dottie
12-01-2006, 04:53 PM
i live in maine and lampwork all winter long with my propane tank located outside. i just run my hose to the tank through the window when i want to work and i have never had a problem with fueling my torch, even in below zero temperatures.

Padre
12-01-2006, 05:56 PM
... I haven't made beads for over a year, and I had the itch bad, so I was frustrated with non-functioning equipment. Not to worry, yesterday it warmed up above freezing, and I'm back in business, It feels so great to be back at the torch!!

Shelley

Hey Shelley!

How on earth could you wait a year to make beads?

Anyway, as others have posted, I think (if you are using a two-gas torch), that the problem may have been in the fuel supply system. Today, there are many different parts that can be integrated together to get the gas 'from the tank to the torch', including: 1) OPD tank valve; 2) CGA regulator fitting; 3) pressurer regulator; 4) quick-connect; 5) flasharrestor; and 6) the hose.

Or maybe it was just cranky because it had been ignored for too long ;) .

Me

shelley3
12-01-2006, 06:18 PM
Yeah - I think it was cranky because it was ignored for so long. In the past it worked fine in the snow - must have been trying to tell me something!

Shelley

whatwhat
12-03-2006, 08:04 PM
interesting PJ, i wondered about that.

i'm on a 20lb propane and i can tell the temp by how my torch acts.

around 10 degrees and it's weak.

i just wrap a fleece blanket around mine, but we haven't had "normal" cold winters here in years. so that always worked...until now.
this one i can tell it will be, so i've been looking into what to do.

....those that say they torch all winter, are you on 2 tank setup?
it was 6 last night and i could only do tiny beads, my flame was so weak.
:/