What is Propane?

This section provides basic information about propane safety. Please share this information with your family. It’s important that everyone in your family understands how to use propane safely.

Propane Facts

  • Propane is a safe and widely used fuel. It is sometimes called liquefied petroleum gas, LP gas or LPG.
  • Propane is transported and stored as a very cold liquid. It can cause a “freeze burn” of frostbite if it contacts the skin.
  • Propane is delivered to a home as a liquid and is pumped into the storage tank. The liquid changes to gas vapor before it leaves the tank.
  • Propane will not ignite when combined with air unless the source of ignition reaches 920 degrees.
  • Propane gas is nontoxic and produces minimal emissions.
  • Propane is not harmful to soil or ground water.
  • Over 95% of the propane used in the United States is produced in North America.

How to Recognize the Smell of Propane

In its natural form, propane is colorless and odorless. Manufacturers deliberately add a chemical compound to give it a strong unpleasant smell. This helps alert customers to propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard.

The odorized propane smells like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal.

Take a Sniff Test. Teach everyone in your home or building what propane smells like. Ask your propane retailer for a demonstration.

What Does Propane Smell Like?

Propane smells like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add this smell to help alert customers to propane leaks.

Make sure everyone in your family can recognize the smell of propane.

Some people may have difficulty smelling propane. For example, some older people have a less sensitive sense of smell. Certain medical conditions, or the effects of medication, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs can make it more difficult to smell propane.

Consider purchasing a propane gas detector as an additional measure of security.

Odor loss is an unintentional reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane. This makes it more difficult to smell.

Although rare, this can be caused by the presence of air, water, or rust in the cylinder. New and reconditioned small cylinders that sit too long before being filled are prone to internal rust when moisture and air get inside.

If You Smell Gas, at Anytime,Inside of Outside Your Home:


1.NO FLAMES OR SPARKS! Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.

2. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY! Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.

3. SHUT OFF THE GAS. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so.To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).

4. REPORT THE LEAK. From a neighbor’s home or other building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.

5. DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING OR AREA until your propane retailer, emergency responder, or a qualified service technician determines that it is safe to do so.

6. GET YOUR SYSTEM CHECKED. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances,your propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.


Propane Gas Detectors

Propane gas detectors are designed to sound an alarm if they sense the presence of propane.Their operation does not depend on the concentration of odorant in the air, just the propane concentration at the detector.

We recommend that you consider installing one or more propane gas detectors. This is important if you or others in your home have difficulty smelling propane, or if appliances are in little-used areas in your home where the smell of propane might not be detected. Detectors can provide an additional measure of security.

Detector Quality is Important
Be sure the units you buy are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). To be sure propane gas detectors operate properly, install and maintain them as the manufacturer recommends.

Trust Your Nose
Never ignor the smell of propane, even if no detector is sounding an alarm to signal the presence of propane. However, if a detector is sounding an alarm, treat it as an emergency and act immediately, even if you do not smell the propane.

Check Your Propane System
Even if you install gas detectors, have a qualified service technician inspect your propane system and propane appliances periodically.


Propane is Flammable

Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames,smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static electricity.

Propane vapors are heavier than air. For this reason, they may accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements,crawl spaces, and ditches, or along floors. However, air currents can sometimes carry propane vapors elsewhere within a building.

Make Time for Safety

Thank you for making time for propane safety. To learn more, download our brochure 'Propane Safety for You and Your Family' or visit userpropane.com