A Frozen Propane Tank ?

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Original poster
Dec 17, 2013
I had just finished up a spatch chicken yesterday afternoon and was trying to move the propane bottle.

All of a sudden it seemed to have gotten very heavy and I couldn't figure it out.

Turns out that it had frozen to the concrete patio and had ice all over the bottom 1/2.

I have never seen this nor heard of it, have you ?

Additionally it acted as if I had run out of gas in that I could not turn the up flame, though luckily I was done with the smoking.

Did the gas in the tank freeze ?

The ambient temp was about 50, high humidity in Houston at 4pm.
Very common to form frost in areas that have high humidity. During really long smokes I have had mine freeze to whatever it was sitting on. This explains what is happening:

Once a propane appliance is actively in use, the liquid propane in a tank or cylinder begins to boil. The propane vapor, as boiled off the top of the liquid begins its journey downstream to the point at which it is used. Before making its way to the LP Gas system piping, it passes through the regulator where its pressure is reduced to a usable level. Keep in mind that the regulator will only deliver a constant pressure on the outlet side while inlet pressures can significantly vary. As the propane passes through the regulator, it expands (resulting in sub zero temperatures) and causes the regulator to gradually reach the extremely cold temperature of the propane vapor passing through it. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air, the regulator will produce condensation, much like that of a frozen mug or glass taken out of a freezer.

This is why, under normal operation in hot and humid climates, the external surface of a regulator will freeze and appear to be frozen or frosted. The rate at which propane is being withdrawn from the tank or cylinder will also cause the container to display a visible frost line, which indicates the liquid level of the propane within the tank.
I heat with propane and would like it to expand to a full tank with these consumer ripoff prices.
Basically you are using more propane than the ambient temperature will allow (humidity is a non factor).  Without getting scientific (I can if you want) there are two simple fixes to keep your tank from freezing:

1) get a larger tank

2) get a second tank and add a splitter

No matter what you do if it is too cold your tank will eventually freeze unless you add a vaporizer.
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