How to Refill 1-Lb. Propane Bottles

by Michael Dalzell
Refilling 1-lb. propane canisters from your 20-lb. gas grill tank can save you money.

Refilling 1-lb. propane canisters from your 20-lb. gas grill tank can save you money.

If you camp frequently, chances are you have made a lot of trips to the hardware or camping store for 1-lb. propane bottles. Over time, the cost adds up---especially when you consider that, pound for pound, you pay a lot less to refill the 20-lb. propane tank on your gas grill. You can use your 20-lb.grill tank to refill those 1-lb.bottles at a fraction of what it costs to buy them new.


Place empty 1-lb. propane bottles in a freezer for at least 20 minutes to reduce the pressure inside the bottle; this facilitates the flow of propane from the larger tank to the smaller one.

Ensure that the valve is closed on the 20-lb. tank. Thread the male end of the refill adapter into the tank nozzle. Use the wrench to tighten the adapter.

Connect the 1-lb. bottle to the female end of the adapter. Hand tighten the bottle connection.

Turn the 20-lb. tank upside down, and place it on the edge of a table or bench. Allow the 1-lb. bottle to hang freely over the edge of the table or bench so that it does not bear the weight of the 20-lb. tank above it.

Fill the 1-lb. Bottle

Open the nozzle on the 20-lb. tank.

Listen for the flow of propane; when the flow slows down, the 1-lb. bottle is nearly full. This takes less than a minute.

Turn off the valve on the 20-lb. tank. Leave the 1-lb. bottle attached, and turn the large tank upright.

Unscrew the 1-lb. bottle from the 20-lb. tank.

Check the 1-lb. bottle for leaks by brushing soapy water over both of its valves; bubbles indicate a leak, most likely the result of overfilling.

Press down on the safety valve to relieve the pressure, if bubbles indicate a leak in your 1-lb. bottle. Test for leaks and repeat as needed.

Items you will need

  • Full 20-lb. propane tank
  • Propane tank refill adapter
  • Adjustable pipe wrench
  • Soapy water
  • Stiff-bristled brush


  • Before using the 20-lb. tank, bring it to room temperature; this keeps the pressure higher in the large tank than in the smaller one. If you want to refill 1-lb. bottles in cold weather, the 20-lb. tank can be brought indoors to warm up but should be placed only in a ventilated area.
  • Refill adapters can be purchased through outdoor gear suppliers, such as camping, fishing and hunting stores. Some hardware stores also carry them.
  • If filled properly, the 1-lb. bottle will not be filled to the top but rather to about 1 inch below the neck of the bottle.


  • Propane gas is highly flammable. Always perform the refill procedure outside.
  • Do not attach a leaky bottle to a source of spark or flame.
  • Do not smoke while performing this procedure.
  • Wear gloves and safety goggles when refilling 1-lb. bottles.
  • When removing the 1-lb. bottle from the 20-lb. tank, unscrew it quickly to avoid frostbite. Propane gas is very cold.
  • This procedure is permitted for personal use only. It is illegal to refill 1-lb. bottles for commercial purposes.

About the Author

Michael Dalzell has covered health-care treatments and financing since 1996. He served as the editor of "Biotechnology Healthcare" magazine and as a staff writer at "Managed Care" magazine. Dalzell has also published travel articles in major newspapers and ghostwrote a book for parents, in collaboration with an expert on bullying.

Photo Credits

  • meine amerikanische gasflasche image by b1sch from