Propane is used around the world: fueling farming equipment, drying grain, running generators, drying crops, ripening fruit, and heating homes. We all know that it can be a liquid and a non-toxic gas, and that it becomes a gas at temperatures above -44 degrees Fahrenheit. How much do you know about the discovery of propane? It was actually discovered more than a century ago by a worker for the United States Department of Mines. Walter Snelling and a few of his colleagues developed a method for liquid propane to be derived from the processing of gasoline. He was famously quoted as saying that a week’s supply of propane could fit into a small steel bottle; by 1927, American propane production topped out at 1 million gallons.
By 1935, production of liquid propane drastically increased to 56 million gallons per year, and we still use propane fuel today for a wide variety of commercial and residential tasks. Residential propane service is enjoyed by more than 15% of people who live in manufactured or mobile homes, and more than 600,000 farmers report that they use local propane service to dry their crops, cultivate flames, ripen fruit, and heat their homes. Statistics repeatedly and very clearly show that propane is neither a major nor a minor causal element in fires. Despite cartoons and other negative public joking, propane is incredibly safe and non-toxic.
The vast majority of propane is produced in the United States, with a small proportion imported from Canada or Mexico. Interestingly, propane is extremely economical to store: it is more than 250 times more compact within its container; local propane services consistently add slight odors to their residential propane so that the odorless gas can be detected in the event of a leak. There are propane tanks widely available for purchase, and local, residential propane services are often able to come fill tanks with sufficient prior notice.
Instead of having above ground tanks, many residential propane services customers opt to have in-ground propane tanks buried on their property. The non-toxic gas will not harm the soil or interfere with underground water supplies. While a 500-gallon propane fuel tank is usually large enough for a four-person family’s heating needs, larger tanks are available for homes with swimming pools or heated outbuildings.
What is also interesting about propane is its use in more than 300,000 commercial sites across the United States. In addition to being used for space heating and soldering, propane services are used in vulcanizing rubber and in the manufacturing process for some plastics. Propane can be derived from crude oil as well as from natural gas, and can be used in forklifts as well as in diesel engines.
If you use propane in your home, experts recommend calling in the professionals in the event of a leak or equipment breakage. Local professionals are equipped to deal with any leakages or line breaks and are more than happy to assist homeowners and business owners with their residential propane services. Propane has been around for more than 100 years and will continue to power millions of American businesses.