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How To Dispose of Helium Tank?

This article details the different ways to dispose of a helium tank.

Helium is a common natural gas that can be found in decoration or balloon stores compressed within metal tanks. Opting for these helium tanks can be a great idea if your job requires blowing dozens of balloons every now and then. The helium tank will save you both time, energy, and effort. Helium can also be used for other purposes such as filling up an inflatable castle, but the most mainstream use is for balloons. Regardless of its purpose, once a helium tank is fully used, you probably would be wondering what to do with it now. Can you just throw it in the bin? Can you refill it? Or should you put it up for recycling? If these are the questions popping in your head, worry no more. In this article, we will be addressing every frequently asked question regarding the disposal of helium tanks.

helium tanks

Can You Throw your Empty Helium Tank in the Bin?

First things first, it is important to clarify that helium tanks are considered to be hazardous. This is because they contain gas and gas tanks, in general, are not disposed of through garbage bins. Such tanks are prone to exploding when damaged or when they get crushed under the weight of the rest of the trash. In short: you can bin a helium tank as long as it is emptied and is small in size.

There are a few ways to dispose of/recycle a helium tank. Here are a few of them:

Return the Tank to your Supplier

If you have a reusable helium tank, it can be taken care of by the party you bought them from in the first place. Consider heading back to the shop where you got the helium tank and return the empty tank to them. Sometimes, these shops give a price in return for the helium tank, and sometimes you’re not so lucky. Ensure you won’t be needing helium anymore before you return the tank. It’s best to get the tank refilled if it’s refillable instead of returning and buying a new one every time. Helium tanks can easily be refilled if they are in fine condition. Of course, your tank will not be returned or refilled if it’s defected or damaged, which brings us to our next solution.

Throw the tank in the bin

As stated previously, you can throw away your helium tank under the condition that it’s empty and small. However, this approach isn’t exactly the ideal approach because of the threat it poses to our environment. Nonetheless, for helium tanks with a capacity of no more than 5 gallons, all you have to do is ensure the tank is empty and throw it away in the bin just like you do with other waste. However, it is necessary to fully get rid of all helium inside the tank before you do that. Here’s how you can make sure:

Emptying a Helium Tank

Firstly, head towards an open area that won’t cause suffocation after exposure to helium. Open the valve slowly by moving it in a counter-clockwise motion. Once the valve is fully opened, push down the nozzle to release the pressure. A sound will be heard that indicates the pressure being released. As soon as the noise stops, consider that your green signal and now come towards the part where the tank needs to be punctured. Before proceeding with this part of the solution, ensure you use some safety gear such as gloves.

All you have to do is look for the rupture disc given on the tank’s top around its nozzle. Grab a screwdriver and position its head at the edge of the rupture disc. Take a mallet and gently strike it at the screwdriver’s bottom until the disc dislocates. Now take it off with pliers or anything that can grab its cap. The disc is sharp so make sure you don’t deal with it with bare hands. Once the rupture disc comes off, the last step is to put a marking on the tank that indicates it has been emptied. Simply grab a marker and write the word “Empty” near the disc. This way workers at the recycling center will know that this tank is safe to be handled without precautions.

Now that it is established that your helium tank is fully empty, you can either throw it away in the bin or take it to a recycling center. The latter option is way better and recommended because the tank can be utilized there properly and it’s an environmentally friendly option. 

Recycle the helium tank

There are several reasons why you should have your old helium tank recycled, but the most important reason is, of course, the environment. Helium tanks can take up to 400 years to fully decompose. In the meanwhile, they will obviously release loads of dangerous gases into the atmosphere as they sit there in the landfill. Therefore, it’s not advised to throw them away or sell them to a scrapyard where their future would only cause trouble for our planet’s health. Depending upon your locality, a recycling station is your way to go. Simply give the center a call and ask them whether they accept empty helium tanks or not. This query is necessary because some recycling stations do not take in helium tanks while others have certain requirements for them. You’ll only save time by giving them a call first.

Repurpose the tank

Let’s suppose disposing of the helium tank doesn’t seem to be an option for you. Even in such a case, you still have a couple of ways to repurpose the tank. For example, if you’re into gardening, you can set up some plants on the crown of the tank and paint its body to make it a visual treat. A second option would be using the tank to decorate your lawn in the Halloween season. All you need is some paint and a brush to draw a creepy face on the tank and substitute it for a pumpkin. Other than that, making it a small barbecue grill by cutting it in half is also a good idea. Helium tanks have a fine round cylindrical shape and if you’re into DIY, only an hour of work can make the tank into something better. You can find more of such ideas on Pinterest.

Are Helium Tanks Flammable?

The most frequently asked question regarding helium tanks is whether they are flammable or not. Fortunately, the answer is negative. Helium is a light inflammable gas that does not react to fire, unlike most gases that we use in daily life. This gives it a bit of leverage in terms of safety, but only when the subject of combustion is being debated. Even when exposed to direct sunlight for hours, helium won’t burst. It’s actually the tank that needs to be cared for and should be kept away from direct heat. In conclusion, helium is safe as long as you do not breathe it.

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Tips to save time and money with helium tanks

If you regularly work with helium tanks, consider keeping the following tips in mind to save time and money:

Buy Reusable Helium Tanks

Helium tanks that are not reusable usually end up in wastelands where they do nothing but wreak havoc on our planet’s health. It’s highly recommended to go for reusable helium tanks. Once you’re done with them, you can either return them to your supplier for some cash or sell them. As for disposal helium tanks, it’s only a fuss to make something good out of them or dispose of them. 

Rent Them Out

Renting instead of buying helium tanks can also be a great way to save money and the environment. You can easily find helium tanks from online marketplaces being put up for temporary use. This will save you loads of money. Just make sure you thoroughly check them before renting. Damaged or defective tanks can pose a great danger to you and your loved ones. Another great idea is to give away your tank temporarily to other folks for a small price.

Consider Going for Helium Balloons

Kids love helium balloons and if you want to give them a good time, there’s no issue in getting a helium tank of your own to fill balloons. However, prefilled balloons are widely available on-demand and a better cost-effective option if you need them for an event or two. Not only will they save you money in the short term, but they would also save you from the hassle of dealing with a helium tank.

Safety Precautions when using helium tanks

Safety should be your priority when dealing with gas tanks in general. Here are a couple of handy tips to keep in mind when you’re getting rid of your helium tank.

Do NOT Inhale Helium

Helium can be dangerous if it is inhaled. There’s a very high chance you’ll end up with more than just a squeaky voice. When helium goes into your lungs instead of oxygen, you’re putting yourself at great risk. Your lungs are meant to get oxygen and if you replace that with gas as dangerous as compressed helium, you’ll feel dizzy and get sick because of asphyxiation. The health hazards of inhaling helium are numerous and they all depend upon the volume. In some cases, people have even lost their lives because of inhaling helium directly from the tank.

Empty the Tank in an Open Area

We mentioned that helium tanks should be emptied in a properly ventilated area where there is no danger of helium being inhaled directly. Open areas help get rid of the remaining gas. As for indoors, the chances of gas building up in a room are too high, and so are the other several risks. Therefore, always make sure you’re following the steps of instructions in a place where it’s safe to let out the gas.

Keep Out of Reach of Children

Even if your helium tank is empty, it’s best to not let your little ones wander around it. Keep the tank in a place out of their reach. Helium tanks are not meant to be handled by children. Whenever you’re using them at parties or events, make sure the balloon filling process is not being carried out by a minor. Adult supervision is a must when it comes to dealing with helium tanks. 

Store Your Helium Tank Indoors

Storing your helium tank is another important subject that needs to be addressed. We’ve already mentioned that an ideal storage location would be out of the reach of the children. Other than that, helium tanks are best stored indoors where no direct sunlight touches them. Also, keeping the tank anywhere where water may reach it will lead to the metal corroding and eventually exploding. Lastly, keep the tank away from explosives, fireworks, or anything that can blow up. 

Take Care of the Tank

Not taking proper care of the helium tank can be dangerous. Whenever you’re transporting the tank, keep an eye on where you’re placing the tank. Make sure it doesn’t have too much weight on top of it. Generally speaking, helium tanks are safe to be transported in cars but not in public buses or commutes. This is because the chances of them getting crushed under baggage weight are high, which can lead to the tank getting damaged and exploding. Rough treatment that may deteriorate the tank’s exterior can be extremely harmful.

Conclusion

Helium is generally a safe gas and lighter than oxygen. It can make balloons fly high and bring a big smile to the faces of little ones. However, if not handled with care, it can be extremely harmful as well. Also, make sure to keep your plant’s health in mind whenever dealing with helium tanks. Now that you know how to dispose of/utilize helium tanks, we hope this read provided valuable information to you.

My name is Thomas Anderson, and I have worked briefly as a plumber. Even though I am currently working on a different career path I still help out my friends and family with their plumbing issues. This is a hobby blog where I share my knowledge with the audience through random articles. Through this blog, I hope to address some common questions about garbage disposals.