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Propane grills with less-than-high-grade propane?
June 11, 2009 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Is my propane grill going to work if the gas supply isn't up to U.S. standard?

I bought a propane grill in Mexico City, and the fine folks at Home Depot also sold us a 10-liter propane tank (which, incidentally, doesn't fit on the little shelf parts on the grill and has to rest on the ground).

The only way we've figured out to fill the propane tank is through the guys who drive trucks around the neighborhoods here selling refills of the tanks some people use for cooking and water heating here. (We have natural gas lines in our apartment so haven't used the gas truck before.) We gave our propane tank to the gas guys and they returned it, filled, two days later.

The Wikipedia entry on propane notes that in other countries, particularly in Mexico, the "propane" typically has a higher butane content than the standard requires in the U.S. I have no idea what exactly these gas dudes in Mexico put in my tank, and I would really like to avoid setting myself on fire. Think it's OK to use what they gave me?

The grill is made by Brinkmann, a U.S. manufacturer, and the same model is sold in the U.S.

(Side note: I did connect the tank to my grill already, did a leak test as the owner's manual instructs, and found a leak in the regulator. I'm hoping that this doesn't have something to do with the gas mix and is an honest-to-goodness manufacturer's defect. I'm ordering a replacement part.)
posted by phantroll to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
 
According to my husband (an avid griller and a former farmboy who is familiar with propane in all its various uses), the leak in your regulator would not be caused by the gas. Did you test it using the soapy water method? If you definitely have a leak, you can try tightening the fitting (e.g. you might not need a replacement part).

As far as the cooking, the possibly higher butane content shouldn't affect how the gas performs when you're grilling. The flame might be a little less orange than what you're accustomed to. If your regulator is leaking, you won't have the correct pressure, and you do risk a fire, so definitely get that sorted out before you started using it.
posted by amyms at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2009


IANAPAPAS (Propane And Propane Accessories Salesman)

but a higher butane content might change the highest temp your grill can reach, but not by much, and you won't notice much other than a slightly different flame color.
posted by jrishel at 11:57 AM on June 11, 2009


"the 'propane' typically has a higher butane content than the standard requires in the U.S. I have no idea what exactly these gas dudes in Mexico put in my tank, and I would really like to avoid setting myself on fire. Think it's OK to use what they gave me?"

This kind of variability is a pain in the ass with LPG vehicles but won't hurt your grill (unless the percentages are completely out of whack, like 70% butane) though you'll probably experience lower temperatures as the air fuel ratio isn't correct. FYI: Really crappy propane is pretty wide spread in the US too (you can feel the difference in throttle response in a car).
posted by Mitheral at 12:14 PM on June 11, 2009


Great answers, and many thanks to all.

And amyms, to answer your question, I did find the leak with the soapy water method. It's in the spot where the regulator connects to the nipple you insert into the gas tank nozzle, and unfortunately that part is covered by the plastic cap you're supposed to screw onto the gas tank. I tried tightening it using several different tools but none did the trick.
posted by phantroll at 3:54 PM on June 11, 2009


I did find the leak with the soapy water method. It's in the spot where the regulator connects to the nipple you insert into the gas tank nozzle, and unfortunately that part is covered by the plastic cap you're supposed to screw onto the gas tank. I tried tightening it using several different tools but none did the trick.

You might be able to fix it yourself by using a sealant or teflon tape. If not, you should be able to get a replacement at Home Depot free of charge (since I'm assuming it's new).

Good luck and happy grilling!
posted by amyms at 9:15 PM on June 11, 2009


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