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What Gas is Used for BBQ?

"Which gas for BBQ?" is a common question.

BBQ gas is another name for LPG.

It is composed of flammable hydrocarbon gases including propane, butane and mixtures of these gases.

BBQ gas is liquefied through pressurisation and distributed in small portable gas bottles or disposable cartridges.

BBQ gas is used for various outdoor gas appliances including BBQs and outdoor heaters.

7 BBQ Gas Fast Facts

BBQ Gas1. BBQ gas is another name for LPG, which is the acronym for Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

2. BBQ gas is flammable hydrocarbon gas that is liquefied through pressurisation.

3. BBQ gas comes from natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

4. The gases that fall under the “BBQ gas” label include propane and butane, as well as mixtures of these two gases.

5. BBQ gas is compressed into liquid at relatively low pressures.

6. BBQ gas is frequently used for outdoor gas appliances, like BBQs and patio heaters, but has many other applications.

7. BBQ gas is stored, as a liquid, in small BBQ gas bottles.

Which Gas for BBQ

Which Gas for BBQ

So, which gas for BBQ?

Most gas BBQs use LPG gas, as opposed to natural gas.

Within the category of LPG, you can have either propane or butane.

Propane is the more commonly used gas, but it depends on the country in which you live.

You could be supplied pure propane, pure butane or a mixture of the two.

Assuming summer BBQ weather, it would make virtually no difference in your BBQ experience.

BBQ Gas Physical Properties

BBQ Gas Properties Chart
BBQ Gas Properties
Properties BBQ Gas
Chemical Formula C3H8
Energy Content: MJ/m3 95.8
Energy Content: MJ/kg 49.58
Energy Content: MJ/L 25.3
Boiling Temp: Cº -42
Pressure @ 21ºC: kPa 858.7
Flame Temp: Cº 1967
Expansion: m3/L 0.270
Gas Volume: m3/kg 0.540
Relative Density: H2O 0.51
Relative Density: air 1.53
kg per L 14.96
L per kg 0.51
Specific Gravity @ 25ºC 1.55
Density @ 15ºC: kg/m3 1.899
  Note: Some numbers have been rounded

What Type of Gas for BBQ - Composition of BBQ Gas

Grilling with BBQ gasAs mentioned earlier, in different countries what is supplied can be propane, butane or propane-butane blends. 

BBQ gas is just propane in Australia and the USA.

In NZ it is a propane-butane blend.

In the UK, you can purchase either propane or butane.

BBQ Gas Goes by Other Names

BBQ gas goes by a number of names and this can sometimes be confusing.

In Australia, it is called BBQ gas or LPG gas. 

It is also called Camping Gas.

In the USA they just refer to the vessel instead of the gas, so it is a “Propane Tank”. 

When they use it, they also usually call it grilling, instead of barbecuing.

In the UK, it can be referred to as “Patio Gas”, which is propane, but they also sell butane in BBQ gas bottle sizes.

BBQ Gas Bottles

BBQ gas bottlesBBQ gas bottles vary in size depending on the country you are in.

For example, the most common BBQ gas bottles in Australia and the US are 9kg (20lbs).

There are also smaller bottles, like the 4kg BBQ gas bottles, that are popular with campers.

Some backpack sized camping appliances use even smaller 220g (8oz) disposable butane cartridges.

Coleman also makes a 454g (16oz) propane camping bottles, as well as a 250g propane-butane low profile cartridge.

In the UK, 13kg and 5kg are the most common sizes, in addition to a large choice of other gas bottle sizes.

Worldwide, the list of sizes and content combinations is extensive.

What is BBQ Gas Used For?

BBQ gas is portableBBQ gas is utilised in numerous different applications, including many that are far from barbecuing.

The common factor is the need for a small and/or portable fuel source.

Common residential uses include BBQs, patio heaters, pizza ovens, smokers, spit roasters, outdoor fire pits, gas lights, and mosquito traps, as well as caravans.

There are also some that are a bit more exotic, like outboard motors, lawn mowers, bird scaring canons, and more.

The small gas bottles can have commercial uses, including portable generators, floor polishers, blow torches, soldering, industrial burners, jewellery melting and moulding, small kilns, flame weeders, floor sanitisers for livestock enclosures and various other applications.

Where Does BBQ Gas Come From?

BBQ gas (LPG) comes from drilling oil and gas wells.

BBQ gas is produced during natural gas processing and oil refining.

This BBQ gas can be used as is or separated into its three primary parts: propane, butane and isobutane.

It is liquefied through pressurisation and stored in BBQ gas bottles.

How Does BBQ Gas Work?

BBQ gas is stored under pressure, as a liquid, in a gas bottle.  

Almost all of the uses for BBQ gas involve the use of the gas vapour, not the liquefied gas. 

It turns back into gas vapour when you release some of the pressure in the gas bottle by turning on your gas appliance.

But first it must go through a gas regulator.

What are BBQ Gas Regulators?

BBQ gas regulatorsBBQ gas regulators regulate the pressure at which the gas is delivered from the gas bottle to the BBQ or other appliance.

BBQ gas regulators typically come equipped with an attached gas hose that connects to the BBQ.

The regulator screws directly into the gas bottle whilst the gas hose screws into the appliance.

The standard BBQ regulator type in Australia is a ‘POL’ regulator which has a male connector (reverse or left-handed thread) that fits into a ‘POL’ valve on the gas bottle.

Other countries use other valve and regulator types.

What is BBQ Gas Bottle Testing?

BBQ gas bottle testingBBQ gas bottles must be inspected periodically for safety and re-certification.

In Australia, the testing period is 10 years and the test date is permanently marked or stamped on the bottle, however, the testing period can vary by country.

The gas bottles are subject to internal and external inspection for rust and any other damage.

Physical testing, including pressure tests, may be required depending on the type of gas bottle and the country where tested.

Only approved testing facilities are authorised to test and re-certify gas bottles, cylinders and tanks.

Renewable vs Climate Friendly BBQ Gas

Most people would think that a renewable fuel, like charcoal, is more eco-friendly than a fossil fuel. 

However, when it comes to charcoal versus BBQ gas, the climate friendly choice is not what you may think. 

Biofuels do not always result in a smaller carbon footprint than the fossil fuel alternatives. 

The problem with charcoal is that it emits almost 3X the amount of CO2 that is produced when you use BBQ gas. 

This is harmful because CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

To produce charcoal, you heat wood in a kiln. 

However, the usable output of charcoal is only around 20-35% of the original input. 

The remainder of the wood turns into gas and is emitted into the atmosphere.  

In contrast, BBQ gas energy yields are greater than 90%.

The fact that you cannot simply turn a charcoal grill ON and OFF increases the problem. 

Charcoal fires need to be started ahead of time and then take time to burn themselves out. 

BBQ gas is just a much more efficient fuel for cooking.

The following chart shows the comparison:

Charcoal vs BBQ gas
Source: Eric Johnson, Atlantic Consulting

Gas BBQ Coals

Does a gas BBQ need coals?

No, a gas BBQ is fueled by the BBQ gas alone.

Final Thoughts

BBQ gas is a safe, versatile and portable energy source.

It is also easy to use, transport and refill.

But most of all, BBQ gas helps make outdoor activities more enjoyable.




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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.