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Propane Tank Tips

It's spring, and almost time to haul out that grill and enjoy some barbecue.    Barbecued foods can be a very healthy choice, particularly if you include grilled veggies, side dishes of nutritious salads such as coleslaw or mixed greens with tomatoes, plenty of real juice or iced tea, (are you salivating yet?), and especially when you season and marinate your meats.  Most seasonings and sauces  contain antioxidants and other healthful properties, while marinating adds flavors, tenderizes, and according to research, makes grilled meats healthier to eat..

Maybe you still use charcoal, but I see more and more people changing to propane, especially those who grill frequently or need to get it done quickly.  Each has its advantages and risks.  Have you ever gotten halfway through grilling a great meal, and-- poof-- no more propane??  Here's a helpful hint on avoiding this disaster from's great newsletter (you can subscribe right on their front page): 

"...last week I received an email from a concerned barbecuer (we'll call him Drew) who wrote,  "I was going to grill some beef then 'Poof!'  I ran out of propane.  How do you know when you're low on fuel?"  I thought to myself,   "That's a very good question.  Why, there's your next Tip of the Week, Matt."

Why every propane tank doesn't come with a fuel gauge is a mystery to me, but fortunately somebody much smarter than I am has figured out a way to figure out how much liquid propane is in a tank.  Here's what you do:

Before you turn the gas on, pour about a quart of very hot water over the edge of the tank (but be very careful not to contact the valve/hose mechanism).  Because the propane is under pressure, as the hot water runs down the side, it will quickly chill - and may even frost - the area of the tank that contains the liquid propane (don't ask me why, I was an English major). When the tank cools down a bit you can feel the temperature variation with your hand.  Now you can tell if it's half-full, a quarter-full, or headed for empty.  Note: Only do this trick outdoors, and be careful not to burn yourself with the hot water."

Here's another hint from .  Don't take this one lightly;  play it safe:

"More propane tank advice:  If you're replacing your rusty old gas grill with a shiny new one, buy a new tank rather than trying to get by with the old one.  Tanks that have been used for several years and subjected to normal wear and tear tend to get small chips in the paint, allowing rust to develop.  New tanks also have advanced safety features -- including a quick disconnect-- that make them far easier and safer to use than old tanks.  A gas cylinder exchange program, which lets you simply exchange your empty tank for a new full one rather than refilling it, is also becoming more widely available."   

You see why, if you grill or barbecue, you'd benefit from subscribing to's useful email newsletter!   (Thanks to for allowing the reprint:  Hints - Copyright 2000 BBQ.COM, Inc.)  

So get your barbecue supplies lined up, check or replace your equipment and dig out those recipes.  Be sure and provide plenty of healthy finger foods for the kids, and enjoy! 

Send in your favorite healthy barbecue recipes.

The Sneaky Kitchen
Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201

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