Safety & Regulation
Some of the characteristics of propane, along with the regulations applied to its equipment, training, and handling, make it one of the safest energy sources when compared to other fuels, such as gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG).
- An odorant called Ethyl Mercaptan is added to propane so that leaks are easily detected.
- Propane has the lowest flammability range of all alternative fuels (2.4% – 9.5%) – so there must be a very specific combination of propane and oxygen for it to burn.
- Propane’s auto ignition temperature is approximately 493° – 549°C (920° – 1020°F), gasoline’s auto ignition temperature is around 257 °C (495°F) – therefore, gasoline will burn or explode at a much lower temperature than propane.
- Propane cylinders are a portable means of storing and transporting propane. Cylinders are regulated by Transport Canada and bear a TC stamp on the collar.
- Propane tanks are typically more permanent and larger storage installations than cylinders. Tanks are regulated by provincial and territorial authorities, and have a stamped plate that shows a Canadian Registration Number (CRN).
- It is illegal to fill propane cylinders or tanks to more than 80% capacity, allowing room for volume changes due to temperature variations.
- Propane cylinders and tanks must be equipped with a pressure relief valve that opens and closes to prevent excessive internal pressure due to abnormal conditions.
More About Cylinders
- Marks are stamped onto the collar of cylinders identifying the original date of manufacture and any subsequent re-testing dates. For an explanation of how to read the cylinder markings, click here.
- Portable cylinders must be inspected and requalified every 10 years – it is against the law to fill an outdated cylinder. The requalification of a cylinder must be done by organizations that have the appropriate equipment, training and certification to do so, and have been certified by Transport Canada to do the work. To find a requalifier in your area, go to the Transport Canada website. (Note: Select the “External Visual” cylinder requalification method for propane cylinders).
- Never throw your propane cylinder in the garbage. To dispose of your old cylinder, drop it off at a municipal transfer station or depot that accepts propane cylinders. Your propane supplier may also accept cylinders for disposal.Please click here for a list of disposal options in each province.
More About Tanks
- Inspection and requalification requirements for tanks differ by jurisdiction, tank size and tank design.
- Tanks are regulated by provincial and territorial authorities. Click here for regulatory authority contact information in your province or territory.
Propane Vehicle Safety Features
- Automotive propane tanks are 20 times more puncture-resistant than gasoline tanks – which makes them less likely to rupture in an accident.
- Propane tanks used in vehicles are equipped with a stop-fill valve that stops the filling process when the tank reaches 80% of its liquid capacity. The 80% fill limit allows room for volume changes due to temperature variations.
- Propane engine fuel systems are fitted with safety devices and shut-off valves that function automatically to prevent the escape of propane if the fuel line ruptures in an accident.
- Onboard safety valves allow fuel to flow only when the engine is operating.
- If a vehicle does catch fire in the event of an accident, the propane tank is designed to control its pressure via a pressure relief valve, saving the tank from rupturing and causing further damage.
Personnel are required by law to have a record of training (ROT) to fill propane tanks and cylinders (transfer propane from one container to another).
The Propane Training Institute (PTI), a division of the CPA, offers over 30 propane-related courses that are recognized by regulatory authorities across Canada, and certifies over 30,000 students annually on the safe handling of propane. Visit the Training section of our website for more information.
Visit our Fact Sheets & Brochures page for more propane safety resources.
The storage, transportation, handling and use of propane is regulated by a variety of Acts and Regulations within Federal, Provincial, and Territorial jurisdictions. This section is only an overview and is not intended to be a comprehensive and exhaustive list of requirements. Each jurisdiction in Canada interprets and adopts national regulations and codes according to its mandate and authority. For specific and up-to-date information pertaining to your jurisdiction, it is important to consult the regulatory authority in your area for complete details. The Canadian Propane Association is not a regulatory authority.
Propane Storage & Handling
Provincial and Territorial authorities regulate the storage and handling of propane, as well as facilities, contractors, equipment and appliances that use propane. This includes administering and enforcing safety codes and standards, inspections, licensing and permits for the propane industry. Click here for contact information by province.
Transportation of Propane & Propane Cylinders
Transport Canada administers and enforces the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Act & Regulations, which specifies requirements for transporting propane, such as means of containment, safety marks, training, permits and emergency response assistance plans.
The Canadian Propane Association and its subsidiary Emergency Response Assistance Canada offer the following services to its members to assist in complying with the TDG Act & Regulations:
- TDG Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAPs)
The TDG Act requires that before a person offers for transport or imports certain dangerous goods, the person must have an approved Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP). For assistance with ERAPs, please see the Emergency Response Assistance Canada (ERAC) website.
- Equivalency Certificates (Permits)
If a person wishes to carry on an activity related to transporting dangerous goods, in a way that is not technically in compliance with the TDG Regulations, he or she can apply for a permit for the activity if it can be shown to provide an equivalent level of safety and compliance with the intent of the regulations. The CPA has applied for and holds a number of these valid permits on behalf of members. For more information, see our Equivalency Certificates page.
Weights & Measure
Measurement Canada is the authority responsible for ensuring equity and accuracy where propane is bought and sold on the basis of measurement. Click here for information.
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Environmental Emergency (E2) Regulations
Environmental Emergency (E2) plans are required by Environment and Climate Change Canada for all industries that have large volumes of hazardous substances produced or stored at their facilities. ERAC can assist Plan Participants in meeting the regulations.
The objectives of the E2 Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) are to reduce the frequency and consequences of uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental releases of hazardous substances into the environment.
Under these regulations, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) requires any person who owns or manages propane on a property, at or above the threshold of 4.5 tonnes, to notify ECCC when this quantity threshold is met or when the maximum container capacity meets or exceeds this threshold. If the total quantity and container capacity threshold are both met, there is an additional requirement to prepare and exercise an E2 plan. The E2 plan ensures that any individual that owns or manages specific toxic or hazardous substances above a certain threshold has a plan for preparedness, prevention, response and recovery in the event of an environmental emergency.
Note: an E2 Plan is not the same as an ERAP!
Still have Questions?
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.