Over the years, CHS Inc. and its network of Cenex® retailers have become known for supplying dependable, safe propane to their customers. Whether heating a grill, fireplace or bath; drying clothes or grain; or powering a forklift or a mower, clean, efficient propane from Cenex is the fuel of choice for many homes, farms and businesses all across the country.

CHS is committed to promoting safety for all propane users. We ask our retail customers to prioritize safety, so we offer programs that inject safety into the everyday thinking of their employees. We also provide innovative tools to help retailers and their customers manage the costs associated with propane price fluctuations.

Learn About Safety

Propane is the fuel source for more than 60 million Americans. Using this nontoxic energy source helps cut emissions and protect the environment. Because propane vaporizes into a gas, the dangers of large volumes of liquid or residues entering the environment after a spill are eliminated.

The following FAQs and related educational modules created by the Propane Education & Research Council will make it easy for you to learn how to confidently and safely use propane.

What does propane smell like and what should i do if i smell it?

Know the odor of propane

The purpose of the odorant is to help people detect the presence of propane. It is important for all members of the household to be able to distinguish the smell of odorized propane. Ask your propane dealer for a demonstration of the distinct smell if you are not familiar with it. Certain conditions may prevent a person from smelling the odorant, such as:

  • Colds, allergies, congestion or other similar medical conditions
  • Use of tobacco, alcohol and/or drugs
  • Decline in a person's sense of smell due to age or other physical conditions
  • Olfactory fatigue from being exposed to the odorant for a period of time
  • Strong odors overpowering the smell of the odorant
  • Leaking gas passing through soil, reducing the smell of the odorant
  • Sleep – the odorant in propane may not awaken a sleeping person

If you smell a leak

  • DO get everyone out of the home and move away a safe distance.
  • DO attempt to shut off the valves at the tank.
  • DO call both your propane supplier and the fire department for help from a telephone that is a safe distance from the house.
  • DO NOT attempt to find the leak.
  • DO NOT attempt to repair your appliance or light your pilot light.
  • DO NOT turn light switches on or off inside the home.
  • DO NOT use a telephone inside the house or in nearby areas.
  • DO NOT light matches anywhere inside or near the home.

Do you know what propane smells like?

Contact your local propane dealer for a free scratch-and-sniff brochure.

What is propane?

In its natural state, propane is an odorless and colorless gas that is widely used to fuel appliances for heating, cooking and other uses. Although propane is used as a gas for fueling appliances, it is transported and stored as a liquid under high pressure in specially designed tanks or cylinders. When liquid propane changes into a gas vapor, it expands in volume by about 270 times. This means that propane is more economical to store and transport as a liquid rather than a gas vapor. However, this characteristic also means that even a small leak of liquid propane can result in a much larger quantity of vapor, which can be especially dangerous in a confined space.

Similar to any other flammable gas or liquid, propane is very safe when stored and handled properly. However, if propane is mishandled, it can cause property damage, injuries or even death. For this reason, users must have a thorough understanding of the properties and characteristics of propane, and the hazards and risks associated with its use.

What characteristics of propane should i know about?

  • Propane is an odorless and colorless gas.
  • A chemical odorant is added to propane to give it a distinct smell.
  • Propane is stored as a liquid under pressure in tanks and cylinders.
  • In most residential applications, propane is used as a vapor.
  • If propane comes in contact with your skin, it can cause frost burns.
  • Concentrations of propane may cause flash fires or explosions.
  • Propane vapor is heavier than air, and it may collect initially at floor levels or in other low areas before it begins to dissipate; to check for the presence of propane, carefully smell all over a room, especially in low spots.
  • Even a slight gas odor may signal a serious propane gas leak, and you should take immediate action if you smell gas or suspect a leak.

Is it a good idea to install a propane gas detector?

  • Propane gas detectors are available as an extra measure.
  • Gas detectors are only an aid and are not intended to reduce or eliminate proper safety procedures. When a gas odor is detected, even if the gas detector alarm has not been activated, call for help.
  • It is extremely important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a detector.
  • When selecting a gas detector, you should only choose a detector that is listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

How do i maintain my propane system and appliances?

The propane system at your home or business should only be installed, maintained and repaired by experienced personnel. Call a qualified service technician to light or relight pilot lights on your appliances.

  • DO NOT bleed gas lines into enclosed areas.
  • DO NOT tamper with gas controls on your appliances.
  • DO NOT use appliances that have been flooded or have become wet. The controls may be damaged and cause the safety feature built into the controls to malfunction and allow a dangerous propane leak.
  • DO NOT let your propane system run out of propane. If it happens, turn off the gas valve on the tank or cylinder and call your propane dealer.
  • DO have wet or flooded appliances and controls serviced immediately.
  • DO have your propane system and all appliances periodically checked by a qualified service technician for proper operation and safety.

What do i need to know about carbon monoxide?

  • Not maintaining all of your appliances can result in potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Improperly vented appliances can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include one or more of the following: eye irritation, headaches, dizziness or sleepiness. You may also notice excessive moisture buildup on the inside of windows.
  • If you identify any of these symptoms, immediately open doors and windows to ventilate the home and call a qualified service technician for help.
  • Consider installing one or more carbon monoxide detectors inside your home or recreational vehicle. They sound an alarm when carbon monoxide is present.
  • Never use camping equipment or portable heaters that are not designed for recreational vehicles.

How do i safely transport and store small propane cylinders?

  • Use only DOT-approved cylinders that are in good condition.
  • When using a new cylinder for the first time, insist that your propane dealer purge the cylinder to remove air and moisture in the tank.
  • Propane will expand and contract, depending on the temperature.
  • Cylinders should only be filled to 80 percent of capacity.
  • Before lighting a propane gas appliance, check all connections for tightness using a leak detection solution.
  • Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions before operating a gas appliance.
  • Never use propane from a cylinder without a regulator.
  • Do not use matches or a lighter to check for leaks.
  • Turn off the valves on the cylinder when an appliance is not in use.
  • Never store a cylinder indoors or in an enclosed vehicle.
  • When transporting a cylinder, make sure it is secured and in the upright position, so that the valves are in the vapor space.
  • Never smoke or have open flames near propane cylinders.
  • When filling cylinders attached to your vehicle, be sure all sources of ignition are shut off, including pilot lights and vehicle engines.

Are propane-powered grills and space heaters safe and easy to use?

Because propane-fueled appliances can be dangerous if improperly used, it’s important to a few basic rules and to read and understand manufacturers’ operating instructions. Keep manuals close at hand for easy reference.

Learn More

Cenex® propane is available through select distributors. Your local dealer can answer any questions you may have about propane and related services.