We often receive inquiries regarding what to do with old or empty emergency oxygen (O2) cylinders. The simple answer is to recycle them – O2 cylinders are either aluminum or stainless steel, but compressed oxygen is considered a hazardous material. So, what steps are necessary to dispose of a used O2 cylinder?
Follow these steps to dispose of your empty oxygen containers:
- Determine whether you have aluminum or stainless steel containers. A magnet will stick to stainless steel; it won’t stick to aluminum.
- Empty the tanks. Leave the valve open to allow all oxygen to drain. You may also need to remove the regulator.
- Call your local recycling center. Specify whether your tanks are aluminum or stainless steel (both are recyclable). Many local recycling centers will accept tanks.
- If your local recycling center doesn’t accept your empty O2 tanks, ask them for a recommendation of another recycling center or disposal method.
- If you’re unable to find a local recycler, call the manufacturer for further guidance.
Stainless Steel or Aluminum
Here at AED Superstore, we sell LIFE® Emergency Oxygen and supplies. According to LIFE Corporation, you can contact your local recycling center to see if they accept O2 cylinders. If your local recycling center does not accept O2 cylinders, they should be able to direct you to a facility where the cylinder can be taken. You may need to determine whether you have an aluminum or a stainless steel cylinder before you call. If you purchased the emergency O2 from us, the cylinder is aluminum. Stainless steel is three times heavier than aluminum, and both are recyclable.
Allow the Tank to Drain
If the cylinder has any oxygen left in it, open the valve and allow it to drain. You may also need to remove the regulator from the top of the cylinder. Regulators are usually aluminum with brass flow channels. You can check with your recycling center to see if they accept cylinders with the regulator attached.
Contact Original Seller
Sometimes the O2 cylinder will have a business name on it – perhaps a hospital, a medical supply company, or even a scuba diving gear supplier. You can contact this business to see if they are interested in having the cylinder returned to them. Also, some localities have aluminum recycling centers where you may be able to receive monetary compensation for the aluminum tank.
After considering all of those options, how about these alternatives? If you’re artistic, perhaps a “found object” sculpture, or maybe decorate your yard with the old cylinders? You may want to check with your neighbors or your homeowner’s association first.