How to Recycle Empty Fuel Canisters

Learn more about how to recycle your empty fuel canisters and keep this hazardous waste out of the landfill.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
August 22, 2023
How to Recycle Empty Fuel Canisters
Fuel canisters with tools for puncturing. Photo courtesy of MSR.

updated Feburary 8, 2024 to share that we are unforutnatley no longer able to accept empty fuel canisters. Please read on for more information about your Recycling options.  

Tired of the growing pile of empty fuel canisters collecting dust in your garage? Recycle them at United Recycling! Follow the guidelines below to drop off your recycling.

Steps to Recycle your fuel canisters in seattle

  1. Confirm that your fuel canister is empty.
  2. Puncture your fuel canister using a tool at home, like a can opener or screwdriver.
  3. Drop off your empty, punctured canisters at United Recycling, located at 74 S. Hudson Street in Seattle. 

If you live outside of the Seattle area, look for a mixed-metal recycler in your area, as they often accept empty fuel canisters.



Shake your canister. If you hear sloshing, fuel is still present. Burn off excess fuel by attaching a stove and running it until the flame goes out completely (it's better to burn the hydrocarbons than release them into the atmosphere). If burning isn't possible, you can attach a stove to the canister, invert it, and open the valve to release the gas. Be sure to do this step away from any sparks or flames.

Weigh your canister on a digital scale and compare the weight to the printed weight on the canister (gross weight - net weight = weight of empty canister).

Check out this helpful video on how to gauge how much fuel is left in your canister.

IS there a way to combine leftover fuel?

Yes! Campingmoon makes a gas canister refill adaptor. It allows you to combine gas between two isopro canisters of any size. 

Learn more in this how to video from Outside Chronicles


You don’t need a special tool to do this – just puncture it with a can opener or a sharp object like a screwdriver or an ice axe. Don’t use a saw because it can create sparks that will ignite remaining fuel. You don’t need to remove the valve to meet mixed metal requirements. Always puncture canisters outside in a well-ventilated area.


It depends on where you live. In the city of Seattle, according to Seattle Public Utilities, fuel canisters are treated as hazardous waste and go to the landfill, even if they are empty and punctured. Before putting your empty fuel canisters in curbside recycling, be sure to check with your local recycler to find out what their policy is on recycling fuel canisters.

What about propane canisters?

If you are a Recology CleanScapes residential recycling customer, you can drop off your green propane canisters at a Recology store for free (non-customers can drop off for a small fee). Learn more.

Isopro-style fuel canisters

Originally published May 25, 2018.

special Thanks to Brandon Bills and Iris diligencia for the use of the images in this post.

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Alina Badus
Alina Badus says:
May 25, 2018 03:59 PM

Yes!! I am so glad you are doing this. Thank you!

Mark Ayers
Mark Ayers says:
May 29, 2018 02:30 PM

Thank you to the Seattle Program Center and MSR. This is great news.

Bridget Potter
Bridget Potter says:
Jun 05, 2018 10:50 PM

Thank you Mountaineers! Once again doing something wonderful for our outdoor community. FYI for those folks who are Recology customers (i.e. residents of Shoreline, Issaquah, Bothell and Burien), you can drop off the green propane canisters at their retail stores

Amanda Virbitsky
Amanda Virbitsky says:
Jun 06, 2018 10:55 AM

Woah, cool! Thanks for this info, Bridget! I'll pass it along.

Petr Praus
Petr Praus says:
Jun 06, 2018 09:45 AM

Would it be possible to have a collection box somewhere around the center (maybe even outside under the roof?) so that canister collection is not constrained by your office hours?

Amanda Virbitsky
Amanda Virbitsky says:
Jun 20, 2018 04:47 PM

Hi Peter - because we are dealing with fuel canisters, and we want this process to be as safe as possible for everyone involved, we're opting to restrict canister collection to our bookstore hours so that staff can ensure that we're taking in only empty isopro-style canisters (and not whatever items someone chooses to toss in an unattended bin outside our building). We recognize our location and hours may not work for everyone's schedules, and hope that in the future, more businesses and organizations will start collecting items like this for recycling! Be sure to check out our bookstore hours page, as we do often have extended hours for events, and we're always open until 7pm on Wednesday evenings.

Ilona Berzups
Ilona Berzups says:
Jan 05, 2020 09:08 AM

Fantastic! I’d live to see a similar program in Tacoma. Will recommend. Thanks for all the good work you do.

Ilona Berzups
Ilona Berzups says:
Jan 05, 2020 09:09 AM


Cheryl Talbert
Cheryl Talbert says:
Sep 01, 2023 06:20 AM

Thank you Mountaineers for doing this! Even better: we can refill our canisters with a simple two-way valve adapter (Campingmoon is one of the brands - Amazon and Walmart have them) ! Throw the receiving canister in the freezer for a little while to get it cold, screw in the valve adapter, then screw on an economical large canister; then open the valve and gas will flow from upper to lower! Weigh the receiving can regularly to be sure you don't overfill.