Butane is a highly flammable gas that has been a convenient fuel source for years. A variety of butane cartridges have been gracing hiking, camping, and a handful of other activities that require portability during various acts of inflammation.
Whether you are a frequent user or not, you might have wondered how Butane cartridge works at some point in your life since the day you have sighted the lighting up of a cigarette lighter.
Here, I have outlined the mechanisms of this popular and lightweight power source along with its different purposes.
What is a Butane Cartridge, and How Does It Work?
Butane cartridges contain liquified Butane gas mixed with a rather smaller portion of Propane. You must have seen a cigarette lighter with a flammable fluid inside. But the truth is, it’s actually Butane that is forced into the compartment of the lighter with high pressure.
According to the laws of chemistry, the volume of a gas decreases with the increase of pressure. Therefore, having very low melting and boiling points, Butane easily turns into a liquid form with the amount of pressure imposed on it.
The same goes for Butane cartridges, which come in different sizes and shapes. A cartridge or canister has a narrow nozzle on its top, which you can attach to the compatible appliances. The nozzle bridges the liquified gas to your contraption, letting it discharge into the appliance’s receptacle.
The gas is ready to use instantly whenever you connect it, and it automatically seals the outflow of the gas using the high pressure inside when not in use.
What’s Inside the Cartridge?
The gaseous chemical element derives from petroleum. The canisters contain a blend of Butane and Propane. There are two forms of Butane: Isobutane and n-butane (the n denotes normal).
Generally, the blend consists of 80% Butane and 20% Propane at most. Despite being the driving force of the whole unit, the share of the percentage of Propane cannot exceed because of its high-price and requiring a heavier canister to withstand the inner pressure.
For production, they require fractional crude oil distillation. Crude oils derive from decaying natural organic matters. The process of fractional distillation refers to a separation procedure of the components of a substance into its fractions.
Determining the Capabilities
The main difference between the three gaseous components (Propane, Isobutane, and n-butane) is their “vapor pressure.” It indicates how capable the fuel is to vaporize while keeping the cartridge pressurized at certain temperature levels.
Canisters with a low vapor pressure wane away faster as they cool during the fuel vaporization, resulting in poor performance of heating contraptions. However, no matter how the vapor pressure is, the performance may drop exponentially when the outside temperature is cold.
Since Propane is a must-have in the gas blend inside a canister with the highest vapor pressure, you may wonder which of the variations of Butane would be ideal for your purpose. Down below, you can figure out the contrasts by yourself.
It has a boiling point of 11°F. In terms of performance, Isobutane sits next to Propane. Despite having the same molecular structure as n-Butane (C4H10), it has a superior vapor pressure because of the different shape of the molecules. It is also more expensive and found in the high-quality cartridges.
With a boiling point of 30°F, n-Butane is the cheapest fuel of all while delivering the most inferior performance, as well. With the lowest vapor pressure, it renders poor overall performance, and it even ceases to perform entirely in colder circumstances. If you have noticed the jumbo packs of fuel canisters at incredibly bargain prices, be sure of it’s being 100% n-Butane.
However, you’d be wiser to go for these canisters as the cheapest solution for short periods of use in warm weather.
Types of Butane Cartridges and Their Purposes
These canisters are available in 100 gm, 200 gm, 250 gm, and 500 gm sizes. These canisters come with releasable “Lindal valves,” which is ideal for those who are in a real hurry. It easily screws to portable stoves for instant use.
If you happen to be a camper looking for the easiest campfire solution, you should go for this. Because of these canisters coming with threaded top, they are also called threaded cartridges. You’ll find them across the USA, UK, and Europe.
Easy-click canisters are almost the same as the Screw-on, except for the thread on its valve. Meaning, they are not compatible with each other. They are available in 230 gm and 450 gm sizes and generally found across northern Europe.
The name says it all. You’ll have to pierce open the cartridge top to use it. Meaning, there’s no re-sealing once you have pierced it. It’s found in 190 gm size all over the world but used mostly in European countries. These canisters exhort out a high-speed outflow of the gas blend, making it the ideal choice for one-time purposes.
It’s the most common type of Butane canister in the USA that comes in cans like those of hairsprays or mosquito repellents. 250 gm is the standard size to be found in Japan, Korea, and Europe alongside the USA.
These cartridges are mainly used for refilling the other types of cartridges, cigarette lighters, camping torches but also widely used for the essential camping stoves as well. They usually come with an adapter for attaching to various tools and appliances.
Cartridges for Hairstyling Tools
This is the tiniest of Butane cartridges available out there dedicated to power up hair styling tools. Unlike the typical hair tools that power from an electrical plug outlet, there are a few models that use Butane cartridges to enable the user to use it on the go.
More specifically, most of the cordless flat irons and cordless hair dryers come with a compartment in their handle for a Butane cartridge to be inserted in. There is a tiny nozzle that connects to the receiving end of the chamber and gets ready to use instantly. They work pretty much the same as the portable camping stoves, which require aerosol style canisters but are longer-lasting. You can use a small cartridge for up to 5 months before a refilling.
Wrapping It Up
Butane cartridges come really handy in situations when need quick and convenient inflammations for various purposes on the go. But despite the portability and easy usage, we must be careful when disposing of them as the pressurized gas can be hazardous for you and the environment.
I’ll always suggest you be in touch with the nearest gas station or fire department for getting rid of it safely and for recycling them.