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Lakes Gas Blog

Winterizing Your Propane Grill

Propane GrillThe first snowfall of the year signals the official end of outdoor grilling season.

Stowing your propane grill properly will lengthen its life and help you avoid potential safety risks.

Here are some tips courtesy of FamilyHandyMan.com.

Clean it: Year-old grease and long-forgotten hamburger remnants are not the best ways to start next summer. Give your grill a good scrub before you store it.

Power down: Shut off the propane tank, unfasten the burner and slip the tubes off the gas lines. Your owner's manual will have directions specific to your grill.

Spray it: Spray cooking oil on metal parts. This will prevent rust during wet weather.

Wrap it: Wrap the burners in plastic grocery bags to prevent insects from making their homes there during the winter. These pests are not just scary; they could cause uneven flames or fires when you light the grill again. Give the grill's gas line opening the same treatment.

Store it: Should you disconnect the tank from the grill? It depends on where you're storing it. If you're leaving the grill outside, cover it but leave the tank connected, but shut off. If you're bringing the grill inside your house, shed, or garage, disconnect the tank, and leave that outside. You should never bring a propane tank inside, to avoid a potential explosion. Store it upright and away from dryer or furnace vents.

These tips will keep your grill ready for next year and many years to come.

Three Safety Tips for Hunting with Propane

Snow HuntFall may be winding down, but it's still hunting season for many types of game.

Propane is a great way to keep you warm in your blind when you hunt this winter. But before you power up your propane heater, there are safety tips you should follow to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Ensure proper ventilation. Position the heater near an opening in the blind so the carbon monoxide can escape. Carbon monoxide trapped inside the blind can cause poisoning and death.

Make sure the heater is safe to use indoors. Heaters designed for outdoor use may not vent properly. Some models have an auto shut-off feature to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.

Use the buddy system. Heaters can malfunction. Fires can start. Hunting with a friend means you'll have someone there to help in a dangerous situation. Be sure to let others know where you'll be in case of an emergency.

A little caution makes it easy to stay safe and warm this hunting season. Have fun out there!

Dry Crops During Wet Weather

CornLast fall's propane shortage and wet weather left farmers scrambling to properly dry their grain. We don't know what this harvest season will hold, but with a few handy tips from Corn and Soybean Digest, you'll be able to handle whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Screen it

You know that saying "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch." That's true with grain, too. Broken or tiny kernels can block airflow to your high-quality grain, so separate them out with a rotary screen or gravity screen. That way, they won't spoil your good crops.

Customize it

Corn is usually dried at 15 to 20 percent for long-term storage. But your low-quality corn has different needs. You'll need to dry that at about two points lower than average to avoid mold issues that could ruin the crop.

Lower it

High drying temperatures can cause cracks or breaks. Limiting the drying temperature on high-moisture corn can help avoid these issues.

Core and level it

After you've screen-cleaned your grain, it's ready for the storage bin. After you fill the bin, you'll notice broken pieces, cobs, and other debris have accumulated in the center. Remove these items to ensure proper airflow. Then level the grain to prevent moisture build-up on top of the bin that could lead to mold.

Need propane for your grain drying operation? Talk to a Lakes Gas sales representative today.

Ladies of Lakes Gas Recipes: Hot Pizza Dip

Fall is just around the corner, and that means everyone's getting ready for football season. This tasty dip from Laurie H. from our Cook, Minnesota location is perfect for your next tailgate party.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 ounces pepperoni or cooked sausage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sliced black olives
  • 1 or more French baguettes

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, oregano, parsley and basil.
  2. Spread mixture in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate, or a shallow microwave-safe dish.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Spread the pizza sauce over all.
  5. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, top with green pepper, pepperoni (sausage) and olive slices.
  6. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve hot with French baguette bread.

Thank you, Laurie!

Enjoy!

Rail Transportation of Propane

Propane Train CarYou might use propane every day, but did you ever stop to wonder how that propane gets to your door?

If you're a customer of Lakes Gas Co, you probably know your delivery guy, but there's a lot that happens behind the scenes in getting propane gas from the terminal to our plant locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and South Dakota.

Propane is primarily shipped via pipeline, but it is also frequently transported in liquid form through the use of tanker trucks and rail cars.

Let's take a look at rail transportation. Rail Transportation is the safest way to transport propane since the risk of collision on rail is far less than that of a tanker truck on a highway. Let's take a look at why:

Safety Features

Propane transportation involves special measures to prevent leaks or other hazards. According to the Propane Education and Research Council, everything from the tank car design to the color of the tanks to the lettering on them helps ensure safe transportation of propane.

Cylindrical propane tank are built for safety and undergo rigorous testing. They're protected by thick steel at each end to prevent punctures. They're also equipped with thermal protection in the event of a fire.

Recently, even more safety features have been added. In 2011, The Association of American Railroads adopted guidelines including thicker tank shells and additional protection for the top fittings and the ends of each propane tank to decrease the chance of punctures.

Color and Plate Markings

You may have noticed white and black tanks on tracks when you're stopped at a railroad crossing. Tanks of both colors carry propane. You know not to paint your personal tank any color but white, as it could absorb more heat from the sun possibly causing excessive pressure to build-up inside the tank, so why isn't this an issue with black rail cars that transport propane?

Since propane is shipped in liquid form, there's no chance it will heat up and expand, as gas does. The colors are designed as a code for HazMat teams in the event of an accident. White cars signify thermal insulation and black cars signify a jacketed tank car. Knowing the kind of tank car helps HazMat teams know how to respond in the case of an emergency.

Each propane tank has a plate attached to it marked with a series of letters. These letters may look random, but they let the HazMat teams know the features of the tank such as pressure and capacity.

Fill-up and Delivery

Each tank car contains a valve opening, located at the top of the tank car. These openings are where propane is loaded and unloaded from the tank. The valves are protected by a dome to prevent damage or tampering.

Railroad cars are loaded and unloaded at stations called risers at the plant. These risers are equipped with platforms and ladders so hoses can be connected to the valves for unloading the propane. Each riser has connections for liquid and vapor hoses. The hoses connect to piping that transfer the propane to the bulk storage tanks at the plant.

At the propane distribution center, a compressor takes propane vapor from the bulk plant tank and forces it into a designated vapor space of the tank car. The vapor pushes the propane liquid through its valves and plant piping to be stored back in the bulk storage tank at the plant.

When all the liquid propane is removed, there is still propane vapor left in the tank. The compressor is used to turn this vapor into liquid propane so it can be easily transferred to the bulk tank.

Then, it is transferred to a delivery vehicle called a bobtail so it can be delivered to your home in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, or any other Lakes Gas service area.

So now you know the journey your propane takes before you use it to heat your home. Next time you fire up the grill or crank up the heat, you'll know it might not have been possible without railroads.