We have a leased 250-gallon propane tank that has a bad and mildewed paint job. The tank owner says it's OK to paint it, but we'd like to strip the several layers of old paint first. It's nearly full of propane. Can I use something like this surface conditioning tool to strip the paint, or some other power tool (angle grinder, sander, etc). Owner thinks it's safe. Any ideas?

  • 9
    Owner thinks its safe. Bet the owner will not be near when you do it.
    – crip659
    Commented Apr 6 at 16:53
  • Anything wrong with sandblasting?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Apr 6 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't use any power tools on a tank with any level of an explosive substance. Sparks, static, busting/cutting through the metal, etc. would be "bad". Also, it might be a good idea to know who actually owns it; in many places, these are rented or part of the bill from the fuel supplier and not actually owned by the property owner.

I'd remove loose paint, clean it with a detergent, rinse, dry, and repaint.

If absolutely forced to remove the old paint, I would use a pet-safe paint stripper gel and a plastic putty knife. It'd be slow and take quite a while, but not dangerous to work around generally.

  • 11
    I would change "any level" to ever contained. Empty containers can be as bad(deadly) as containers with some left in. Also know what was in it and if it can be explosive. Who knew an empty peppermint oil could cause life changing injury/death.
    – crip659
    Commented Apr 6 at 19:27
  • 5
    @crip659 A propane tank won't explode when filled with propane. If it's not filled with propane, but has propane residue OTOH... Explosion requires fuel + air.
    – vidarlo
    Commented Apr 6 at 22:44
  • @vidarlo Liquid gasoline will put out a lite match/flame also. Getting it pass the fumes is the hard part.
    – crip659
    Commented Apr 6 at 22:52
  • @crip659 yep - and a tank that's in active use will not contain air - it will contain liquid propane and propane gas.
    – vidarlo
    Commented Apr 6 at 22:54
  • 4
    @crip659 For propane and similar, tanks can be made safe by filling them with water once to displace any residual vapour. Done routinely at the boatyard here when repurposing old propane bottles or before doing hot work on fuel tanks.
    – FLHerne
    Commented Apr 7 at 14:41

I'd personally feel reasonably safe using an electrically powered "water blaster". I'm 73, am less risk averse than some, and/but have not killed myself, yet.

Whether that actually WOULD be safe enough for your risk profile is for you to determine.

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