The History of Propane

First discovered in 1910 by chemist Walter Snelling, propane is a naturally occurring fossil fuel that is also produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Propane is a hydrocarbon consisting of three Carbon atoms and eight Hydrogen atoms (C3H8), and is odorless, colorless, and non-toxic.

As a chemist and explosives expert with the US Bureau of Mines, Snelling is credited with the development of an underwater detonator in 1907, greatly aiding the US in the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1910, after being contacted to investigate vapors coming from the gas tank of a Model T vehicle, Snelling was able to separate the components of the gasoline into liquid and vapor forms. One of these vapor forms was propane, which Snelling was able to compress into a liquid.

The Properties of Propane

As a liquid, propane is 270 times more compact than it is as a gas. In liquid form, propane is more easily transported and stored, and the propane industry has developed numerous methods to ensure its safe transport and use. In the United States, approximately 15 billion gallons of propane are used each year on average.

Propane is also referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-gas, or LPG. Propane leakage does not result in a puddle, but rather as vapor; because the vapor dissipates, propane cannot be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels. Due to its naturally odorless, colorless state, a commercial odorant is added to propane to indicate leakage.

How Propane Burns

Very precise conditions must exist for the ignition of propane. In order to ignite, the propane-air mixture must contain between 2.2 and 9.6 percent propane vapor. The ignition source also needs to reach at least 940 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, gasoline, with its higher range of flammability, will ignite when the ignition source reaches at 430-500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Used by more than 12.6 million households in the US, propane heats homes, cooks meals, and powers many appliances. Commercially, propane is used in the agricultural, industrial, and transportation sectors to power equipment and provide energy for lighting and heat. Since its discovery over 100 years ago, propane has developed into a reliable energy source that has many applications.

You can find more information on propane in our resources section.

You’ve seen propane-powered commercial landscape and mowing equipment at the trade shows and wondered if it made sense for your company. Propane fuel has a number of advantages over traditional gasoline-powered equipment, helping your business to run more efficiently.

Commercial landscape and mowing companies using propane-powered equipment report no loss of power over traditionally-fueled engines as well as longer engine life and less maintenance required for their equipment. Employees operating the equipment benefit from a healthier work environment due to the lower emissions produced by a cleaner-burning fuel. What’s more, these lower emissions help your business to comply with government standards as well as provisions set forth in many university contracts. Propane allows you to cut the downtime created by refueling, with an easy switch-out of cylinders at the job site, rather than your crew making trips for gasoline. And because propane is an equipment-specific fuel, pilferage of fuel is greatly reduced.

A number of commercial lawn equipment manufacturers offer propane-powered equipment. These companies include:   Bad Boy, Bob-Cat, Cub Cadet, Dixie Chopper, Exmark, Ferris, Gravely, Husqvarna, Lehr, Scag, Snapper Pro, and Zipper.  In addition, the Propane Research & Education Council is has established the Propane Mower Incentive Program, which provides up to $1000 in incentive dollars for each new qualifying propane-fueled mower purchase, or $500 back for each qualifying mower conversion. There’s no doubt, there has never been a better time to convert to propane for commercial mowing and landscape.

The Lin-Gas alternative fuels specialists will make it easy for you to get started with propane. They will help you set up a fuel program that works for your business so you’re ready to roll off to a job rather than roll into a gas station. We make it easy. Call Lin-Gas today at 800-850-4380 or email us at

Lin-gas has the propane and equipment to get you cutting, so get started before the season arrives.