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A Brief History of Propane

Last updated 6 years ago

In a roundabout way we can thank Henry Ford for propane:  It was, after all, the gasoline tank of a Model T Ford that sparked the inquiry that led to the discovery of propane.  In the early 1900s, Dr. Walter O. Snelling was asked to investigate the gases that the car’s gasoline tank was emitting, and within three years he’d sold the patent for propane for $50,000.

In 1913 that was pretty good money.  But he could have made a lot more if he’d stuck around.  In the beginning propane was mostly used in metal-cutting, but by 1947 it had come into general use in homes.  Today propane is a multi-billion dollar industry and 8.1 million American homes depend on propane gas service.  But propane has an interesting history that stretches beyond home use.  Here are some fascinating factoids about propane:


It Gave Us the Blowtorch

In 1918 J.B. Anderson invented a propane-fueled blowtorch.  It’s interesting to think that we’ve had blowtorches since before the age of radio!

It Was an Alternative Fuel before We Knew We Needed Alternative Fuels

As far back as 1950 there have been buses and taxis that ran on propane.

It Can Withstand an Atomic Blast

Back in 1955 propane containers and propane gas appliances were used in an atomic blast.   None of the items were damaged by the DNA-scrambling energy, and in fact, scientists used the propane-fueled ranges that had been exposed to nuclear radiation to make dinner.  …It was a very, very different time.


While you probably aren’t looking for a fuel that can withstand nuclear armageddon, propane gas service is used in millions of homes and is a clean, affordable form of energy.  If you’d like to learn more about propane and how it can be used in your home, check out Kamps Propane.  You can call us or visit our website for more information.


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