LPG or liquefied petroleum gas is the generic name for commercial propane and commercial butane. These are hydrocarbon products produced by the oil and gas industries.
LPG is a flammable gas, which has the potential to create a hazard. Therefore it is important that the properties and safe handling of LPG are understood and applied in the domestic and commercial/industrial situations.
LPG is stored as a liquid under pressure. It is almost colorless and its weight is approximately half that of an equivalent volume of water. The gas will leak from any joint or connection that is not sealed properly.
In it natural state, LPG (Propane and Butane) are all odourless gases. The distinctive smell that people associate with these gases is actually added to them as a safety measure. The odourant used is ethyl mercaptan. Ethyl mercaptan, which possesses a distinctive and unpleasant odor, is the odorant used . Ethyl mercaptan is also selected because it is non-corrosive, has a low sulphur content and possesses a boiling point very near that of LPG.
LPG is heavier than air. Any significant leak will move downwards and stay on the ground. It will accumulate in any low-lying area such as depressions in the ground, drains or pits.
LPG can form a flammable mixture when mixed with air. Since LPG is stored in two phases, liquid and gaseous, there is potential for either a liquid leak or a gas leak.