This Simple Trick Lets You Know How Much Propane Is Left In Your Grill

Nothing says summer like a good barbecue in the backyard. You've got the whole gang over, the grill's been freshly cleaned, and everyone's hungry for some burgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies. You pick up the propane tank and it feels heavy enough. So you fire up the grill and start grilling away. There's just one problem — you run out of propane before your patties even warm up to rare. Yikes! Sounds like your worst grilling and hosting nightmare? 

Unfortunately, most propane tanks don't come with a gauge already built in. And while you can buy a separate external gauge, that doesn't do you any good if you don't already have one. You can also try properly weighing the propane tank, and then deducting the empty weight (usually 17 pounds for 20 pounds of propane) stamped on most tanks, but that assumes you can find a scale easily (via CNET). Don't worry, there's an even easier trick to make sure you never run out of propane again, and it's one that just requires some warm or hot water.

The warm water trick is super easy to use

The FIX IT Home Improvement Channel first shared this simple trick. All you need is a small bucket or large glass of warm or hot tap water. First, turn off the gas valve. Disconnect the propane tank and set it on level ground. Next, take a glass of warm to hot water and slowly pour it down the side of the tank from top to bottom. Feel the tank with your hands where you just poured the water and look for a cold spot. Where it feels cold, there is still propane inside. That's because the propane absorbs the heat from the water, making the metal wall of the tank cool to the touch. Where there's no propane, the metal will feel hot.

And while this trick won't be able to tell you exactly how much propane is left, it will give you a good rough estimate (via Chowhound). It should certainly be enough to let you know if you need to grab a new tank of propane before you fire up the grill again.