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Frequently Asked Questions

Propane — sometimes known as liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG — is a gas normally compressed and stored as a liquid. It is nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless; an identifying odor is added so it can be detected. Propane is most commonly used for space and water heating, for cooking, and as fuel for engine applications such as forklifts; however, its applications are rapidly growing due to new technology developments. When used as vehicle fuel, propane is known as propane autogas.

Where does propane come from?

Propane is primarily a byproduct of domestic natural gas processing, though some propane is produced from crude oil refinement. U.S. propane supplies are becoming increasingly abundant due in large part to increased supplies of natural gas.

  • As shale gas extraction has increased, the production of propane from crude oil refinement has dropped dramatically. In 2011, 69 percent of the total U.S. supply of propane came from natural gas liquids produced in the U.S. and Canada.[2]

  • Strong growth in propane supply is expected to come from the Marcellus shale play in the northeastern U.S. Industry observers estimate the Marcellus shale alone can supply more than 2 billion gallons of propane per year.[1]

  • Because of the drastic increase in U.S. sources of propane, the U.S. produces more than enough propane to meet current demand and became a net exporter of propane in 2011.[1]

Who uses propane?

Propane is used in 48 million households[3] as well as many businesses for water and space heating, indoor and outdoor cooking, clothes drying, and backup power. Additionally, many industries increasingly choose propane to cost effectively fuel vehicles and equipment while lowering emissions.

Propane use falls into three broad categories:

  • Residential applications

  • Commercial & industrial applications

  • Agricultural uses


In the residential and commercial markets, propane is used primarily for space heating, water heating, clothes drying and cooking. Industrial customers use propane generally as a motor fuel to power over-the-road vehicles, forklifts and stationary engines, to fire furnaces, as a cutting gas and in other process applications. In the agricultural market, propane is primarily used for tobacco curing, crop drying, poultry brooding and weed control. Propane is clean burning and, when consumed, produces only negligible amounts of pollutants, that's why propane is the safe, “go anywhere, do anything” green energy source for all seasons.

  1. ICF International, Propane Supply Sources and Trends, (Washington, D.C.: ICF International, August 2012), prepared for the National Propane Gas Association.

  2. ICF International, 2012 Propane Market Outlook, (Washington, D.C.: ICF International, 2010), prepared for the Propane Education & Research Council.

  3. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA), Table HC1.1 Fuels Used and End Uses in U.S. Homes, by Housing Unit Type, 2009, (accessed May 18, 2012).

Call H&K Propane for any additional questions you may have. We will be happy to help!


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