BUYING USED CYLINDERS: Potential Losing Proposition

Potential Risks of Buying a Used Cylinder from a Private Individual

We all look for ways to save money. You should think twice about saving money by buying used cylinders, either directly from an individual, or via sites like ebay or craigslist. What may seem like a bargain could end up costing you more than the trouble its worth. If you don’t know what to look for, you could end up buying a cylinder that can’t be refilled. You might find out the cylinder wasn’t the seller’s property to sell! There are also safety concerns with Gas Cylinders, where gases are stored under pressure.

Central Welding Supply, like other gas vendors, is not legally allowed to hold, use, or fill a cylinder that’s owned by another gas company.  We can only fill our own rental bottles or customer owned bottles.

So, how can you tell the difference?


Cylinders rented are not owned by the end customer. So, the cylinder isn’t theirs to sell!  Look at the collar or shoulder of the cylinder. A company name will be stamped or engraved into the collar or shoulder of the tank. This is a permanent feature, different from a fill-tag or sticker. If you see evidence that someone has attempted to grind it off, it’s deemed unusable – NO VENDOR will refill this tank!

EXAMPLE: This blue cylinder of Food Grade Nitrogen, illustrates a cylinder owned by Central Welding Supply that could be acquired by the individual seller as a rental cylinder. Someone is selling you a cylinder that was not their own property.


A cylinder owned by the customer will have NO DESIGNATED VENDOR engraved on the tank. Cylinders without markings (known as “private” or “customer owned” cylinders) are owned by the customer and may be filled or exchanged freely among companies.

EXAMPLE: This silver cylinder is an example of an owner bottle. If you’ll notice, both have a Central Welding Supply sticker, but the collar on this one is absent of any engraved owner marking.

EXCEPTIONS: These designations only apply to larger cylinders sized 125 and up. Generally, smaller rental cylinders are owned by the customer and can be swapped anywhere, though there are exceptions. The only way to know for sure is to contact the last vendor that filled it.


There’s always potential in a direct sale to end up with a cylinder with safety issues. You should always look for signs of abuse, such as welding or arc burns, or other damage to the tank.

Also, each cylinder is marked with its last test date (may be found on it’s sticker or fill tag). All compressed gas cylinders require periodic testing. If the tag indicates a tank with an expired test date, the gas may still be okay to use, but no one will refill an expired tank, until it undergoes another test. You may be stuck.

NOTHING IS WORSE than buying a used cylinder to save money, then to take it in for refill and be told that either, 1) you bought a tank we can’t fill, or 2) the tank belongs to someone else.

BUYER BEWARE: If you’re considering a cylinder purchase, get it from the seller and bring it to us before paying for it. Bring it in. Then we can determine ownership, age, whether it’s safe to use and fill, and more.

FYI – Central Welding Supply has it’s own cylinder maintenance facility. We’re very proud of our pretty cylinders. Wouldn’t you rather buy one of these?

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