Updated: Oct 17, 2018
Carbon dioxide, also known as CO2, is a colorless, odorless, non-flammable and slightly acidic liquefied gas. It is sold commercially worldwide under pressure in steel cylinders or bottles called tanks.
CO2 tanks can be used for a variety of things. Most popular uses include carbonated beverages, beer making, paintball guns, medical-grade usage, metal fabrication applications, catering, and fire extinguishing.
CO2 tanks need to be hydro-tested every five years, and the test date should be noted on the top of the canister. CO2 tanks need to be taken to a DOT certified hydro-testing facility if they need filled. Once certified, the certification number is stamped onto the tank.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers contain CO2 under extreme pressure. In fact, there is so much pressure in these tanks that bits of dry ice may shoot out of them when you engage it for usage. CO2 fire extinguishers are only good to be used on flammable liquid and electrical fires, Class B and Class C fires. Good places to keep a CO2 fire extinguisher include a laboratory, a mechanical room, a kitchen, or a storage area where liquid flammables are kept. CO2 fire extinguishers are better for electrical fires.
Carbon dioxide is a refrigeration agent and is used to chill, freeze and protect the taste of your food products by maintaining correct temperature control. It reduces the need for preservatives in packaged food products and is a main factor in carbonated beverages.
CO2 is the cheapest noncombustible pressurized gas and is frequently used in the game of paintball, in airsoft guns and for blowing up bicycle tires. Paintball CO2 tanks are usually small and are filled from a larger CO2 tank. Sporting goods stores are also good places to get your paintball CO2 tanks filled. Again, the filling of the tanks are performed by professionals.
Carbon dioxide in its liquid phase provides sub-zero temperatures for surgical practices and cryotherapy. CO2 can also be added to pure oxygen to help promote breathing and to stabilize blood oxygenation.
A CO2 tank is hooked up to a beer keg system to dispense beer from the keg to your glass. CO2 is the chosen way to dispense beer because it will help keep the beer fresh, unlike air that may interact with and ruin your beer. The CO2 is stored in a high-pressure tank as a liquid. The CO2 helps the beer flow more readily from the keg and helps to carbonate the beer.
Handling your CO2 tank
Even though CO2 is noncombustible, you should still take certain precautions with your CO2 tank. Be sure to never throw or drop a CO2 tank. Keep the CO2 tanks away from extreme heat. Always secure the tank in the upright position. If there has been a leakage from the tank, make sure you ventilate after the leak is contained; then immediately take the tank to a DOT certified testing facility. Tanks should be stored in the coolest place possible, ideally in an area that is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Most importantly, keep an eye on the fill date printed on the top of the canister. The best practice is to not use the tank at all if the date is five years or more in the past.
CO2 tank usage, testing, discharging and refilling should not be taken lightly. They are very dangerous if mishandled.