Grilling this weekend? There’s nothing more annoying than running out of propane in the middle of a barbecue, so before you fire up your gas grill, check the fuel level in the propane tank. If your grill doesn’t have a built-in fuel gauge, here are two other ways to check:
The hot water method
Disconnect the tank from the grill and stand it upright. Pour a quart of hot tap water down one side—the propane inside the tank will quickly absorb the heat, leaving the tank cold below the fuel and warm above it. Slide your hand down the side of the tank where you poured the water, feeling the temperature. The point at which the tank becomes cold marks the level of the propane. Knowing that a completely full 20-pound tank (which holds about 4.7 gallons of propane) lasts about 20 hours, you can now estimate how much cooking time remains.
The scale method
Disconnect the tank from the grill and set it upright on a bathroom scale. Subtract 18 pounds (the weight of the tank); the difference is the weight of the propane remaining in the tank. Each pound of propane equals about one hour of cooking time.
Note: Cooking times are averages and will vary depending on the BTU output of your grill.