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Natalie Gibb

What Can You Do With a Decommissioned Tank?

By August 16, 2010

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Even with proper maintenance, scuba tanks eventually wear out. Dents, cracks, and rust can compromise a scuba tank's structural integrity. The dive industry recommends that tanks be visually inspected for damage once a year, and the United States Department of Transportation requires that all compressed gas cylinders undergo hydrostatic testing every 5 years. If a tank fails either visual inspection or hydrostatic testing it is decommissioned, leaving a diver with a heavy, bulky hunk of metal. Now what?

1. If uncertain, double check to make sure that the tank can't be used for diving. Old tanks are not necessarily unusable. If the tank's hydrostatic test date is passed, send the tank in for testing. Steel tanks have a very long life and steel tanks from the 1950's can still be found in perfect working order.

2. Remove the valve. Tank valves are valuable, and a valve in good condition can be re-used or sold. Even if the valve is no longer usable, you will need to remove it before scrapping or shipping the tank.

3. Sell the tank for scrap metal.

4. Give the tank to your local dive shop if they already have a method of disposing of old scuba tanks.

5. Use the tank for an art project. From door stops to lamp bases, used scuba tanks can be painted, cut up, and polished for a variety of uses. Scuba tanks even make great planters for the diving gardener.

6. Donate the tank as a teaching aid. Have the scuba tank cut in half and give it to an instructor to use when teaching open water courses. Many students find it interesting to see the inside of the tank and the thickness of the walls. Tanks with rust or significant pitting may be even better teaching aids because they illustrate the consequences of poor tank maintenance.

7. Make more dive gear. Creative divers have used decommissioned scuba tanks to make camera housings and light canisters.

8. Sell the tank on E-Bay. If your tank can be fixed but you don't want to bother, put it on E-bay and someone will buy it. Even if it is unfixable, there is surely someone out there interested in buying a decommissioned tank for an art project or teaching aid.

This blog was written in response to a reader's question. If you have a question you would like to see answered on the blog, email Natalie at scuba.guide@about.com.

Speak Up! What would you do with a decommissioned scuba tank?

Image copyright istockphoto.com, diverroy


August 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm
(1) One of the Mike's says:

My dad has cut a few tanks in half and made wind chimes and a gong. We have one in the front yard, one at the dive shop and my buddy Scott has one over the bar in his Pub.

August 18, 2010 at 9:14 am
(2) David@TheDivingBlog says:

Nice list! I think #6 is especially common, and probably my favorite.

August 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm
(3) one of the Mike's says:

I saw somewhere (I think Sunset House in Grand Cayman) that placed old tanks into the concrete dock and had pipe welded to the side to make them into boat tie-off cleats.

We have some at the LDS that are places infront of the parking spots as stops.

October 30, 2010 at 12:46 am
(4) Sandy says:

I would love to find someone near Phoenix who would make a wind chime from a scuba tank for a friend of mine. Know anyone???

May 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm
(5) Javier Salas says:

Cut it in half lenghtwise, then draw your design using a drill and a combination of different size drill bits and put a light bulb behind it… awesome custom lamp project.

June 18, 2013 at 10:18 am
(6) Bud says:

Non-servicable tanks should be destroyed. Some places have been known to put these tanks back into use. These tanks can serve purposes of an illegal and deadly nature.

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