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Do Paintball CO2 Tanks Expire?

Paintball is a fun sport, but it comes with a lot of specialized equipment — with the most specialized being the CO2 tank.

However, since pressurized gas can be dangerous when handled improperly, you want to be sure that the tank is in good condition.

paintball CO2 tank expiration

That begs the question: do paintball CO2 tanks expire?

Join us as we answer all your questions below!

We have found that most paintball CO2 tanks do expire.

They typically expire if they were last hydrotested more than five years prior, or if they have had a lifespan of more than 15 years. However, the expiration date greatly depends on the material and build of the tank, so be sure to check DOT’s guidelines.

A family playing laser tag

What Is a Paintball CO2 Tank?

HK Army 20oz Refillable Aluminum CO2 Paintball Tank
Click the image for more info

Before we dive into all of the details, let’s first review what a paintball CO2 tank is.

A paintball CO2 tank  is simply a tank that is filled with compressed carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon dioxide is typically in gaseous form, but sometimes it can come in liquid form.

When the CO2 tank is used, gaseous CO2 is released (no matter if it was in gaseous or liquid form inside). This compressed gas is used to push out the paintballs .

What Types of CO2 Tanks Are There?

In terms of usability, there are two main types of CO2 tanks:

  • Refillable: ideal for long-time use
  • Disposable: ideal for one-time use

In terms of material, there are three main types of CO2 tanks:

Do Paintball CO2 Tanks Expire?

paintball CO2 tank

The answer is: it depends.

In general, most CO2 tanks “expire” in the sense that they need to be retested with a hydrotest every few years.

This is to make sure that they are still structurally sound, and can handle the pressure of being filled with, holding, and being emptied of compressed carbon dioxide.

When a CO2 tank passes a hydrotest, it receives a label that indicates the latest date it should be retested.

If that date is passed without a retest, that tank is considered expired and should be disposed of for safety.

Another way a CO2 tank can expire is if it reaches a lifespan of 15 years. Most tanks are considered expired by then and should be discarded properly.

However, as we stated earlier, it depends on the tank you have.

There’s a general rule that cylinders that are less than two inches in diameter and two feet in length don’t necessarily need to be hydrotested every five years.

Some tanks can be used for an unlimited number of years as long as they continue to pass hydrotests.

But to be absolutely sure, check with the business you buy from or the Department of Transportation, which has strict regulations on CO2 tanks and their usage.

How Do You Know if a Paintball CO2 Tank Is Expired?

In general, all you have to do is check the tank to know if a paintball CO2 tank  is expired

If the tank has never been hydrotested before, you will need to check the manufacturing date, which lists the month and year it was made.

If the tank has been hydrotested before, you will need to check the last hydrotesting date, which should be listed on a label.

If it has been more than five years since the last time it was checked by a professional, then it’s better to stay on the safe side and assume it’s expired.

What Is the Typical Lifespan of a Paintball CO2 Tank?

HK Army 20oz Aluminum CO2 Tank
Click the image for more info

The typical lifespan of a paintball CO2 tank  is fifteen years.

As of this writing, there are some DOT labels that can help you identify the lifespan of your tank:

  • E77: unlimited life and hydro
  • 3AL: unlimited life and five-year hydro
  • 3AA: unlimited life and five-year hydro
  • E11: 15-year life and 3-year hydro

However, these codes are subject to change by the DOT, so be sure to double-check on their official website.

Note that it is illegal to refill an expired CO2 tank, for both the professional and the client. It is also extremely dangerous, considering the compressed gas could cause the tank to explode.

How Do You Check the Manufacturing Date of a Paintball CO2 Tank?

Maddog 20 Oz Refillable Aluminum CO2 Paintball Tank Bottle
Click the image for more info

To check the manufacturing date of a paintball CO2 tank , you’ll need to look at the body itself, not any labels that are attached to it.

Typically, the manufacturing date will be stamped or engraved into the body, with the month listed before the year.

The month and year are usually separated by a word or symbol of some sort. The typical dividers include:

  • TUV1
  • An upward-pointing arrow
  • C, sometimes paired with an L to form a symbol.

How Do You Test and Refill a Paintball CO2 Tank?

To get a paintball CO2 tank  tested, you’ll need to go to a professional service.

Typically, you can go to these businesses to get your tank tested and refilled:

  • Paintball fields
  • Scuba diving shops
  • Specialized pressurized gas sellers

What these professionals do is fill the tank with water until it is pressurized at a level higher than what it’s supposed to withstand. This makes sure it can stand the rapid pressure changes of being filled and emptied of compressed CO2.

The tank will swell slightly from the pressure, and if it’s not structurally sound, it will rupture and you will need to purchase a new tank.

If it is structurally sound, you can get it refilled and keep it until the next hydrotest.

How Do You Discard an Expired Paintball CO2 Tank?

to handle hazardous materialsto handle hazardous materials

Since the expired tank may still have some compressed CO2 in it, it should be processed by professionals who know how to handle hazardous materials.

The best thing to do is take your expired CO2 tank to the nearest Household Hazardous Waste Facility, or any professional hazardous waste facility.

Conclusion

A paintball CO2 tank is filled with compressed carbon dioxide that is released in gaseous form.

There are refillable and disposable CO2 tanks. They are often made of aluminum, steel, or fiber.

Paintball CO2 tanks do expire.

To know if a paintball CO2 tank is expired, check the last hydrotesting date to see if it’s been more than 5 years or the manufacturing date to see if its lifespan is more than 15 years.

The typical lifespan of a paintball CO2 tank is 15 years, but different tanks have different lifespans and hydrotesting periods.

The manufacturing date can be found on the body of the CO2 tank, with the month separated from the year by a symbol.

You can get a paintball CO2 tank refilled at paintball fields, scuba diving shops, and pressurized gas sellers.

You can discard an expired CO2 tank at a hazardous waste facility.

We hope this article helped you!

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