Beverage Gas Division of Central Welding Supply

The other day, I saw a van which was labeled Beverage Gas Division of Central Welding Supply.

This odd juxtaposition was created by the acquisition of Compressed Gas Western by Central Welding Supply in 2009.

I sure hope they don't get their tanks confused.

Comments (19)
  1. Chris B says:

    I started homebrewing beer about a year ago, and it turns out that the best place around here to get your CO2 tank filled is at a welding supply store. It took me a little while to figure that one out. The good news is CO2 is CO2…there is no such thing as "food grade" vs "welding grade" or anything like that, so you don't have to worry as long as they put CO2 in the tank.

  2. No One says:

    @Chris B: There's no risk of aerosolized oils floating around in the CO2?  That's what I'd be wary of in that case.

  3. Adam Rosenfield says:

    I had to think for a little bit about what "Beverage Gas" meant — it sounds like it's trying to be two different states of matter at once.

  4. Mason Wheeler says:

    @Chris B: I'm a bit surprised by that.  Why would a store dedicated to supplies for an activity that is based around gases that burn incredibly hot be a good place to find a gas that does not burn at all?

  5. Henning Makholm says:

    @Mason Wheeler: CO2 welding uses the CO2 as an inert gas whose job to push the oxygen-containing air out of the way such that the O2 in it won't combine with the (hot, and therefore much more willing to react and in ordinarily) metal to form unwanted metal oxides.

  6. grumpy says:

    I'd like to try my beer with a bit of N2O. "Good afterble, constanoon. High? Nope, just had a me a single beer after work." Followed by a gentle burp that could knock out an elephant. :-)

  7. Chris B says:

    Sadly, I can't really answer any of these questions. I'm not sure what the source of aerosolized oils could be since I'm not familiar with the details of C02 production or what (if any) regulations surround it. I can say that most regulators have check valves on them that prevent anything from flowing backwards into the tank, so the source of any contaminants would most likely be from the manufacturer's or supplier's systems.

    Hopefully Henning answered Mason's question – it sounds like he knows a good bit more about welding than I do.

    I know some restaurants around here buy and refill their CO2 tanks from similar companies, so I figure me and the rest of the public have been consuming it for years.

  8. Joel F says:

    @Chris B – this puts me in mind of my days doing tech support for a computer OEM. Customer calls in because computer is filthy (insides coated with dust) and wants to know what to do. Tech #1 says to blow it out with compressed air (thinking canned air.) Customer calls back because computer won't boot. He took it to the service station and had the mechanic blow it out with compressed air. From the compressor that drove their air tools. High PSI combined with condensation and hydrocarbons ruined the motherboard. Tech #2 replaced the system.

    I suppose my question would be "What gets compressed into the C02 cylinder besides CO2?"

  9. Joel F says:

    I suppose my question would be "What gets compressed into the C02 cylinder besides CO2?"

    IANAW, but my guess would absolutely nothing. Since the point of the CO2 is to act as inert substance that pushes other reactive substances (mainly O2 and N2) out of the way, allowing impurities that could (and likely would) react with the hot metal would be a bad thing.

  10. Worf says:

    @Chris B: The difference between industrial grade, food grade and beverage grade is purely in the handling.

    The tank consists mostly of CO2.  However, industrial grade means as part of the CO2 production process and pumping process, contaminants may exist. These will be things like oils and greases from the pumps, valves and other control equipment. It's not stuff you'd want in your drink, even though it probably won't kill you. There can also be stuff from the production of the tank, as well as general wear and tear (when valves open and close, they can release minute metal particles).

    Food grade goes one higher and ensures that the contaminants are at least non-toxic to humans as well as all parts used are stable and whatever gets dissolved away is carefully controlled. Beverage grade goes higher still.

    Plus the tanks, hoses and other equipment are typically much cleaner and cleaned to a much higher standard as well as the production equipment. Nevermind all the other stuff that can be present (given some germs and such can survive for extended periods of time, a welding tank with a few extra E. Coli is no big deal, but it becomes a Very Big Deal when you put it into the beer…).

    So yes, the majority of the tank is CO2, But not all of it. there are contaminants from the production processes in there as well as general equipment wear and tear. It's just like how if you blow up a balloon, you can see dots of spit around the inside.

    Heck, maybe that's why your beer tastes better :).

  11. I always enjoyed the incongruity that the British Oxygen Company (BOC) supplies the liquid nitrogen and liquid helium we use for MRI systems and other cold things. There's fluorine and oxygen around for other purposes, too. Putting nitrogen rather than CO2 in the beer would be OK – Guinness has a mix of the two – fluorine-beer probably wouldn't be such a hit, though.

    In one building here, you will occasionally find the lift (elevator) arrives on your floor empty, apart from a large dewar and some ominous fog, like a minimalist Dalek. People aren't allowed in the same car as the dewar, in case it gets stuck: because the slow evaporation slowly displaces air, being stuck in an enclosed space with it for more than a few minutes might end up with you arriving dead, which they try to avoid.

  12. @Chris B says:

    To continue on Worf's comment, sometimes food grade chemicals require completely different production methods. One example is alcohol. Industrial grade ethanol comes from natural gas in a process that also creates benzene and methanol, among others. Because it is difficult to filter these out, and they are toxic, food grade ethanol comes from fermentation.

  13. cheong00 says:

    @jas88: There's little chance to mix them up. As required by law, those gas cylinders serving different types of gas have differently shaped adapter. The adapter for CO2 won't fit the connector expecting nitrogen.

  14. Jon says:

    @cheong00: And they'll invent a better idiot. Qantas managed to fill a bunch of planes' oxygen tanks with nitrogen (for tires) over the period of a month. The connector wouldn't fit, so somebody swapped the entire hose and regulator, and nobody checked after that.

  15. cheong00 says:

    @Jon: Note that not every country has law requirement for gas cylinder adapters. That means possibly there are different type of A to B adapters at airport maintenance. Mixing up different type of gas there should be considered human error.

  16. @cheong00

    It is "impossible" to use connect oxygen equipment to an Entonox (50% N2O/O2) cylinder.

    One is a constant supply, the other is on demand.

    It is absolutely "impossible" to do it.

    It can "never" be done.

    Someone got in severe trouble because they gave a patient Entonox, through a non-rebreathing oxygen mask. (The one with the resevoir bag on the bottom to give a nominal 100% O2)

    "Impossible" seems to translate to "challenge"

  17. JK. says:

    This is why beer should be handpumped or dispensed by gravity (search for CAMRA ;) @Chris B if you are brewing your own why not dispense by gravity?

  18. cheong00 says:

    @Lockwood: I'm still puzzled where did I suggest it's possible to connect oxygen equipment to other type of cylinder…

    My first reply is to jas88, where the scope is British and I'm sure there's a law governing gas equipment adapters (because it's same as in Hong Kong), and the other post is for airport facilities, which obviously does not apply to gas be given to patients.

  19. I was replying to you, since you were commenting on connectors that cannot be mixed up and my anecdote was about connectors that cannot be mixed up, and Jon had responded to you about connectors that cannot be mixed up

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