Propane, commonly known as LP or liquid petroleum, was first isolated from gasoline in 1911. A year later, it was being used to fuel cooking stoves. Propane powered cars were also experimented with, however the fuel proved to be less efficient than gasoline.
Today, propane is most commonly used for portable cooking and heating purposes. It is also used as an alternative to natural gas for kitchen ranges. Portable propane and gas powered ovens and grills are often better for controlling temperatures than electric stoves. A gas stovetop can also be used to achieve higher temperatures.
Propane is also used in fireplaces, generally with fake logs, and in heaters on patios and in greenhouses. It is sometimes used as an alternative to oil for residential water boilers, because it does not produce a mess. Propane fueled grills are considered a reasonable option, although they are not as good as charcoal grills for smoking and cooking food. The gas is even used to fuel some garden tools, in situations where running electric power would be difficult or dangerous. Many home generators are also propane based. In general, it is considered a reasonable alternative to natural gas or gasoline for various purposes, including fireplaces and cooking.
Propane is stored in tanks and then transferred to LP bottles. In many cases, these tanks are underground, although not always. Propane is transported by tanker truck for retail sales. Cylinder exchange is also common, with the customer simply dropping off their empty bottle and picking up a full one. Cylinders come in various sizes depending on the appliance or tool being fueled. Due to the flammable and occasionally explosive nature of propane, handling it requires special equipment and facilities. Propane wholesalers ship the gas from where it is refined to retail outlets, in liquid form.