Oxygen Cylinder: Types, Sizes, Capacities, Set up, Operation, Handling

An oxygen cylinder is a part of an oxygen delivery system that stores oxygen. It is widely used in houses and hospitals to treat patients.

Types of Oxygen Cylinder

  • Aluminum Cylinder (Portable Oxygen Cylinder)
  • Stainless Steel Cylinder

Aluminum Cylinder

Stainless Steel Cylinder

High corrosion resistance

Low corrosion resistance



Low strength to weight ratio

High strength to weight ratio

Small in size

Bigger in size



Oxygen Cylinder Sizes and Capacities

The sizes and capacities of oxygen cylinders can slightly differ from one manufacturer to another. The capacity of the cylinder can also depend upon the internal pressure exerted by the gas

S. No Size Capacity at 2,200 psi (Liter)
1 A 42 – 165
2 B 164 – 198
3 C 225
4 D 425
5 E 680- 3455
6 H 7080

How to set up an oxygen cylinder?

Flow meter Regulator, Pressure Gauze, Rotameter, Humidifier, Oxygen Cylinder
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  • First of all, fix the cylinder on the side of the room. Place it away from the reach of the fire.
  • Then fix the regulator to one of the ports of the cylinder. The regulator can be rotated clockwise and anticlockwise to control the flow of oxygen through the cylinder.
  • Besides the regulator, you can also find the flowmeter (rotameter), which shows you the flowrate. Similarly, there will also be the pressure gauze which shows the pressure exerted by the gas to the walls of the cylinder.  The gauze should show around 150 kg per cm2
  • After that connect the humidifier to the flowmeter.
  • Finally to the flowmeter, connect the tubes of the oxygen mask. Now your oxygen cylinder is ready to operate.

How to use an oxygen cylinder? 

Once you have set up the oxygen cylinder, it is time to operate it.

Remove the humidifier from the cylinder. Then fill the humidifier bottle with distilled water up to the required level. The minimum and the maximum level will be marked on the bottle. After that, place the humidifier back to the oxygen cylinder.

Connect one end of the tube to the cylinder and the other end to the oxygen mask.

Slowly, rotate the knob of the pressure regulator in an anticlockwise direction. While doing so, keep an eye on the flowmeter. The metering float within the flowmeter will begin to rise up. When the metering float rises to the desired level, stop rotating the knob of the regulator.

For turning off the oxygen cylinder, turn off the oxygen by closing the knob of the regulator. Then remove the mask.

How long will the oxygen in the cylinder last?

There are mainly two ways of calculating this value.

  • Suppose you have an E-type oxygen cylinder. It generally consists of 1000 liters of oxygen. Now, as per your doctor’s prescription, you might be using oxygen at the rate of 3 liters/min (i.e 180 liters/hour). Then total time to evacuate the cylinder = 1000 liters/ 180 liters per hour = 5.55 hrs.
  • Sometimes, the oxygen may not have been refilled to the point where it should have been. In that case, the above calculation will give you an error. So, instead of following the above method, you can follow this formula to calculate the value.
  1. Step one: Know the pressure exerted by the oxygen to the oxygen cylinder. You will find it in the cylinder or else ask the manufacturer. You can also check it with the help of a pressure gauge.
  2. Step two: Subtract 200 psi from the given pressure. This is due to the assumption that about 200 psi of oxygen is left in the cylinder. Or, in other words, we should not use a cylinder if the pressure shown by the pressure gauge goes below 200 psi.
  3. Step three: Multiply the above value with the cylindrical constant.
    Cylinder type Cylindrical Constant
    D 0.16
    E 0.28
    M 1.56
    G 2.41
    H and K 3.14
  4. Step four: Divide the obtained value with the flow rate that has been prescribed to you by the doctor.

The obtained value will be the total time for the cylinder to be almost empty.


Some of the ways of handling oxygen were already stated in the topic of the oxygen delivery system. Here we will be talking about some extra precaution steps.

  • The pressure of the cylinder should never be less than 25-100 psi. If the internal pressure of the cylinder is decreased there is a chance of contamination.
  • The valve of the cylinder should either be opened or closed completely. Else the oxygen pressure can damage the valve. The oxygen regulator can be opened as you like.
  • Before operating inspect the cylinder properly.

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