The Different Parts of Oxygen Tanks

Updated February 21, 2017

Oxygen tanks revolutionised home care by allowing people who needed constant oxygen the ability to travel away from the hospital. Improper usage of oxygen tanks, however, can cause injuries or in some cases, even death. Knowing how to properly use an oxygen tank will ensure the utmost safety, no matter what the tank is being used for. The first step to understanding how to use an oxygen tank is to understand all of the parts and what they are used for.


This is also referred to as the cylinder. The tank is the largest part of the apparatus. It is made of metal and is what holds the oxygen in this apparatus. The oxygen is highly pressurised within this tank. Depending on the use for the oxygen tank, they can also vary in size. Small tanks are portable which allows them to be used for purposes such as rescue missions and personal medical use. Larger tanks are usually used to fill smaller containers. A portable medical oxygen tank has a wheeled cart so that it can be moved easily.

Crush Gasket

This is a plastic washer that comes on every new tank of oxygen and on refilled tanks. The plastic is usually of the Nylon brand. This is not a permanent piece to the oxygen tank. It is put on to ensure that no oxygen leaks from the tank during transport. When setting up a new oxygen tank for use, it is removed and discarded.


The humidifier is composed of a bottle and an adaptor. The adaptor is used to connect the humidifier to the regulator of the tank. It dispenses a mist of water that mixes with the oxygen before you breathe it in. This part is important because breathing the oxygen directly from the tank can dry a person's nose, mouth, throat, and skin. The water mist stops this from occurring. The water must either be distilled or sterile, as it is mixing with the oxygen a person is about to breathe in, and therefore needs to be as clean as possible.


This piece is attached to the top of the oxygen tank cylinder. Both the flow meter and the pressure gauge are contained on the regulator. The regulator has its own purpose as well. It controls the amount of oxygen that is leaving the tank, and ensures it stays at a safe pressure.

Flow Meter

The flow meter is located on the regulator. It measures the amount of oxygen that is leaving the tank in litres per minute. The meter is either a vertical line with a small silver ball inside of it that rises or drops as the amount of oxygen leaving the tank changes, or a circle that has a small arrow inside of it that moves around the circle as the amount of oxygen leaving the tank changes.

Pressure Gauge

The pressure gauge is located on the regulator with the flow meter. This gauge measures the pressure still inside of the tank to display how much oxygen is remaining. A round, glass covered dial displays the amount of oxygen that is still contained in the tank. A full portable oxygen tank used for most medical purposes has 8165660 Kilogram per square inch (PSI).

Sealing Washer

The sealing washer is located between the oxygen tank and the regulator. It is a washer made of either metal or metal and rubber. It ensures that there is a tight seal between the two components surrounding it so there is no oxygen leakage.

Oxygen Delivery Apparatus

The oxygen delivery apparatus is any of a number of breathing apparatuses that transfers the oxygen from the actual tank to the person. This device could be a nasal cannula, nonrebreather mask, partial rebreather mask, or just a simple face mask. The device that is used differs based on the needs of the person using the oxygen tank. Oxygen travels through the regulator, flow meter, humidifier, and pressure gauge to get from the oxygen tank to the tube that connects to the breathing apparatus.

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About the Author

Curtis Fease started writing professionally in 2007. He has a dual bachelor's degree in psychology and criminal justice from Augusta State University.