Can You Use an Oxygen Regulator with Other Medical Gases?

Nov 14, 2022

Can You Use an Oxygen Regulator with Other Medical Gases?

Can you use an oxygen regulator for argon, CO2, or another medical gas? The answer may surprise you.

To use medical gases in a facility or at home, a proper regulator is required. Regulators measure and control the flow rate of a medical gas from a cylinder to a patient, and there are many different types of regulators available on the market. To learn how to change the regulator on your oxygen cylinder, please see our article here: How To Change An Oxygen Tank Regulator

Every regulator is designed to fit a certain type of cylinder valve, yet all regulators perform the same basic functions, don’t they? Does that mean that you can use an oxygen regulator for nitrogen tanks, CO2 cylinders, or other medical gases?

The short answer is no — we’ll look at why below.

Why regulators aren’t multipurpose

In general, gas regulators should only be used for the type of gas it was created for, as using the wrong regulator can potentially lead to leaks, reactions, or other dangerous incidents. Here are a few issues you may encounter if you misuse your regulator:

  • Some gases may react to components in the regulator, causing deterioration or damage.
  • Some gases are corrosive and may damage the wrong regulator. Corrosive gases often require stainless steel regulators.
  • Some gases may react with contaminants on the regulator, causing explosions.
  • An ill-fitting regulator may result in leaks of flammable, toxic, or otherwise dangerous gases.
  • Some regulators have left-hand threads (or reverse threads) and are used for flammable gases. These regulators will not fit properly on traditional cylinder valves.

So can an oxygen regulator be used for nitrogen? Will an oxygen regulator work for CO2? It’s always the safest and best practice to only use CO2 regulators for CO2 cylinders, oxygen regulators for oxygen tanks, etc. An oxygen regulator, in particular, should never be used for another type of gas; if it is, it should never be used with an oxygen tank again. The regulator body and pressure gauge for your regulator should clearly indicate what gas this regulator is intended for.

Determining the appropriate regulator

Whether you’re using an O2 tank, liquid CO2, acetylene, argon, or another gas, choosing the proper regulator for the job is paramount. When choosing a regulator, follow these steps:

  1. Check the cylinder label to determine the type of gas and the pressure at which it is supplied.
  2. Check the regulator. Oftentimes, the regulator will state which gas it has been made for and the maximum outlet and inlet pressures it can handle.
  3. Give the regulator a visual inspection. If installing an O2 regulator, pay careful attention to the regulator threads and be sure that there is no oil, grease, or other contaminants on the threads.

Still concerned about using the right fitting? Fortunately, Australia uses the CGA fitting system to help professionals who are using compressed gases determine the correct fitting for the cylinder. The CGA fitting uses a three-digit numbering system to designate which connections are compatible with which gases. Some of the more common CGA numbers you may see include:

  • CGA 320 — carbon dioxide
  • CGA 326 — nitrous oxide
  • CGA 510 — acetylene
  • CGA 540 — oxygen
  • CGA 580 — argon, nitrogen

FAQs

Can I use an oxygen regulator for CO2?

Oxygen regulators and CO2 regulators share many of the same features but should not be used interchangeably.

Can I use an oxygen regulator for nitrogen?

A nitrogen regulator is designed to withstand high pressures and have specific thread patterns made specifically for use with nitrogen tanks. Nitrogen regulators generally won’t fit on other gas tanks, and therefore, nitrogen tanks can only safely be used with nitrogen regulators.

Can an oxygen regulator be used for argon?

Oxygen and argon regulators have very similar fittings. So while it is possible to use an oxygen regulator for argon, it is highly recommended to invest in a dedicated argon regulator. Additionally, you should never use a regulator on an oxygen tank if it has been used with another gas, as doing so can be dangerous.

How can I fix a leaking oxygen regulator?

In general, a pressure regulator should only be used for the type of gas it was created for, as using the wrong regulator can potentially lead to leaks, reactions, or other dangerous incidents. Check out our other article to know more about fixing a leak in an oxygen regulator.

Find dedicated oxygen regulators at Mega Medical

Choosing the correct regulator is necessary to ensure the safety and efficacy of your medical gas setup. Fortunately, when you shop online at Mega Medical, you can easily find the regulator you need to work with your tank.

Explore our range of medical supplies and equipment today to find safe, affordable, and efficient medical items for your practice or for at-home treatment. Have questions about our collection or need assistance finding the correct regulator? Our team would be happy to help. Reach out to us today at 1300-881-824.