A guide to gas monitoring in the hospitality industry
If you have reached this page, you are probably either wondering how gases are used in industries including bars, restaurants, hotels, pubs and breweries, or you are trying to decide which gas monitor best fits your needs.
We hope the information on this page will help you in your decisions. If you need any more advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us, and our friendly team will be more than happy to help.
How are gases used in the hospitality industry?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to carbonate and dispense beer and soft drinks.
Next time you are at your local pub, cinema, theatre or leisure centre, if you look hard enough, you might be able to find a cylinder and pipe which carries CO2 (which is sometimes known as 'cellar gas' or 'dispense gas' to a beer or soft drink dispenser.
If you work in the brewery or winery industries, carbon dioxide is also a byproduct of fermentation. Yeast converts sugar into ethanol (alcohol) and CO2.
Carbon dioxide is also used to create dry ice, which can be used to store food products, as well as for theatrical effects.
Nitrogen (N2) can be used as an alternative dispense gas to carbon dioxide. For example, some beers and stouts are ‘carbonated’ with a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide as this makes smaller bubbles, and a smoother, creamier drink.
Nitrogen is frequently used in kitchens and factories. Liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze ice cream fast, making it smoother and creamier. It is also used to put bubbles in chocolate bars.
The dangers of a gas leak
Nitrogen and carbon dioxide have no taste, colour or smell, which means that it will be hard to tell if there is a gas leak. All it takes is a rip or a hole in the pipe connecting a gas cylinder to a drinks dispenser and a room could quickly fill with dangerous gas.
Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the air, but an increase in concentration can be dangerous.
An increase in levels can cause effects including headaches, reduced hearing and sight and an increase in blood pressure. Higher levels still can cause unconsciousness, coma and death.
Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and can concentrate at ground level. If you get a monitor, it is essential to put the central unit/alarm at head height so you don’t have to bend down to read it.
There have been some tragic stories of people dying due to carbon dioxide in the hospitality industry:
- In 2007, a man died near a brewery due to incorrectly laid pipes which were carrying carbon dioxide into a nearby stream
- In 2011, a woman died in a fast-food restaurant bathroom after an improperly wired carbon dioxide tank caused a dangerous gas build up.
- In 2014, a woman in Spain died at a winery after becoming intoxicated by CO2 fumes and falling into a vat of wine.
Nitrogen displaces oxygen in the atmosphere, meaning an increase could mean that oxygen drops to a dangerous level and cause asphyxiation.
Liquid nitrogen expands when it evaporates. One litre of liquid nitrogen can turn into approximately 700 litres of gas, which can cause an oxygen-deficient atmosphere really quickly.
People have died from misuse of nitrogen in the food industry. In 2013 two employees died after being told to hold their breath to enter a nitrogen-filled storage unit where levels of oxygen were just one percent. The farm manager was convicted of manslaughter.
Please don’t confuse nitrogen with nitrous oxide - the two are entirely different gases!
Which gas monitor is right for me?
The Ax60+ - our fully customisable solution
The Ax60+ is a wall-mountable carbon dioxide detector which comes with a central display unit (this is mounted in a convenient location such as an office), a sensor unit (installed at floor level where carbon dioxide gas could potentially gather) and an alarm unit (installed at head height).
The Ax60+ can be connected to a maximum of four sensors and eight alarms, making it fully customisable for small and large businesses.
Later this year you will be able to add extra sensors in order to monitor a variety of gases.
The Ax60k - the affordable solution for smaller businesses
The Ax60k carbon dioxide detector consists of a sensor unit and alarm unit, ideal for smaller restaurants, fast food kiosks and micro breweries.
The Aspida range - portable and backup monitoring
The Aspida is our hand-held gas monitor which can be used to protect staff from gas leaks, or used as backup when a primary gas monitoring system fails.
The Aspida can be used to monitor carbon dioxide, oxygen and also comes as a dual monitor which can monitor both. If you use nitrogen in your brewery, the option to monitor oxygen could be ideal.
The O2NE+ - accurate oxygen depletion monitoring
The O2NE+ is an easy to use oxygen depletion monitor which can be used to detect nitrogen leaks, as well as any other inert gases.
Is it the law to have a gas monitor?
It depends on which country you are in. Some countries have standards and recommendations when it comes to gases, and others don’t.
Currently the US-based OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and European EH40 standards have both set an exposure limit of 5,000ppm (0.5%) CO2 over an eight-hour period.
Bear in mind that it is not a legal requirement to follow standards, but even if it is not a legal requirement to have a gas monitor; it is advisable to have one in order to keep your staff and customers safe.
I want to know more!
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If you work in the hospitality industry and are considering a gas monitor, we are more than happy to help recommend the perfect gas monitor for you. Contact us today and we will help you choose.
If you know which gas monitor you need, you can visit our distributor section to find your nearest supplier.
Interesting blog posts
- Why you need gas detection if you work in the beverage industry
- Firefighter's carbon dioxide monitor saves the day at restaurant
- A whopping hoax? Gas leak panic at the local burger joint
- Carbon dioxide gas detection - the dangers of CO2
- Dispense gas - safe use in licensed and unlicensed premises
- Cooking with gas: nitrogen, food and you
- Greene King brewery gas leak - carbon dioxide in breweries
- When is a nitrogen monitor not a nitrogen monitor?