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I bought a CO2 cartridge a while back. I think it is used to fill up tires.

If I puncture the cartridge, will it last a while? Would it maintain pressure for at least 6 months?

picture of "Premium Cartridge" with green adapter installed

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    If the cartridge has been screwed into the green device since the time you've bought it, it is most certainly empty. – Carel Jun 7 at 18:42
  • Just as a technical point of order these cartridges are actually filled with liquid carbon dioxide, not compressed air. – Argenti Apparatus Jun 8 at 12:01
13

Think of these as a one shot device. Once the seal is cracked, any remaining CO₂ will leak out over time, and you have no idea just how much is left. .

How much time I have no idea, but the problem with it is as you have no idea how much is left in the cylinder (which is as likely as not no where near enough to pump up the tire), you have to carry enough cylinders in case its empty. If your carrying enough in case its empty, you are carrying extra weight.

While I do carry one of these, on long trips (more than 30minutes ride from a road with cell phone coverage), I carry a real pump. Between the risk of multiple punctures and loosing the gas from incorrect application (Don't laugh it happens surprisingly often) I see these are a time saver, not a life saver.

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    FWIW, if you are running tubeless ( especially road tubeless), I highly recommend carrying a C02 inflator. If the bead should come off during a puncture, there's no way you're getting it back on with a portable pump. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Jun 7 at 16:07
  • BTW: The cartridges are available in different sizes. A 20g cartridge like the one in the picture is fine for an MTB with larger tyres. On a typical roadbike it's kind of overkill. A 16g cartridge is sufficient, and takes less space in the saddlebag. – Carel Jun 7 at 18:39
  • @FredtheMagicWonderDog Or a spare inner tube because if the puncture is so severe that the sealant with a worm did not suffice, it is hard to imagine what else will you try to seal the tyre without a tube. – Vladimir F Jun 8 at 11:33
  • Yes, I carry a spare inner tube, but it so frustrating to have the puncture seal, but not be able to ride the tire because the bead came unseated. I've never had this problem with MTB tubeless, but I have with road tubeless.. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Jun 15 at 13:41
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Additional time information:

These cartridges are filled with Carbon Dioxide, which is a relatively small molecule and can diffuse through butyl rubber more easily than atmospheric air can. You can inflate a tyre in seconds with these but it will likely be too flat to ride the following morning. You will have to re-inflate your tyre with normal air, which includes larger molecule that leak out slower.

If you don't use all the CO2 gas in the cartridge, it will leak out over the next ~30 minutes approximately.

Also, these little cartridges are expensive at about 5 pounds/dollars/euros each (for me, you might find them cheaper, but they're not free nor cheap and the costs add up over time.)

There are only three situations where they make sense:

  1. You're competing in a race, and get a flat. Time is of the essence.
  2. You're on a group ride and flatting means that everyone else on the ride has to wait for you.
  3. You have tubeless and require a blast of air to seat the bead.

And if you need it again on a ride, then you need a second one-time cartridge. It is easier and cheaper to carry a minipump.

The aluminium cartridges can be recycled in your common metal recycling, so take the empties home and don't litter. Also note - they get very cold when discharging fast, to the point of freezing flesh, so use cloth or only hold the green part.

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    5€ for one seems way to much. French Decathlon sells one for 2€ and a three-pack for 5€. The local Decathlon is even cheaper (cca 3€ for a three-pack). That is for 16g. – Vladimir F Jun 8 at 11:47
  • @VladimirF I'm trying to be indicative - they're not free, they're not cheap, and the cost adds up. A pump has a sunk cost, and every usage after that is zero-cost other than time. – Criggie Jun 8 at 12:58

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