If you’ve got a gas grill, propane is the ideal gas for it. It’s cheaper and far more readily available than MAPP, which hasn’t been produced in North America since 2008. MAPP gas is a combination of different gases, while propane is liquified petroleum (LP). MAP Pro, the most common MAPP imitator available on the market, only burns 5% hotter than propane.
As a chef, I’ve cooked over plenty of gas-fueled fires. Odorless gas allows the flavor of the flame-cooked food to be front and center. As a home chef, I use my Weber Genesis for quick weeknight cooking. Gas grills are a godsend, and I use propane.
I’m going to cover each gas in full detail here. Let's take a look!
Since MAPP gas is largely used for commercial purposes, let me give you the skinny on what it is. I apologize in advance for all the large science words I’ll have to use.
MAPP is an acronym for Methylacetylene Propadiene. It is a fuel that consists of propyne (which is methylacetylene), propane, and propadiene. The main thing to know is that MAPP gas burns at up to 5300°F. It was popular among tradespeople like welders for its high temperature.
Now, you may be wondering: Did they stop making MAPP gas?
You would be correct; they did! MAPP gas isn't available in North America anymore. The last plant producing MAPP gas ceased production in 2008. If you find a fuel that’s labeled MAPP, it’s either quite old or a MAPP substitute.
The substitute is usually a liquefied petroleum gas with a high propylene content.
The most common MAPP gas imitator available is MAP Pro. This gas is made up of only the propylene and propane molecules. It is becoming increasingly popular for soldering and other purposes. It burns hot and is cheaper to produce than MAPP.
Can it be used for cooking, though?
Yes, MAP Pro can be used for cooking. It burns about 5% hotter than propane (3,730°F vs. 3,623°F - not much). The cylinders can be attached to a blowtorch and used to sear food. You’ll need a MAPP blowtorch head, which is also sold as a high-intensity torch head. MAP Pro can also be used on gas grills.
Propane is a relative to natural gas - a hydrocarbon gas that can exist as a gas or liquid. In its liquid form, it is known as liquefied petroleum gas or LP gas. It can burn up to 3623°F.
Propane gas is the go-to gas in the barbecue scene. While I love firing up my charcoal grill (and the flavors the coals bring to the party), gas grills are fast, simple, and make tasty food. Gas grills are the perfect machine for quick weeknight live-fire cooking. Millions of Americans agree with me and choose to grill over gas flames.
Here is a comparison of the two gases:
As you can see from the numbers above, MAPP gas burns hotter - real MAPP burns significantly hotter. MAP Pro, not so much.
Since true MAPP is no longer available, the remainder of this article will focus on the difference between MAPP substitutes, like MAP Pro, versus propane.
Propane is better for cooking food than MAP Pro in my opinion. There’s a reason you can buy a propane tank from every gas station and party store in town. It’s the preferred gas for grilling food.
Propane is odorless in its natural form. A chemical odor is added to help humans detect leaks, but this is removed with heat. Cook over propane, and you’ll be rewarded with the natural flavors of food cooked over a neutral flame.
MAP Pro is only widely available in smaller tanks. It’s nice for a blowtorch, but not many people use blowtorches for cooking food. (Although you should sear your steak with a blowtorch if you’ve got one. 10 out of 10, fantastic at searing).
Propane is easier to cook with than MAP Pro.
There are two spots within 2 minutes of me that sell propane. To get MAP Pro, I’d have to drive 15 minutes to the hardware store. And they’d only have small cylinders of it that would fuel maybe one cook. Nothing easy about that.
On top of this, propane is the cheaper option. If you enjoy everyday grilling or do it quite often, then you should follow my lead. Fuel your grill with propane.
They are both dangerous. They are extremely flammable (duh). Store tanks outside in well-ventilated areas.
Both gases should also be properly handled. Keep your wits about you while you are using either gas. Keep your gas grill at least 10’ away from your home to reduce the risk of fire. Grills can also warp or damage building materials. I’ve seen plenty of melted vinyl siding from gas grills that were placed too close to a home.
For home use, propane is undoubtedly the most common option for gas grills. I’m not aware of anyone who runs their gas grill off of MAP Pro, although smaller, camping grills could be run off of MAP Pro. No gas grills are getting above 1,000°F, let alone above 3,000°F. There’s no need to use MAP Pro for any gas grill.
Propane is also more widely used for torches in the cooking community. Again, MAP Pro only burns 5% hotter than propane. It might matter to a welder (not my area of expertise)! It does not matter for food.
Yes, you can use MAP Pro in a propane torch. You’ll need a MAPP torch head (which will also work with regular propane). The main advantage of MAP Pro is that it burns when held upside down.
I use a propane torch when lighting a charcoal chimney. In all my years, I’ve never had the need to hold it upside down. Some in the BBQ community have. Maybe it’s to light lump charcoal on their Eggs. If that’s you, get a MAP Pro torch head and a can of MAP Pro gas.
This all depends on the grill that you are using. Check the manufacturer's instructions to determine if you should be using a particular type of gas. Most grills, though, should accommodate both. In this case, it is possible for you to substitute propane with MAP Pro. You will likely need a fitting to connect the smaller MAP Pro tank.
Again, I think using MAP Pro is a waste of time and money. You’ll spend time chasing down the cylinders. It costs more money. The small cylinders won’t last long. And your gas grill is not going to grill anywhere near 3,000°F. But if you’ve got money to burn (pun intended), there’s nothing stopping you from using MAP Pro.
Your gas grill was designed to run on a tank of propane. (Okay, I know that some run on natural gas - let’s save that for another post.) Propane is relatively affordable and widely available. It doesn’t leave any odors when used as a cooking fuel. There is no need to use MAP Pro or other MAPP knockoffs for your backyard grill.
A MAP Pro blowtorch burns slightly hotter than a propane torch and can work upside down. If that’s worth the extra cheddar to you, go nuts. It’s not worth the dough for me. I hope I answered all the burning questions you had about your gas fuel source. I hope your tanks are full - happy grilling!