Oxygen Therapy: Getting Started with Liquid Oxygen

Liquid Oxygen therapy uses pure oxygen and is most often prescribed to patients who need high levels of oxygen. This video explains the components of a liquid oxygen system and how to use and care for your device. Always consult your doctor if you have questions about your oxygen therapy prescription and using your oxygen device.

Produced with support from Three Lakes Partners.

Liquid oxygen is a good option for people who need high liter flows of oxygen, usually greater than 6 liters per minute. This type of oxygen therapy uses pure oxygen which is compressed and frozen and then placed into metal cylinders.

A liquid oxygen system consists of a stationary unit and a portable device. Liquid oxygen is very cold and can cause frostbite or burns if it comes in direct contact with your skin. Be careful not to touch the outlets or the parts carrying the liquid oxygen.

To get started refilling your portable device, make sure the outlets are completely clean and dry by wiping them down with a paper towel. Always keep the device upright when you are cleaning it.

Next, place the portable device on the stationary unit and press down until it clicks. Some devices attach on top and some attach on the side. Open the flap on the back of your portable device.

You will now hear the gas flowing.

For some units, you might need to close the flap every 30 seconds to keep ice crystals from forming. When the unit is full, the sound coming out of the unit will change or go away and some liquid oxygen vapor will escape.

The device will feel cold and you may see ice crystals on the internal coils. To remove the unit, close the flap while holding the device by the strap. Then, twist to release, or use the release button to remove the unit if your unit has one.

If the device is stuck, just leave it to thaw for about 15 minutes and try again. Don't use force or any other tools to speed up the process as you could cause a fire or burns as you could cause a fire or burns.

To check to see that the portable unit is full, let the device hang upright from its carrying strap and look at the gauge. The device should be level when you read it. Set the flow rate recommended by your doctor, attach the nasal cannula to the adapter, and you are ready to use your portable liquid oxygen.

Liquid oxygen evaporates over time so don't fill tanks too far ahead of when you need to use them.

It might be daunting at first to get started with a new oxygen device, but with practice, you will gain confidence and adjust to life with oxygen therapy.

For more information, visit Lung.org/oxygen.

Page last updated: November 17, 2022

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