Most people have a camp stove for those little celebrations in life that call for outdoor cooking and fun, but what if you find yourself in a desperate situation. A situation where you have no power and rioters have taken to the streets. To protect yourself and your family it would be better not to announce your presence. Could you use that same aforementioned stove indoors, where the light source is diminished and the location secure? The answer is yes, but only with adequate ventilation. Before you make the decision to use one of these stoves indoors, here are a few things to consider.
Ventilation Is the Answer
First, the CDC recommends against it as all fuel burnt has the potential to release carbon monoxide into the air whether it be: kerosene, propane, Isobutane-propane, alcohol, or wood-burning. The safest of all these options is wood-burning but each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Kerosene emits a great deal of carbon monoxide, as a result, it is not used very often in modern appliances.
Propane is inexpensive and is considered a clean fuel, however, propane must be monitored as when it is not burning it can emit greater quantities of carbon monoxide.
Isobutane-propane is compact making it the ideal fuel source for backpack camp stoves. It also maintains its liquid form indefinitely despite freezing temperatures, however, it emits an equal amount of carbon monoxide as a large propane tank.
Alcohol stoves are also relatively common, however, they require specific forms of alcohol to burn safely as some types of alcohol are just as dangerous or sometimes more dangerous than carbon monoxide. The biggest disadvantage of wood-burning is that it must be used with a chimney due to the sheer volume of smoke. A warning that must go with chimneys is that they can put a house at risk for fires, this is caused by creosote build-up within the chimney itself so keep it clean. A good rule of thumb for your stove as well since drippings from food can create excessive amounts of smoke and grease fires.
The Harm of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The Center for Disease Control reminds people that carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause nausea and suffocation in high amounts. (Also, a friendly reminder, don’t use your stove as a heating appliance during the winter as carbon monoxide emissions can grow rapidly out of control and in such cases are increasingly difficult to monitor.) It is, therefore, an absolute necessity that when using a camp stove indoors that you ventilate appropriately.
This can be done in a variety of ways but the easiest and most cost-effective is open windows. This may not always be an option in cold regions like Alaska or during the freezing winter months in states like Utah and Colorado. You may, therefore, find one of these other options more worthwhile: vented hoods, fans, and chimneys. Using your camp stove near these areas is better than other locations, but should still only be considered temporary.
The Camping Stoves That Come With UL Certification Are Safer To Use Indoors
It is also worth considering that not all camp stoves are created equal. If you feel that you will ever be in a situation that may call for using a camp stove indoors consider this when buying: search for an Underwriters Laboratories certification.
It is often displayed on a sticker or the owner’s manual. Stoves that have UL certification are safer to use indoors because they produce less carbon monoxide emissions. Not all stoves will have this certification.
How to Make Safety a Priority When Using Camping Stoves Indoors
Remember, the best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is to limit your time cooking on these stoves indoors, meaning that meals with lengthy cook times should be avoided. Be especially mindful of small children and animals in the cooking area as their size may cause them to be affected more quickly than the average adult. Early warning signs include dizziness, sleepiness, and confusion. The risk of poisoning increases when a person is sleeping or inebriated.
Lastly, it never hurts to have an early warning system – invest in a carbon monoxide alarm. They can be purchased on their own or with a fire alarm. They last around nine years before it is recommended that you change them.
This may vary by brand as well, much like your camp stove. It is important to note that carbon monoxide poisoning is very difficult to detect at first, often only being noticed when it is too late. There have been reported casualties from carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t be one of them, only use camp stoves indoors if you have little other option.
Personal preference for the Classic Coleman Portable Propane Gas Stove here, I own one and it is well made and easy to maintain.
Butane: Propane Gas Alternative
For those looking for another option, you might consider butane. If you have gone to hotel breakfast buffets, you might have experienced a cook who will make cook your eggs as you like them. Well, they often use mini stoves that are fueled by butane. Although it is flammable, butane is considered one of the safest to use indoors and to store away. Typically butane comes in a canister and can be stored away safely for 8 years. With proper precautions, these stove types are really safe, easy to set up and easy to store since they are extremely compact. Coleman also produces one that is highly rated. This Coleman Compact Butane Stove can be purchased on Amazon. Get the latest pricing here.
If you need the extra security of cooking on your camping stove indoors, remember the concerns we have addressed here in this article: choose your stove wisely, ventilate, limit preparation times, and have an early warning system to alert you when that colorless, odorless gas is present or reaching critical levels.
They are simple enough and of the utmost importance to safeguard your family’s health. Carbon monoxide kills and the only warning you may well get is that nauseous dizziness that floods your head. So, whether you just need to move your camp stove inside for a week while you scrounge up the money up to buy a new one or if there are rioters in the street that may decide to take what you have, be safe.