“Stoves made for the outdoors can also extend the range of your travels by giving you a reliable way to generate heat anywhere and in any weather”—Fieldbook

Years ago in Scouting, we had to talk a lot more about chemical fuels and equipment, but these days most Scouters I know have moved to propane. In this post, we will consider some safety tips for this kind of fuel.

Though isn’t always essential, when you want or need a camping stove, you want it to perform safely and reliably. Propane camp stoves have a lot of versatility and make ‘Leave No Trace’ camping much simpler.

The Two-burner style tends to be used more where the stove is set up once and used in that location during the campout. This kind of stove has been a camping staple for a long time and is just right for small group cooking in patrols. 

Personally, I own both a two-burner stove and backpacker’s stove (single burner), but not propane and I am about to change that this week. I want a two-burner propane to replace the white gas stove we have had for 40 years. 

A two-burner propane stove would usually too heavy for backpacking, but the Fieldbook states that they are “just right for groups on river rafting expeditions, those camping close to roads, or for long-term conservation work camps where crews get their supplies delivered by helicopters or pack animal.” I am buying mine for emergency cooking in case of a disaster.

There are few single burner propane stoves on the market, but these are rarely taken backpacking. Hauling in fuel in, and empty bottles out, makes them less suitable for long backpacking trips. Other fuels and stoves (see resources below) would be more commonly taken on these treks. On the trail, for me, it’s my trusty Svea white gas stove, but I would never use this with Scouts—liquid fuels are just too dangerous for younger Scouts. 

General Safety Information

According to BSA, with any fueled stove, there are a few safety measures that should be followed:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using it.
  • Never leave a burning stove unattended.
  • BSA regulations require that an adult supervise all stove-related activities.
  • Never use a stove inside or near a tent, not even under a dining fly.
    • Lack of ventilation can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Tent fabrics—even if flame-retardant—can be destroyed or damaged by a flare-up.
  • Use only the manufacturer’s windscreens and never place a single burner stove inside a large pot, to block the wind (could lead to an explosion of the canister).
  • Don’t overload the stove with a heavy pot and never leave a stove unattended.
  • Store all propane bottles away from heat sources, even when empty.
  • Let the stove cool completely before you open it, change fuel canisters or put it away.
  • When changing canisters, or if you suspect a problem, test for leakage by using a solution of 1 tablespoon of dish soap mixed with 1 cup of water. Lightly sprinkle the soap-water solution over the connection and fittings of from the propane canister or tank to the stove. If you see bubbles from any connection, turn off and disconnect the propane canister or tank and reconnect properly. Most connections should be hand-tightened.
  • Small propane canisters should not be refilled. Many states have laws regulating the types of propane tanks that can be refilled. Visit an authorized, local propane dealer for details.
  • Reduce fire danger at home by storing all fuel canisters in a shed, garage or other uninhabited structure—not inside a living space.

Resources: 

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Darryl Alder

Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. However, his pride in Scouting, is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative and Commissioner.

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