Sometimes, owning a camping stove and using it effectively are not the same thing. Many people who own one or two camping stoves haven’t fully realized the capability of the units that they have purchased. It only goes to show that you should learn how to use a camping stove before purchasing one.
At first glance, camping stoves seem to be easy to assemble and use, with its simplistic set-up and minimal gears. Most camping stoves don’t even come with an instruction manual anymore, they just assume that the buyer would already know how to use it. However, it is this assumption that has led to several fiery incidents resulting to wildfire and even loss of life.
Parts of a Camping Stove
In order to fully understand how to use a camping stove effectively, you should know the different parts it has. Small as they come, they are still easy to identify and point out.
Let’s start from the bottom going up.
- Tripod or stabilizer – most standalone camping stoves come with a tripod that folds into the base of the stove. This is made of the same material as the whole unit, and it raises the burner a few centimeters from the ground level. Stoves that do not have a tripod are often attached directly to the fuel canister that has a removable stabilizer on the bottom.
- Fuel Hose Adapter – the fuel hose adapter is an attachment that lets you place any stove fuel hose to the fuel canister. It can be purchased separately and can be used for other flammable items that need an adapter like a camping torch.
- Fuel Hose – Most butane or propane-powered stoves would have this, and it often measures about eight to ten inches long. This is often made with a steel covered hose that transports the fuel from the source to the chamber.
- Gas Chamber – the gas chamber is where the gas is stored after it goes through the hose. It is not big, but it is enough to hold fuel that starts the ignition and serves as the main hold for the fuel before it is burnt.
- Fuel Intake Control – this is often made with a thin wire, and it lets you adjust the amount of fuel that goes through the chamber, which effectively controls the flame in your burner.
- Ignition – the ignition lights up the fire above the burner. Most ignition switches run an electric system where a spark is all that is required to get a fire raging.
- Burner – this is where your fuels are converted into flames. It is about the size of a dollar coin and is perforated by holes coming from the gas chamber.
- Pot Support – these are often serrated bars of metal that can also fold like the tripod and is used to hold up the cookware that you would be using.
How to Use a Camping Stove Effectively?
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of how the different parts of the stove are connected, it is time to go back to basics and learn how to use a stove. Here are the step-by-step instructions for gas-fired camping stoves:
- Prepare the cooking area. Most campsites would have a designated cooking area where the fires of the previous camp were located. A notable characteristic is the burn marks on the stones that have acted as either wind buffers or as tripods.
- Determine the direction of the wind and place windscreens to prevent your fire from going out. While some stoves guarantee that their flames won’t die, it’s much better to be safe and place a screen that not only protects your cooking fire, but it also prevents the wind from blowing away any fiery debris that might cause a wildfire.
- Unfold your camping stove and make sure that the tripods have a good grip of the ground and that whatever it is sitting on is stable enough to handle cooking and would not get burnt due to excessive heat.
- Connect the fuel hose to the fuel canister and tighten the connection. Bring the apparatus close to your nose and give it a whiff. You should not smell anything gassy emanating from it but if you do, immediately unscrew it then screw it back on ensuring that all threads are aligned before you tighten it.
- Once you are sure that the fuel connection is tight without any leakage and the base of cooking operations is stable enough, loosen the fuel controls and ignite the fire using the clicker. If it does not work after three tries, use a match or a lighter to get the fire going.
- Immediately place your cookware on top of the flames and wait for the fire to heat the cooking surface evenly. This may take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on the strength of the flames that you drew.
- Cook everything that you need once you get the right cooking temperature.
- Once done, close the fuel lines and let the contraption cool down. NEVER touch a camping stove right after it has done the cooking. It may not look like it, but it does get very hot, fast.
- Camping stoves take about half an hour to cool down, so bide your time and then test its temperature after half an hour. Carefully fold it back and loop the fuel hose around it before placing it back in its container.
- Clean up the cooking area by picking up any litter and ensuring that all flammable materials are accounted for. NEVER leave a fuel line open and NEVER leave a fire that is still blazing.
- If your stove does not have a pot support, you can use similarly shaped and sized rocks to serve as both your windshield and pot support.
- If your stove does not come with a tripod, you can use a wide-based fuel canister as both your fuel source and your cooking base. There would be no need for a fuel hose in this case but an adapter would be needed to connect the stove to the fuel base.
Being the proud owner of a camping stove does not only mean that you are cool and dependable, it also means that you need to be extra responsible when it comes to using it properly and effectively.
While most wildfire incidents are caused by natural causes, manmade sources would often point to an unattended camping stove or a fuel canister that was not stored properly. Wildfire not only causes damage to property and the natural surroundings, it can also claim lives.