Is it safe to use a portable gas stove or camping stove indoors?
Yes, It is safe to use some portable gas stoves indoors. If you consider the fact that many homes use either propane or natural gas stoves it is evident that gas alone does not make portable stoves dangerous. However, care should be taken in selecting the proper portable gas stove to ensure they burn efficiently and that you have sufficient ventilation.
Since we are focused more on a prepping or a be prepared stance here at Survival and Prepper, we tend to look at ways to solve problems in an emergency. While I would not recommend you routinely cooking on a portable gas stove inside as your main cooking option, you can safely use a portable gas stove indoors during an emergency. Alcohol Stoves are another option.
This is a potential possibility that you should consider and purchase a compatible stove ahead of time for other uses. Whether that purchase be for a bug out bag or as part of your camping supplies.
In order to help you make an educated decision I am going to delve into some important considerations and provide you with some safe options that you can use inside.
What Gases Are Safe to Burn Inside?
As I have pointed out, several types of gas can commonly be found inside. There are a few that are somewhat less common but still safe to use indoors, if you take proper precautions.
The types of gas that are safest for indoor use are propane, butane, natural gas and kerosene. Most gas stoves that you find in homes normally burn either propane or natural gas. Either of these fuels can also be used in your home heating system depending on its design.
Kerosene is more commonly found as a liquid fuel in space heaters.
Butane is a bit unique and is not commonly burned in homes. However, it does have a multitude of uses. For example it is used as refrigerant in freezers, as a propellant in aerosol cans and as the fluid inside of bic style lighters.
Additionally when burned in camp stoves, butane produces carbon dioxide and water if there is sufficient oxygen present. While there are some risks with carbon dioxide build up, in a ventilated area it is of little concern. This makes butane stoves one of the safer camping stoves to use inside in a pinch.
Which Stove Fuels Should Not Be Used Indoors?
Some fuels should not be used inside. This is due to the fact that they may produce larger amounts of carbon dioxide or worse, carbon monoxide.
Fuels that fall into this category are gasoline, diesel fuel and Coleman fuel or white gas.
Some other items you should avoid using indoors to cook with are charcoal, wood, coal and fuel tablets. The exception here being if you have a dedicated stove with proper ventilation installed. These are most commonly wood burning stoves.
Some Alternatives to Using a Portable Gas Stove Indoors
Since we are primarily discussing the use of a portable gas stove inside during an emergency we would be remiss to bring up some alternatives.
Alcohol Stoves are very similar to a gas stove. While they do not get as hot as most gas stoves they do tend to burn cleaner and their fuels are less explosive making them safer to store.
There are three types of alcohol that can be used as fuels. These include denatured alcohol, which is what most stove manufacturers suggest. You can often find denatured alcohol in camping supply stores and in hardware stores near the paint section.
The second type of alcohol suitable as a fuel is Ethanol or Ethyl, you may know this as grain alcohol. One example of this that you can burn is Everclear. Everclear is 190 proof or 95% alcohol. This allows it to burn very well.
Be Careful though when lit pure alcohol tends to burn with a blue or clear flame that is nearly impossible to see. This could lead to severe burns if you forget it is lit.
The last alcohol we are going to discuss as usable for cooking is isopropyl. This is your common rubbing alcohol. It can be purchased in dollar stores, drug stores and walmarts just to name a few locations.
Isopropyl alcohol can normally be found in several purifty levels ranging from 70% to 99%. The higher the concentration the better it burns. However, isopropyl tends to burn poorly compared to the other two options. The flame is a lower temp yellow sooty and does not burn as clean, opt for one of the other two types if possible.
Canned heat is a disposable form of an alcohol stove. It will be a small metal can that contains a jelly like alcohol based substance. Often these are seen in catering where a small canister is placed below a tray of food and lit to keep it warm.
Candles can be used in a pinch to provide a heat source if needed. Though it may be difficult to reach sufficient temperatures to cook raw meat they can be used to warm up cold foods.
What Are Some Safety Steps for Using a Portable Gas Stove Indoors?
In order to safely use a portable stove inside you need to ensure that you use a safe fuel. Consider one of the options above, I suggest either propane or butane if using a gas version, though alcohol or canned fuel would be a better option.
The next thing is ventilation. Make sure that you have adequate oxygen present to permit complete combustion of the fuel and still provide you clean breathing air.
Consider carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke detectors for your home. Carbon Monoxide poses a serious threat due to the weight and size of the molecules.
They are small enough that they can seep through even sheetrock walls. Additionally their weight is very similar to that of nitrogen so instead of sinking to the floor or floating to the ceiling carbon monoxide will mix into the air around it.
Most carbon monoxide detectors can pick up levels around the 30 parts per million parts air. Since carbon monoxide can be created by small engines, automobiles, water heaters, furnaces and even your stove these are critical components for your safety.
The last safety tip should be obvious. Though numerous fires are started every year by neglecting this single point. Make sure there are no combustible items such as tablecloths, curtains, paper towels or similar items near your portable stove when it is in use and while it is cooling down.
Conclusion – Yes You Can Use a Portable Gas Stove Indoors in a Pinch
There are numerous options you can use to prepare your food in an emergency situation. The first I recommend is having foods that do not need to be cooked.
After that consider alternatives to continue using your normal cooking sources, do you have a grill, do you have a gas stove in your kitchen that you could potentially light with a lighter instead of the ignitor. What about an electric hotplate or instant pot if your gas is out but electricity still works. Finally, can you power your cooking source with a generator safely positioned outside.
If you have already considered these options, then as mentioned here in this article, it can be safe to use a portable gas stove inside as long as you have one that uses a clean burning fuel, consider neary combustible items and make sure that you have sufficient ventilation.
While here take a look at some of our other articles.