Yes with care an alcohol stove is relatively safe to use inside. When choosing your fuel try to stick with denatured alcohol, it burns cleaner and produces less soot than rubbing or isopropyl alcohol.
Why You Would Use an Alcohol Stove Inside
There are quite a few reasons why you might consider using an alcohol stove inside. Some of these include:
- A power or utility outage
- Camping in a Remote area
- Off Grid Living
Each of these are possible times when your primary cooking source could be an alcohol stove. It is not always feasible or desirable to do all of your cooking outside and so knowing how to safely use your alcohol stove inside could prove beneficial.
Safety Tips for Using an Alcohol Stove Inside
Alcohol tends to burn at a lower temperature than other fuels such as butane and propane. Due to this some of the risks associated with objects near the stove catching fire are reduced. However, alcohol presents its own unique issues.
Just as with burning any fuel carbon dioxide is released when alcohol is burned. Due to this it is important to ensure there is adequate ventilation. If provided sufficient oxygen the amounts carbon dioxide and soot are reduced due to a more complete burn.
While not considered nearly as explosive as propane and butane fuels, liquid alcohol is frequently stored in plastic containers. If proper care is not taken then these containers could be punctured resulting in spillage of the liquid alcohol. Gelled alcohol such as Sterno provide an alternative to avoid this danger. Both of these tend to be more flammable than Kerosene.
Alcohol tends to burn nearly clear when ignited and if caution is not used it is possible that the flame could be thought to be extinguished. Always ensure to safely put out your alcohol stove.
Some stove models require that the fuel be completely consumed in order to extinguish. Other models may come with a cover you can use to starve the flame of oxygen.
It is possible that the reason you are using an alcohol stove inside is that you had no alternative on hand. Since an alcohol stove can be made from house hold ingredients such as an empty tuna can and rubbing alcohol in a pinch it is generally easy to cobble one together in an emergency situation.
If you are taking the DIY route for your alcohol stove:
- Ensure that you place the stove on a surface that will not burn.
- Keep any loose cloth or paper products away from the stove and cooking area.
- Quickly wipe up any spills of the alcohol prior to igniting the stove.
- Allow enough room between the stove and the pot you are cooking in for air flow to the flame.
Many of these same tips will apply with an alcohol stove that you have purchased as well. Just remember to follow any guidelines included by the manufacturer as sometimes they can differ depending on individual stove characteristics.
What About using an Alcohol Stove Inside of a Tent?
While it is generally unadvisable to use any open flames inside of most tents there are some exceptions.
Some larger tents intended for all seasons often have places for heaters to be installed. With care these tents will not be harmed by using an alcohol stove inside. Keep in mind that the amount of available air inside a tent is frequently far less than inside of a home and ventilation could become a concern.
I would avoid the use of any type of stove in smaller polyester type tents.
Additionally keep in mind that one of the byproducts of burning alcohol is the release of H2O, or water. This will accumulate on the insides of your tent in smaller areas and should be avoided if possible.
In Conclusion – Yes You Can Use an Alcohol Stove Inside
Many people who live in an off grid cabin or live the van-life use alcohol stoves as their primary method of cooking their food. They frequently use them inside of their cabins and vans.