The short answer to the question “can you use a camping stove indoors” is YES! Having said that though, there are certain safety precautions you want to take with these important pieces of camping equipment.
I also want to say that (while it is possible), if you can avoid using a camping stove indoors, that will always be your best option! I understand that sometimes (like during a power outage, natural disaster or in emergency situations) there is no choice but to use one.
Here are 5 things to practice when using a camping stove indoors:
- Use a carbon monoxide detector.
- Check stove ventilation requirements.
- Cook on the high setting.
- Keep pots elevated from flame.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy
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Can You Safely Use a Camping Stove Indoors?
Once all of the above requirements are met, it is safe…ish to use a camp stove indoors. However, you must keep in mind that anytime you burn anything indoors (even candles), there is a risk of carbon monoxide (an odourless gas) poisoning.
This is why most camp stoves are labelled “outdoor use only” and should be used with caution and near an open window (especially if you’re using it in small spaces like an RV).
It is important to note as well that some camping stoves (based on their fuel source) should never be used indoors as they produce higher levels of carbon monoxide gas than others. These are based on the type of fuel used and include kerosene camping stoves and charcoal grills.
Now let’s take a closer look at the 5 safety measures to keep in mind when using a camping stove indoors.
1. Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless and odourless deadly gas that results from the incomplete combustion of burning gas. Without a carbon monoxide detector, you would never know of its presence.
A CO detector will alert you when dangerous levels of the gas are detected. Look for one with an audible alarm so that everyone in the area is alerted to the danger. Without one, you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
If the alarm goes off, evacuate the RV or building immediately (don’t forget about your pets) and seek fresh air. Dial 911 and DO NOT RE-ENTER the area until the authorities have deemed it safe.
Even if the alarm stops going off, the carbon monoxide could build up again to dangerous levels once you’re inside. Do not try to go back inside to open windows (hopefully they were open already) or shut off appliances etc.
2. Check Stove Ventilation Requirements
Stove ventilation requirements are there to help ensure your safety while using portable gas or other types of fuel-burning stoves.
Depending on the type of stove you have, these requirements can include placement near an open door or window, avoiding a fully enclosed space or having an exhaust fan available while cooking (to provide enough ventilation for the stove).
Researching proper ventilation can be time-consuming, but taking these extra steps could be the difference between life and death (or a terrifying situation at the least).
Be proactive and double-check the manufacturer’s instructions (and follow them) before firing up the stove.
3. Cook on the High Setting
Many stoves will not burn the fuel completely when used on the low setting (which means more carbon monoxide is created). This is why it is a good idea to use your camping stove on “high” when cooking indoors. And don’t worry, this won’t require a large propane tank (unless you’re trying to cook a Thanksgiving turkey)!
For this reason, you’ll want to avoid cooking meals that require “simmering on low” for a long time or long cook times when using your camp stove.
For example, you can easily boil water, add your pasta and cover it to allow the pasta to cook (instead of letting it simmer on the burner).
4. Keep Pots Elevated From Flame
Most camp stoves already account for this, but having your pots and pans slightly elevated above the open flame will reduce the amount of carbon monoxide produced.
5. Have a Fire Extinguisher Handy
Most RVs come equipped with a fire extinguisher and, while they don’t expire, you must make sure that it is in good working order and they should be inspected yearly.
Fire extinguishers don’t necessarily “expire” but they can lose pressure, making them ineffective if you ever have to use them.
If you are camping in a tent or other manner, it would be a good idea to pick up a portable fire extinguisher.
I am not a fire extinguisher expert, but I recommend giving this article a read if you want to know which type to pick up.
Dangers of Using a Camping Stove Indoors
There are two main dangers involved when using a camping stove indoors and they include:
This one should be common sense, but there is a fire risk when you are cooking with an open flame.
To reduce the risk of fire, here are 5 things you can do:
- Place your camp stove on a level surface.
- Clear the area of flammables.
- Don’t use more burners than you need to (or use a single burner stove).
- Inspect the stove for damage before use.
- Keep your fire extinguisher nearby.
2. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a hazardous thing because you don’t see it coming. CO is an odourless and colourless gas so the buildup of carbon monoxide can happen very quickly (and remain completely undetected).
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include weakness, vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, nausea and confusion. In serious cases, unconsciousness and death are possible.
This is why carbon monoxide detectors are a must-have (as well as adequate ventilation) when you are cooking indoors on a camping stove.
Best Types of Camping Stoves For Indoor Use
The best indoor camping stoves include alcohol stoves, butane stoves, propane stoves or white gas stoves (hard to find these days). It is important to make sure all the fittings are tightly secured to avoid any gas leaks.
As you can see, while you can use a camping stove indoors, I have given you the precautions to take (and the risks involved) when using one indoors. Now, it is up to you to decide whether you want to “risk it” (I prefer to use my own stove outdoors).
The most common camping stoves can use either propane or butane. I hope you found this article useful and you may also enjoy this one about camping griddles. Happy camping!
Do Butane Stoves Give Off Carbon Monoxide?
Yes, any camping stove that burns fuel will produce a certain amount of CO. While the amount produced is less than a propane stove, it’s best to take precautions when using a butane stove indoors..
Which is Safer, Propane or Butane?
For indoor use, a butane stove is typically safer than a propane stove. Many camping stoves can be used with either butane or propane. If you’re going to use it indoors, I would opt for butane.
Why is it Unwise to Use a Camping Stove Inside a Tent?
It is unwise to use a camping stove inside a tent for 2 reasons. One, the risk of fire is huge in a tent. And two, there is limited ventilation in a tent so toxic carbon monoxide will build-up fast.