Propane Camping Stove Handling Tips

If you’re planning to stay in a cabin, trailer or motor home and make use of a propane camping stove, some advice from Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer and Business Services can help you summer safely.

Portable gas-fueled appliances, such as propane camping stoves, heaters and lanterns can make life in a cabin a lot more comfortable, but they should be used with care because the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning exists. So long as the system is running properly, and there is an adequate air supply, it poses no threat to safety.

Watch for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning including fatigue, nausea, headaches and dizziness. Exposure to significant levels of carbon monoxide gas can result in serious injury or death.

Following a few simple rules will help keep you safe.

Make sure the propane camping stove fits the need. It’s dangerous to use an appliance for a purpose not intended by the manufacturer. Also, make sure the size and power of the unit are appropriate for the amount of circulating air. As a rule of thumb, a square-inch opening (about 2 cm.) is needed for every thousand BTUs (British Thermal Units) of output. Tent heaters should only be used when fresh air is circulating because the fabrics used in making modern tents seal so well that insufficient air may get through the flap screening when closed.

Read manufacturers’ labels on propane camping stoves carefully and review service instructions and operating directions before using equipment. Even if you’ve used the propane camping stove 50 times, make sure you know exactly what it is intended to do and how to operate it.

Inspect your used propane camping stove and clean it carefully. Make sure dust, insects and tiny bits of debris aren’t blocking burner ports. Maintain your equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Protect against fire hazards. Naphtha (also known as white gas or camping fuel), kerosene stoves and propane barbecues are meant for outdoor use only.

Set up the propane camping stove in a safe place. Make sure it won’t tip over, and keep your stove well away from combustibles, and out of the paths of children and pets.

Gasoline should only be carried in approved containers certified by agencies such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC).

Containers should never be filled right to the top because the gasoline expands when warmed and spillage may occur.

When using a propane camping stove, always let it cool completely before refilling the tank.

Be cautious when using a propane camping stove. Read the instructions that come with the stove and propane cylinder. Use the stove as a cooking appliance only – never leave it unattended while it’s burning.

Check your propane camping stove for leaks and clean it thoroughly before using it for the first time each season: 1. Turn the propane camping stove control knobs off. 2. Move propane camping stove to an open, well-ventilated outdoor area prior to connecting fuel supply. 3. Connect gas supply to the propane camping stove and check all connections for leaks.

Do not use matches, lighters, or flame to check for leaks.

With the propane camping stove controls off, slowly open the propane cylinder service valve; apply a 50/50 solution of soap and water with a small paintbrush to all connections; expanding bubbles indicate a leak; repair all leaks prior to lighting.

If you find a leak, close the cylinder service valve and re-tighten the leaking connection; test for a leak again. If you cannot stop a leak by additional tightening of a connection, turn off the propane cylinder service valve; disconnect propane cylinder and call a TSSA-certified fuel appliance repair person.

Check for spiders. Spiders and other insects sometimes make their homes in the “venturi” tubes that extend under the burners in your propane camping stove. Spider webs and insect nests can clog these tubes and cause a fire.

Follow the propane camping stove manufacturer’s installation instructions on how to remove, clean, and reinstall the burner venturi tubes.

Look inside your propane camping stove and clean any blockages and replace any missing or worn “O” rings (small, rubber-like washer found where the regulator connects to the propane cylinder valve).

Look at the date on your propane cylinder.  Remember that propane cylinders that are more than 10 years old must be inspected and re-certified by an approved facility; return damaged cylinders to your propane dealer.

Replace worn and rusted parts. Your propane camping stove needs to be free of dust, rust, and dirt; if there are old or corroded burners, they should be replaced.