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Can Camping Stoves Be Used Indoors?

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Do you want to be able to use your camping stove inside your house, cabin, or RV? Using one indoors during a power outage might be something you have considered. Maybe you have read about this on internet forums and elsewhere.

So, can you use a camping stove indoors? 

If you evaluate the risks and dangers of using a camping stove indoors, you would likely say 'No.' However, there are certain circumstances where you can use a camping stove indoors.

We address the risks associated with using a camp stove indoors and the precautions to minimize these risks.

portable butane camping stove with canister

Risks of Using a Camping Stove Indoors

There are three significant dangers to using a camping stove indoors. The two most commonly known ones are fire and burns.

The third may not be known to you, but the frightening aspect of this danger is that were it to happen, you would likely not be aware of it before it became fatal. That danger is carbon monoxide exposure.

Fire Hazards

There will be a naked flame with a camping stove, so there will always be a fire risk. One of the main problems is that there are so many highly flammable materials indoors that they could be alight within seconds if any of them come close or even touch the flame.

We are talking about fabrics on curtains or furniture and those worn by others in the home. We mention clothes as likely the sorts of clothes you and your family wear at home, not those you would be wearing outdoors on a camping trip.

Thin flammable materials such as those on skirts, dresses, nightwear, and sportswear, are examples of clothing that definitely should not be worn in and around a camping stove.

The risk of fire also exists if the camping stove or the cookware on the camping stove tips over.

canister backpacking stove with pot

Burn Risk

It could be argued that you could be just as easily burned using a butane or propane camp stove, for example, outdoors, as you are indoors, but that is not the case.

On a campsite, other than the camp chef, people are less likely to be close to the stove since there is so much space around.

Compare that to indoors, where the stove is used in a relatively small room. In that scenario, anyone in the room could be within a few feet of the stove.

Another reason is there are more likely to be children and pets close to the stove in a home. While camping can be a family activity, there are many camping trips where only adults are present. There are certainly camping trips where the family pet doesn’t come along, especially if that pet is a cat!

If a child or animal unwittingly comes close to the camp stove, they may accidentally nudge or bump into it. It’s possible they could either be burned by the cooking flame or, worse, by a hot liquid that spills onto them.

Horrendous as that might be, it is nothing to what the awful consequences might be if they wear certain clothing types that may either catch fire or start to melt onto their skin due to the excessive heat.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The third danger, carbon monoxide poisoning, is regarded as the deadliest.

While fire and burns can also be fatal, carbon monoxide is often termed a 'silent killer.' The reason is, unlike domestic gas leaks, which you can usually smell, carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless.

That means if it is building up in the room where you are located, you will not be aware of it. It can make you dizzy and confused, and if you are still conscious enough to realize what is happening, you might be able to get out of the room alive.

If not, carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can render you unconscious, and ultimately it can kill you and anyone else in the room.

Unfortunately, these events have occurred, and if you are aware of the possibility, you can take steps to minimize the risk of them happening to you or your loved ones.

two burner propane camping stove with windshields

Precautions to Minimize the Risks

Now that you know the main dangers and risks of using a camp stove indoors, let us look at how you can eliminate or minimize them. Some are generic and apply to all the risks; others are specific to individual dangers.

Standard Precautions

  • Always check that the stove you are going to use is functioning properly
  • Ensure you are aware of all the operating and safety instructions for the stove you are going to use
  • Check for damage, especially to the gas canister
  • Never use camp stoves indoors on your own or where there are no other adults present in the house
  • When you use a camping stove, make sure it is not left unattended

Fire Safety Precautions

There are several precautions to take to prevent a fire. The key one is to keep the stove away from flammable materials.

When using a camp stove indoors, be sure to have a fire extinguisher sitting nearby in case of emergency. Before you start cooking, check the extinguisher to make sure it is in working order.

When you are cooking indoors, be conscious of embers or sparks emanating from the stove.

How to Avoid Getting Burned

  • Always place the stove on a flat, stable surface
  • Wherever possible, keep all children and pets out of the room where the stove is  used
  • Only use pots or pans suitable for use on camping stoves (correct type/size)
  • Do not turn the heat up so high that foods/liquids start boiling over the sides of the pot

Take Precautions to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Proper ventilation is a must when using a camping stove indoors. The windows and doors should be open.

It's a good idea to have a fan running nearby. However, it shouldn't be placed too close to the stove that it affects the flame.

Even if you aren't using a camp stove inside to prepare meals, it's a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector in your house. If it is in another room, to be on the safe side, move it to the room where you are cooking with the stove. 

If anyone in the room indicates they are feeling dizzy, turn off the stove immediately, and open all the doors and windows and have the person go outside.

Final Thoughts

Camping stoves can be used for cooking indoors under certain circumstances (no other options) and with extreme caution. They can be unsafe because they could emit carbon monoxide or start a fire.

Generally, they should only be used indoors to cook food or heat water in an emergency when you have a power outage and it is raining or snowing. It must be used in a well-ventilated area.  

Even in those circumstances, take every precaution and ensure that the safety tips we listed are followed to keep you and those around you safe.

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