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Can Camping Stoves Be Used Indoors?

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The question as to whether camping stoves can be used indoors arises in forums and elsewhere. If you evaluate the risks and dangers that exist if you use a camping stove indoors, you would likely say 'No.'

However, there are certain circumstances where a camping stove can be used indoors. We address this as well as the risks associated with using a camp stove inside as well as precautions and minimizing these risks.

camping stove in camper kitchen with coffee maker

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 poisoning.

Fire

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

The kinds of materials we are talking about are 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 and 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

Burns

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 that 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 lots of camping trips that take place 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 camping 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.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The third danger, carbon monoxide poisoning, is one that is regarded as the deadliest. While fire and burns can also be fatal, carbon monoxide poisoning is often termed a 'silent killer.' The reason is, unlike domestic gas leaks, which you can usually smell, carbon monoxide is both 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 aware enough to realize what is happening, you might be able to get out of the room alive.

If not, it 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.

woodburning foldable camping stove with pot

Precautions and Minimizing The Risks

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

Generic Precautions

  • Always check that the stove you are going to use is functioning properly
  • Ensure you 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 camping stoves indoors on your own, or where there are no other adults present in the house
  • Never leave the camping stove unattended

Fire Precautions

  • Keep the stove well away from flammable materials
  • Have a fire extinguisher sitting nearby, and ensure it has been checked recently
  • You, and others in the home, should wear appropriate clothing, i.e., made from non-flammable materials
  • Be conscious of any embers or sparks emanating from the stove

Burns Precautions

  • 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 a camping stove (correct type/size)
  • Do not turn the heat up so high that foods/liquids start boiling over the sides of the pot

Carbon Monoxide Precautions

  • Never use a cooking stove in a room where the windows and doors are closed
  • Allow plenty of ventilation around the stove
  • Have a fan running nearby, but not too close to the stove that it affects the flame
  • Purchase a carbon monoxide detector and have it in 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

Final Thoughts

Camping stoves can be used indoors under certain circumstances and with extreme caution. Generally, they should only be used indoors in an emergency when you have a power outage and it is raining or snowing and you need the means to cook or heat water.

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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