Can Camping Gas Stoves Explode? | Deep Analysis


We’ve all probably heard that a gas stove can explode. But what about the portable ones used for camping? Is there a way to prevent such a thing from happening? Or do we forget about bringing a camping stove entirely?

Portable stoves, or camping gas stoves, can explode. Butane canisters can start a fire or explosion when they release gas and come in contact with a fire source. This usually happens due to overheating, product defects, or failure to follow manufacturer instructions.

A camping gas stove exploding is dangerous. It can cause severe burns alongside other injuries. Although people have had success when using this stove, many others have experienced a scary outcome.

Mechanism of a Camping Gas Stove

Let’s discuss how each part of a camping gas stove works to fully understand why or how it can explode. This will also help you know the parts that can cause the explosion.

Either of the following can fuel portable stoves:

  • Liquid fuel
  • Butane gas
  • Propane gas

Stoves that use liquid fuel are much cheaper than propane stoves. Also, propane only works at temperatures above 0 ℃ / 32 ℉.

However, campers usually prefer butane stoves since it’s lightweight and can work in extreme conditions. There are different kinds of stoves, but they all function similarly.

How a Butane Camp Stove Works?

Butane usually comes in a small cylinder or canister directly attached to the stove. Sometimes, a hose is used to connect the two.

The ignition button on the butane stove allows you to light the burner and adjust the flame. Simple stoves have one-burner, but larger ones have multiple.

Larger stoves also typically have windshields and collapsible legs. Some portable stoves come with trivet and canister adaptors.

A trivet is a plate you use to place the pots on. And canister adaptors allow you to attach different types of canisters to the stove.

Mechanism of a Camping Gas Stove

Why a Camping Gas Stove Could Explode?

Now that you know different stove parts, each piece can cause a possible explosion. Sometimes it’s the canister; sometimes, it’s the valve.

Other times it’s the windshield. Regardless, below are the reasons why a camping gas stove could explode.

1. Overheating

One of the main reasons a camping gas stove explodes is because of overheating. It’s not advisable to run the stove for an extended period, especially around a large reflective surface.

These surfaces could either be pots and pans or a windscreen. A rule of thumb is not letting your canister get too hot to touch.

Generally, canisters can withstand up to 50℉ / 122 ℉. Make sure to also keep your canister out of the sun and keep the temperature below that.

Also, before moving the stove, turn it off and let it cool for at least 5 minutes. Moving it while it’s burning is dangerous and can cause severe injuries.

It’s especially dangerous if the shut-off valve fails too.

2. Defective or Inferior Product

Not every camping gas stove complies with the required safety standards. For example, in 2015, Australia tested a range of portable gas stoves with canisters.

The results showed that many did not comply with their safety standards, and the products’ certificates were canceled.

When purchasing a camping gas stove, check any safety approval details on its manufacturing information. There are specific brands prone to explode.

If you can’t find any data on the product label, check with the retailer. If you suspect the canister has a defect, ask if the store you bought it from accepts returns.

Some stores recycle used ones by puncturing a hole in the side to release any remaining gas inside the canister. Make sure to never recycle a canister that isn’t completely empty.

3. Wrong Size of Pots and Pans

Yes, you read that right. Oversized pots or pans can cause an explosion as it concentrates the heat down on the canister.

Concentrated heat can cause the canister to overheat and explode. When choosing the size of cookware to bring, you’ll want to check with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ideally, avoid using pots or pans larger than 8 inches. Uneven surfaces can also cause the canister to tip over when cooking.

This is especially true for single canisters. Ensure that you cook on a flat surface to avoid any tipping, which can result in the flame burning horizontally and back into itself.

Wrong Size of Pots and Pans

4. Not Following the Manufacturer Instructions

Not all camping gas stoves are manufactured the same way. Super Flu, for example, mentions in one of their products to never use a windscreen.

They also state not to use non-MSR diffusers. On the other hand, one of Coleman’s camping stove instructions mentions:

  • The product supports up to a 10-inch-sized pan.
  • The butane cylinder needed is 8.8 oz.
  • It can be used for up to 1.25 hours.
  • It has wind baffles that shield the flames.

Failing to follow specific manufacturer instructions can cause an explosion, especially when using a mismatch of parts, like using a windscreen when you shouldn’t.

5. Gas Leak

Like your gas stove at home, a gas leak from a portable gas stove can start a fire. The gas accumulates in the air and ignites when you light the stove.

A rule of thumb is if you smell the gas even before you use the stove, it’s a sign of a gas leak.

One camper recalls still lighting a stove despite hearing the leak. The result was the canister burned from the joint for about 20 seconds and then exploded.

He said the stove separated from the canister and flew up into the air.

6. Parts Aren’t Set Correctly

For obvious reasons, we put the parts together correctly and ensure they are compatible.

Trivets, for example, are typically packed upside down with the stove. Set it the right way up to support the pot or pan correctly.

Your canisters should be compatible with your camping stoves. Some stoves have screw-on canisters, while others are Easy-Clic canisters.

But some can use both, like dual-fuel stoves. Lastly, canister adaptors also have their compatibility. These adaptors attach to different canisters with different connector types.

Camping Gas Stove Safety Features

Depending on your type, some portable stoves have safety features that can prevent an explosion. Let’s use a portable butane gas stove as an example.

This specific gas stove has:

  • An automatic safety stop: This automatically cuts off the gas supply to stop the burner when there’s an abnormal increase in gas pressure.
  • A safety container setting device: This ensures that you can’t fix the container in the compartment of the cooker unless the control knob is turned “off.”
  • A safety joint: The joint uses two seal packings to prevent gas leaks between the cooker and the container.
  • Drip pan reversal-prevention mechanism: This makes it impossible to use the drip pan during the inverted mode. In this mode, the pan cannot be rearranged to lie flat.

Manufacturers may also have additional safety precautions.

This mainly has details about the cartridge or fuel container, how to prevent overheating, the ideal temperature or environment, etc.

In Summary

Camping gas stoves can explode due to various reasons. It could be from overheating, a defective product, misusing parts, and a gas leak, among others.

Understanding the types, parts, and how to use a portable stove is essential in avoiding accidents.

An explosion from these stoves can cause severe burns, injuries, and even death in extreme cases. It’s especially dangerous if an explosion happens indoors.

Although many people use portable stoves for camping, you shouldn’t downplay their risk. To mitigate this, always pick the trusted brands when purchasing.

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