Many of us love to recreate the experience of being outdoors by bringing our camping equipment indoors. You can definitely set up a tent, sleeping bag, and battery-powered lanterns indoors.
But what about a camping stove? While the first instinct might be to immediately answer, “No,” it’s actually a much more complicated answer than that. Yes, you can, but only with certain stoves in certain situations.
So, read on to find out how you can use a camping stove indoors.
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
But first, a word of warning. A regular kitchen stove was specifically designed, installed, and properly ventilated to allow for the “silent killer” of carbon monoxide gas to escape. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website, carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless and colorless. It’s found in the fumes any time you burn fuel in stoves, grills, fireplaces, or gas ranges.
If you breathe in too much CO, it can make you dizzy and confused, eventually cause you to pass out, and is definitely fatal in large doses. This is especially true if you are intoxicated or sleeping. You won’t notice you have CO poisoning until it’s too late.
The CDC also recommends that you do not burn charcoal stoves or grills indoors, because of the buildup of CO. You’re never to heat your home with your gas range or stove, either. Excess carbon monoxide can build up without you knowing it.
The Key is Ventilation
Before you think about using a camping stove indoors, you have to have proper ventilation. Modern homes, especially those in colder climates, are well insulated to prevent air from escaping. Buildings have to meet insulation code requirements, and vented hoods are required for gas stove ranges. The carbon monoxide is lighter than the other air molecules of oxygen and nitrogen around it, so it naturally rises up through the hood and out of the house.
If you decide to use a camping stove indoors, you must provide adequate ventilation. Keep the windows open with a possible fan blowing, and use caution around children and pets. Using a camping stove indoors is risky, so just be aware of those risks. If the stove is set up in a well-ventilated area or has a hood or chimney that leads to the outdoors, then that would be a decent, albeit temporary, set up.
Which Camping Stoves are Best Indoors?
When it comes to taking on the risk of using a camping stove indoors, not all models are equal to the task. There are many types of camping stoves available, that predominantly use the following types of fuel:
- Wood burning
This type of fuel has a strong odor and puts out a lot of carbon monoxide. It’s not used as much anymore in modern camping stoves. It’s also not recommended that you use a kerosene-fueled stove indoors.
Propane is one of the more common fuels for camping propane stoves, since it doesn’t have the smell kerosene does, burns cleanly, and is relatively inexpensive. Propane does give off carbon monoxide just like kerosene, though, so extreme caution, proper ventilation, and well supervised use are highly recommended.
These are the common little fuel tanks you can purchase for backpacking and ultralight stoves. But don’t let their diminutive size fool you. They are just as capable of providing CO to the atmosphere as larger propane tanks. Use in a well ventilated area. Butane also remains a liquid under freezing temperatures.
Alcohol stoves are similar to propane stoves, in that they could be used indoors with proper ventilation. You want to be sure to purchase either denatured alcohol or Everclear, as other forms are toxic.
In this case, old fashioned wood-burning camping stoves are, surprisingly, the safest type to use indoors. You do run a much higher risk of burning yourself due to the open flame and you would want to use proper ventilation for both smoke removal and the small amount of carbon monoxide produced.
Fire also creates soot and ash to clean after every use. Some wood-burning camping stoves can use wood pellets, wood chips, or some other form of fuel. But, if properly ventilated with a chimney to siphon out smoke, a wood burning camping stove can be used in certain indoors environments.
It is a risk to cook on a camping stove indoors. Follow the above safety guidelines to prevent accidental CO poisoning and, whenever possible, cook outdoors instead.