Gone are the days when you have to bring a very bulky and very dangerous stove when you go camping. The stoves of today are small, lightweight and very efficient, not to mention very safe. One of today’s portable stoves would probably be your best buddy when you go out camping.
Here are a few factors that you might want to look at when choosing your very own stove.
Generally stove prices can range from $ 20 – $ 200, depending on the brand and fuel; however, you can probably find a good quality type at around $ 50 – $ 90, or maybe even cheaper if you’re a good bargain finder.
Efficiency is often measure in BTU or British thermal units; however, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who actually understands the terminology. Generally 25,000 – 30,000 BTU is a good range. Another measure of efficiency however, is boiling time. This is the measure of how long your stove can run on high with a full tank of gas. But watch out for this figure, your stove might boast a 1 hour running time, but on 32 ounces of fuel. 10 minutes of burning time with one ounce of fuel is a fair measure.
Performance is measured by the time it takes for the stove to boil a quart of water under ideal conditions (ideal fuel, new stove) both at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and at sea level. A good range would be 3-5 minutes. A good performance stove will ensure faster cooking especially if you’re on the go.
Most stoves come in either solid, liquid or gaseous fuels, here is a profile of each.
Pro: Clean burning, stable and safe.
Con: Alcohol burns at a cool flame so it doesn’t pack much heat when burned, you’d be hard pressed to find stoves that burn with alcohol. In addition, alcohol burns with invisible flame, so there is a danger of a fire spreading.
It is a mix of butane propane and/or isobutane. You can buy it in disposable canisters and tanks.
Pro: If it is blended with isobutene, the fire is more efficient even if the pressure in the canister gets lower. Blended fuel is more dependable than simply butane or isobutene and safer than simple propane.
Con: It loses efficiency if used in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and higher altitudes.
Butane is sold in disposable canisters and is pressurized when bought; this type of fuel is typically popular in Europe.
Pro: It is very efficient and provides a high temperature
Con: It cannot be used in cold surroundings, mainly temperatures below 5o degrees Fahrenheit and it doesn’t burn as hot as blended fuel
Gasoline is the liquid fuel that powers most cars, however stoves like this should only be used as a last resort and you should make sure that the fuel has an octane content that is below 86 and is unleaded.
Pro: Burns fast and very hot
Con: This fuel is very poisonous, even the fumes can be a bit nauseating, not to mention the soot being toxic. The soot may get into the food you are cooking so it’s best to keep the food covered at all times. It is also hard to keep gasoline going in extreme cold. There is also a need for an extra pump to increase the pressure because of its liquid form.
Isobutene ha a chemical structure close to butane, it is used for plane fuel. Isobutene comes in disposable canisters.
Pro: It burns more efficiently than butane and can be used in temperatures down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kerosene is probably the oldest type of fuel and is also used in jet fuel because of the heat it generates.
Pros: It is available anywhere and burns very hot in any condition.
Con: Like gasoline, the soot from kerosene is also very poisonous. It also burns with a lot of soot. Generally kerosene burners get clogged quickly because of the excess soot. And like gasoline, needs an extra pump because of its liquid form.
Propane is a highly combustible, clear gas that is used in most household stoves and barbecue grills. Propane comes in disposable canisters.
Pro: Propane burns with a very hot and steady flame. There is practically no soot with a propane flame. In addition to that it has good cold weather performance.
Con: Not very good for very trepid and high altitude locations.
Pro: This fuel is very inexpensive and can be bought by the gallon at almost any supermart. It burns in almost any weather condition and unlike others can withstand low temperatures and high altitudes.
Con: The fuel is a liquid and will therefore need a pump to keep the pressure steady.
Pro: Wood is as old fashioned as you can get, but if you have an excellent source like for example the twigs on the forest floor, a wood stove would be a good idea.
Con: A wood stove would be hard to use during rainy season because wet wood is hard to heat up.