How To Make Sure Your Portable Butane Stove Doesn’t Explode!

How To Make Sure Your Portable Butane Stove Doesn’t Explode!

While portable butane stoves are a great asset for campers and outdoor enthusiasts, they are powered by a gas canister. This can pose certain risks if you’re not aware. So, we’ve decided to put together this valuable information on safety tips to ensure that your portable butane stove provides you with many happy adventures and doesn’t inadvertently explode.

Why Could A Portable Butane Stove Explode?

While a portable butane stove is relatively safe in most instances, there is always the possibility of the butane canister overheating. When this happens, it could cause the canister to explode if it is still in use.

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Many popular and brand-named portable butane stoves do have an auto-cut-off switch that will automatically stop the flow of gas when the sensor depicts that the canister has become too hot. This is a prime safety feature and you should check whether your stove has this.

However, in some instances, even this safety feature may fail. So, to keep you and your family safe, ensure that you follow these important safety tips.

How To Safely Operate Your Portable Butane Stove

We’ve compiled these safety tips from a number of reputable sources to ensure that you know how to operate your portable butane stove in the safest way possible.

Familiarise Yourself With The Stove You Have

The first thing you want to do is read the manufacturer’s manual that came with your stove. This will detail the most important operating procedures that you should follow.

For example, portable butane stoves are only designed to be used for relatively short periods. The operation manual should specify the time that you shouldn’t exceed when using your stove. This will prevent the butane canister from becoming too hot.

The manual should also tell you how to store your stove safely. In most cases, it will be recommended that you take the butane canister out of the stove before storing it. This should be done after each use so that there’s no chance of any gas escaping while the canister is still in the stove.

As soon as you disconnect the canister from the stove, the flow of the gas will effectively be stopped. Of course, it goes without saying that you should always keep the butane canister away from any heat source and store it in a cool place.

As a general guide, a butane canister will start to overheat at a temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Celsius. So, if you’re camping in a region that is very hot, keep this in mind and store your canister in a cool spot.

You should also always store your canister upright and not on its side or even upside down. 

Don’t Operate Your Portable Butane Stove In A Confined Space

Portable camping stoves are designed to be used outdoors and should never be operated in confined spaces. This means that the gas that the stove emits will not cause any danger to your health.

Additionally, when there is plenty of airflow around the stove, the butane canister is less likely to overheat. 

When  I use my portable butane stove during a power failure, I always set it up outside on my veranda and would never even consider using it indoors in the kitchen. It’s far better to be safe than risk an accident.

using a portable butane stove outdoors to boil a kettle

Many portable butane stoves on the market today will give you a recommendation for the largest diameter pot or pan that you can use.

Never be tempted to use any pot or pan that is larger. If you do attempt to use a larger pot or pan, the heat from the flame may be directed downward toward the canister and this can cause it to overheat.

When choosing which pot or pan to use, make sure that it fits neatly on the trivet and does not overlap the sides. 

Check All Connections Regularly

Another safety check that you should make on a regular basis is to check all the connections to ensure that there is no leakage of gas.

You can do this easily by spraying the connection points with soapy water. If you notice bubbles appearing, there is a leakage of gas.

If this happens, make sure that you effectively tighten all the connections and retest again with soapy water. You may find that you will need to replace certain components to make your stove safe again.

If this is the case, it’s recommended that you take your stove to a gas appliance professional to test and repair it if necessary. Don’t be tempted to repair it yourself unless gas repairs are something you do for a living.

Don’t Use An Old Butane Canister That Is Rusty Or Damaged

Although butane canisters are designed to last for a very long time, there are instances where your canister may have become damaged or even rusty if left out in the weather.

Therefore, you want to inspect your canister before you use it to check for damage. If there is some damage to the canister, it’s likely that gas can escape. This escaped gas could easily ignite if it comes into contact with a flame.

If you’re not sure whether your butane canister is intact and there’s no gas leakage, just do the soapy water test. If bubbles appear anywhere on the canister, dispose of it and get a new one.

Buy A Name-Brand Butane Stove

When purchasing a portable butane stove, select one from a name brand because these stoves are likely to have the certifications that they need to ensure that they’re safe to use.

This also ensures that you’re buying a quality product that is unlikely to cause you any problems if you follow all the recommended safety tips. Here’s an article I’ve written with recommendations of the best butane stoves available on the market.

You also want to ensure that you buy name-brand butane canisters that have a countersink release vent (CRV). This certification should be stamped on the canister. 

Other Safety Tips For Using Portable Butane Stoves

Here are some additional safety tips to consider when using your portable butane stove.

carbon monoxide detector

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There’s another important reason that a portable butane stove should only be used outdoors. This is because the gas will use up all the oxygen in a room that is not well-ventilated and create carbon monoxide.

This dangerous gas is odorless but can cause carbon monoxide poisoning which can be fatal. 

So, if you really do need to use your stove undercover because it’s raining, make sure that you have plenty of ventilation even if it’s cold. For extra safety, you might want to invest in a carbon monoxide detector.

This is also a good idea if you have a gas cooktop inside your camper or RV.

Avoid Burns

Burns are another common injury that can be contributed to using a portable butane stove. Immediately after use, both the stove and the butane canister will be quite hot.

Therefore, you want to wait for around half an hour before handling the stove or taking the butane canister out.

Make sure that the whole family understands this and keep children away from the stove at all times.

Never Be Tempted To Refill A Butane Canister

Unlike propane gas bottles, butane canisters are designed for single use and should never be refilled. So, never be tempted to refill your small canister from a larger gas bottle, even if you think this will save you money.

There’s a danger that you might refill it with the wrong gas or that you damage the canister in the process. Ultimately, this can result in a pressure build-up and your canister could explode.

Here’s a video from Gasmate that shows how to load and unload a butane canister safely. Gasmate is a well-known brand available in Australia and New Zealand but this advice can be used for all quality butane stoves.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ensure the safe storage of a butane canister?

Make sure that you store your butane canisters in a cool, dry spot that is away from direct sunlight or any other type of heat source. Always store your canisters in an upright position.

What safety precautions should I take when using a butane stove outdoors?

Always ensure that your stove is placed on a flat and stable surface such as an outdoor table. Make sure that you keep your stove away from flammable materials such as leaves or dry grass to avoid a fire. Use a wind guard whenever possible.

Can I leave a butane stove unattended while it’s in use?

It’s highly recommended that you should never leave a butane stove unattended while it’s in use. Make sure you don’t exceed the recommended cooking time to ensure that the butane canister doesn’t overheat.

Are there any specific safety certifications or standards to look for when purchasing a butane stove?

Safety certifications will vary from country to country. In North America, look for the ETL Listed Mark or the UL certification while in Canada, you might want to consider products with the CSA certification. 

Final Thoughts

A portable butane stove is a great addition to your camping gear and can provide you with a way to boil water for coffee and to cook a variety of meals throughout the day.

Portable butane stoves are also lightweight and compact which makes them ideal for taking on hiking trips where you’re planning to be away for a few days and nights.

As long as you follow the safety recommendations and purchase a quality brand-name portable butane stove, you shouldn’t have any problems.