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Camping in winters can be a lot of fun, but trying to stay warm in your tent during those cold frigid nights can be quite the challenge. Suddenly, you think of the butane stove you brought along, and an idea pops in your head — why not use it to stay warm? But can you, rather, should you?
You can’t use a butane stove in your tent mainly for two reasons, whether for cooking or heat. First, the camping tents are made of polymers that can melt and catch fire easily from the stove’s heat. And second, the limited ventilation in a tent can cause the accumulation of carbon monoxide.
You might attempt to use a stove for cooking in your tent during bad weather and think that it should be okay as long as you’re careful. Also, you might wonder if there’s any stove you can use inside a tent. Keep reading as I discuss the topic further and recommend stove options that are safer to use in a tent.
Is It Safe To Use a Butane Stove in a Tent?
It’s not safe to use a butane stove in a tent. That’s because it may lead to fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, putting you and everyone else in your tent in danger.
I enjoy camping a lot and want to continue doing it for years to come; thus, I always take my safety and my camping buddies’ safety seriously. Using a butane stove inside the camping tent is easily the worst safety mistake anyone can make. I’ll tell you why.
Most Camping Tents Are Made of Flammable Materials
Almost all camping tents today are made from nylon or polyester. Both the polymers offer great protection against the weather elements and are quite strong.
While they catch fire only when heated above 788°F (420°C), they can melt at much lower temperatures, especially when exposed to open flames. Molten polymers like nylon and polyester can cause severe injuries.
Using a Butane Stove in a Tent Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Another issue with having a gas-fueled butane stove in your tent is the possibility of forming potentially toxic and explosive gaseous mixtures. As there’s a limited supply of fresh air in your tent, butane undergoes incomplete combustion and forms carbon monoxide instead of carbon dioxide.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that’s extremely toxic as it can prevent your blood from carrying oxygen. Burning a butane stove in a limited oxygen supply, as in a tent, can cause carbon monoxide accumulation, which can be fatal.
That said, don’t use a butane stove in your tent to ensure your safety.
More info: Related articles about Carbon Monoxide Poisining Can you sleep in an RV with the generator running? Is Sleeping in Your Car Bad for You?
Use Stoves That Don’t Rely on Gas or Liquid Fuel
There are situations where it might be necessary to use a stove inside a tent. For instance, inclement weather can make it impossible to cook outside, or you might need to heat your tent during extreme temperatures.
Stoves that you can use inside a tent must have two important features:
- The ability to use solid fuels like wood as opposed to gas or liquid fuel
- A flue pipe
Stoves that use gas or liquid fuel tend to produce a lot more carbon monoxide, and they don’t have a mechanism to isolate the gasses and take them out of the tent.
They’re designed to be used inside a tent and use wood as their fuel instead of a gas or liquid fuel. These stoves also have a flue pipe that can take the byproducts of the combustion outside the tent. There are two types of wood-burning stoves that you can use in a tent instead of butane stoves:
Full-Sized Wood Stoves
If you’re in the mood to hunker down in your camp for days, then this type of indoor stove might be a great choice for you. Full-sized stoves are big, heavy, and have large flue pipes and gaskets on the doors for maximum safety. You can use a full-sized wood stove in small or large camping tents.
- 304 Stainless steel precision construction that will never rust or corrode, ideal in harsh outdoor environments
- Highly Portable
- Ideal for heating and cooking in small spaces such as canvas tents, teepees, yurts, etc.
The only issue with these stoves is that they’re not very portable owing to their weight. If you’re in the mood to check out an awesome full-sized wood stove, I recommend the Winnerwell Nomad Tent Stove (available on Amazon.com).
Portable Wood Stoves
Portable wood stoves are usually much smaller and lighter than their full-sized counterparts. However, they have flue pipes, which makes them quite safe to use inside a tent.
The only downside of this portable wooden stove is that they generally don’t have a rubber gasket around the fueling door. While portability makes these stoves quite handy, their small size means you need to refuel more frequently.
Tips on Using a Stove Safely Inside a Tent
If you must use a stove inside your tent, ensure it’s a wood stove, as discussed above. You can further reduce your risk by following certain good practices.
Never Leave the Stove Unattended
One of the first things to reduce your risk is never to leave the stove unattended. There are a lot of distractions when you’re out and about in the wilderness, but ensure that if you have a flame inside your tent, there’s at least one person actively paying attention to the stove.
Pay Attention to the Flue Pipe
It’s important to get all the gaseous byproducts out of your tent, and a flue pipe of your wood stove is designed to do just that. However, you must ensure that it’s at least 6 inches above your tent’s roof to avoid sparks burning holes in your roof.
Always use the spark arrester that comes with your wood stove. A spark arrester is a small device that prevents the sparks from leaving the flue pipe and landing on the roof of your tent and causing it to burn down.
It’s not safe to use a butane stove inside your tent. However, if you must use a stove inside your tent, use a stove that uses solid fuel like wood and has a flue pipe to carry the gaseous byproducts outside the tent. Also, always follow proper safety practices while using any flame in your tent from a food stove, wood, or otherwise.
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Here are some of my favorite van life essentials:
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you’re experiencing your life on the road. Here are some tools and gadgets I use on a daily basis that made my van life a lot easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.
Kitchen: I’m cooking a lot and I’ve finally found my perfect cookware set: The Magma Cookware 10 Pcs that you can nests and store in less than 1/2 cubic foot of cabinet space is really handy. Since I’m also spending a lot of time working at my desk, I use my favorite coffee mug from Yeti. For more, check my list of kitchen accessories I can’t live without.
Outdoor: Even though I’m spending a lot of time in my van working, I do enjoy getting out and explore my ever-changing neighborhood. This sometimes requires me to take my portable solar battery with me. And when I just want to chill outside and take a nap, I use the Winner Outfitters Hammock.
Clean/Tidy: Space is precious and therefore I used these heavy-duty storage bins from Homs to store my material. They’re robust and you can stack them together. Regarding showering, I like to use this portable solar shower from Advanced Elements when it’s hot outside.
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