Too Cold For A Cook-Out? How about a Cook-In?
WHY DO WE NEED CAMPING STOVES?
Good question, there’s the obvious answer that we need something to cook on when we go camping or motoring in mobile homes. But there’s also some other very handy uses such as a backup to the garden BBQ equipment, a way to keep food warm on the table (which is very handy for dinner parties where candle warmers can’t handle the job) and then there’s power cuts of which many may have experienced in the latest weather storm we had.
WHAT IS IT?
This particular stove is a portable single hob which acts as an all-in-one gas powered heating unit. It is a solid metal, rectangular container with one enclosed side for a gas canister and the other being the space for the hob. Both the gas and hob plate are removable. The hob plate being removable means that when not in use you can turn it upside down with the prongs facing inwards for easier storage. The gas being removable is handy so that a) you don’t have to worry about there being gas open in the hob and b) after each use you can remove the gas canister so that it doesn’t slowly leak over time.
The hob is what I would call a medium size as a 1.5lt-2lt pot and small frying pans sit on it nicely. This is a single hob unit but there are double and freestanding ‘mini-cooker’ units available.
I bought mine from eBay and the kit included:
1 x stove
8 x Butane 227g liquid gas canisters
1 x griddle (for pots/pans that would otherwise be too small or big for the hob the griddle allows you to use the circumference space more efficiently)
1x mini heater/hand warmer (sits on top of the hob)
The stove came in a solid, thick plastic/rubber style briefcase with instructions and a safety warning sticker on the stove itself. Everything cost approx £25 including delivery but it was a special offer some years ago and after a quick search I’ve found that the versions for sale now consist of the stove and butane for under £20.
On the right hand side, outside the gas compartment, there is a lever and a dial. The lever should be at the top when the gas compartment is empty and pushed down when the gas canister is in place (I’ll explain further later). The dial should be kept at the top position when not in use – that means it should be turned clockwise the most it will go and that is the ‘OFF’ position. Turning the dial counter-clockwise all the way will bring you to the ignition point and all the turning in between those two points will turn the fire up or down.
Left hand of dial = Ignition/’ON’ position
Turning upwards and around clockwise = high to low fire
Right hand of dial = OFF position, the gas will go off and you shouldn’t be able to hear or smell it.
The procedure for use is very simple, even the least gadget friendly adults should be ok with it and that includes those scared of handling gas in any way.
Open the lid on the gas compartment. You’ll be faced with the mechanism for holding the canister in place and allowing the gas to flow, nothing fancy or too tricky. All you have to do is remove the lid/top on a gas canister and horizontally place it in the stove. To do this correctly simply and gently push the nozzle of the canister into the circular metal slot/hole with one hand and push down the external level (as aforementioned) with the other. By doing this the canister should be gripped and held in place by the mechanism. Close the lid of the gas compartment.
Note – Remember to check the instructions first so that you know what I mean by the ‘circular metal slot’. Also bear in mind that when you place the nozzle in the slot and also later when you remove it, you might get a whiff of gas because the air seal in the nozzle has momentarily been broken whilst making the connection or disconnection between the two parts (canister and stove).
Make sure the removable hob is the right way up (prongs facing outwards), have a suitably sized pot/pan on the prongs and that the handle is facing away from you as spills are not encouraged.
Note – Spills are not encouraged in cooking anyway it’s true but as those with gas cookers in their kitchens will probably know; if you spill food/liquid on a gas hob and it falls into the gas section underneath the hob you have to shut the cooker off, remove the gas cover, clean the section out and wait for it to dry. On old cookers spills like that can prevent a hob from working and on portable ones like this there’s no way to clean out the gas section underneath the hob so spilling can decrease the lifespan of your equipment.
Turn the dial all the way to the left, you should hear a click and see a Blue light under the hob – that is the ignition. The gas is also released as soon as you turn the dial so the ignition is automatic/immediate and straight after the little Blue light there should come a bigger Blue flame hence no need for matches or lighters.
Simply turn the dial to the heat setting you want and watch your consumables cook 🙂
POWERFUL LITTLE FIRE
I used my stove recently over the course of a few days and managed to make the following with a fair bit of gas left in the canister:
2lt pot of popcorn x 6 times
2lt pot of soup x 2 times
1.5lt pot of tea x 4 times
The above takes into consideration the various temperatures I was cooking in e.g. from general lukewarm room temperature to freezing at night and early morning. Remember that it takes a bit longer to cook in the cold as the pots/pans and food/drink starts off colder and the gas will have more work to do but even then I found the food cooked and heated quickly enough. I didn’t need to cook or heat anything for more than 5min. Other than simple meals I haven’t tried cooking anything from scratch on the stove but I would surmise that cooking takes longer than heating and anything more complicated than toast, soup, popcorn, porridge, ready meals etc will take longer and hence use more gas. Bear that in mind if you’re using a stove in circumstances where you have limited gas and might not be able to get more straight away.
There are a number of cautions provided on the packaging and instructions for this and I’m not going to go into them all as it’s important to read them properly before using. However I’ll give some pointers which I’ve come across having used my own and watching others use theirs:
*Don’t use on grass. This is a tabletop stove and whilst the casing doesn’t get very hot it is designed to have a little space underneath it and to stand on something solid and smooth such as a counter or a table. I’ve seen these used on grass before only to burn the grass underneath and with long grass there’s the risk of some getting in the way of the gas and causing sparks.
*To prevent leakage from the gas canister it should be removed after cooking. To do so first ensure that the dial is in the OFF position (turned fully clockwise), then release the canister by pushing the lever upwards. Open the gas compartment lid and gently pull/slide out the canister and put its lid/top back on.
*Burn off any remaining gas in the stove. After the gas canister has been removed, leave the lever in ‘release/OFF’ position and turn the dial anti-clockwise to ignition/’ON’ position to use any gas left remaining.
*Use in a well ventilated area.This is a small unit and doesn’t release much gas particularly as you don’t have to muck about trying to light it but it’s better err on the side of caution.
This is a nifty little heating device which is light in weight and easily stored/stowed away in its briefcase, the gas came shrink wrapped though once opened I store them upright in a cool place. I’ve found that the gas lasts a long time, the heating times are efficient and the fact it gives off precious heat in cold conditions is warmly welcomed. The unit is sturdy and durable and so is the perfect companion for those who like to eat and drink hot meals when in the great outdoors, those who like to cook hotpots on the table with loved ones or to have on hand as an auxiliary energy source.
Advantages: Lightweight, durable, heats quickly, gas lasts a long time.
Disadvantages: Try not to spill anything when cooking.
Summary: Handy little heating machine.