Propane is one of the most cost-effective sources of fuel for home-usage. By using propane for cooking and heating, many households make remarkable savings on electricity usage. Many people prefer propane stoves because they are readily available and offer instant heat and the ability to regulate heat intensity, which makes it perfect for precision cooking.
There are many reasons why propane stoves are unsafe for indoor use, but this does not mean that you may not use your stove indoors. It is possible to use a propane stove safely.
As mentioned earlier, there is a myriad of benefits that come from using propane at home. To do so, you must fully understand the risks that come with using your propane stove indoors and how you can mitigate them.
Reasons Why Propane May Not Be Safe to Use Indoors
Reason 1: It releases carbon monoxide
Unlike methane, which has fewer carbon atoms in its structure compared to propane, the latter is much more prone to incomplete combustion, which may cause the release of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is one of the most toxic substances on the planet. It interferes with the transport of oxygen in the body, and even in small concentrations, affected people start to experience dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Continued exposure to the harmful gas will eventually cause unconsciousness and death. The most hazardous aspect of carbon monoxide is that it is odorless and colorless, which makes it virtually impossible to trace until it is too late.
Precautionary measures to take:
Watch out for specific vulnerable groups
If you have people at home prone to asthma, have chronic heart disease, infants, or pregnant mothers, you may want to consider using your stove outside as these particular groups are at a greater risk of getting affected. You also want to keep traffic in the kitchen to a minimum.
Reducing the number of people who are not contributing much to the work at hand will reduce the risk of exposure and oxygen consumption that would otherwise be used up in the complete burning of propane gas.
Ensure that your space has excellent air circulation
You also need to ensure that your kitchen is adequately ventilated, especially when you are using the stove. Open up all doors and windows to allow the carbon monoxide out and oxygen for complete combustion and breathing in. Most kitchens come with an inbuilt hood that directs any smoke and toxic fumes out. You may install one in your kitchen if it does not have any, as it will come in handy during the winter when opening windows and doors is not a feasible option.
Generally, you want to keep air circulating through your kitchen as you use your stove to prevent the buildup of the harmful gas and to provide ample air for the complete burning of propane.
Get a UL-certified propane stove
You should also consider getting a stove with a UL certification. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, and it is a certification issued to stove manufacturers whose products are deemed safe for indoor use. Do not get a propane stove for indoor use if it does not have the UL sticker.
Keep your stove’s burners clean
If you use your stove regularly, you may notice a buildup of grease, food particles, or even black carbon particulates on the burners. Propane is supposed to burn cleanly with a blue flame; if you see orange flames or tinges of black on your pots, it is time to give your stove a thorough clean.
Install a carbon monoxide detector in your kitchen
Since carbon monoxide is virtually untraceable, you must consider installing carbon monoxide detectors in your kitchen. These have saved thousands of lives, and are available on Amazon or any hardware store near you. With a carbon monoxide detector, you do not have to worry about the toxicity of the gas as its alarm goes off as soon as it starts to accumulate. If you ever hear the alarm, you should turn off the stove, open windows and doors to let it out, and leave the house along with everyone else for a while. Only go back indoors when the alarm shuts itself.
Reason 2: If the Gas Leaked, It Could Lead to a Fire
Propane tanks have been known to leak and cause massive explosions, especially when stored indoors. Failure to adjust the regulator properly can cause the gas to seep slowly out of the bottle or tank and accumulate inside the enclosed space. Once the occupant turns on the lights or any electronic device, or even worse, strikes a match, the spark triggers an explosion, leading to injury and property damage. Even though the leaked gas does not explode, it will still displace oxygen within the indoor living space as propane is heavier than the former gas. The last thing you want in your home is leaked propane.
Precautions to prevent propane from leaking
Whether you choose to store the gas outside or indoors, always ensure that you turn off the valve properly after use and before going to bed or leaving home for extended periods. Still, storing the tank outside is way less risky, and the gas can quickly dissipate and reduce the degree of damage and injury in the case of an explosion. Always listen out for subtle hissing sounds that indicate a leak, or use soapy water to detect even more subtle leaks.
Avoid buying your propane burners from unregulated dealers
You may get tempted to buy a cheap propane bottle or tank from an unregulated dealer, but often these tanks and bottles are tampered with. Such people have no regard for safety, which is why cheap is expensive when it comes to propane tanks. They may not have the necessary equipment to regulate the pressure of the propane as they fill your tank, meaning that as soon as you turn in your device back, the pressure in the tank will cause a massive explosion.
Always ensure that your propane tank, stove, regulators, hoses, and valves are from trustworthy dealers. Amazon is actually a decent place to get a tank, if you want to choose a convenient option.
You can also have a technician service your entire set of equipment annually and provide a report on anything that needs replacing. If you are unsure of the installation process, contact the dealer; if they are worth their salt, they should be willing to send someone to assist you with the setup.
Never let a child interact with the valves or regulators to your propane tank unattended. Always be in the same room to guide them and ensure that everything is in order. Also, avoid leaving greasy foods on propane stoves unattended as these are flammable and can cause terrible accidents.
Using a Propane Stove Safely
Before using a propane stove indoors, I recommend checking that it is UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certified. Usually, there is a sticker that will attest to this. In fact, whether you use a stove indoors or outdoors, I would make sure that it has this certification.
1. Proper ventilation is key
As we talked about earlier, carbon monoxide is a hazard not worth fooling with. Therefore, here are a few precautions you can take to mitigate this potential problem:
- Keep some windows open- This is the best thing you can do to avoid any issues. Let air flow be your friend.
- Install professional ventilation- You can either DIY or hire someone to install a proper ventilation system.
- Watch for the warning signs- If you or someone around you begins to show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, turn off the stove and get everyone outside immediately.
- Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working- In the case of malfunction or leak, make sure you have functioning CO detectors in your living space.
Also, cleaning away excess grease and residue from the stove can help keep the level of smoke to a minimum
2. Tend the stove constantly
Since propane stoves are loose and not secured, it would be easy to knock them over. It simply isn’t worth the risk so make sure a responsible adult watches over the stove the entire time you are cooking.
This leads me to the next important topic.
3. Supervise the Kids Closely
While you probably have already taught your kids to go nowhere near a stove while it is in use, I thought it worth mentioning since propane stoves might seem like a novelty to them. Also, many stoves are easy to tip over. I definitely recommend you never walk away from a propane stove while you are cooking. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
This also applies to pets as well, by the way. Imagine a curious cat or dog sniffing around cooking food. Very dangerous.
4. Exercise routine maintenance
Before and after you cook, it is good to have a checklist to go through to make sure the stove is in proper working order. Not only does this extend the life of the stove, but it also ensures safe use. Here are a few things you can do:
- Disconnect the burners
- Clean and scrub each burner thoroughly to get all residue off
- Check the grates for rust or corrosion
- Ensure all hose and tubes are connected properly and not rotted
Recommended Propane Stove
It’s actually surprisingly hard to find a propane stove that is rated for indoor use. Here is one that I found on Amazon.
Actually, just cook outside
While precautions can be taken in using a propane stove indoors, I actually don’t recommend doing it. The risks, while low, are still risks. Is it even worth a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that something bad can happen?
Take my advice, and just go out on the patio. If this isn’t possible, at least cook by a large open window or just find another way to cook the food.
It is perfectly possible and safe to use a propane stove inside your home. It is also a greener option because when wholly burned, it releases very little harmful particulates and gases to the environment. Unlike kerosene and firewood, it does not release unpleasant fumes into the house or leave a mess after every meal.
Even better, propane cookers do not consume excessive space and are thus perfect for small city apartments. In almost every home today, you will find a propane gas cooktop. They are the ideal solution for today’s fuel challenge.
However, care is of utmost importance. Propane is just as deadly as it is effective, therefore ensure that you adhere to the safety precautions above.