When the power goes out and people look for a way to make a cup of coffee or a meal indoors, which will often leave them wondering – Is it safe to use a propane stove indoors?
Let me save you from searching for my conclusion:
Despite reports to the contrary, evidence shows it is unsafe to use a portable propane stove indoors. Yes, people do it, but it’s not worth the risk.
We’ll get to the bottom of why I’m saying, but let me make a clarification. I’m talking about whether it is safe to use a portable propane camping stove indoors. I am not talking about the standard propane range/oven that so many people use to safely cook with every day. These are vented, have tanks that are located outside the home, and are designed for inside use.
Let’s dig deeper.
Cooking When the Power Goes Out
One of the fundamental preps that preppers make is investing in off-grid cooking equipment. Given that power outages are a common concern and not uncommon occurrence, it makes sense that this is a common purchase for preparing food in a crisis.
If you have buckets full of dehydrated food, but you can’t heat it to make it palatable, what do you have? A bunch of unappetizing mush.
To prevent this from happening, many preppers have turned to portable hiking stoves – products that serve well in bug out bags. They may also look to larger camping-style propane stoves suitable of cooking for a group.
- COOKING POWER: Up to 22,000 total BTUs
- 5 ADJUSTABLE BURNERS: For precise temperature control
- WIND-BLOCKING PANELS: Shield burners from wind and adjust for various pan sizes
The advantages to these stoves is that they diversify the fuels you can use to cook with, you can take them camping/hiking, and you can also use pack them in a bug out vehicle for cooking on the go.
But should you make ready use of these inside your home? No.
Let’s look at the reasons why using propane stoves indoors is dangerous.
Dangers of Propane
There are three main dangers of using propane: explosions, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Yep, propane can explode, and you need to be extra careful with it as a result. Want some real world examples?
- A Michigan home was completely leveled after a propane tank explosion (source)
- An Oklahoma City home was destroyed, and a teenage girl killed by a propane explosion (source).
- A Georgian man lost his life and his home after a propane tank explosion (source).
As you can see, propane is nothing to play around with. Granted, each of the above examples involved large propane tanks that were used for household purposes – not due to camping propane stoves – but the principle remains the same. Propane explosions can happen, and they can kill you.
This should be a given. Anytime you’re operating with a fuel source that’s generating a flame, there is going to be a risk of fire. The internet is rife with stories of people who have burned themselves to death because of toying around with a propane stove or heater.
Case in point would be this 79-year-old man who attempted to cook with a propane stove inside of his RV, burned the whole thing down, burned 30% of his body, and then died from his injuries not long afterward. Would this have happened if he was cooking with propane outside? Almost certainly not.
Burning to death is one of the most painful ways to die that there is. So please, be careful if you’re going to mess around with a propane stove.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
This odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas is naturally produced by the burning of propane. Furthermore, it’s poisonous to humans. Your red blood cells really like carbon monoxide and will happily replace the oxygen they should be carrying with such.
The end result is basically suffocation. Your cells aren’t able to get the oxygen they need to survive. Symptoms of CO poisoning include dull headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, weakness, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, and eventually loss of consciousness.
Once you pass out (or should you be asleep when the CO leak is happening), unless somebody is nearby to rescue you and get you out, that’s generally your last day on earth.
How to Detect Propane Leaks
According to AmeriGas, there are three main ways to detect if you have a propane leak. The first is to use your nose.
1. Smelling Rotten Eggs
While carbon monoxide is generally odorless, propane companies throughout the US often add an odorant to their propane that smells like rotten eggs. Should there be a leak, propane which has had this smell added to it will quickly alert anybody inside that there is a propane leak.
2. Noticing Drastic Spikes in Propane Usage
If you normally only use X amount of propane a month, and you notice that there’s a strange discrepancy in your usage rates – showing that your consumption of propane has drastically spiked – a leak is a very probable culprit.
3. Noticing Poor Performance from Your Propane Appliance
Whether you’re using gas logs or some other form of propane equipment, if you notice that it’s not operating at its standard level of strength, there’s a very good chance that a leak is what’s causing the problem.
Invest in Multiple Carbon Monoxide Detectors!
I highly recommend everybody have several of these scattered throughout their house, and this becomes an absolute necessity if you’re using any form of gas within your house (e.g., gas logs). As mentioned, you cannot smell carbon monoxide. As such, you need a tool that can do this for you.
- Protects during a power failure - carbon monoxide alarm contains a 9V battery backup in case of plug-in failure
- Easy installation - plug can be installed in any outlet of your home; or use the attached extension cord to place on a table or shelf
- Peace of mind - when CO detection is normal, a red dot appears in the lower right corner & blinks; includes a test button
Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors can easily help to save your life. Buy several, keep plenty of spare batteries for them, and ensure they’re constantly working for you.
Save Propane Stove for Outdoors
Despite the advice you’ll see from others out there to the contrary, I firmly believe that you should never use a propane stove indoors under any circumstances. Even if you decide to open a window, use an exhaust fan, or whatever else, I believe it’s simply too risky to do something this stupid.
The Mayo Clinic agrees, saying you should never use a propane stove indoors. It’s simply too dangerous.
If you want to cook food on a propane stove, man up, go outside in the elements, and then cook your food. Operating under the notion you can safely use such while contained within a structure is in almost all cases an unnecessary risk.
Need more proof? Check out the following examples:
- A 61-year-old man killed himself and his dog while they were inside his RV van attempting to cook food on a portable propane stove. They died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning (source).
- A 34-year-old man accidentally killed both himself and his young son by attempting to cook on a propane stove while they were inside a tent. They died from carbon monoxide poisoning (source).
- A 51-year-old accidentally killed himself and three little kids – one of which was his son – by using a portable propane stove inside of their tent. Their bodies were found as the propane stove still burned (source).
If you’re willing to try cooking your food on a propane stove indoors a similar fate could very easily await you and your family. Imagine being remembered as the man that killed other peoples’ children because you thought it would be safe to use a propane stove indoors.
Propane stoves are great stoves when used in ways in which they’re designed – outdoor use (though for the record, I enjoy cooking with rocket stoves more). Propane is no toy, and it deserves your respect.
Oh, and as for the propane tanks themselves, store those outdoors, too. In a garage or shed – never a basement or structure attached to your dwelling. In fact, it’s a violation of building codes to do store tanks inside in many states.
So, if you came here to seek clarity on that question – is it safe to use a propane stove indoors – hopefully, we’ve helped to give you some clarity on the subject here.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!