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I've got basic electric hobs in my kitchen which do a fine job - but a lot of cookbooks suggest that certain things would be best done on an open flame/gas hob (i.e. anything involving a wok).

My flat isn't piped up for gas and I can't afford the expense of replacing my hob with a better one than it currently has anyway - so I was wondering - would a decent gas camping stove/hob be a suitable and sensible supplement to my electric hobs?

If so, what sort of thing should I look out for on buying one?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I don't think that you'll get the results that you expect.

My experience includes an MSR Whisperlite International backpacking stove (white gas), and Coleman two-burner stoves in both white gas and propane variants. Anecdotally, the backpacking stove has limited control, while the two-burner stoves don't quite have the oomph of a real gas stove.

The Coleman links that I provided indicate that the white gas stove has burners that put out 7,500 and 6,500 BTU, while the propane stove puts out 10,000 btu on both burners. Using the REI-provided time for boiling water, I calculated that the backpacking stove puts out about 4,500 BTU (and other backpacking stoves indicate similar times, regardless of fuel).

By comparison, my consumer-grade natural gas-powered kitchen stove has two burners that put out 15,500 BTU, one that puts out 9,500, and one (the simmer burner) that puts out 5,000. Viking offers normal burners up to 18,000 BTU, and a wok burner of 27,000.

If you do decide to go with a campstove, however, there's one thing that I want to emphasize: do not buy white gas stoves for indoor use. They're fine while they're burning, but lighting them is a bit dramatic, and once you shut them off they'll put out half-burned fumes for several minutes.

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Thanks - this gives me a great starting point to research further (though it does sound like overall it might not be worth the effort!) –  Lee Dec 30 '10 at 15:24
    
+1: Absolutely correct. Camping stoves are exceptionally wimpy. –  Satanicpuppy Dec 30 '10 at 16:38
    
@satanicpuppy : camping stoves that are intended for backpacking are wimpy. But I know the local head of the boyscouts, and he drags along a Black Stone Griddle –  Joe Dec 30 '10 at 19:40
    
@joe: Ell Oh Ell. Whatever happened to cooking with, you know, wood –  Satanicpuppy Dec 30 '10 at 19:50
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I have a propane turkey fryer that I do NOT use for frying turkey, but I do use when I need major heat output. I've made beer, done clam bakes and Alton Brown used his for a high heat wok fry. They aren't particularly expensive, but will take up room in your flat when not in use. But you get a large pot "for free". –  Doug Johnson-Cookloose Dec 30 '10 at 20:19

Although I've seen stoves where you'd hook up what looked to be a propane cylinder, I don't know what hydrocarbon they were using. And as it was a built-in, it would've had the appropriate venting as required by code.

If you're using a camping stove, you're going to run the risk of carbon monoxide build-up, particularly if you're using it when it's cold out, and you've got the windows closed.

There are butane burners that are supposed to be suitable for indoor use, but I'm personally not sure I'd trust them; they all risk carbon monoxide if there's not enough oxygen for combustion.

So, to answer the question -- yes, it'll work, yes, there are even ones intended for this purpose ... but what I'd look for? A carbon monoxide detector to install before you use it. And as mentioned -- BTUs ... and remember, even though they're small, propane stores more energy than natural gas, so you can get some rather large burners. (eg, the ones sold to fry turkeys)

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Yes, actually portable butane stove do a very good job and can be bought for under 30$ at most sports/camping stores.

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