My rented apartment has an old rickety gas stove, fuelled by a hose connected to a gas cylinder. No electricity is used at all in any way. This is fine because in this part of West Africa we get constant electricity outages, but I can't figure out how to light the oven part.

Every guide I can find online assumes I'm trying to light a sophisticated gas cooker with a fancy feature like:

  • A pilot light, or some obvious recess to light first
  • A self-lighting spark when you push the oven dial
  • Some kind of electric indicator light or control system

This seems to have none of these things. It's basically just a tin box connected to a gas cylinder.

I can smell a little gas after having the gas on for a while, but no amount of using a plastic lighter near the obvious holes inside the oven actually lights anything, and I can't see any clues as to where the gas is coming from. Obviously I don't want to mess around too much.

Brand is Westpoint, it looks like it might have been made in the 1960s or 1970s, no clue about model. Here's a photo:

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  • 1
    If you can get them "gas matches" are useful for this sort of thing. Basically a butane cigarette lighter but the flame comes out 10-20 cm from your fingers.
    – Chris H
    Apr 10, 2016 at 12:45
  • 1
    If you don't have long matches, and don't want to just drop them down the hole ... you can either light a wooden skewer (it helps to crush it or split it a couple of times first) ... or light a piece of strand pasta (spaghetti, linguini, etc). Both also work for gas grills that have a non-functional starter.
    – Joe
    Apr 11, 2016 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


Back when we had one of these, we used to turn on the gas, wait for a tiny while (I seem to remember 4-5 seconds), then drop a lit match into the front center hole. That would light up the burners. I'd err on the side of too little gas until you're used to it, and it may take a few attempts

Mom was pretty good at it, but that might have been through years of practice.

This video goes through the whole process, though I could have sworn you didn't need to push down the knob

  • When you say side vents, do you mean the vents along the side of the base, next to the X? Or on the inside vertical walls? Apr 10, 2016 at 12:42
  • My memory is of the ones on the horizontal surface along the bottom. The process in the video looks like it would match your oven, and suggests that you need to use the center hole, and a specific position. We've not had a gas oven for something like a decade tho ;p Apr 10, 2016 at 12:44
  • @JourneymanGeek your mom's may not have a knob to push, but many gas stoves, and fireplaces etc that normally have a pilot light have a safety feature that shuts off the gas if the pilot light goes out. This prevents the oven from slowly filling with gas. You push the knob in while lighting the pilot until the sensor gets hot enough for it to leave the gas gate open.
    – Escoce
    Apr 10, 2016 at 17:34
  • @Escoce many gas stoves have that safety feature but no pilot. Apr 10, 2016 at 21:32
  • @Dr.belisarius I am sure many do.
    – Escoce
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:14

Is there a "broiler drawer" below the oven? That's the standard gas oven setup I'm familiar with (one burner, used both to heat the oven and for broiling in the drawer below the oven itself), and the pilot light is typically far back (or rarely in front) of that drawer, rather than being accessible from above. Either a "long match" or an arrangement to hold a normal match with a long handle is generally useful in lighting those.

  • I don't think so, there's a white panel below the door but it seems to be fixed in place, no handle, no obvious opening mechanism. Sounds a bit too sophisticated for my tin box! Good to know about for other such ovens though Apr 11, 2016 at 18:52
  • Try lifting the floor of your oven, then? The two round holes in the center look like they would be for picking it up with, perhaps.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 11, 2016 at 18:58
  • Under there there's a small area less than 10cm deep, it looks like it's for distributing gas, doesn't look like it's designed to have food in it! Apr 11, 2016 at 19:04
  • 1
    I was thinking it might give better access to the pilot light...
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 11, 2016 at 20:20

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