Whilst there’s nothing better than a hot meal while you’re camping. Is it safe to cook in a tent?
Finishing the day with a cooked meal is one of the best ways to relax and ensure a good night’s sleep in the Great Outdoors.
If you don’t do it right, though, cooking while you’re camping can be annoying, messy, and downright dangerous if done incorrectly.
There are some hard and fast rules you have got to follow when it comes to cooking in or near your tent, as well as some useful tricks you can use to make your meal preparation as easy and safe as possible.
Table of Contents
Can you use a camping stove inside a tent?
Camping stoves come in all shapes, sizes, and fuel types. Most camping stoves use liquefied gas like butane or propane, but you can also get alcohol, paraffin, solid chemical fuel, charcoal, and wood stoves.
While each stove has its pros and cons, they all share the fact that they get extremely hot and release potentially toxic fumes.
Bringing camping stoves inside tents poses the risk of burning yourself, melting your tent, and poisoning yourself with carbon monoxide.
Even if the weather is terrible and you end up eating soggy, cold camping food, that’s better than the alternative. There are a few ways you can improve your cooking experience outside, even in adverse weather conditions, and I’ll get into them in a sec.
A tent has enough ventilation for sleeping. Some tents have air vents, windows, even skylights, but they aren’t designed with enough ventilation for cooking.
To cook on a camping stove safely, you need to make sure there’s plenty of airflow and ventilation. Ideally, there won’t be any roof above you and no more than two walls to keep the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as low as possible.
You also run the risk of a fire breaking out if you bring a burning stove inside. Most new tents are made out of polyester, which can catch fire and melt if exposed to flames or high heat.
Even if your tent is well-ventilated, you run the risk of ruining your tent by bringing your camp stove inside your tent. Whether you’re using it for cooking a meal or staying warm, it’s always safer to do it outside your tent.
Is it safe to use a gas stove in a tent?
Gas stoves are awesome for camping. A screw-on element and a little gas bottle are all you need for a week’s worth of hot meals in the wilderness.
Butane and propane stoves are lightweight, easy to use, and pretty much weatherproof, and offer plenty of benefits for camping. However, using a gas stove also comes with its own inherent risks. For one thing, gas stoves release carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas.
If you use your gas stove inside your tent, there’s a high risk of carbon monoxide gas building up in your tent. You can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide, so you won’t even know if you’re breathing it, and it can be fatal.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If you don’t stop breathing it, you can lose consciousness and die.
Even if your tent seems well ventilated, and you’re only brewing up a tea or heating up a tin of beans, do yourself a favour and never use your gas stove inside your tent.
Can you use a BBQ in a tent?
Short answer, no. Cooking on a barbecue inside your tent is not a good idea.
Barbecues, like gas stoves, produce carbon monoxide, even after you’ve finished cooking on them. In high concentrations, carbon monoxide can kill swiftly. In smaller doses, it can produce flu-like symptoms.
Barbecues also get really hot. You often see burnt squares in city parks where people have had barbecues directly on the grass. Well, this will happen to your tent floor if you have a barbecue inside.
Bringing a cooking barbecue inside your tent is a great way to destroy your tent and run the risk of becoming seriously ill and even dying.
Most campsites have designated barbecue pits, fire pits, and picnic tables for cooking. If you’re wild camping in the backcountry, try cooking on the rocks of a riverbed or on a fire basket to reduce your footprint.
Where should you cook while camping?
It can be tempting to bring your stove inside your tent. If it’s raining or snowing, it can be particularly alluring. It feels like if you unzip the door wide open and cook quickly, then surely nothing could go wrong.
It also feels like every season, you hear of one or two campers who had that very same thought and ended up dying because of it.
Carbon monoxide is so difficult to detect that every year or two, it kills someone. There’s a good reason every kitchen is fitted with a carbon monoxide detector.
So, instead of pulling your stove inside your tent, here are a few alternatives:
– String up a tarpaulin between trees and set up your camp kitchen underneath
– Use a windbreak – either a tarp or canvas, even a sleeping mat can work
– Use the natural landscape for shelter – tree boughs with leaves on offer plenty of cover
– Dress appropriately – wearing plenty of layers, waterproofs, a hat, gloves, and proper footgear means you don’t have to cook inside, even if it is raining
Some tents come with an additional vestibule or porch area, specifically designed to be used as a camp kitchen. These tents tend to be bigger tents that you can stand up in.
If you are cooking inside your porch, it’s a good idea to have at least two sides completely open, as well as a way for the air to pass completely through the porch.