How to Use a Propane Camping Stove: 6 Simple Steps

Nothing gives you a better sense of nature than cooking your own food in the wild. Sure, you can always bring yourself some prepared meals from home, although that wouldn’t feel the same as making it outdoors. You can easily make yourself a few potatoes and marshmallows using your campfire, although for a more professional cook you’ll need a stove. In this article, I will show you six detailed steps on how to use a propane camping stove, to achieve precisely that.

To use a propane camping stove, you should first look for the right cooking spot, which must be flat and shielded from the wind. Then, you should assemble the stove by connecting the gas tank and pulling its arms apart. At this point, you may check for leaks by spraying soapy water and watching for bubbles occurrence. For last, wipe up the stove, turn it on and ignite it by using a long matchstick.

Step 1: Look For The Right Cooking Spot

Back home, you have a kitchen where your stove can sit in one so finding the ideal spot can’t be a problem. But in the outdoors, there are several issues you’d want to consider when searching for a proper cooking spot.

Find an area that is shielded from the wind, given that windy conditions can be a significant obstacle to outdoor cooking.  The ground should be flat, with a level surface and this should be cleared of any twigs, leaves, and any other debris you find. 

This will reduce the risk of starting a fire when you finally start cooking. If you can find a flat tree stump, this would be great because it is raised and flat, so the stove will be stable enough with no risk of tipping over.

Generally, propane stoves are not designed for indoor cooking; this implies that it would be better if you didn’t use it inside your camping tent. They give off too much heat and carbon monoxide; both are which are deadly at high levels.

Step 2: Assemble The Stove

Assembling the stove entails connective the burner to your propane fuel tank. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, remove everything from the packaging so that you can see all the different pieces.

Depending on the design of your stove, there will be a user manual explaining how to get the propane fuel tank connected to the stove. Make sure everything is in place and carefully follow the guidelines on the manual to get the stove up and standing.

In some models, the stove fits vertically on top of the tank; all you need to do is secure the propane tank on its holder so that it is upright and stable before twisting and screwing the burner in place. Other models require that you use a gas line to make this connection. 

Whichever the type of stove you have, following the guidelines should ensure that you get it done correctly. Just be cautious not to twist the burner or gas line too hard when making the connection.

Step 3: Check For Leaks

Leaks can be hazardous when using a propane camping stove; any slight mistake can end up in an undesirable fire. You want to make sure this isn’t the case by examining the connection points to confirm that there is no gas leakage.

Spray all the connection points with some soapy water. You will know there is leakage if you see bubbles appearing on these connection points. 

If there is nothing to see, then you are good to go. Just wipe the water from the stove with a dry piece of rag before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Ignite The Stove

Now that the connection of the stove to the fuel tank has been made; it’s time to ignite the stove. But before you do this, you want to start by pulling apart the arms around the burner so that they are evenly spaced.

This will give you a proper and stable surface to position your pan when cooking. Some models have valves which are adjusted to light the stove.

Turn this valve to the low position, and when you hear a “hiss” sound, this should inform you that the propane gas is coming out. Use a long matchstick or lighter to ignite the gas and create a flame on the catchment area.

Other models feature a priming pump which has to be pumped several times to create enough pressure that will convert the liquid propane into gas. Using a long lighter to ignite the stove will ensure that you don’t get burnt.

Step 5: Control The Temperature

You want to ensure that the flame is producing just the right amount of heat required for you to cook comfortably. There is a fuel adjuster that regulates the amount of gas coming out, which in turn increases or reduces the size of the flame.

Typically, the adjuster will resemble a paper clip or small knob that you can adjust to either “low” or “high” to regulate the temperature of the flame. 

If you don’t find a cooking spot that is sheltered from the wind, you might want to consider a wind-break sheet. This is essentially an aluminum sheet that you surround the propane stove with so that the wind does not keep on interrupting your flame. It should ensure that you have a comfortable time cooking.

Step 6: Enjoy Your Cooking!

The last and most exciting step is cooking your meal. Here, you merely place your pot or pan on the burner arms around the flame. When you finish cooking, be sure to let the stove parts cool down before you disassemble and pack them.

A propane camping stove allows you to pack a whole set of standard cookware that you’ll be able to use on the stove. Depending on the configuration of your stove and burner size, you might be able to fit a cooking pan as broad as 10 inches. 

Also, when purchasing the camping stove, you can get a windscreen separately so that you have no issues with the wind whenever you are out cooking.

How do You Ignite a Propane Stove With a Burner Knob?

To ignite your propane stove, make sure your tank is full and on. Turn on the solenoid if it isn’t on then proceed to the burner knob and turn it to the start position.

If the knob is not marked, merely turn it to high. Light a long-nose lighter and hold it close to the burner. The burner should light almost immediately once the propane starts flowing. 

Count 1 through 10 before you release the knob and ensure that the stove remains lit then you can adjust it to the proper setting.

Can You Use a Propane Camp Stove Indoors?

You can use a propane stove indoors, but you must first check the Underwriter Laboratories certification to determine if it is safe for indoor use.

Remember that using propane in closed areas can be dangerous, mainly because of the deadly carbon monoxide produced. Also, it doesn’t help that propane grills give off more carbon monoxide compared to smoke. 

If the UL certification gives you the go-ahead, be sure to cook in an adequately ventilated room. Always keep the stove clean so that no food or grease drips onto the burner.

Finally, remember to cook for short periods as camp stoves are primarily designed for the outdoors. Therefore, it’s better that you keep it running for fewer hours.

Can I Use Propane in a Butane Stove?

You can use propane on a butane stove, as long as you install the proper connector for the gas tank and re-jet the burner. 

Considering that the fuel-to-air ratio varies depending on the fuel type you use, the jet will have to either be larger or smaller. This will be dependent on the ideal mixture of fuel.

However, it would be best to inquire from the manufacturer of the stove to establish what jet size would be ideal. The jet size is very crucial because a wrongly jetted stove can be hazardous!

What to do if I Run Out of Propane?

If you run out of propane, the first thing you have to do is figuring out why had that happened, although the common reason would be using its maximum capacity.

Camping stoves usually come with approximately 16 oz propane cylinders which should last around 2.5 hours on high. If your camping adventure goes on a couple of days – it is possible the tank is empty, and you should get a new one.

From my experience, most grocery stores inside national parks or along hiking trails offer stove tanks for sale. I would search the internet up ahead for that and avoid carrying extra canisters which occupy a lot of space. The next time you buy some propane – try using a lower flame so that it endures longer.

Another possible reason is leakage – for that I suggested you apply some soapy water, as I’ve explained in the previous instructions. If you’ve done everything right and still notice some leaks – there is a good chance you will have to replace the stove itself.

Can Propane Tanks be Refilled?

Yes, when your tank has run out of propane – you can easily refill it.

Keep in mind that if you want to do that, you will need a bigger container which would act as a filler – therefore, it wouldn’t be ideal to do it outdoors. 

First, you will have to purchase both the filler tank and a proper adapter that will connect between both tanks. As you can see in the following video, you should first cool the empty tank down so that the remaining gas turns into liquid.

Then, attach both tanks through the adapter and turn the filling tank over to stream the liquid propane into the empty canister.

How to Use Coleman Propane Camping Gas?

From what I’ve seen so far – the most widely used camping stoves are those made by Coleman. Although there are several different types for these, the general principle remains the same.

In all cases, you have the burning stove itself and the propane canister which is usually included in the package. The instructions above still apply – you will have to attach the canister to the stove, most of the times by twisting the connecting hose. 

If you are using the Coleman Classic Propane Stove, you will have to turn the knob to the ‘start’ position. If you are using the Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove, do the same – this time to the fuel adjuster. In both cases, once you hear (or smell) the propane flow – use a long lightning matchstick for ignition.

Can I Cook Some Food Without Using a Stove?

Whether if you ran out of propane or merely find bringing one a burden, you should seek other alternatives to cook yourself a proper meal. My favorite way to go is creating a campfire and using a pot I brought from home – the same one to each meal. 

There are a few articles I’ve written that would assist you in building a successful bonfire. You could make one that would burn for an extended period – perhaps all night.

This would allow you to cook some food which requires a long-standing heat, such as potatoes. If you experience some harsh weather conditions – you could even light some wet firewood, or perhaps build it in a way it would withstand the pouring rain.

If you wish to make yourself some refreshing hot drinks, I highly recommend that you read my article on how to use a camping coffee pot. I’ve gone through each step and spent hours on providing you with the most efficient data.

Can I Use Propane Stoves in National Parks?

Most national parks, from my experience, offer you the opportunity to cook yourself a proper meal. The places which allow you to light up some fire are usually marked as ‘picnic areas’ and mostly permit using a camping stove. 

On the other hand, closed areas, such as cabins and hotel rooms generally prohibit that. To be sure, search online your planned destination and see what the specific instructions require.

If you find some trouble doing so, I suggest that you ask the locals what they know, based on their experience.


Cooking in the wild shouldn’t be intimidating – when you are using the right gear and techniques, it is absolutely pleasant. Assembling the propane camping stove is quite simple, although you should keep in mind to do it right to avoid gas leaks.

My favorite trick is to use some soapy water and watch for bubbles (do not forget to wipe it up once you finish). If you still ran out of propane, you may always purchase a new one or otherwise, refill it with another full and bigger tank.

I hope my article made the cooking process seem easier and provided you with a better perspective on propane camping stoves. If you have any question or ideas – let me know all about them by leaving a comment below!

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