Smart tricks for stove operation and efficiency
Apart from the safety matters such as the radiation shield mentioned above, there are many tips for good stove use. In no particular order ,Always make sure you have a solid surface to put the stove on so you don't lose the lot while stirring the pot.
Apart from the safety matters such as the radiation shield mentioned above, there are many tips for good stove use. In no particular order we have:
- Always make sure you have a solid surface to put the stove on so you don't lose the lot while stirring the pot.
- Always cook with a lid on the pot. The reduction in heat loss by evaporation will reduce your fuel consumption and time-to-boil - significantly. A bit of Alfoil from a pie tray is sufficient for a lid, and a lot lighter than some lids we have seen. It can help to hold it down by leaving the billy grips on top, as shown to the right. That also means you will know where the billy grips are when you need them.
- On the other hand, while you are cooking with a lid on the pot make sure you have enough water in the pot, and that you do stir it every now and then. Otherwise your dinner might develop a slight 'burnt on the bottom' taste.
- Remember that you do not normally need to boil a stew for 10-15 minutes, It usually suffices to bring it to the boil for 15 seconds or so, then to leave it on the stove with the flame turned out, the lid on tightly and the windshield tight around it. Your stew will 'Dutch Oven cook all by itself there, and you will save a lot of fuel and avoid a burnt pot as well. Some people resort to putting the pot in their sleeping bag: I can see potential for disaster here!
- Use a windshield around your stove. Place it fairly close to the pot, but not quite encircling it. Leave enough room for air to get in on the downwind side and out around the pot, and enough room for you to adjust the stove. This can speed up boiling and save huge amounts of fuel as well. It also can be used to keep the gas cartridge warm, but don't overdo that! Combine this with the above tips and you can literally halve the amount of fuel you use. I did.
- Lids and windshields and heatshields can be made from heavy aluminium foil. You can get aluminium dampcourse in a big roll ($$) or cannibalise a couple of large disposable aluminium foil baking dishes from the supermarket. It helps if you keep the alfoil smooth when packing: either flat or wrapped around a round bottle for instance. Don't let it crumple: that usually wrecks it very quickly.
- If you are using fairly stiff aluminium shim, don't roll it up: turn it into a folding screen instead. A row of little holes down each side and little loops of wire for hinges works well, and is shown in the two pictures. Don't use string or adhesive tape: they will melt!
- Check the roughness of the pot support arms. If they are very smooth a boiling pot can vibrate off the stove, especially if not dead level. I have actually seen this happen - on someone else's stove. If necessary, roughen up the supports a bit.
- In cold weather you may want to leave the radiation shield off your gas stove if you are just making a cuppa. The cartridge will get a little warm, and you have to monitor this, but it means that the butane will be vaporising nicely. Otherwise you risk relying solely on the propane which boils at a much lower temperature, and this can leave you with a cartridge half full of butane and no propane. This does not work in the snow! But be careful, and check the cartridge temperature. If it is ""warm"" that's OK. Once it starts to feel ""hot"" to the touch you have gone too far. Quickly pop the radiation shield on.