The 8 Best Butane Stoves
8. M.V. Trading Deluxe Portable
- good choice for tailgating
- 2 hours burn time per fuel canister
- some users report ignition issues
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
7. Gas One GS-3400P Dual Fuel
- built-in pressure sensor
- nonslip rubber legs
- for outdoor use only
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
6. Camp Chef Mountain Series
- compact and lightweight
- large flame output
- little wind protection
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
5. Gas One GS-2000 Twin Fuel
- compatible with propane cans
- lots of safety features
- not very easily portable
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. Etekcity Ultralight Portable
- aluminum alloy and stainless steel
- comes with carry case
- backed by 1-year warranty
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
3. Sterno 50108 Portable
- includes wind blocking attachment
- auto shutoff sensor for safety
- satisfaction guarantee
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
2. Coleman Instastart
- simple flame adjustment control
- porcelain-coated grate cleans easily
- small enough for most tabletops
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
1. Iwatani ZA-3HP Burner
- weighs just under 5 lbs
- great for high-heat stir-frying
- includes heat sink for safety
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Cooking Convenience with a Butane Stove
Butane stoves are elegantly simple devices. They are little more than square frames designed to house an inserted fuel canister that can create an easily-regulated flame. At a glance, the top of these stoves looks much like the burner of the same gas-fueled stove found in many homes, with one marked difference: a butane stove can be setup on a picnic table, on a boat's deck, or on a slab of rock dozens of miles out into the backwoods.
Before weighing the benefits of these stoves at length and discussing who might benefit from their ownership, it is only fair to make clear that in most cases, apparent ease of portability notwithstanding, a butane stove is not an ideal camping tool -- at least not for the overland hiker who must carry all of his or her gear in a pack. Most of these units weigh an average of five pounds even before their fuel canisters are added, while most true camping stoves weigh mere ounces. (If you can park near your campsite or are traveling by canoe, snowmobile, or another conveyance, then by all means choose a butane burner.)
What butane stoves offer over purpose-built camp stoves is heat output nearly comparable to the burner of a traditional range stovetop. For all the convenience an extra-lightweight, compact, and collapsible stove may offer, few such units can come anywhere close to creating the same BTUs as a chef enjoys when cooking at home. Some options can even offer a 15,000 BTU flame at their highest setting, which is in fact double the capacity of many stovetop burners. (Most residential stove burners are rated at between 7,000 to 10,000 BTUs for reference.) Most options offer output closer to 10,000 BTUs, which is still enough heat to bring large pots to a boil or create a fast sear in a pan. Butane stoves also feature built-in ignition systems (most use an electric spark) that eliminate the need for a lighter or match; this adds safety, convenience, and reliability.
Once you are convinced that a butane stove will generally suit your needs, start your search for a specific unit by considering price range. At the lower end, these devices cost between twenty and thirty dollars; higher-priced options cost nearly $100. At the top of the price spectrum you will find attributes including detachable wind shields and high-powered heat output as previously discussed. What any decent butane stove will offer is safety features such as an automatic shutoff and an easy flame adjustment control dial. Also look for burners that come with hard-walled cases, as even the most durable device can be easily damaged if not stored properly during transport.
Ideal Uses for Butane Stoves
While a butane stove might not be the ideal choice for the mountaineer trekking over miles of trails at high elevation, it's an ideal appliance for the car camper, the fisherman, for use at a cabin, and for any other outdoor activities that tend to preclude access to the gear with which we're comfortable in our kitchen.
Butane stoves were not, however, designed specifically to be used by outdoorsman at all. In fact, they are at their best when used as part of a more comprehensive cooking setup such as one might find at a catered event, a restaurant with an outdoor section, or at a cooking demonstration. Because a single butane stove can effectively replace the burner of a fine stovetop, with several such units working in concert, a chef can recreate the function and convenience of a standard kitchen anywhere.
Common uses for these stoves include omelet/breakfast stations such as one might find at a hotel or ski lodge where short order foods are custom-prepared for each guest. So too can a butane stove help a cook prepare batches of fried foods ranging from potatoes to clams to various cuts of meat. A decent butane stove can also be used to keep large pots of soups or stews hot, providing more warmth than a traditional chafing dish heater could ever muster.
And for the cook who plans a live demonstration of various recipes or techniques, it's imperative that she have at her disposal a cooktop with the same abilities of that which she used to design the meal. The built-in ignition and reliable flame output of a butane stove helps to ensure a demo will be a success; the safety and reliability offered by these units will also be welcome to the chef working in front of an audience, cameras, or both.
A Few Words On Butane Stove Safety
If there is only one safety tip you heed when it comes to using a butane stove, let it be this one: don't use one of these devices inside. While these devices are not necessarily designed to be used only in the outdoors, their safe use requires excellent ventilation. In general, use in the home should be avoided, and they should never be switched on in confined spaces like a tent, a camper, or a cabin. A butane stove can safely be operated in interiors with plentiful ventilation, such as you will find in most commercial spaces.
If you must use your butane stove inside, open windows and run air circulation systems to the fullest extent possible. To ensure your safety, also consider installing a carbon monoxide monitor nearby your cooking area; with those steps taken, you can count on a benign cooking experience indoors. Just be sure to shut the stove off whenever you are not actively using it to minimize the levels of potentially hazardous gasses that build up.
While a standard range stovetop creates potentially dangerous flames and heat, it is fixed in place and predictable. Butane burners, on the other hand, can be knocked to the ground or inadvertently bumped too close to a flammable material, such as a tablecloth, curtain, or another surface or item. Take care to place your stove somewhere safe and to make sure all those in the area know where it is and when it is being used.
While most butane stoves have safety features that will cut their flame output if the stove is turned over or even tilted to too much of angle, keep in mind that even after the active burn is over, the top of the burner can still be hot enough to cause a previous injury or to ignite a flammable material.