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  #1  
Old 03-30-2014
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safe cooking

i have read a lot of threads about stoves on boats. of course, the usual debate is alcohol or propane.

recently, last month actually, a powerboat at the marina my boat is berthed at caught fire and burned up completely. it was a live aboard. the guy was hurt but he lived. he was lucky. he bought another power boat off of their lean dock and moved into it. the cause? his propane stove.

that was a real piece of reality for me. no propane on my boat!

but, there are safety risks with alcohol, too. the threads i have read make that plain. so, the big question i have is what other options are there?

also, how real is the risk with alcohol?

as i get my boat ready to sail, this will be a choice i am going to have to face. it doesn't have a stove but i will want one for cruising. eating out at every port you stp at is going to be way too costly and you can't always be sure you will be stopping at a port for the night. thanks.
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain jack View Post
...

that was a real piece of reality for me. no propane on my boat! ...
A wise choice, IMHO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain jack View Post
...but, there are safety risks with alcohol, too. the threads i have read make that plain. so, the big question i have is what other options are there?

also, how real is the risk with alcohol?

...
The old, pressurized, alcohol stoves were a hazard, mainly because it's difficult to see an alcohol flame unless the lighting is pretty dim. A leak, or fully open unlit burner, could get quite a fire going before anyone realized what was happening. However, modern non-pressurized alcohol stoves (such as those from Origo and Cookmate) are about as safe as a cooker can get. The fuel is much safer than propane, it's almost impossible for the canisters to leak, and there are no hoses, valves, etc., to leak. About the only way I've ever heard of anyone having an uncontrolled fire with an unpressurized stove is if they try to refill the canister while there is still a flame going (which just proves that nothing is completely idiot-proof).

Oh, and while non-pressurized alcohol stove may seem pricy compared to their propane counterparts, that difference vanishes (or is reversed) when you consider the cost of the hoses/tubing, valves, solenoid, vapor sniffer, tank(s), etc., none of which are necessary the a non-pressurized stove.
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain jack View Post
i have read a lot of threads about stoves on boats. of course, the usual debate is alcohol or propane.

recently, last month actually, a powerboat at the marina my boat is berthed at caught fire and burned up completely. it was a live aboard. the guy was hurt but he lived. he was lucky. he bought another power boat off of their lean dock and moved into it. the cause? his propane stove.

that was a real piece of reality for me. no propane on my boat!

but, there are safety risks with alcohol, too. the threads i have read make that plain. so, the big question i have is what other options are there?

also, how real is the risk with alcohol?

as i get my boat ready to sail, this will be a choice i am going to have to face. it doesn't have a stove but i will want one for cruising. eating out at every port you stp at is going to be way too costly and you can't always be sure you will be stopping at a port for the night. thanks.
One word:

kerosene!
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

This is interesting Propane is not now, nor has it ever been unsafe on boats. People are unsafe and do stupid things every day. Maintain your stuff and it will serve you.
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

Our first family boat had an alcohol stove and when mum lit it the alcohol spilled from the saucer thingy and caused a fure. Dad and I leapt to the rescue and used both dry powder extinguises.... But that didnt put the fire out.
Mum the put a towel over it and smmothered the lot. So much for heroic men

So, no alcohol stoves on my boat.
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Re: safe cooking

My Boat came with CNG. I like it so I've never converted to propane. I know it's not readily available, but I have had no difficulty filling up here in the Northeast U.S. Perhaps with the resurgence of Natural Gas, CNG may become more readily available in the future. Who knows.
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain jack View Post
i have read a lot of threads about stoves on boats. of course, the usual debate is alcohol or propane.



that was a real piece of reality for me. no propane on my boat!
There are only so many options.

People all over the world, ashore and afloat, cook on propane or butane. There are maintenance requirements as for so many other systems but they aren't onerous. Propane all in all is pretty safe.

Alcohol has two big issues - the flame is very difficult to see and the energy content is low. The latter means extended cooking times.

Kerosene has odor issues if combustion isn't well managed and the appliance choices are limited. For most you'll have heat issues - fine in northern latitudes, not so great in the tropics.

Electrical heat - resistance or inductive has a growing following but you are completely dependent on your generator running for every meal.
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

The option that I chose, and that nobody here has mentioned so far, is an electric galley. I have a Ceran 4 burner stove and oven aboard which is quite energy efficient. Baking bread or other things in the oven takes a lot of power to warm up, but once at temperature the electrical use is miserly indeed.

An electric galley requires a hefty inverter and a good sized battery bank if one doesn't want to fire up a generator in order to bake or cook, but I'm glad I went that way and have no propane in the cabin (I kept the propane tanks and they are hooked up to the BBQ outside and all of the interior tubing is in place but not connected.

Electric Galley on Zanshin
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

The reality of this discussion is the numbers. There are literally thousands of propane stoves out there for every alcohol stove. There are a very few explosions when you compare the numbers like that. Just like gas is dangerous, and I don't see all you with gas engines swearing never to have one on your boat, propane is dangerous, but with a properly set up system and an operator who is halfway cautious, there is no more danger with a propane system than with any other.
As someone who has a boat with electric cooking (I guess you'd call that the ultimate safe stove?), I'd switch in a heartbeat and never regret it.
If you are an alcoholic, have Alzheimer's or someone who just can't operate and maintain something as simple as a stove, then by all means, find an alternative, but blaming propane for the errors of it's operators is the same as blaming any tool for it's operator's actions. It is much more likely you will be injured or killed DRIVING down to your boat in your car, than by your propane stove.
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Last edited by capta; 03-30-2014 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-30-2014
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Re: safe cooking

Quote:
Originally Posted by barefootnavigator View Post
This is interesting Propane is not now, nor has it ever been unsafe on boats. People are unsafe and do stupid things every day. Maintain your stuff and it will serve you.
Propane is inherently MUCH more dangerous than alcohol. (<- note the period at the end of that sentence)
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