Dealing with gas and LPG when camping or caravanning
If you’re new to camping or caravanning, one of the most daunting aspects can be working out what sort of gas to use, how it should be stored, how to change the bottles and how to use it safely. The best people to ask for advice are members of staff in the stores where you can buy the bottles or cylinders, or seek advice from official organisations such as the Caravan Club. There are however some basic rules which apply to everyone.
LPG – Liquid petroleum gas
Most campers, motorhome owners and caravanners will use LPG for cooking. The two main types of gas used are butane and propane. In the UK, this type of gas sold in large cylinders is often known as Calor Gas, but this is just one brand of different bottled gas available. Most appliances designed to work on LPG will function with either butane or propane. Propane is the most popular type of gas as it can be used all year round, unlike butane which will remain a liquid at very low temperatures and won’t turn into a gas. Gas is sold in large cylinders and when you buy gas you pay for both the gas, and the container. When it runs out, return the container to any stockist and they will sell you a replacement. Campsite owners may sell gas, and will certainly know where the nearest stockist is if they don’t.
Safety when using LPG
Unlike our homes where we are advised to have boilers serviced regularly and where there are rules about qualifications for working with gas, the same rules don’t apply when camping. Make sure that there are no loose connections to any appliances you are going to be using with your LPG and if something seems leaky, don’t be tempted to carry on using it. Although butane and propane have no natural smell, an artificial smell is added to them so you should be able to detect leaks. Gas is heavier than air, so if it leaks it will sink to floor level and form a pool. Most motorhomes and caravans have vents at floor level to eliminate gas build-up, so never be tempted to block vents, however cold it gets.
Camping stoves and other types of fuel
Most people who use a tent when camping don’t want to lug large cylinders around with them, so use different types of fuel for camping stoves. This type of fuel is usually paraffin (sometimes called kerosene), petrol or methylated spirits. Always use camping stoves on a flat, stable surface and never inside a tent or confined area. Make sure you give your stove plenty of time to cool down properly before you try to move it to reduce the risk of getting burned. Check the stove over before every use for signs of damage, and don’t be tempted to use something which appears faulty. Buy a small first aid kit to keep in the tent or motorhome, and know what to do if someone gets burned.