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Fuel for thought

Don’t be a fool when dealing with fuel, as we enlighten ourselves on how best to check and use stoves and lanterns.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Gas or liquid fuel stoves and lanterns, with fuel
  • Table or groundsheet
  • Cloths

Before you begin

  • If you aren’t confident with gas stoves and lanterns, see if anyone in the group or a helper can lend a hand. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions when working with gas stoves, lanterns and their fuel. Set up the stoves and lanterns on a table or groundsheet where everyone can see them.
  • Take a look at the Night’s Away book for more on the safe use of gas stoves and lanterns. The camping skills section of the Scouts website also features detailed information on gas stoves.

Run the activity

  1. Explain to everyone that they’ll be checking over some cooking equipment and lanterns.
  1. The group should make their way to where the equipment is stored, or if this is not practical have the equipment on a table ready.
  1. Everyone should examine the stoves and lanterns closely. Prompt them to check for any obvious damage, like holes, that might prevent them from working properly. They should also look for grime or food stains, which could hide damage underneath and attract vermin.
  2. Everyone should examine the connecting parts on the stoves and lanterns closely. Prompt them to check for damage to seals and hoses that might cause fuel to leak.
  1. In a well-ventilated area, put together the stoves and lanterns with their fuel source, check that the connection is secure and turn on the fuel.
  1. Now that the stove or lantern is lit, put it to use to make the most of it. Cook a meal on a camp stove, or switch off electric lights to save energy with your lantern lit.
  2. When finished with the stove or lantern, remind everyone to make sure that the fuel is disconnected properly from it. If the body of the stove or lantern is still hot, let this cool before packing it away.
  3. Give each stove or lantern another quick once-over to check for new grime or food residue. This can be wiped away with a damp cloth.
  4. Pack the stove or lantern away. Make sure it’s stored separately from the fuel.


Fossil fuels like petroleum and butane make great fuel sources for cooking and lighting up your camp, and a well-maintained and cared-for stove or lantern can last decades. But the lifetime of your equipment depends on how well it’s looked after.

If the appropriate care isn’t taken, these fuels can cause serious harm. By making sure that everyone understands how to safely use and look after equipment like stoves, more of us can enjoy the benefits of them while keeping everyone safe.


Manufacturer’s guidelines

All vehicles will be different so always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.

Flammable items

Always take care when using flammable items (especially if you’re near fire). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.