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How to use a meth burning stove safely

Easy steps to staying safe. Vital information for those planning lightweight camping and expeditions. This can easily be used to help train and prepare the young people in your care.

FS120348 (Published April 2022, replacing May 2020)

Methylated spirit burning stoves (such as Trangia) are a very good stove especially for the young or inexperienced camper or backpacker. It is one of the most stable and safe stoves to use. However, like all stoves, these stoves need to be treated with respect and all users should be trained to a good level of familiarity, competence and understanding of safety.

Remember to carry out a risk assessment to share with all involved which takes into account the particular conditions and circumstances under which it will be used. Never use stoves within a sleeping tent.

Undertake training in the use of ‘Trangia’ stoves from experts, before you need to use them.

Check that you have all the components of the stove.

  • Pots to suit model & handle / grips
  • Spirit burner (plus a spare, if possible)
  • Burner lid with rubber O ring used when transporting the burner. The burner should be empty when transported (but the O ring prevents any residue leaks)
  • Adjustable burner top (simmer ring) used when cooking
  • Upper wind shield / pot stand
  • Lower windshield
  • Fuel bottle with safety valve
  • Bag or strap

Carry out a check on the stove before taking it out and using it, to make sure that it’s clean, the burner undamaged and that the pan handle grips the pans tightly. The testing of the pan handle grips should be done on the largest pan full of cold water. A light, empty bowl does not fully test the grips.

Check and test again before putting them away ready for the next trip.

Place the lower wind shield on a level surface at least 1 metre from the tent, ensuring it is easily accessible and place the burner in the centre having removed the burner lid. (Never use a stove in a tent)

Be prepared and ready to start cooking once your stove is lit.  

Fill the burner with the meths from the fuel bottle (There is an art to this. You may have to let it settle and top it up after a minute or so) you should only fill this to about 2/3rds its depth. Practice this in training.

Once the burner has been filled with fuel to the correct level the fuel bottle should be stored a safe distance away before the stove is lit.

Understand that methylated spirits (meths) are highly flammable and should be treated with respect. Carry Meths in small quantities in an approved metal or hard plastic container which is clearly labelled to reduce the risk of accidental consumption and has a water tight screw top. Custom made liquid fuel bottles are highly recommended and have holes in their screw stoppers which allows meths to be poured at a sensible rate and which allows the flow to be controlled very easily.

Never add fuel to a hot or warm burner, always be sure the burner is cold before adding fuel.

  • The simmer ring should be fitted before the burner is lit, not during the cooking as this can cause a flare up or knock the fuel out of the burner.
  • Light the burner with a match, you can check it is alight by holding your hand about ½ a metre above it and feeling the heat.
  • Never carry or pick up the stove whilst it is burning or to light it.
  • If the simmer ring is in place but open, it is simple and safe to close to put out the burner when you have finished cooking using the pan handles to close the simmer ring.
  • Place the top wind shield / pan stand in place.
  • And proceed to cook your food.
  • Orientate the wind shield to suit your needs. Users should understand how air intake affects the heat of the stove and how to control this.
  • Ensure that the pan handle is not left attached to the pan whilst cooking.

If you need to refill the burner:

  • Remove the top wind shield from the bottom wind shield;
  • Check to ensure that it is completely out by holding your hand ½ a metre above the burner and slowly bring it closer, to within 10 cm, it should not be warm;
  • Never bend over the stove when filling, lighting or cooking;
  • Then, using the pot holder, slide the adjustable burner top into the closed position (if the burner top wasn’t on the stove leave the fuel to burn out before adding the top). Do not use the burner lid for this, as you may melt the rubber seal.
  • Remove the burner top and check the burner is cool to the touch. If it is, it may now be refilled from your fuel bottle.

Re-light the burner having removed the fuel bottle to a safe distance and re assemble the wind shields, before completing your meal.

When finished ensure the burner is out and cold, as when refilling (above), put burner lid on burner, clean and pack away.

You should not put the screw top onto the burner until the burner and any leftover fuel has cooled right down.

Gas adapted meths stoves

Some ‘Trangia’ stoves are adapted to use gas. Again, due care should be taken to follow basic safety rules. In addition, great care must be taken to make sure that the gas bottle is connected tightly to the hose and should never be disconnected whilst the stove is lit. When using the gas version, the gas container should be lower than the level of the burner.

Nothing can replace common sense, basic safety sense and familiarity with using the stove through practice in controlled conditions before using on an expedition.