Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cooking with Propane

Propane (one burner only): How much is used for basic meal preparations and how many one pound cylinders or pounds of propane do I need to store for a predetermined number of meals?



I conducted this test to determine how much propane is used in my propane camping stove for basic cooking tasks. My camp stove is almost 30 years old and the burner is rated @ 10,000 BTU’s per minute. The newer propane stoves can come with 12,000 BTU burners so they will consume a bit more propane per minute. The results below are for one burner in operation at a time, obviously two burners burning at the same time will double the propane consumed. For measuring the amount of propane consumed during each test I used a highly accurate electronic gram scale.

Percolated Coffee:
I used my 8 cup percolator for this test (also can be used on a campfire).
Turning the burner on high it took 13 minutes to begin to perk.
It took another 5 minutes to complete the brew.
Total time the burner was on start to finish was, 18 minutes.
Total propane consumed was 1.8 ounces for the 18 minute burn time.

Heating a can of Soup:
A typical can of soup is 2 cups and this is the amount I used for the test.
Turning the burner on high it took 5.0 minutes to bring it up to a boil.
Total time the burner was on start to finish was, 5.0 minutes.
Total propane consumed was .5 ounces for the 5.0 minute burn time.

Test results:
My burner consumes 0.1 ounce (1/10th oz) of propane per minute on highest setting.
A one pound cylinder will burn 160 minutes or 2.6 hours continuous.
A one pound cylinder will make 9 pots of coffee.
A one pound cylinder will heat 32 cans of soup.
A one pound cylinder will burn for 16, 10 minute cycles for general meal preparations.

A 20 pound RV tank will provide 320, 10 minute cycles for general meal preparations.
A 30 pound RV tank will provide 480, 10 minute cycles for general meal preparations.


One of the common questions about propane is: What is the shelf-life of propane?
Propane has an indefinite shelf-life. As long as the tank or cylinder is sound condition and doesn’t leak it will last as long as the tank that contains it.

Another question is: Do the one pound camping cylinders leak over time?
Well it is possible because there is a mechanical valve that makes the seal.
So I checked eight of my one pound cylinders that I have had in storage for just over 15 years and none of those have leaked any propane out. This was verified by using a gram scale and checking the weight each cylinder and found they were within 2 grams of each other and the same weight as two brand new cylinders.

Note:
I own and do recommend the 30 pound RV tanks for SHTF or for a remote retreat because they hold a good amount of propane and are still very portable. Just be aware that if you buy used ones they have a maximum of a 10 or 12 year refilling life from the “date of manufacture” stamped on the surrounding valve protection/hand hold shield. If the tanks are older than ten years you can’t get them refilled and you’re out the money for the tanks. New ones are around $70.00 each.

Hope this helps with your planning!

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