The portable stove is a kind of camping equipment used for heating or cooking food, or for heating the inside of a tent or similar portable structure, or used simply for warmth in an open air environment. Stoves of this kind can also be used in vehicles such as caravans, or on car journeys over distances between urban settlements where little food is available to purchase.
Although not an essential piece of camping equipment on every camping trip, a camping stove can also be used in picnicking situations. The camping stove has other applications, such as its use by caterers in environments such as a marquee tent.
The first portable stoves were seen in the mid nineteenth century. The stoves were based on the technology of kerosene burning lamps, by which kerosene was drawn from a bank into a burner to light a wick. The technology was enhanced later to draw on the principles of the blow torch, providing greater fuel pressure and therefore more heat. Inventors and innovators behind the portable camping stove include Alexis Soyer – who was a renowned French chef living in Victorian London, and something of a precursor to those Michelin starred gastronomists of today. His stove was made with tabletop cooking in mind. Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist was a later inventor who at the turn of the twentieth century began the Primus company.
Camping stoves may use solid or liquid fuel depending on the type of stove and technology employed. They may pressurize the fuel or not. Some may even use gravity to act on the fuel. The fuel used may be kerosene, propane, or even alcohol. Alcohol based fuels were for decades used on boats rather than kerosene or other more flammable liquid fuels for reasons of safety. Today, it is more likely to see compressed gas stoves on boats. There may be replaceable canisters for these stoves that contain butane or propane. Similar stoves can be found among camping equipment. Petrol or gasoline can be used as the fuel in certain stoves. Another kind of fuel for stoves is “white gas.” However, many camping stoves in the modern era can use a number of different kinds of fuel. This makes them suited for travel when it comes to crossing borders, where one territory may not have a certain kind of fuel readily available to consumers, while another country will.
Despite the name, portable stoves can be a variety of sizes. Stoves small enough to fit in a backpack may comprise just a fuel tank and a burner with pot supports. The stoves are often capable of being dismantled or disassembled for ease of transport, only to be reassembled later when they are needed again. For example, if the stove has legs to support its weight but to keep the heat from the surface on which it rests, these may be collapsible or capable of removal. The heat of a stove could easily burn any surface in a tent. Alcohol stoves, canister stoves, and various other kinds of stove will rarely exceed a weight of half a kilo.