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canister gas stoves - how do people deal with safety ?


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So we've all seen the latest carbon whiz-bang offshore racers, including the volvos, with their little gimballed jetboils and bags of freeze dried gloop.

How do they deal with the inherent dangers (and regulatory compliance) of propane in a boat? 

I can't see them having gas sensors, but the risks are exactly the same as a plumbed-in bottle.

 

For the average schmo, the risks of keeping spare canisters about the place are even higher, due to lack of inspection, rusty cans, and risk of leaks.

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The few jetboils I've seen use butane  cylinders - maybe less risk than propane. Food for thought for those of us who use small propane cylinders for camping stoves and dual fuel cookers. I keep mine in a dry sealed locker (ice box) where I see them regularly  but it is belowdecks.

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I am very wary of those small single use propane bottles having had one leak after use and would never store one inside the boat. It turns out non perforated PVC drain pipe is the perfect diameter to hold them. Using the pipe, end caps and cheap rail clamps (http://www.sea-dog.com/groups/1531-removable-rail-mount-clamps) I built a simple holder that can be mounted outboard on a pulpit or stantion.

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1. If they are French they don't need no stinkin' regulatory compliance. Well,there might be a rule - but it will be ignored.

2. Realistically, the spare cans should be kept outside in a vented locker, but I bet they don't. I bet they live inside where it is dry and they won't rust. The valves on the North American 1 lb cylinder can leak if removed but I doubt there is much chance of a leak in an unused cannister. They sit inside store shelves at department stores for months...

3. So that leaves you with the one on the stove. Again, unlikely to leak except if you turn the stove on or if the cannister is loose.

I would argue that they are less likely to leak than a plumbed in connection with an inaccessible joint behind a stove. Or in the case of you nutty Australians, who I think are required to use copper pipe, you need to have an extra joint where you end the copper pipe and add a flexible hose. And copper pipe corrodes so pinholes...

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There is no OSR requirement for gas storage, so it's not a racing consideration. US regulations for recreational vessels to 65 feet have no requirements for cooking gas, only for gasoline for engines. The only consideration is insurance survey and that's best dealt with by simply removing the stove pre-survey.

Small propane cylinders are prone to leaking when removed after first use. Generally this is not a problem if the canister is installed and remains installed until empty. Rust through problems can happen but are easily managed by not storing canisters on the boat when the boat is not in use.

Of all the problems (safety and otherwise) with race boats, storing and using small propane canisters is such an improvement over larger installed propane systems that it's not worth further attention.

Go sailing, have fun.

 

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I was in a boat with a single tank butane stove, not gimballed, when the boat heeled the flame went out the side and overheated the cannister which then blew off through a release valve, inconveniently aimed at the fire. Insurance claim went to 30K and I took two weeks to heal from the hand burns. 

Please think this stuff through before bringing the boyscout stuff along

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6 hours ago, steele said:

I am very wary of those small single use propane bottles having had one leak after use and would never store one inside the boat. It turns out non perforated PVC drain pipe is the perfect diameter to hold them. Using the pipe, end caps and cheap rail clamps (http://www.sea-dog.com/groups/1531-removable-rail-mount-clamps) I built a simple holder that can be mounted outboard on a pulpit or stantion.

^^This^^

Made these up for both my boats. Lowes/Home Depot even sells the 4" pipe in 2 foot sections, which fits 3 canisters perfectly. Drill some holes in the bottom cap for venting. Crew ask me where I got my fancy propane holders. After I tell them they're only $269 at West Marine, I come clean and tell them less than $10 at Lowes will do the trick.

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1 hour ago, Mismoyled Jiblet. said:

if you give a fuck enough to use a jetboil on a boat the difference in cooking efficiency between the fuel mixes might be relevant. tangential to this worry wort thread.

or not.

The gas mix is not relevant to this discussion on safety.  They're all heavier than air - ergo they collect in the bilge - and they're all explosive when mixed with air.

 If you think being concerned about a  1 in 100 chance of exploding your boat is being a 'worry wort', then I'm glad I'm not anywhere near it.

The  difference between gas + alcohol in cooking time is significant.  Between gas types not (in a boat). Weight is a secondary consideration.

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I never found a stern pulpit mount to get in the way of sailing.  Does your lifesling also get in the way?

I made this little shelf on my old cruising boat for holding propane and outboard gasoline under the solar panel:

931247_10151457803625780_1209179671_n-M.

On my current boat I put them in a vented space in the cockpit.

I made a Jetboil gimbal that is accruing sailing miles faster than I am, it did r2ak last summer and pac cup this summer on two different boats.  They are great little stoves if you mostly need hot water.  I originally made it as a cockpit stove for the boat in that picture so that I could make coffee and tea on cold days when singlehanding, especially since the main galley stove had no gimbal.

130455886360084276-M.jpg

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5 hours ago, Alex W said:

I made a Jetboil gimbal that is accruing sailing miles faster than I am, it did r2ak last summer and pac cup this summer on two different boats.  They are great little stoves if you mostly need hot water.  I originally made it as a cockpit stove for the boat in that picture so that I could make coffee and tea on cold days when singlehanding, especially since the main galley stove had no gimbal.

130455886360084276-M.jpg

that's really neat - maybe you can tell me how meals are put together in 30kn and a lumpy seaway

 

 

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Meals?  As I said I used that to make coffee and tea while underway. 

It was on Zipper (an awesome double handed women team on a SC27) for their PacCup crossing this year, and they didn't cook in the lumpy 30kn sea state that they experienced at first. After that it sounds like they used it for a lot of freeze dried backpacking meals. 

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1 hour ago, Alex W said:

Meals?  As I said I used that to make coffee and tea while underway. 

It was on Zipper (an awesome double handed women team on a SC27) for their PacCup crossing this year, and they didn't cook in the lumpy 30kn sea state that they experienced at first. After that it sounds like they used it for a lot of freeze dried backpacking meals. 

Maybe your lumpy isn't the same as ours -- there is no way you're going to boil water and feed 6 over a 4+ day race with a gizmo in the cockpit.

I haven't seen a jetboil that works under water

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Special regs in Aus require bottles to be under (I think) 230grams and spare bottles to be stored outside. big risk is letting the gas go out and then  re lighting. Under anything but a drifter when the gas is unlikely to blow out,  I am guessing that most race boats would be well ventilated enough that the gas would dissipate fairly quickly.  

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I designed and manufactured a gimbaled cooker for my boat. It fits a Jetboil Sumo and also has the pot adapter so you can re-heat meals or cook up pasta. Mounts to the back of the mast and works awesomely. So good I even had to make up a bunch for friends as well that are bulkhead mounted. Even customised with the boat name!

They boil and heat up food so quickly. Perfect when racing.

The MK1 version I did in bead blasted stainless, but MK11 versions are hard anodized aluminium.

20171125_073039.jpg

20180426_174551.jpg

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2 hours ago, Rawhide said:

Special regs in Aus require bottles to be under (I think) 230grams and spare bottles to be stored outside. big risk is letting the gas go out and then  re lighting. Under anything but a drifter when the gas is unlikely to blow out,  I am guessing that most race boats would be well ventilated enough that the gas would dissipate fairly quickly.  

So they do, thanks.  One of the few on-point and useful responses in this thread.

That locks it down to 100 or 220g cans and be very careful.

3.17.5 Disposable Gas Canisters <= 225grams

3.17.6 Gas bottle, spare canisters in separate compartment ventilated overboard

I don't know about ventilation -- I've been in many situations where its almost raining down below due to wet gear and storm boards being in place.

 

 

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13 hours ago, duncan (the other one) said:

Maybe your lumpy isn't the same as ours -- there is no way you're going to boil water and feed 6 over a 4+ day race with a gizmo in the cockpit.

I never said that I would.

I'll repeat myself, maybe you'll read it this time.  I used it in the cockpit on my coastal cruiser to make coffee and tea, and that is what the photo is from.  I sold that boat but kept my stove, and it has since been used on two other boats (inside the boat) as the primary stove.

My coastal cruiser was a Pearson 28, it wasn't a wet ride and the cockpit stove worked fine in what that boat saw as lumpy seas (like Strait of Georgia in 30 knots).

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23 hours ago, Rawhide said:

Special regs in Aus require bottles to be under (I think) 230grams and spare bottles to be stored outside. big risk is letting the gas go out and then  re lighting. Under anything but a drifter when the gas is unlikely to blow out,  I am guessing that most race boats would be well ventilated enough that the gas would dissipate fairly quickly.  

FWIW I've had stoves go out while cooking in a stormed-in tent, and no issues.

 

If you're monitoring the stove, there shouldn't be any issues.

 

HW

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On 8/8/2018 at 12:49 AM, duncan (the other one) said:

.. some nerd maths.

Density of propane = 2kg/m^3

Explosive mix ratio (% by volume) in air 2.1 - 9.5

So 100g of propane (0.05m^3) can create a max ~2.4m^3 of explosive air/propane mix 

obviously - mixing won't happen that uniformly... but its an interesting ballpark figure..

Which would be quite the bomb................2.4 m3 is 2,400litres or a bit over 600 gallons

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18 hours ago, Alex W said:

I never said that I would.

I'll repeat myself, maybe you'll read it this time.  I used it in the cockpit on my coastal cruiser to make coffee and tea, and that is what the photo is from.  I sold that boat but kept my stove, and it has since been used on two other boats (inside the boat) as the primary stove.

yeh ok -- point taken

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/8/2018 at 2:32 PM, Piewarmer said:

I designed and manufactured a gimbaled cooker for my boat. It fits a Jetboil Sumo and also has the pot adapter so you can re-heat meals or cook up pasta. Mounts to the back of the mast and works awesomely. So good I even had to make up a bunch for friends as well that are bulkhead mounted. Even customised with the boat name!

They boil and heat up food so quickly. Perfect when racing.

The MK1 version I did in bead blasted stainless, but MK11 versions are hard anodized aluminium.

20171125_073039.jpg

20180426_174551.jpg

Do you still make these, or have some cut files if you don't want to?

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That test video is completely worthless as they never disclose how much gas was used to get that result.

The question in this thread was about the safety of a single screw-in camping canister. The comments above are a bit off the mark, because they talk about 2.4m3 making a large explosion but that's not right. At 2.4m3, there would probably be no explosion at all; the gas density would be right at the end of the volatile range and likely flair not explode.

My guess is that the test video discharged 2x 10 pound bottles based on some of the clips that are seen. This is a massive amount of propane compared to a single camping canister.

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7 hours ago, Moonduster said:

That test video is completely worthless as they never disclose how much gas was used to get that result.

The question in this thread was about the safety of a single screw-in camping canister. The comments above are a bit off the mark, because they talk about 2.4m3 making a large explosion but that's not right. At 2.4m3, there would probably be no explosion at all; the gas density would be right at the end of the volatile range and likely flair not explode.

My guess is that the test video discharged 2x 10 pound bottles based on some of the clips that are seen. This is a massive amount of propane compared to a single camping canister.

If you had read the written part you would have noticed this: 

 

Gas safety experts, David Stopard, of Marine Systems Engineering, and Peter Spreadborough, decided to use two 465g propane canisters, containing a total of 517 litres of gas, a mere 2.7% of cabin volume.
Read more at https://www.yachtingmonthly.com/sailing-skills/crash-test-boat-gas-explosion-29779#5K1uEVdfI184jOW8.99

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Nice catch - so they dumped two one-pound fuel bottles. Fuel cans are available in 110g, 227g and 450g sizes, so they dumped two of the largest bottles - not a very relevant if someone is interested in the safety of canister gas stoves which is the topic here.

Their leaks were "large"; the fuel had little time to disperse and so the concentration was high. This really can't happen when the bottle is screwed directly to the burner unless the valve is backed completely out of the valve stem.

I'm thinking that a slow leak in a 110g can might never reach explosive concentrations in a boat that's underway.

 

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19 hours ago, Moonduster said:

Nice catch - so they dumped two one-pound fuel bottles. Fuel cans are available in 110g, 227g and 450g sizes, so they dumped two of the largest bottles - not a very relevant if someone is interested in the safety of canister gas stoves which is the topic here.

Their leaks were "large"; the fuel had little time to disperse and so the concentration was high. This really can't happen when the bottle is screwed directly to the burner unless the valve is backed completely out of the valve stem.

I'm thinking that a slow leak in a 110g can might never reach explosive concentrations in a boat that's underway.

 

Note that they already tried the funky valve setup but it didn't work so the two canisters were not full for the second attempt.  Note that this was a boat in the 35-40 foot range with a fairly large interior volume.  For a smaller boat (especially a low volume race boat) you could certainly get to critical gas/air mixture ratio by a single 450 gram canister.  Biggest risk of a large leak is probably if the canister gets partially unscrewed from the burner (leaking and the valve in the canister held open).

 

Even smaller leaks can be quite dangerous as the boat might not explode but you can have a nice fire going.  Fire is not a trivial issue on a boat

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I think your math is entirely wrong.

Yes, you can always get an explosive mixture in any volume that's larger than the size of the bottle, but so what?

No one uses a 450g container on a gimbaled stove, they're too big and too heavy to move properly. Most stoves are designed around 110g bottles.

Small leaks only present danger if the gas accumulates in the bilge, disperses to less than the minimum explosive ratio and is ignited. The odds of that in a boat that is being raced, the topic of this thread, are manageable - there's crew around to smell the leak and there's air circulation to disperse the gas.

Leaks that occur when the bottle is being attached or removed from the stove get noticed immediately. Damaged needle valves are a problem, but tossing the bottle over board is a pretty simple cure. The gas doesn't escape so fast that they're very dangerous and they aren't lit when the bottle is being installed or removed.

The proof in all this is that there are vanishingly few gas fires or explosions on boats despite the number of cooking gas installations, most of which are very poorly maintained. Yes, there are a few and the photos make the news, but gas leaks just aren't a statistically significant source of damage, injury or death. And to the topic of this thread,  can you site any case of any sailboat that's had a cooking gas fire or explosion while under way?

 

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Along the same lines as the OP, there is a regulator available to run a Dickinson Newport propane heater off of 450g bottles.  Anybody ever used this inside the cabin?  Kept in its own small locker a safe distance away from sources of ignition with a sniffer inside?  Seems like a reasonable idea if there's no other propane devices on the boat.  Sniffer goes off, just disconnect and move everything outside.  Thoughts?

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  • 1 year later...

Found this thread whilst looking for compact gimbal for my jetboil, thinking about getting a https://www.safire.uk.com/store/Stable-Stove-compact-B-jetboil-gimbal-stove-bracket-p25243476 for the Mini, currently only have a 1 axis gimbal in a big fiberglass ring (stock part), the main difficultidx is with the size of it when getting sails past, and having to lift the water out of the ring to pour so this seems ideal, anyone use something similar?

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On 8/6/2018 at 4:17 PM, duncan (the other one) said:

propane, butane, whatever-ane... its all heavier than air.

Methane (natural gas) is lighter than air.  CNG stoves are available (though hard to find nowadays) for use in some parts of the US & the Caribbean.  Their problem is it's hard to find refill stations outside the US. They're  similar to propane stoves except the CNG is stored as a gas in a scuba tank @ 2,400 psi (it doesn't liquify under pressure at room temperature).  Any leaks drift upwards, so the tank can be stored in a standard vented lazarette, unlike propane tanks, which require a gastight compartment with an overboard vent in the bottom.  There's no need for solenoid valves, etc.  The pressure decreases as the tank empties, so their pressure gauge works just like an automobile gas gauge. 

There are no canister CNG stoves because of the need for high pressure scuba tank type storage; just wanted to point out there is an "-ane" that's lighter than air.

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On 8/6/2018 at 3:09 PM, Mismoyled Jiblet. said:

most of those cylinders aren't pure butane, but a mixture of butane/isobutane/propane for canisters sold in the US (in the US MSR is 0/80/20, snowpeak is 0/85/15).

That's because liquid isobutane's vapor pressure drops to near zero below 11°F (n-butane @ 32°F), a real problem for winter hiker/mountaineers.  N-butane works fine at room temperature, but slowly your stove becomes less powerful as you approach freezing, with nothing below freezing.  So the high end canister manufacturers use pricey isobutane & throw in a little propane to keep the pressure up in way below freezing conditions.  It's not a fix-all; the mixture in the canister can become butane rich  and freeze when only half empty if there is too much super-cold weather use, because only the propane is vaporizing and being used.  The cold weather solution is to preheat the canister by stuffing it in your pants or overnight in your sleeping bag; once the stove is in use enough heat bleeds from the burner to keep the pressure up.  I've  been caught with a frozen canister and warmed it up enough to get the stove going by peeing into the cookpot (with help from others pee), immersing the canister until it thaws, then firing up the stove.

So because boating very rarely involves temps below freezing in the galley, big-box store 100% n-butane canisters at a bargain price will work fine; no need for premium price MSR/Snowpeak isobutane/propane canisters.

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On 8/8/2018 at 4:32 AM, Piewarmer said:

I designed and manufactured a gimbaled cooker for my boat. It fits a Jetboil Sumo and also has the pot adapter so you can re-heat meals or cook up pasta. Mounts to the back of the mast and works awesomely. So good I even had to make up a bunch for friends as well that are bulkhead mounted. Even customised with the boat name!

They boil and heat up food so quickly. Perfect when racing.

The MK1 version I did in bead blasted stainless, but MK11 versions are hard anodized aluminium.

20171125_073039.jpg

20180426_174551.jpg

Hello Piewarmer, 

 

I there any way to get the file to cut this?

I'm in Italy and working on a new 30 ft project for offshore, your solution will fit my needs perfectly

thanks in advance

Cheers

d.

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Try a cheap induction stove, run it off batteries. To cook for 20 minutes at 1200 watts (this is a LOT of spaghetti) is 400 watts, or 30 amp hours at 12v. To single precision of course. How much do you actually cook?

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