Possible advice on avoiding Propane issues

Published 18 years ago, updated 4 years ago

I offer the following information in the hopes that it is of benefit to some of your readers.

For anyone fitting out a boat for long distance cruising, and requiring a new cooker anyway, perhaps one way to avoid the propane issue is to consider fitting a kerosene (Paraffin) stove.

We have a pressurized kerosene cooker (Shipmate alcohol stove converted to use the Force 10 kerosene/diesel burners) and heater (Force 10 heater), both work extremely well, of course kerosene or paraffin is less expensive anyway and is available everywhere. These burners will also run on No. 1 Diesel – which we use as the current Canadian price is only Can$0.90 per litre.


  • Non-explosive,
  • Inexpensive fuel
  • Fuel easy to find (Especially diesel) in any country
  • No requirement for self-draining gas locker/s
  • No risk of gas in the bilges or gas sniffer equipment required
  • Once the burner is lit it behaves exactly like a normal propane burner.
  • Lots of second-hand cookers available in second-hand boaters shops (For the budget minded). I Know that Taylors cookers in the UK still make a beautiful range of brass/cast iron cookers – (my parents had one for years)
  • Virtually no condensation in the winter, it produces a virtually dry heat.
  • Incredibly cheap to run (Living aboard and cooking all the time perhaps 6 litres a month – MAX)
  • Spares easily obtained.
  • Burners relatively easy to replace or overhaul
  • Best of all no running ashore with a heavy steel gas tank to find a refilling station that can/will re-fill it (These places are always miles from wherever one is! – Based on previous experience – even in France)


  • You have to pre-heat the burner by filling its “cup” with a small amount of meths, once the meths has burned off, you light the burner like a propane burner. (Some people find this aspect of these systems inconvenient, but if one has a little attendance for a couple of minutes (often whilst doing something else anyway) I personally do not find the delay frustrating.
  • You have to pump up the tank with air every so often – I find once a day is quite sufficient, even if cooking for hours.
  • These systems are intolerant to contaminated fuel – I fitted a good quality fuel filter, and I also fill the tank with a funnel in which I put a coffee filter to ensure no garbage gets into the system in the first place.
  • No grill – but the oven will toast things very satisfactorily! (We often do toasted sandwiches which work out very well)


Lots of people appear to have removed these cookers and replaced them with propane cookers (Thus the large selection of secondhand units on the market) just for the sake of convenience and because this type of system may appear antiquated to some people.

However, we have a large cooker with 3 burners on the hob and an oven which is large enough to roast an 18lb turkey (Done this several times!); the whole cooker is gimbaled and built of quality marine materials – they are designed for use on sail or powerboats. Provided that one uses clean or filtered fuel it runs with little attention being required.

We are delighted with this set-up. As we begin to cruise to more and more places, (with more and more gas fitting/tank variants and regulations! I believe that we will reap a huge benefit in avoiding all the hassle/expense with filling propane tanks and the other disadvantages of propane tanks etc.

I hope that this information is of use to someone “out there”


SV Fortune – Currently cruising in the Pacific North West (Canada)

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