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M Stoves, Tents and Carbon Monoxide - Deadly or Not?
Part 2: Testing the Theory

by Roger Caffin

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Article Summary:

Buy a small stove these days and it is likely to come covered in dire warnings about the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and that you must not use the stove in any sort of confined space. And yet walkers have been using small stoves inside their tent vestibules in bad weather for many, many years with very few instances of trouble. What is the risk, why are all those warnings there, and how seriously should we take them?

This multi-part article explores the carbon monoxide issue. Part 1 covered the basic theory underlying how stoves work and under what conditions they emit CO. This part covers an extensive amount of laboratory work using a number of canister stoves to test the theory. Stove to pot clearance, pot diameter, burner shape, air supply and other parameters were varied to see what affected the amount of CO emitted. The results were quite clear, and validate the theory very nicely.

Parts 3, 4, 5 and 6 will examine popular canister stoves, alcohol stoves, liquid fuel stoves and solid fuels in the laboratory. Part 7 will explore what happens out in the field in a tent or under a tarp.


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Part 2: Testing the Theory"