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Old 04-09-2014, 11:04   #1
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Question Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

Which is easiest to keep maintained, replenish, and/or store fuel for live aboard use; Kerosene, Propane, or Other? Wife (philippina) wants to stick close to the South China Sea area with no specific plans.


Also, how long can one expect a Gal or Kerosene, or lb of Propane last with normal cooking only use? (i.e., Stove, Oven, Grill, etc...) Always done either the charcoal thing or hooked my grill to the house’s natural gas, so I have no experience with either. As far as I know a 5 lb bottle could only last a few days, or over a year.


Your thoughts and other viable options welcome.

-sterling
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:07   #2
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

In the US propane. A 11# tank last us 23 - 25 days. We cook a lot (including baking bread) and boil water for dishes.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:12   #3
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

I used to get about 5 weeks cooking in warm climes on a 5# bottle of propane.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:47   #4
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

Have been a kerosene user forever. Like the ease of storing fuel and safety. Carried enough fuel to last us for well over a year in the pressure tank and a couple of Gerry jugs. A small inconvenience to preheat the burners but becomes second nature.

One thing that is an issue is availability of burners for the pressure stoves. Optimus/Primus have long been out of the business and the Portuguese manufacture also is no longer. There may be a German company still making burners but haven't verified that. The last time I checked no one was making them and stocks were largely gone. Ours went years in daily use without an issue and still have the spares we bought years ago. The burners have come up very occasionally on eBay with asking prices approaching a $100. Before I'd buy a used stove, would fire it up to be sure the burners are good.

The pot burner stoves sold by Dickenson aren't suitable for intermittent use because of warm up time and require a flue to the outside. They are great stoves used all over the fishing fleet but are largely lit when they leave port and shut off when they get back. They double as cabin heaters when not cooking.

There is another stove mfg. from Europe using a non pressure burner. Don't know anything about them.
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:11   #5
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

Propane is great
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:47   #6
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

diesel would need to be vented (exhaust) but would be great as you likely already have diesel tanks on board AND isnt flammable.

kerosene does have a smell that many dont like and has a habit of permeating fabrics and foam. it is veru viscus and if it spills it will be everywhere and is very flammable. generally easy to store and available everywhere.

propane will last the longest (gallon for gallon) and burn the cleanest with no odor or special venting required. while it is available around the world, one should expect having to remove and lug a tank to a facility to have it filled. the tank locker needs to have a vent to prevent any leaking propane form getting trapped in the locker AND propane tanks will blow a hole in boat if they explode (there are a lot of metal lined propane boxes available on the market.

personally, i might opt for kerosene i all i was doing was cooking. my hot water is propane and my engine is diesel and i dont see any reason to assume the risk of carrying another fuel source or add another tank etc.

best advice... build upon what you are already using for propulsion and heat and hot water.

-steve
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:54   #7
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

We went from non pressure alcohol to two burner kerosene on our next 2 boats. We used Tilly priming wicks, so priming was easy. Probably 4 years of using kerosene. Next boat had a 3 burner propane+oven. Absolutely loved it. Used that stove for almost 8 years for us and sometimes chartering. We ate well, but didnt use the oven much because of the heat. We averaged about 6 to 8 weeks per 20lb tank. We carried 2 tanks in a proper propane locker with a remote shutoff. Most of the boats with propane carried adapters for American to European threads. How big is your boat? Lockers take up space, and is propane available in SE Asia? The smaller the boat, the more practical kerosene becomes. Just my thoughts.______Grant.
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Old 04-09-2014, 13:49   #8
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

If propane is available I'd stick with that. Of all the fuels I've used that's been the easiest to cook with and least amount of stove maintenance. Just make sure you have propane detector(s) on the boat and don't cut corners on the installation. A propane leak in your boat can cause a deadly explosion.

Pressurized kerosene stove: Kerosene might be more readily available where you're cruising but I've always had maintenance issues with the burners. The burners also only seem to burn correctly when full on so you need to use a heat diffuser over the burner if you want a lower heat. You need to pre-heat the burners before you light them. Failure to do so correctly can turn the burner into a torch. In terms of volatility it is much safer than propane if lit correctly. :-)

I've never used diesel but as roverhi commented the stoves are usually left on 24/7 and are also used as a heat source in the boat.

I'm also not sure if anyone makes a marine kerosene stove anymore let alone finding burners for them. The last one I got was a Shipmate and they no longer make them. It had been in storage for 15+ years for a refit that hadn't been completed and I was lucky(?) enough to find it for sale.

Kerosene has more btu's than the same amount of propane but the propane burners are allegedly more efficient. Even so you get more heat from kerosene than the same amount of propane. No idea how that breaks down in terms of a cost comparison.

Good luck on your adventure and I hope you enjoy the life style.
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Old 04-09-2014, 18:39   #9
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

I like propane but if you don't have an ABYC approved propane system on your boat it's going to be a pretty big project to do it correctly and safely. And you should not do it any other way. You could wake up dead one morning.

Cooking with propane is just like cooking with gas at home. No fuss, no muss.
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Old 04-09-2014, 20:32   #10
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

I double what Roverhi said in support of kero above. We have tow boats and each has a kero cooker and bulkhead heater, and a diesel Espar air heater.

IMHO the difficulties with using kero are over stated. I use it to bake bread underway. And I'm a total klutz.

I have been able to find burners on eBay and craigs list or a consignment shop. I've scored a lifetime supply by now.

In a pinch there are a few options.
Taylor still makes the kero stoves and you can buy spare burners. In the US go to St Brandon's Isle,mother mail forwarding folks.
There is a Japanese outfit that makes camp stoves. The burners may be compatible. Check Base Camp online, in England. They also sell a lot so spare parts.
There is another online company called "spare parts" or some such thing that has, well, spare parts.
There was a chap who posted here a while ago who said he had new burners. Norway or Sweden I think.

Search this site and you will find a thread with the above and more info. on kero bits.
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Old 04-09-2014, 22:25   #11
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

We, too, use propane. A 9 kilo tank lasts us 2 to 3 months depending on how much baking I do.

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Old 04-09-2014, 23:12   #12
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

Damn I hate kerosene. It stinks and the stoves are a real PITA to use. The pressurized alcohol stoves aren't much better. When I was a kid one of my jobs was to fill gallon cans with kerosene from the big tank behind the store. I learned to hate the smell. Later I repaired Primus / Optimus stoves. I repaired a lot of them. I would never own one. There is a reason they quit making them. Only a few masochist like Peter will use them.

For short trips I'd go with non-pressurized alcohol like Origo. Anything longer than a week and I'd want propane on my sailboat and electric on my motor yacht. (I can dream can't I?)
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Old 05-09-2014, 04:34   #13
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

Yea, I don't like the smell either, but I don't mind cooking with it. We have an ooold Shipmate. As long as I pre-heat it, it doesn't smell. Now f I get in a hurry, well .... I have never had an issue of burner control as previously mentioned.

I wouldn't mind a nice propane unit, but the $2000 price tag is a bit dear. The boat also has a pressurized kerosene cabin heater as well. So one fuel for the both.
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Old 05-09-2014, 10:32   #14
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

i get 6 months out of a normal tank of propane and it is easily found. but i am in mexico, where everyone cooks with propane on land, so it is plentiful.
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Old 05-09-2014, 11:07   #15
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Re: Kerosene, Propane, or Other for Cooking

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Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
Damn I hate kerosene. It stinks and the stoves are a real PITA to use. The pressurized alcohol stoves aren't much better. When I was a kid one of my jobs was to fill gallon cans with kerosene from the big tank behind the store. I learned to hate the smell. Later I repaired Primus / Optimus stoves. I repaired a lot of them. I would never own one. There is a reason they quit making them. Only a few masochist like Peter will use them.

For short trips I'd go with non-pressurized alcohol like Origo. Anything longer than a week and I'd want propane on my sailboat and electric on my motor yacht. (I can dream can't I?)
Well said. Except, considering your plan to cruise mainly in the South China Sea area, I'd seriously consider an alcohol setup. This is because although denatured alcohol is frequently hard to find outside the U.S, E.U. and Australia, you'll always be able to find methylated spirits. I've used an Origo stove during two near global circumnavigations and with the exception of Chagos where there's no source, I was always able to find Methylated Spirits in 1 litre sizes. I don't find the odor offensive, but that may be a matter of degraded olfactory senses... Denatured alcohol can be obtained in 5 gallon quantities from Ace Hardware and possibly other home improvement outlets. It can be significantly more costly in smaller quantities. Store in 2 litre or quart sized good quality plastic containers you bought that originally contained juice. Fill a couple only half full to reduce the possibility of spillage while filling a canister, especially on a rolling boat.

It's important to ensure your Origo stove is fitted with flame spreaders in order to avoid hot spots. These can be obtained from Origo if missing.
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