Unimpressed with Coleman Camp Oven

This is only a ‘first test’, and I may find I like it OK on further use, but…

Coleman Camp Oven

Coleman Camp Oven

I bought one of these for under $40, shipping included. At that price you don’t expect too much. The alternative, that I’ll likely get eventually, maybe in a year or two, is much heavier, harder to ship, has insulated glass doors, etc. etc. Oh, and costs two or three times as much…

So I figured it was ‘worth a shot’ to try this. (And it likely was ‘worth it’, where ‘it’ is not much money…)

OK, the product is reasonably designed and built. Folds up small and easily for transport. Whole thing is about the size of an old large laptop from a decade or two back… Set up is easy (two built in latches top and bottom hold it locked open / closed and the sides, top, and bottom have little tabs and slots that engage.)

Some folks reviews had said the temp gauge was way off. I put a calibrated oven thermometer in mine to compare. (Calibrated in my electronic controlled GE electric oven that cooks perfectly…) It was not an exact match, be very much ‘close enough’. I’d put it at about 15 F most of the time. But that “most of the time” is the key…

The Test Rig

I set up the oven, empty, on my Coleman 2 burner “Dual Fuel” camp stove. This stove has been the primary “Disaster Prep Stove” for us for the last 1/4 century or so. Not used much in that time, it mostly lives in a box in the garage “for Quake Day”. I have used it at initial buy (to make sure it worked) and at least once a year or so as a ‘prep check’. A couple of times on ‘car camping’ events with groups; and, as of last year, set up in the Patio Kitchen ‘work in progress’. It has been a nice way to make tea and coffee during warmer weather while “working” on the patio, without need to track yard debris (i.e. ‘wipe your dirty feet!’) into the house. I decided to do this once I figured it was time to convert the ‘disaster prep’ from “unleaded gasoline” over to kerosene and from “4 folks, neighbors and friends” sized down to “2 folks & stragglers”.

I’ve decided to go to kerosene so that I don’t have to keep doing “fuel rotation” on unleaded gasoline. Gasoline doesn’t store nearly as well, and I’d dump a large can of it into the ‘gas car’ each August and refill. (Summer gas evaporates less…) Kerosene in metal cans in relative cool and dark will keep for years. Also, given the rare actual usage, even after a 7.x quake, I’m just not as concerned about Kerosene having a ‘bit of smell’ in use. Also, the Government is still playing with “what is gasoline?” and we’ve gone through a variety of ‘odd things’ including MTBE and now Ethanol at 10% perhaps headed to 15%. The stove was never designed for that, so who knows how well it will work. All in all, time to ‘move on’, so I’m going to “use the stove” more and “save the stove for ‘that day'” much less.

This stove is the ‘design point’ for the oven, near as I can tell, as Coleman describes how to use it on just this kid of stove. So it seems like the best test rig. The stove puts out a LOT of heat on high. The generator is sized to drive 2 burners, so when only one is in use, you get LOTS of fire out of it, if set wide open. I was running on unleaded gasoline, rather than Coleman fuel. I’ve run both and they both run about the same in this stove. (Not surprising since it was designed to run on both).

The Test

I put the oven, empty, on the stove and put the heat on ‘modest’. This on the primary (right hand) burner. It warmed over a couple of minutes toward 300 F. Then stalled. This was indoors with zero wind. The oven is thin sheet metal, one layer, no insulation. It has small ‘vent holes’ on the sides and the top to side ‘join’ is leaky. Flame is applied to a round port in the bottom with sheet metal inset and vents to duct that hot gas into the interior spaces. In short, your food is placed in a very large square flue for the burner, more than an actual oven space.

I cranked the heat up to high. A couple of minutes later, the front thermometer said 350 F (more or less, it isn’t very precisely marked and mostly gives 100 F marks and some dark lines between them where you can guess what they mean… But OK, the calibrated oven thermometer was placed on the wire rack at the middle point of the oven, same height as the one on the door. It did not agree when checked mid-warming, but eventually the one in the door caught up. Not that surprising as the calibrated one is low mass and the one in the door is, well, in the door and connected to more mass.

At about 4? minutes into it, they were both at about 350 F and the “new stove burning off” smell was modestly strong, so everything was getting pretty hot. On checking the interior thermometer, I noticed that the sheet metal in the bottom of the oven was glowing red in spots. OK…

I don’t know for sure if that is “normal” or not. The oven is described as aluminum coated steel, so unless the bottom panel is special, that will not do well with prolonged use at a dull red.

At this point I shut the test down as I was not keen on melted or red hot metal next to a gasoline tank on the stove all indoors.

I doubt that it was a significant risk, but figured it would be better to do any further testing outdoors on brick (and with the complication of wind / heat loss). That test will follow in a few days / weeks / whenever…

In Conclusion

Some ‘reviewers’ had reported temperatures very different from the front gauge. Some had reported various kinds of cooking issues, from slow cooking to burned bottoms on a ‘cake’. Comparing what I observed to their complaints, I think the issue is just that the temperatures inside the oven will vary a lot. A flat ‘cake pan’ on the rack in the lowest position will be right above a red hot glowing hot air intake, while the thermometer will be well above it in an area where heat loss may make for much lower temperatures, where there is no IR heating, and where there is the potential for cool ‘down drafts’ near the walls.

Two reviewers said it worked better with foil over the outside. Essentially making it a little insulated and preventing wind from blowing in through the vent slots in the sides. (How you can keep a constant temperature in the box with wind blowing in vent slots in the sides is beyond me…)

It takes a very high burner setting to get to a normal baking temperature of 350 F (normal ‘middle’ setting. Slow cooking is 275 F for ‘oven BBQ’ while 325 F gives light brown on bread and 375 F gives dark brown crusts. 400 to 425 is good for biscuits and other fast cooking things that need some fast browning, and 450 F is a bit low, but OK, for pizza.) Fuel use will be quite high with the oven, even more in any kind of wind. For sporadic ‘treats’ when camping, like muffins that take 10 minutes, it would be OK. The irregular temperature can be compensated with cooking time and any burned / under done just part of the “camping experience”. As a ‘real oven’, it is a non-starter.

Yes, I’m complaining that it does OK what it was designed to do, and for not very much money; but it isn’t at all what it was NOT designed to be: a real oven.

As I bake bread every day or two, one of my ‘long term goals’ is to put an oven in the Patio Kitchen. I’d thought this might be a minimal / starter option. Something to ‘play with’ while figuring out what I really want. Maybe try some breads over a hickory fired stove too and see if wood flavored bread is a feature, or not. In reality it is simply too much of a giant heat leak to ever use effectively over a small ‘rocket stove’ design. (Maybe over a larger one?… but the wood use…) Furthermore, using it over a fuel driven burner, such as Kerosene, you are just asking for ‘strange flavors’. It likely would be fine over the typical ‘three rock’ or ‘fire ring’ camp fire with modest sized logs / lots of coals. It is mostly a tin box to put in a hot air flow.

So for my ‘ersatz oven’ on the patio, I’m going to try my “Dutch Oven” with a wind shield around it. At least then the pan in the pot is isolated from the flue gasses by a lid. Eventually, the “Patio Oven” will be a larger, heavier, much more expensive, but much more durable and energy efficient oven. Likely along the lines of the one used by my Amish relatives on their kerosene stoves.

This is a ‘camp’ variation on that theme:

“Butterfly” Camp Oven


It still says it is open in the bottom, so some “flavor tests” over various fuels with the Coleman will tell me if that’s a problem or not.

It’s black, has two adjustable shelves, handles for carrying it, heat reflectors along all sides and the top, and a door with a glass window and a thermometer. The bottom is open and the lower shelf has a heat shield underneath it to direct the heat towards the size (sic – Side?) of the oven.

The Butterfly oven is no ordinary camping oven. It is approximately a 13″ cube. It is very sturdy and does not fold up. Inside dimensions are 10.” high, 11″ deep and 12″ wide. The door opening is smaller, so for pan sizing, the door opening is 11″ wide and 9″ high. It will accommodate a 10×10 pan, which will allow a little air space around the sides for more even baking.

Other camping ovens on the market are not as sturdy and do not have the heat reflectors and air insulation pockets that the Butterfly camp oven has. This results in more even internal temperatures which results in a more pleasant baking experience. Assembly (somewhat difficult) required. (We also offer this oven ASSEMBLED for $10 more).

These folks have a nice picture of the inside where you can see a kerosene burner below in the opening. Lower price, at $55 as I type, too:


So the money on the Coleman will not be wasted. I’ll be using it for ‘stove sizing’ for an oven and for ‘flavor testing’ of open bottom ovens. It may well be that I have to ‘roll my own’ oven to keep food out of the flue gasses.

The “Perfection” oven has been around since ‘way back when’ at the time Rockefeller was making a kerosene monopoly in the world and trying to dominate the appliances as well. It was one of the products they ‘pushed’ to increase market penetration. It is the one more commonly used in Amish communities, but at $200 was a bit more than I wanted to spend on a ‘test’.


It is also unclear where the flue gasses go in the oven. I think it is inside the walls… but for $200 want to know that first. It typically was used on the matching stove:


I have a vague memory of seeing one of those in some house somewhere when I was shorter than the stove… maybe 3 years old? On some family trip somewhere that a 3 year old doesn’t quite bother to remember ;-) But the stove was interesting ….

In the end, it may just be easier to show up at The Mechanics shop with some sheet metal and glass wool packing and weld one up to my own spec. Flue gas in the bottom, around the sides and back, out a hole in the top. An outer skin holding the glass wool in place for exterior insulation. It would take a bit of fuel to get the inner shell metals hot, but then it ought to hold an even temperature very nicely on not much fuel.

At some point the Coleman Oven will be used in a ‘double shell’ experiment. Basically using it as the inner layer and just wrapping it in a gas conductive shell. Who knows, I might go so far as to make a ‘brick surround’ it can be set into. (Though the fuel needed to heat a brick oven is rather high…) So again, the money spent on it will not be wasted. Heck I might even use it to go camping ;-)

But what is very clear is that it isn’t a ‘Real Oven’. It’s a ‘toy oven’ for use when pretending to bake on a camping trip and making muffins or other fast foods. Not for a loaf of bread, nor for roasting a chicken for an hour+ as the fuel use would be horrific.

So I’m going to ‘play with the toy’… and that’s worth $40 to me.

But my search for a Patio Oven continues…

(For those ‘distressed’ by my resent focus on stoves, ovens, et. al.: Please realize that every year I review my “Quake Prep” gear and make sure I’m ready for “The Big One”. I’m also designing a Patio Kitchen since electricity in California is going “Crazy High” in prices. Besides, I really like cooking and cooking tools. I did grow up in a Restaurant Family and cooking from about 5 years old. As I’m throwing “time and treasure” at answering some questions about gear and processes and fuels, I think it of some use to document that. If you don’t cook, eat, camp, or care about fuel use; well, there are other articles. But yes, I am going to be “playing with fire” and posting about what works, what doesn’t, and what’s too expensive to be worth it. Eventually “Spring Cleaning” will be over and “Summer Build” too. Winter will come and outside fire based cooking will end for the year… Until then, it’s going to be Hot Fire, Cold Beer, and room temperature wine… with burned meat, wet slow cooked meat, roasted, fried, stewed, and whatever else vegetables, fish, birds and who knows what all. It’s ‘early spring’ here in California and that’s time to “Play with fire” ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Unimpressed with Coleman Camp Oven

  1. adrianvance says:

    Gee whiz, when I’m out camping I want to taste charcoal, smell smoke, not eat cake and croissants.

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    Who would have thought, A Smith that likes to play with fire and hot metal. lol :-)
    I spent all weekend playing in the green house. I think a green thumb equals brown fingers.

    Your efforts remind me that I need to reconstruct My outdoor cooking oven as it works poorly or next to not at all. :-( The grill works very well for Burnt Offerings, but then it took several attempts to get it right.
    If I give some thought as to the construction of the old time wood fired range of my youth I should be able to solve the problem. Hot Iron and hot air convection with sliding dampers to control heating. But thermal mass is needed for good baking. Sounds like work for a Blacksmith and a stonemason. pg

  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    Repent yourselves CO2 sinners! Why don´t you use a Solar oven instead?
    (Al Baby)

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    Present idea is a sealed ‘cooking box’ inside a ‘flue channel’ that has an outer wall of masonry. (Likely clay). Insides heat up fast from flue gasses, but heat ‘leaking out’ gets captured by the masonry. Moderates swings while also giving long ‘warming / holding’ times after the fuel runs out (and in most runs, keeps the outside surface relatively cool).

    I’ll be spending more time thinking about it than doing anything… at least until the design ‘gels’…

    Might just make one from sheet metal and bolts, with bricks stacked around it… Fire box, sheet metal ‘flue box’ into which the Coleman can slide (for door, rack, thermometer…) and then brick facing for thermal moderation. Flat sheet metal rectangles with bolt holes being about all I’d need to make from metal, and then stack bricks… We’ll see… I’ve got too many other ‘projects’ going on right now to start building a large oven just now. (Pondering design can be done while the hands do other things…)

    Hmmmm…. Your comment on wood stoves… hmmmm…. I’ve been looking at ‘camping’ and ‘kerosene’ as my start points. Perhaps wood is the better start..


    Lots more ideas… This one, in particular, looks like two “boxes inside a shell”, one burning the other baking. “Big Iron” connecting them.


    Something likely easy to make at various scales and from flat sheet iron.

    Internal schematic is a bit more complicated…

    If they have similar layout / internals drawings for other stoves, you ought to be able to get a lot of design ideas in a hurry.

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    Show me a solar oven that will reach 400 F in 1/2 hour, hold it, exactly, for one more, and do that in California in winter. Then we’ll talk…

    I eat bread pretty much every day of the year. Not just in July…

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    adolfogiurfa says “solar oven” — E.M. says “show me”

    I looked at making a solar oven years ago when the concept seemed to be a sloooow cooker producing stews and the like. That involved a lot of hope in the climates I have lived in. The newer attempts can involve solar thermal, and thus change the equations. Below is a link showing a parabolic reflector. Having the cooking pot suspended in mid-air seems like a dumb idea. Fried food (standing in front of it to fry bacon?) would be a bad idea. One could use the concentrated heat to drive a steam/electric system and make something actually usable and not just cute. Still, it would be a poor camping companion. I’ve been on lots of camping trips where anything like this would just get you cold cereal for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    It’s not for lack of trying that I say “show me”… I first developed a love of solar heat at about age 5. A glass 3 inch (eventually upgraded to 4 inch! Oh Boy!) magnifying glass, along with some paper, a few stray ants, and a long August Day in California… What more could a kid want?

    I’ve been ‘playing with solar’ ever since. I know it’s good points, and it’s bad points.

    At about the same age I first learned to cook. We’re talking fried eggs in a cast iron skillet over fire. Not some toned down namby pamby cooking over a light bulb or with an electric oven. Fire, iron, protein.

    So it’s natural I’ve been trying to mix those two ‘for a while’ now. Even made a couple of experimental “solar ovens” over the years.

    THE biggest problem with solar, bar none, is variability. You may get sun, or not, on any given day. It is highly different in June vs January. External heat loss is highly variable then too. (Keeping a pot warm in convective July is hard, in breezy April worse, in blowing snow January, impossible.) Then add in the odd stray clouds and the need to constantly shift to track the movement of the sun vs sky…

    It is a very interesting toy, and lots of fun to dream about, and completely useless for any attempt at planned, controlled, timely cooking.

    FWIW, my “plans” for a more functional cooker were a very large Fesnel Lens array concentrating light through a double glazed panel into a ceramic box / eutectic salt bed. All highly insulated. Auto sun tracker. Now that sucker just accumulates heat anytime it is sunny. When you want to cook, you approach the back side, open a door to an ‘oven’ and put your pot in. You have a constant (large) heat source at a known temperature for hours. That, you can use. Cost? Somewhere around $2000 I’d figure… Oh, and you need about 10 square meters of yard… with a clear southern exposure… in a place with more sun than rain…

    Frankly, the best “solar cooker”, IMHO, is a BBQ and Mesquite, willow, hickory, manzanita (for which I’ve developed a taste h/t P.G. Sharrow ;-) or several other kinds of wood. Sunshine in a cord…

    Anyone wants an efficient solar energy collector and storage system, just plant a tree…

  8. Judy F. says:


    When I was looking for something to use in the oil lamps instead of kerosene, I found this item. I first saw it in the Lehmans catalog, but was able to find it locally at Home Depot. I was able to buy it off the shelf, but I don’t know about what you can find in Kalifornia. I haven’t used it yet, but have it just in case. http://www.homedepot.com/buy/klean-strip-heat-odorless-fuel—gallon-gkkh99991.html

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F:

    We can get it here. I bought a gallon of it that lives in my car trunk. Expensive, but as it can also be ’emergency fuel’ for the Diesel… and lamp / stove fuel… Well, I bought a jug. Haven’t used any yet. (It is a bit pricy…) and didn’t see it on my last trip to Home Depot (so bought a gallon of “low odor mineral spirits” that is similar to Kerosene but with some lighter ends IIRC too – for some experiments with stoves… Reputedly Amish use it in lamps for the lower smell aspect. I’m going to test the ‘story’ in my lamps. I’d call the Amish relatives in Ohio and ask them, but they never answer the phone ;-)

    When my “Primus Type” kerosene stove arrives, I intend to try feeding it everything from light solvent (i.e. almost white gas) to Bio-Diesel (that burns a bit easier than #2) and see just how omnivorous it is. It is reputed to be very omnivorous… (Noisy, and can make a bit of soot, but not choosy about food. The fuel is just heated until it blows out a tiny jet straight up and into a facing metal plate that’s red hot. The “splat” of the jet into the plate mixes with ambient air ‘as needed’ and sets it all ablaze into a sideways disk of fire. Since the kerosene stove design was “adapted from a gasoline blowtorch design”, I figure it’s likely going to work (and other folks said it does…) Pump pressure adjusts flow rate. It’s literally just a small metal tubing full of boiling fuel and a pinhole. So I can’t see how it would not work with “flammable stuff that boils”…


    I figure I’ll start with Kerosene / Kleen stuff and work my way out both directions of ‘thinner’ and ‘thicker’ toward gasoline and #2 Diesel. See where it gets sputtery and stop. Flush and refill. Kerosene from the late 1800s had more “light ends” like gasoline than modern stuff. #1 Diesel is about the same as Kerosene (modulo details that don’t matter to a pipe with a hole in it…) and hot #2 flows like cool #1, so it ought to work with a bit more pre-heat. (Or I can try the old trick of putting 25% gasoline in the #2 to make it ‘winterized like #1’. My Mercedes 240D manual says to do that ;-) The later 300 Turbo manual says use up to 50% Kerosene.)

    I’m hoping to find that the late 1892 stove design thinks any of the modern stuff is fine, and much easier to digest than that sludge from 1895 ;-)

    ( I don’t know exactly what the ‘spec’ was for Kerosene in 1895, but I’m sure it was a much wider range of ‘stuff’ than now…)

    I’m presently running a ‘Bastard Mix’ in the 2 burner Coleman stove (thanks to an experiment). I mixed about 1 cup of “Low Odor Mineral Spirits with about an equal quantity of gasoline in the tank. It worked, sort of, with a LOT of preheating and with both burners on. With only one on, it would flood the generator and go quite yellow and make a bit of smoke. Sometimes go out. Thanks to the tank design not letting you pour all the fuel out, you get to ‘dilute with good stuff and use it up’ for any experiment that fails. So I topped it up with Coleman fuel. That worked a bit better, but still somewhat too rich and a tad smokey. I then added 1/2 cup of methanol to lean it out. Now it works fine as stove fuel… but… both the methanol and the mineral spirits (like kerosene here, though in the UK that name can mean naphtha like gasoline) need some heat to vaporize when cold. So I now have to ‘pre-heat’ the generator with a bit of methanol to get it lit the first time. (Not a problem as I wanted to play with ‘preheat methods’ preparatory to some experiments with E85 fueling…)

    To quote someone or other: “If I knew what I was doing it wouldn’t be an experiment“.

    I’ve also taken the burners apart and have some ideas how to make it E85 capable and how to make the burners more easily fed from a future kerosene adaptation. (See what happens to a stove when it goes from “save as pristine emergency kit” to “hey, it’s 20 years old and I have all these questions that have piled up… ” ;-)

    So for the next month or two I’ll be cooking my breakfast and morning coffee over that “swill” until it all gets used up. I ought to be well practiced at “preheating” by then!

    The experiment this morning was ‘spoon on Sterno’. A 1/2 teaspoon did a great job of preheating. Convenient too. Unfortunately, left a black icky residue on the burner once it lit up. The gelatinizer, most likely. So tomorrow I try the “aluminum foil dish of methanol” and see how that does. Just dripping methanol all over the burner works, but I don’t know how well the paint under the burner stands up to methanol drips… So working out a nice, clean, DIY preheat system will be an ‘ongoing experiment’ until this tank of fuel is used up.

    It does work really well once warmed up, though. About 1.25 pints Coleman Fuel, 1/2 pint K-like Mineral Spirits, and 1/4 pint methanol. Not a mix I’d have chosen to test… ( I expected the ‘just dilute the K-like Mineral oil’ to have ‘fixed it’ enough. and it was close…)

    Well, that’s a bit of insight into “what I do”… Ranges from “protect and preserve with great care for nearly 1/4 century” for “things that matter” to “Hey, I have an idea, let’s experiment with flaming bastard fuel mixes under pressure!” at the other… and all points in between.

    FWIW, I really like the way the stove lights with preheat. Even after I’ve got the fuel tank back to unleaded, I’m going to add a ‘preheat cup’ to the main burner. It’s just so much faster and reliable to light that way. (As the ‘burner stack’ is just a pile of disks / rings with one long screw down the middle, and that screw is about 1/8 inch over long, adding a ‘tin cup’ to the top of the stack is nearly trivial. Just need to make one. Figure a can of soup lid, trimmed to diameter and edge bent up, center drilled, and remove / install screw… ) I tested the idea 2 nights ago (when taking the burner apart to see how it was made… ;-) using a hand formed cup from aluminum foil folded over twice to make 4 layers. Worked fine. Only took it off as I think at full burn the red-hot would be enough to melt aluminum. But it worked really well.

    Then I’m set to proceed with a larger generator with larger jet and E85. Larger generator diameter to soak up more heat for vaporizing the higher heat of vaporization fuel, larger jet to keep the ‘mix’ about right. May need to cover one of the air holes too. We’ll see…

    Ah well, all that gets to wait a month while I use up the fuel from the first experiment and get good at preheat method…

  10. Speed says:

    It’s important to remember that some (much?) of the cooking action in an oven comes from radiated heat from the oven walls, not just convection. An oven (especially a small one) with a cherry red bottom will cook very differently than the much larger unit in your kitchen.

    Have you tried an old fashioned cast iron Dutch oven? I’ve been using mine more and more recently with good results.
    When cooking over a campfire, it is possible to use old-style lipped cast iron Dutch ovens as true baking ovens, to prepare biscuits, cakes, breads, pizzas, and even pies. A smaller baking pan can be placed inside the ovens, used and replaced with another as the first batch is completed. It is also possible to stack Dutch ovens on top of each other, conserving the heat that would normally rise from the hot coals on the top. These stacks can be as high as 5 or 6 pots.
    I’ve made biscuits using a Coleman stove and a cast skillet with a lipped lid. You need to be careful with the heat.

  11. Sera says:

    Maybe you could use it as a new “bunny box”, or “dove coop”? I’ve done worse things with $40.00.

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: About solar power: Contact your local politician and HE will show it to you. :-)

  13. Dave says:

    Have you see the BioLite? Cook with twigs and charge your USB based devices at the same time using a TEG that converts the heat to electricity:


  14. K says:

    We’ve used the Coleman stove in our camper for years. We only use it on with the rack in the highest slot and only for small thing – bisquits, monkey bread, homemade enchiladas etc. If the rack is any lower it tends to burn the food on the bottom. A plus for camping is that it heats up and cools down quickly so we can pack up and move on. And ya, that temp guage is useless.

    I like Speeds idea of using cast iron to bake in. That would be a better choice for breads and roasts.

    The stove does do a nice job of heating up the camper. ;)

  15. Bulaman says:

    A thermette or Benghazi burner provides an easy means of providing boiling water using sticks and twigs . Hot water added to your MRE and you are set. Can get a range of sizes in copper or stainless. Fuel in sand will also drive them.

  16. crosspatch says:

    I saw one of those at an estate sale in Cupertino a couple of weekends ago. Glad I didn’t buy it.

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; It appears to me that the right steel box that sits on top of your brick burner is what is needed for a baking oven. Needs to have a double bottom to prevent burning. More bricks for outside insulation and chimney effect? as well. Door/w thermometer?. What is the needed minimum ID size needed to be useful? Maybe 8″ wide x 8″ high x 10″ deep, 1″ ribs on outsides and bottom to set against bricks that form exhaust passages and heat exchangers, back smooth. Kind of heavy, 10gauge construction with 6gauge for fireside base. Welded construction? Shouldn’t have any hot spots. Hmmmm, wonder how many BTUs needed to get to baking temperature? Just WAG engineering at the moment. I like your stick burning brick pile. pg

  18. E.M.Smith says:




    That was the basis of my complaint. Non-uniform heat. So bottoms will be burned while top edges are raw. Not my idea of a good “oven”. More like a “bad grill”…

    I have a dutch oven that I’ve mostly used as a stew pot. I’ve decided to actually try using it as an oven. I’ll likely make a ventilated stand for inside to hold a bread pan off the bottom while letting IR and air bounce around. I was always put off by the lack of a thermometer… but I can get over that…

    (Yes, I’m a ‘control freak’ when it comes to baking bread…)


    The doves choose their own places. Try as I might to encourage them to go to my creations, they like the edge of the patio canopy closet to where I’d like to BBQ… so I end up moving the BBQ out into the middle of the back yard where the smoke doesn’t bother them …

    The Bunny is ‘free range’, so doesn’t “do” small boxes…

    But if worse comes to worst, I’m willing to try it ;-)

    More likely it will become the “inner box” of a larger wrapper final oven.

    Or I’ll just use if for actual camping ;-)


    Nice to know it’s not just me ;-)

    I think adding an exterior insulation layer would likely “fix” it. Maybe a small ‘pizza stone’ in the bottom too…


    The idea was to try the Coleman on the Brick Pile but after the “Proper Stove Test”, it clearly needs more heat than the G70 or POB will provide.

    Next step is similar to where you are headed. I’ll likely just work up a POB “surround” to duct wood fire gasses around the sides / back of the Coleman Oven and prevent wind driven losses. Use another “16 inch paver” as the lid. Leave ‘one brick’ exit at the back (possible chimney if added draft is needed). In that way, the hot gas from the fire doesn’t get to cool much as it is trapped inside the brick surround. The oven only loses heat out the front door, so likely acceptable (if not, I can add a front panel). As I’ll be using wood heat, the flue gasses adding flavors is likely a feature (unlike with kerosene or gasoline…)

    So more invention along the line of the POB BBQ, the POB Oven… At some point I’ll likely need to use mortar.. or swap to cinder blocks that stack larger without mortar ;-)

    It will take a bit of added heat to warm the brick surround, but the temperatures will be much more stable and the oven will actually work like an oven…

    We’ll see how it all goes.

  19. Dave says:

    Should have know you knew about the Biolite.

  20. E.M.Smith says:


    No worries. Better to be told twice than not know… Always happy to have a ‘confirmation of interest’ pointer ;-)

  21. Jason Calley says:

    Not sure if this is the proper thread for this comment, but it is as likely as any other…

    I seem to remember (but cannot find a reference now) that Booker T. Washington used a sort of homemade slow cooker at his college. It was an old wooden cask with a hole cut in the top and the bottom. A pot with the food to be cooked was suspended inside the cask, and an ordinary oil lamp was placed with it’s chimney below the bottom hole. The heat from the lamp was enough to cook the food over a period of a couple hours.

    And speaking of oil lamps, I wonder whether the base of an old oil lamp could be used as an alcohol burner. The wick might be too big unless it were cut down some. On the other hand, I have seen some very small oil lamps that would probably be suitable as is.

  22. Tom Bakewell says:

    How about looking into the three burner kerosine stoves with ovens installed on bigger yachts. More for ideas as the few I worked with earely managed to support two burners at one time. Perhaps in a non-nautical environment they perform better??

    “Two burner Tom” Bakewell from my persistant cry of ” If I only has two burners dinner would happen sooner” from my Galveston Bay sailing days

  23. Speed says:

    @EM Smith — I haven’t tried it but it seems that a layer or two of round stones should work to lift a baking pan off the bottom of the Dutch over when baking. Cheap and easy.

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    The easy ‘fix’ is a trivet in the dutch oven. They are sold all over the place. Finding three stones that match and don’t roll around is too much like work ;-)

    Then again, I have a bucket of glass flat round ‘decorative pebbles’ inherited from somebody who gave up some craft work they were doing… like little water drops. Flat on the bottom, rounded on top. Don’t think they are toxic (being glass). Easy to test…. (Function is easy… toxic?… well, maybe I could feed a loaf to the pigeons and see what happens ;-)

    But in reality, bread is baked directly on the bottom of the Dutch Oven. I’ve been reading recipes tonight ;-) (See latest posting:
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/shopping-or-a-dutch-oven-and/ )


    for example.

    So I figure just putting the pan on the bottom of the Dutch Oven and going for it is my first step. (The only reason for the bread pan is because my family likes regular square slices that fit in the toaster…)

    My big hangup on the Dutch Oven was just lack of experience and no idea what the temperature was inside. I’ve found two fixes for that. One is a ‘degrees vs briquettes’ guide, the other is a make of Dutch Oven that has a notch in the rim for putting a thermometer in to check temps. (I’ve orders one …)


    Interesting “cooker” story. I’ll have to try that some day… after I have a keg of rum to drain ;-)

    As I have a couple of small kerosene lamps (one with a flame about the size of a candle) and a large lamp, and a gallon of alcohol, I can test that … Probably in about 2 days…

    @Tom Bakewell:

    Didn’t know yachts had kerosene stoves on them. My sail boat had an alcohol stove as evaporated fuel vapor was lighter than air and didn’t collect ‘down low’ and go boom… Then again, I suppose kerosene doesn’t make a lot of vapor in a cold boat. (My Diesel Engine was similarly safe from ‘boom’… so as Diesel #1 and Kerosene are the same… ought to be OK)…

    These folks have a stove that runs a nicer oven, and easily:


    Claims 14,000 BTU so is about double my Coleman Stove that took the oven to 350 F fairly fast…

    It’s not so much the “getting it hot” that’s the problem as the “uneven heat” from a red hot bottom of the oven to the cold air flowing in the slots in the sides… that, and the high fuel consumption and the gasoline (or maybe kerosene) aroma on the bread and…

    But I’ve not cooked over kerosene so maybe it adds something ;-)

    They have a three burner Kerosene stove too:

    if you want to set up a three burner kitchen on your patio…

    For $115 you can get a stove with an oven that sits on top of it:


    Which I might buy (as it has insulated walls so will be more uniform heat) once I answer the question about flavor of bread baked in a kerosene flue gas environment…

    I’ve ordered a ‘pressurized kerosene stove’ from them, and once it arrives I’m going to try some dinner rolls in the Colemen oven on that stove to assess flavor and aroma…

    But for now, I’ve settled on “Dutch Oven” with briquettes. (See recent posting ;-) Seems you can bake bread directly on the bottom of the things as the iron evens out the heat pretty well. Putting the bread in a loaf pan in the middle with the briquettes in a ring around the edge (as is the norm) ought to work just fine. So that’s what I’m going to do until something better comes along. Charcoal from Wally World is pretty darned cheap, so I think costs will be competitive with electric (here in Kalifornia…) and certainly so with a ‘brick wind break / surround’ and multiple Dutch Ovens in a stack making bread and dinner together….

  25. It may be worth testing various vegetable oils as fuels. Round here, cost seems to be lower than mineral oil-based fuels, and it’s possible that may be true where you are, too. Probably needs a glassfibre wick and a chimney on it to get the air/fuel mix right, but the smell may be more acceptable than Kerosene. Rather than go to the expense of making biodiesel from it, just burn old oil once you’ve used it for cooking in.

  26. Speed says:

    EM Smith wrote, “The easy ‘fix’ is a trivet in the Dutch oven. They are sold all over the place. Finding three stones that match and don’t roll around is too much like work ;-)”

    Finding some perfect stones at the bottom of a convenient babbling brook just sounds more … outdoorsy. And that much less to carry into the woods. Of course, no rational person would be carrying a cast iron Dutch oven into the woods in the first place. Maybe a team of oxen and a conestoga wagon would work.

    What would Charlie Wooster do?

  27. Tom Bakewell says:

    The St Paul Mercantile info about the kerosine stoves is pretty interesting. When I was but a sprat we lived in a gold mining camp in Luzon. Only 20 min outside of Baugio, so not a hardship at all. Everyone had kerosine burners or stoves. We had a white behemoth with an oven that seemed to work quite well with no kerosine odors at all. Getting it going did make my Mother use some choice mining camp lingo until she learned and applied the correct starting rituals in their proper order.

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tom Bakewell:

    I was very surprised at how ‘low smell’ my kerosene stove was when I fired it up today. Less than a kerosene wick lantern by far; I think maybe even less than my Coleman fuel stove.

    I was using “Odorless Mineral Spirits” which in the USA is a kind of light kerosene that his been hydrotreated to turn the “aromatic” hydrocarbons into saturated aliphatic rings. (In some parts of the EU or UK it is a more naptha / gasoline like fraction). So maybe on ‘real kerosene’ it will have a bit more smell, but I don’t think so. Even K-1 here is low sulphur…

    I’m now contemplating getting one of those “wick stoves”… but just can’t justify it as I’ve already got 3 or 5 camping (backpacking) stoves, the new pressurized kerosene stove that is ‘enough’ for post quake kit, and two Coleman camp stoves – the 2 burner and the 1 burner – that both work on unleaded gasoline too. Not to mention the POB BBQ and the G70 Rocket Stove… and the Smoker with 5 gallons of propane… It would end up being just another “Preparedness Toy” that didn’t get used and wasn’t needed. If picking a stove from scratch, I’d be tempted to get the 2 burner ‘wickless’ with legs and put it on the patio. Patio Kitchen along with Emergency Kit along with economy canning along with… but I’m not; so I can’t.

    (Maybe when caning season comes I can justify it for canning… but Kerosene here is running $5.80 / gallon while unleaded is $4.10 (I even saw one at $3.99 yesterday). So even there, using the gasoline stove is more cost effective… and as it is ‘out of the survival kit’ now, it is up for being used and used up…)

    Sigh. It’s hell when you want to buy another toy and just can’t no way in hell find a remotely plausible excuse ;-)

    But the simple fact is that the kerosene appliances work as well or better than the gasoline ones, have as little or less smell, and the presence of a ‘pre-heater’ cup means they are actually easier to get going. (Yes, you need some methanol or other alcohol around to fill the cup and light it – but then it’s a 100% just turn on the fuel and go, near as I can tell, and not a lot of fussing and failing. Unlike a cold gasoline appliance… So I’m looking to add preheater cups to my Coleman gasoline stove and lantern… In an emergency, even a bit of non-alcohol flammables can be used to pre-heat, so not exactly a critical issue for the kerosene appliance. And you can run jet fuel in them… and military ‘one fuel’ run in the Diesels and Humvees and helicopters and.. )

    I especially like the idea of a wick based stove where you can use cotton mop strands for wicks if worse comes to worse…

    Were I “starting all over” I’d likely get a farmstead somewhere with a Kerosene stove / oven and heater and put in a couple of hundred gallon “heater tank”. Have some lanterns that can run off of it, and a Diesel car that, in an emergency, can run on K-1 OK. Yes, the “day to day” cost of K-1 would be a bit higher than #2 Heating Oil, but I’d be a “One Fuel” home. Heck, I’d even put in a Lister Diesel generator with ‘water cooling’ (i.e. home heating cogeneration…) and run it on the K-1 as well. So I’d have electricity for toys too.

    As it is, I’ve got a Heinz 57 of stoves and fuels… and generator and…

    It does seem like K-1 is about ideal. Not as risky / explosive as gasoline. Always works. Not as hard to ‘make fire’ as Diesel (nor as sooty). Can see it in sunshine (unlike alcohol – where methanol can also make you blind and deaf..). Etc. etc. It’s a bit slow to evaporate if spilled, but it DOES evaporate eventually (unlike heavy oils). Plus high fuel value per gallon and relatively cheap. Oh Well, water under the bridge now. And I have started the conversion. One Kerosene Lantern (aka “Heater with free light”) and one Primus Type pressurized stove. From here on out I’m likely to be “Alcohol fuel for day hikes / ultralight stove” and “K-1 for anything else new.”. All the other stuff to just be ‘used up’ and not replaced. (Maybe keep one each propane for the spouse as it is very easy to use. Turn knob, light.)

    Kind of a “High Tech meets Amish Tradition” in a way ;-)


    Shoot it? ;-)

    @Simon Derricutt:

    Here vegetable oil costs more. About $10 / gallon vs $4 for gasoline / Diesel and $5.80 for K-1 kerosene. It is also a bit thicker and harder to burn, often makes a more smokey flame with more odor. ( I have a liquid candle that runs on it and I’ve run it in Diesels… where it risks “seasoning” the inside of your engine with goo deposits…)

    Kerosene smells much less (and a much nicer smell) than vegetable oil on a wick.

  29. Tom Bakewell says:

    Dang! You have more stoves that I have selective voltmeters. :-)

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tom Bakewell:

    It’s a bit of a fixation… I like things that make fire and I like things that make food… at the intersection one finds stoves.

    Add in that I had a “car kit” in each car for “quake purposes” along with the “Big Kit” at home AND a camping set (so if The Big One happened while I was camping the house still had a ‘kit’ and the spouse would be fine). Season with finding that The Spouse didn’t like the stove I selected for the home kit, so I needed to add a ‘turn the knob’ propane set…

    Then, there are the things that are just so darned cheap they are worth it just to try them. I’ve got a couple of “dinky one person emergency ‘stoves’ that are a can of gel fuel and metal ring” that I got for about the cost of the can of fuel… Some are Sterno brand, some are some European Military issue and a bit smokey but far more power and with a metal seal so they don’t boil away in the trunk of the car in August in Phoenix… So I have 3 of them from the EU/Mil that I bought in a packet for $12. Is that “three stoves”? Well….

    So there were 4 cars and 4 drivers, camping set with 2 variations -big and small-, home kit, spousal upgrade. Then the “old ones being retired” and the “didn’t do what I wanted” but still work and the… Pretty soon you find they have piled up ;-)

    But most of them are cheap and small so not a big deal. One is about 20? grams and cost $11 while another is about 30? grams and cost about $4. (Folding metal platforms that hold a camping cup and a tablet of fuel about the size of bubble gum. Hard to really call that a ‘stove’, but it is…)

    On my “someday list” (that I’d do now, but I’ve done too many stove / cooking posts recently) is to dig out most of them, line them up, make a ‘group picture’ then boil 250 ml of water on each of them recording time and cost and “issues”. Post a table of costs, pro/con, speed, issues, etc. and list my evaluation of each. Would save someone a lot of time and money some day ;-)

    So “on the shelf” is a $130? or so MSR deluxe expedition stove that needs a ‘tune up kit’. It has rubber O rings in it. They age and break after 2 decades… I used it 2 times? One was testing on many fuels (it was one of the early ‘multi fuel stoves’ from before that was common and before the internet let you look up reviews…) On Diesel it smoked and stunk and sooted up everything. Yeah, it worked. But…. So “put in my Diesel car and only need a siphon” died on the altar of “stinks, hard to light, and sooty” esthetics. Instead a canister of Coleman fuel (spun aluminum bottle) lived with the stove in my trunk for 15 years. Waiting for the quake. Then one year if failed inspection as the rubber goods aged and died. (The plastic tupperware it was stored in also aged and cracked.) So all of it is ‘on the shelf’ for repair ‘someday’ if a repair kit still exists. ( I think it does). Now I’ve bought an Esbit alcohol stove for $ 20 that is less than the cost of the repair kit and has great esthetics. Since it was all of $11 to add the titanium Esbit tablet ‘stove’ and $2 or so for hexamine tablets at the Army Surplus store… I added that to the kit too as a “belt and suspenders” toy (and insurance against alcohol evaporating in the summer in the trunk in Phoenix… ) So now that’s “Three Stoves”, but only one “Car Quake Kit”…

    Welcome to practical preparation in quake country.

    As I was “almost stuck” at work when the 7.1 hit, and got to pick my way home for a few hours past downed houses and a couple on fire; well, I take my “Quake kits” seriously and tossing an extra $15 at one of them “to be sure” is just not a show stopper.

    At any rate, yes, too many stoves, in too many fuels, of too many generations. Need to finally get around to “clean up and organize and maybe even toss out a few”. As we’re down a couple of cars from peak level now too, I don’t need as many “car kits”. (Maybe I’ll send one to The Kid in Chicago as a ‘present’ ;-)

    FWIW, for “the average person” at this point:

    1) There is no need for a fuel based lantern any more, at all. LED lanterns are now as reliable and make plenty of light longer for less weight of batteries than the fuel lanterns need fuel. They have high reliability and low cost along with great safety. I only have a Kerosene Lantern as a kind of low cost heater that gives light for free. Get a Maglight D Cell LED flashlight and good batteries. The batteries can keep for a decade outside the flashlight. (Do NOT leave them inside the flashlight. WHEN they leak, it’s near impossible to get the mess out.)

    2) The Coleman single burner 533 Dual Fuel is inexpensive and works well for everything but backpacking. Unless you are feeding 4 to 6 folks, you don’t need a 2 burner. Have a can of gasoline and a small siphon hose and you are set. (Very few folks have kerosene or Diesel around.. but if you do, the “Multi-Fuel” variation is reasonable.) IFF you are a backpacking camper, then pick some other fancy fru-fru stove. If ANY of the ‘stove users’ don’t like fire, things that go “PHOOOF!” or mechanical things; get the “Screws on top of the canister of Propane” single burner propane stove and a ‘spark lighter’ like for the BBQ. Century / Primus made a good one, but I’ve not seen it for a while. Stansport looks good. Avoid those with only 3 pot supports. Pans are ‘tippy”. Get a 4 or 5 pot support one. For a family, the 2 burner “briefcase” propane stove is fine as they are very slim. Store at least 2 canisters of propane. If you have a large property, get an outdoor “BBQ and Grill” of the $200-$400 “by the pool patio” sort and find a place to tie it down “if the bad thing comes”. Store a spare 5 gallon / 20 lb propane tank. You don’t need all of those. “Any two” will do.

    For folks like me, who like playing with stuff and storing fuel longer term, Kerosene is a better choice but it is more complicated finding / picking stoves. You will know if “that is you”. I’ve been very well prepared with the old Coleman Dual Fuel gas stove for 1/4 century and the propane single burner for the spouse. Most of the rest has been distractions or “second line of defense”. Only now am I going to Kerosene, and only because I can dump old Kerosene into my Diesel and The State is playing with what is in gasoline (so it no longer is what my 1/4 century old stove had as the design point… new stoves have a new design point…) If you are a “Prepper” with a “Year Supply” in your bunker, well, OK, go ahead and get a Kerosene stove and Diesel Truck ;-)

    For folks who are backpackers and hard core campers, you don’t need my opinion. ;-)

    BTW, I have 4 or 5 voltmeters…

  31. Tom Bakewell says:

    Yes, but are they selective voltmeters? I sure do admire the way you can write and I very much appreciate your range of topics. All I have here is an old Coleman two burner with maybe 40 bottles of propane. Dad stocked up in prep for Y2K. The last food stash I discovered was in a trunk in the garage in 2007. Corned beef hash and the beans et pretty good…

  32. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “There is no need for a fuel based lantern any more, at all. LED lanterns are now as reliable and make plenty of light longer for less weight of batteries than the fuel lanterns need fuel. They have high reliability and low cost along with great safety.”

    I have heard that a lot of the Amish have replaced their old lanterns with solar panels, rechargable batteries and LED lamps. When asked, “Isn’t that too high tech?!” their reply was, I think, wonderfully reasonable. Paraphrased, their response was, “We have nothing against high tech in and of itself. We just want to live simply. In this case, the new technology is simpler than burning oil or kerosene — and MUCH safer. We are using this new technology because it makes our life simpler.”

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tom Bakewell:

    No, no freq selectivity in them. Just your garden variety multi-meters.

    40 bottles of propane? That’s good for about a year, used carefully…

    @Jason Calley:

    There are various sects of Amish. They are also becoming more “modern”.

    While there is a general “use what is in the Bible”, the more common rule is “Use what you must. Do not use what is prideful or not plain and simple”.

    So that second one let Amish work in factories operating machinery. Sometimes you see a horse drawn wagon with a motor driven machine on it (hay balers etc.)

    So a kerosene lantern is similar to ‘lamps’ in the Bible, but also very simple and very plain. Some Amish do use electricity. Others think it a prideful expense. So a solar lamp charger? Frugal. Safer. Lantern that is “simple” and not prideful. Just putting sunshine in a bottle for a while… Yeah, I can see that.

    Just like they buy brass fittings made in modern factories. It’s not the modern-ness that’s the issue, it’s the prideful and complex and dependence aspects.

  34. Greg Hall says:

    “Furthermore, using it over a fuel driven burner, such as Kerosene, you are just asking for ‘strange flavors’ ” You have obviously never cooked on a Perfection Kerosene stove. Cooks just like gas, just slower. As far as testing a Perfection “Live Heat” Oven, This was tested 100 yrs ago by millions of cooks. It is the modern equivalent of a convection oven.

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    @Greg Hall:

    Yes, I’ve never used a ‘perfection’ oven. However, I have used a lot of kerosene. Some of it very low odor, some of it a bit stinky. Also do note I said a “fuel driven burner such as”, that includes things like gasoline (also stinky at times) and Diesel (horridly stinking in the old days, now not so much).

    Now I like my food non-stinky. So I’m a bit “picky” about my appliances. When camping, I’ll put up with more unintended flavors. Day to day? Nope.

    Think about BBQ. Subtle differences from just which wood is used for flavor and aroma. It’s that kind of subtle shift that I’m going to ‘check out’.

    Since I have, now, run a Kerosene stove (the Butterfly Pressure Stove) I can say I was impressed that the odor was much lower than I expected but it is still present. And that was on “Odorless Mineral Spirits”.

    So it’s perfectly reasonable to ponder how much more will come with full odor K-1, and how much ends up in the bread, and will I like that. They answers can go either way.

    Finally, per hoards of people ‘testing it’ in the past: Yup. Many of them my Amish Ancestors. So? They also don’t mind following the back end of a horse for hours on end. (I’ve shoveled out the barn before…) They also run kerosene lanterns (that do “have a smell”). Folks “back then” were often more tolerant of things we no longer need to tolerate. Now “the spouse” has a particularly sensitive nose. I spilled a bit of Coleman fuel and cleaned it up. Long after I’d reached the point of not smelling it, she refused to stay in the room. 24 hours it took. Do you really think I’m going to just hope and spend money that her nose will not find bread baked over a Coleman fuel burner “smelly”? (Yes, it is a fuel driven burner like kerosene.)

    So before I commit about $200 to another open bottom oven, I’m going to make some bread in this one over kerosene and ask “the nose” what it thinks. I’m not going to prejudge that answer as *I* have not done the test yet. That my Amish ancestors did it does nothing to “inform my nose” of the product quality. I’ve had enough Amish food to know that some of the things they find attractive are less so to me… hot vinegar cooked meats for one. Similarly, I don’t like Italian Firebrick Pizza in the super hot wood fired ovens. Black burned like spots don’t make me happy. Other people love it, not me. I like it more ‘400 F’ than 600 F and more soft than burned crisp. So there’s a personal preference aspect here that just needs to be measured. Not assumed nor guessed.

    I’m hopeful that ‘open kerosene flame’ is just fine.
    “But hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”.

    BTW, I’ve run a QA department. That likely is part of why I’m from the “Trust but verify” and “Test it yourself” and “Measure don’t hope” school…

    Oh, and I need to get a couple of gallons of ‘real kerosene’. I’ve ordered a “wick stove” big enough to run the Coleman Oven, so a bread test over kerosene is “on the way”… as soon as I get some (cheap pump source – not expensive cans of Odorless spirits) real K-1. Other times I’ve used it, it had a bit of a smell. But that was years ago and the State Of California has reduced sulphur in just about every liquid fuel.

  36. Greg Hall says:

    The best Kerosene is Canadian #1 Stove Oil. It has the sulphur content of ULSD, 15ppm, whereas K1 is about 480ppm. I am in a testing department of a large corporation and I really didn’t believe the old advertizements about the 4 million Perfection cooktops sold, nor the 6+ million kerosene heaters. Until I discovered my familys old 1924 Perfection 1665 kerosene heater. I restored it and installed a new wick and it burns great. It heats up faster than a Japanese unit and can be shut off with way less smell. To bring it up to modern standards I retrofitted it with a catalitic filter element to almost eliminate carbon monoxide. (See the Yahoo group for Kerosene appliance collectors). This winter I ahve operated it for over 60 hrs as supplemental heat when it is really cold out. Because that unit worked as advertized, I purchased and restored a Perfection kerosene stove, circa 1940. It cooks just like the advertizements said it would. Those millions of housewifes apparently were not wrong! Was their tollerance for the minor smell higher than ours today? Possibily. Are some people more sensitive to burning kero than others? That too is real. However I cook extensively with kerosene as a novelty and I can’t detect any taste in the food I cook. I do add 1/2 oz of the scented Kerosene additive to each 5 gal can of #1 Stove Oil I purchase.

  37. E.M.Smith says:

    @Greg Hall:

    Nice to have the testimonial. I have ordered one of the wick stoves, so in a couple of weeks I will find out for myself. (I’m not saying K-1 will smell, only that I don’t know and need to test; and I’m not willing to trust anecdotal reference to what was OK 60 years ago.) So shortly, we both will know ;-)

    I’d love to have a Perfection stove and oven, just because they are what my Amish relatives and ancestors used. But I can’t justify that cost for a “fun toy”. So I’m buying the cheaper stuff and testing first. So far the Butterfly Pressure Stove has had little odor (to me), but does have a tiny bit. The spouse is much more ‘sensitive’, but so far has been unhappy with Coleman Fuel / Naphtha smells and said nothing about the kerosene. (Though has said she doesn’t like the smell of kerosene wick lamps. That’s why the Aladdin went to the garage… I bought it for “Post Quake and Present Ambiance” use and spouse informed me the ‘ambiance’ was unwelcome…) I thought it was fine…

    I’m hopeful the spouse will detect nothing untoward in a loaf of bread cooked in the Coleman oven over a kerosene stove. If that “works”, I’ll likely be saving my nickles for a Perfection type oven “someday”. Just not willing to throw $200 at it to find out if I have another “Garage Storage Appliance”…

    I also think I saw something to the effect that the K-1 sold at the local pump was a K-1-(something) that indicated Ultra Low Sulphur. California is a bit nutty about such things, and I doubt that K-1 escaped their mandates. Heck, we even have to buy “vapor recovery” gas cans to put gas in the lawn mower (at $18 each…)

    So I’m hoping that the present pump “K-1” isn’t quite the old K-1 and that smell has left the building… ;-)

    At any rate “we will see” (or smell) soon enough.

  38. Pingback: Butterfly Brand Oven – First Fire | Musings from the Chiefio

  39. Alistair says:

    Hi – from Great Britain,
    I bought a Colemans camping Oven at a car boot sale and was trawling the internet researching it’s use and other peoples opnions of it, when I came across your review, which I found very interesting. I would like to offer the following ideas & comments as food for thought (no pun intended).

    I also found these, and if it’s not too late, I thought they might be of interest to you:


    ˆI thought ofˆˆ ˆˆ1/8th thick perforated steel plateˆ on the floor of the oven if stone was hard to come by, or cast iron trivets should work. The sides do have a lot of gaps & cut-outs in them and the slightest breeze would have a disproportonate effect on the temperature so I shall experement with the aluminium foil idea and if it’s successful I will make a 3-sided, very close fitting, folding wind-shield from thin sheet steel & piano hinges (no gaps).

    Many years of happy camping holidays remind me that a breeze also has a great effect on the temperature in the gap between the stove burner and the saucepan (or in this case the oven). so my 3-sided, folding wind-shield will extend all the way down to the stove.

    Having covered temperature fluctions within the oven, I found it very interesting how many of those responding to your review concerned themselves with the stove rather than the oven, and in particular which fuel to use. I only ever use LPG to cook with or charcoal on the BBQ. Would I be correct to assume that the Coleman stove is multi-fuel and will burn petrol (sorry, gas), deisel or kerosine (which we call parrafin)? The things to remember when choosing the fuel for your stove is that the combustion by-products are not passing around a saucepan in a well ventalated area any more, but are travelling through the oven, passing in and around the baking (and are responsible for the taint that seems to be ‘enhancing’ the flavour of the baking), then out through the slotted cut-out at the rear of the top of the oven which appears to be the chimney to exhaust the fumes from the oven (which must never be covered). To my way of thinking the choice of fuel is not which gives the most heat, or which is the cheapest, but which is the cleanest and safest for the loved ones and which one is less likely to contaminate the food (just run a finger round the inside of an exhaust pipe to get an idea of what’s passing through the oven).
    Nearly done. A couple of other things to consider regarding the Coleman. Do you really want it as a patio oven, or as a piece of emergency equipment?
    As a patio oven it will always be overshaddowed by something bigger or something better (see below).
    As a piece of survival equipment, either during a quake, or at the end of the world as we know it, you need to consider the following:
    If we need to get out quickly before we loose everything, what do I take with me? Family,clothing, food and water, survival equipment, bedding, other essentials? pets? valuables? family heirlooms? the car? (How do we fit it all in? How can we save space?). Of course all this is accademic if you are evacuated by bus out of town, you will only be allowed to take familly and ONE bag!
    Then there is the problem of fuel. How much fuel have you got at a moment’s notice? How long will it last? What do I use when the fuel runs out? It has to be wood! (Sweedish stove – Keep a hand axe in your survival equipment box).
    Which oven is beginning to look the best choice in this catagory?

    If I may be so bold as to suggest the following?:
    Persevere with the Colemans to try and improve it’s performance. Meanwhile (if it’s not too late) consider carefully which patio oven you REALLY want (see below for some ideas), and when you have, it place the Colemans in the survival box, OR if it can’t be improved E-bay it.

    Baking seems to form a most important part of the enjoyment you derive from your cookery so I wondered if the following might be a good choice for your patio?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QNDAXmhCn0 (Pizza)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQNwk4sL_bg (Bread)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nnuXCCoTa0 (Budget version)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1QToDg3Ow0 (Portable – but not lightweight by ANY means)

    Kind regards


    Any man who can drive safely while kissing a girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
    Albert Einstein

  40. Greg Hall says:

    A properly operating kerosene stove such as an antique Perfection (or the new Schwartz) or one of the multi-wick stoves burns very clean and you won’t notice any kerosene smell. Also Schwartz is making one and two burner stove top ovens close to the original Perfection’s in Berne, Ind. They are an Amish concern.

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