Butane safety this summer
By Jason Treseder, Senior Gas Engineer,
Type A Gas Appliance and Component
It is that time of the year, where we can
enjoy the outdoors and often make use of
portable gas appliances. A common portable
appliance is the butane cooker.
Butane cookers are small, portable gas
cookers that are reasonably priced and popular
to use when camping and outdoor activities.
While most butane cookers used around
Australia go without issue, if used incorrectly an
incident can at best spoil a day, and at worst
result in serious injury and/or damage to property.
ESV has recently investigated a number of
incidents where portable butane cookers used in
an unsafe manner caused exploding cartridges.
In one case, the cooker was used to heat a
basket containing charcoal briquettes. The intense
heat generated by the charcoal overheated the
butane cartridge and it eventually ruptured.
In a separate incident, two cookers were
used side by side with zero clearance. The pot
from one cooker was oversized and overlapped
the cartridge compartment of the adjacent cooker.
The reflected heat from both cookers caused
Charr-coal-ed: how not to use a butane cooker.
the cartridge to overheat and explode.
Butane cookers are fueled by disposable
butane cartridges installed in a compartment
below the burner.
The cookers have internal, built-in safety
devices that will shut off gas and disengage
the cartridge if the cartridge overheats. However,
if a cooker is used in an unsafe manner, or is
exposed to a separate heat source, it still can
overheat the cartridge.
» Read and follow the manufacturer’s
instructions when setting up and operating
the cooker. In particular, ensure the surface
is stable and the area is well ventilated with
» Ensure the cartridge compartment is not
exposed to any external heat sources.
This includes providing adequate clearances
and using an appropriately sized cooking
vessel that does not overhang the cartridge
» Check that the cooker and the cartridge are
in good condition and there is no damage or
corrosion that will affect the safe operation.
» Check for leaks using soapy water solution
when connecting the cartridge, and ensure
the soft seals are still in good condition
before lighting the burner.
Butane cookers have a history of being
involved in incidents, In 2015, an investigati