Safety Considerations With Using a Wood Fire Inside your Tent
Let’s be realistic…having a fire burning inside your tent comes with some serious safety risks and if you are going down this route, you need to make sure you do your research and use common sense. Your tent needs to be up to the task. I recommend camping in a tent that has been suitably fireproofed, meaning that either the canvas itself is weaved from a fire-resistant material or has been coated in one. Lightweight tents tend to be made from nylon (highly flammable) so not necessarily suitable for use as a hot tent. Always, always, ask the manufacturer if they are compatible with a stove.
Stoves need oxygen to burn so it’s important to provide plenty of ventilation in your tent whilst the stove is in action. Aside from this, condensation will build from your breath, and having the windows or door slightly open will reduce this problem.
Set up your tent so that the vent pipe opening in the roof is not underneath any dead branches or anything else that could catch fire. That means you need to be aware of overhanging dead trees when you are choosing your campsite. Wood burning stoves sometimes shoot sparks out the stovepipe and if the tent is close to the deadwood, you may risk your life and cause a fire hazard.
Put 1 inch of sand in the bottom of your stove to help insulate the metal from direct contact with burning wood, which could weaken the metal. This is a standard recommendation for most wood-burning tent stoves, and should not be overlooked. The metal on these stoves is very thin, and the hot coals that sit on the bottom will gradually weaken the metal without a layer of insulation provided by the sand.
Fit a spark arrester into the top of your vent pipe as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you do not have a spark arrester, you can also use a knife or other sharp object to poke several holes into the upper part of the stovepipe itself. These holes will help to cool off any sparks before they get out of the pipe. Sparks are also a hazard to the tent itself. A spark arrester can simply be set into the stovepipe on tent stoves.
Do not burn a lot of spruce, pine, or larch as your primary source of fuel. Since these woods give off a lot of sparks and can cause fires even if your stove is equipped with a spark arrester. However, it is okay to use a little bit of these softwoods on the stove as tinder.
Place the stove inside the tent in a corner near the door so it is convenient for wood stacking outside. Make sure the metal of the stove is at least 2 feet away from the fabric wall of the tent to avoid burning or scorching. The stove should sit close to the floor of the tent for proper heating.
Wood burning stoves cannot be put in all kinds of tents. The tent will typically need to be canvas or poly cotton because they are tough, well ventilated, and not easily burned. I repeat: Always check with the manufacturer.
If your tent stove has a hot surface, it’s a great place to put a kettle and even a skillet, griddle, or a pot. You can make delicious food on the stove.
Whether you are camping 10 feet from your car or backpacking miles from civilization, you’ll have to sacrifice some creature comforts in the name of adventure. However, being warm and comfortable is not something to sacrifice. Staying warm not only helps prevent hypothermia, but it is also important for keeping your spirits high as well.
If you are planning a winter camping expedition and will be set up for a few days, consider if using a wood burning stove in your tent is a viable option. When done carefully and correctly, having a fire burning inside the walls of your tent does make a memorable camping experience, and rain or even snow becomes a pleasant camping environment!
I hope this article has been helpful for you. Remember to be safe, always.