*Does Your Cookware fit?*
By: JonBot007
11 March 2003

Have you ever noticed how inefficient a stove or other heat source is when combined with the wrong size and/or shape pot? With higher output stoves (propane, white gas, butane) it becomes less of an issue but use something lower output or multiply it by a months worth of cooking and it adds up big time. Worth taking a few minutes to think about maybe. If your backup or backline cooking plan at the retreat is vastly different than your regular (pre event) one does your cookware work with both? Cooking on a wood stove or over an open fire is a lot different than on a natural gas or propane range. Materials like cast iron and the shapes like those seen on camping cookware to this day are based on these differences.

This kettle is very efficient with a wide flat bottom...it works over a fire or on a modern stove very well. It's about as wide at the base as the average waterline is tall inside it and so is the pot from this set. The frying pan is of 2-3 times thicker gauge steel to help minimize hot spots...even so it is no where as good over a fire as cast iron.

 

 

This Peak1 (1.2qt I think?) pot is from a nice set...but it is far less efficient on this stove than it is on a backpacking stove with a smaller burner diameter or with a heat shield/exchanger in place.

 

This illustrates the problem pretty clearly I think ;) This would certainly be a waste of fuel with more of the heat escaping around the sides of the pot than heating the contents inside. (plus the darn handle will get hot and burn you like a SOB when you grab your coco without thinking with a bare hand whilst typing up the article on the computer...ask me how I found that out ;) Generally speaking, cast iron is the best at equalizing temps and minamizing "hot-spots"...all of the modern choices are faster heating...but if you are going to cook on a wood stove or an open fire try your cookware out...you may find it completely inadequate. Besides checking these things out will give you a chance to better estimate fuel consumption as you will be using it. My Mom had a piece of cookware for just about every specific purpose known to man...my grandma was the same way...guess they had good reason for that ;) Anyway this is not earth shattering news but worth considering as you decide what kind of cookware to buy for home and retreat. After all these years and with all these new fangled materials if weight is not an issue it's still hard to beat good ole' cast iron for even heating and ruggedness. We'll get together with my buddy Bama Hillbilly and family next time and learn some ins and outs of cooking on (and in) wood burning stoves. Until then...live well eat well and be well.
JonBot007



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