Stove Care & Feeding
Food. Water. Warmth. The camp stove has the ability to provide at least three of the essentials needed for survival so it's 100% imperative that you properly care for, clean, and store your stove. Whether it's a four or six burner propane stove or a small one-burner backpacking stove, a few tips and tricks will ensure that your stove works when you need it and that it lasts for years.
First and foremost, try your absolute best to keep your stove clean. Sometimes it's difficult when you're out backpacking and don't have a lot of water, but at the very least, clean off any food particles and grease as soon as you can. If you have a meal that boils over and gets food in the burner, clean it out as soon as the stove cools. Unless otherwise noted, camping and backpacking stoves can be cleaned with warm water and dish soap. Try to avoid harsher cleaning solutions. If your camp stove is made of metal, such as stainless steel (without paint), green and copper scrub sponges are a good way to get hardened food and grime off. Make sure to rinse and then dry the stove so that the extra water doesn't become rust.
Stove Hose and Pipe Cleaning:
Many backpacking stoves come with a cleaning kit that has a piece resembling a miniature pipe cleaner. Follow the instructions with your particular stove. Many clogging problems can be cured by taking apart the stove, blowing the dust out of it, and putting it back together.
Storing Camp Stoves:
It's important to remember that although camp stoves are pretty durable, they have somewhat fragile parts. Don't put your stove away after a trip until it is clean and dry. Additionally, it must be detached from the fuel source. In order to avoid getting extra dirt and grime in the stove, store it in a bag of some sort. On big camp stoves, never let the hoses drag in the dirt and use a cap to cover the ends. Dirt can clog the pipes and be the reason you don't have hot drinks or a warm meal. When storing the stove and fuel, keep them away from your food. Every so often, fuel leaks and you don't want it anywhere near your pasta!
Before You Go:
After being stored for a while, stoves can malfunction, even if you did everything properly. It's much easier to problem solve and clean your stove in the front country, so set it up, light it, and see if all the burners work before you go. Cooking camp recipes in the backcountry is one of the most fun parts of backpacking and wilderness adventures, but only if your stove is properly working.