Faulty gas cartridges - a word to the wise

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feepole 09 Sep 2014
Right, I know I'm opening myself up to a drubbing here, but I'm sure I'm not the only person to get complacent using gas, and I'm happy to out myself as an eejit if it just reminds one other person not to do the same.

I was out walking for a couple of days in the north west highlands over the weekend. It was wet and windy, and after one night camped high I decided to head for lower ground. I took a circuitous route to avoid the worst river crossings and possible stalking, and by the time I arrived in the glen I was cold, wet and knackered. I found a small wooden estate hut to shelter in, and as darkness fell and the rain fell the thought of setting up the tent in the bog nearby looked increasingly unappealing. While it is the stalking season the following day was a Sunday, so I decided just to doss in the hut ovenight.

I lit a candle and got settled in for the night. I always, always used to step outside a bothy/tent to connect a stove to a cartridge, but I guess after hundreds of repetitions without incident I'd become complacent.

As I screwed the stove onto the canister there was a sudden leak of gas. My instant reaction was to spin towards the door (which was thankfully open), and as I did so I gave the stove the final half twist which tightened the seal. As I did this there was a sudden, spectacular flaring off of gas to my right as the escaped gas hit the candle. Fireball may sound a bit dramatic, but that's certainly how it felt in the tiny enclosed space.

Had I not (for once in my life) reacted so quickly and the flame had fired back to the cartridge it could have been so, so serious. I was on my own, 12 miles from the nearest road. Had I burnt the hut down I would have sheepishly gone to the estate and offered to replace it - but that could have been the least of my worries.

I'm sure many of us saw the warnings following the fire at Gleann Dubh-Lighe and made a mental not to take more care. But exhaustion and complacency are a dangerous mix.
 TMM 09 Sep 2014
In reply to feepole:

Glad to hear you are OK.

Thanks for reminding us all of best practice, better that we can all learn from each others mistakes rather than needing to make them all ourselves!

 dale1968 09 Sep 2014
In reply to feepole:

Well written, I was there running out in a ball of flames, a cautionary tale, been reminded of the basics is never a bad thing.
In reply to feepole:

Scary as hell I know but virtually impossible for the flame to get back into the canister as it is under pressure (think blow torch). Also the gas oxygen mix for successful combustion is quite narrow, the mix in the canister would have been too rich even if you had fully evacuated it.

I did a similar thing with and old 'bluet' style canister, throwing the seal away with the old canister in the dark, in my case it was a camping light that ignited the thing, I lobbed it into the clear and dived for cover but when it ran out of gas and stopped acting like a flame thrower it just went out.

 Reach>Talent 09 Sep 2014
In reply to SteveD:


Gives you a fright and is nasty in an enclosed space or when the ground is dry but you have to put in some effort to get a camping gas cylinder to go bang properly

It is worth having a check of the threads on both the cylinder and the stove before screwing it up as a bit of crud in the valve can make life interesting, also the brass threads on most stoves wear pretty quickly if abused or overtightened and you can get problems that way.
Lusk 09 Sep 2014
In reply to SteveD:


You get a much better effect slinging one on a fire.
needvert 09 Sep 2014
In reply to SteveD:

On a similar topic, with liquid stoves like the XGK, when they run out of fuel and start pumping air...Why can't a flame travel up the fuel line then? It's a mix of fuel and air.
(One trick is to deliberately flip the bottle upside down so it flushes all the fuel out of the fuel line prior to packing it up. I've done that a few times, as have many others, and nothings exploded, so the odds can't be too high!).
feepole 09 Sep 2014
In reply to SteveD:
Indeed, and although I never understood the physics of it I was always told that it was very rare for a gas canister to go up with a boom. It wasn't so much the chance of a explosion I was thinking about, rather that it could have given me one hell of a nasty burn before/if I managed to get it lobbed out the door. As it is it's only my eyelashes which bear the scars

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