Can Fuel Canisters Explode In a Hot Car?

_Can fuel canisters explode in a hot car__With summer approaching and temperatures rising, you’re probably wondering about how heat can affect your camping equipment. Even when it’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside – which is as close to perfect as it gets for outdoor recreation – the temperature in your car can exceed 100 degrees in just half an hour. At 95 degrees – which is not uncommon for an Arkansas summer – your car can push 130 degrees in just 30 minutes. The interior of a car parked in direct sunlight on an 80 – 100 degree day can reach temperatures of 130 – 172 degrees!

That heat won’t do much to your collapsible shovel or your tent stakes, but what about your more sensitive outdoor gear, namely the fuel canisters for your camp stove? When your car turns into a solar oven, it can melt the glue off your hiking boots, but that seems inconsequential when compared to the little pressurized container of flammable and explosive gas that you use to cook your dinner.

This raises that burning question: can fuel canisters explode in a hot car?

Fuel canisters from popular brands such as MSR and JetBoil have clear instructions to avoid exposure to temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit printed directly on the canisters.

You should always store your fuel in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. This is easy enough when your camping gear is tucked away safely at home, but it’s not so simple when you head outdoors on a warm and sunny weekend.

Your car can get hot enough to melt your chocolate bar and ruin your climbing shoes, but if you use common sense and good judgement, it’s not likely that it will cause your fuel to explode.

It’s rare for camp stove fuel canisters to explode, and when it does happen, it’s usually due to user error. Your camp stove comes with a long set of instructions, often in all capital letters, telling you how to use your stove to avoid risk of injury. It’s more likely that your camp stove fuel will explode because of improper use of a windscreen than from sitting in a hot car in the summer (although even then, the chance of explosion is still small).

Those fuel canisters are hardier than they let on. It’s not as though a self-destruct switch is thrown as soon as the 120 degree mark is reached. That temperature warning is on the low end, but that doesn’t mean that you should disregard it. In fact, you should do everything you can to reduce your fuel canister’s exposure to heat.

Here are some tips for storing your pressurized fuel canisters during the summer.

  • Store your fuel in the coolest par of your vehicle. This is often the trunk.
  • Pack your fuel canisters beneath other gear to help protect them from the heat.
  • Leave the windows of your vehicle cracked to help lower the temperature and promote air flow.
  • Invest in a sunshade for your vehicle to help reduce the interior temperature.
  • Never leave your fuel canisters exposed to direct sunlight. The dashboard is a terrible place to store your fuel.
  • Allow your fuel time to cool down before use. Find a nice, ventilated spot in the shade and let your canister chill for a bit.

We’ve been selling outdoor gear in Northwest Arkansas for over 30 years, and have yet to hear about a fuel canister exploding in a hot car. But just because we’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean that it’s never happened. Please share your stories in the comments below!

One Comment

  1. Fabien says:

    Hi,

    We will visit Grand Canyon this summer and will do tent camping there.
    To cook we will use a gaz canister stove but we aren’t sure where to keep it while we hike in the park.
    We called MSR and they say it’s definitely too hot in the car.
    Where would you keep it?
    Trying to put it somewhere on the campsite, trying to burry it, keep it with us in our bagpack while we hike?

    Thanks a lot for your hints!

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