Whilst barbecues are a joy for many, it's important to take safety seriously when it comes to burning a fuel to cook.
Unfortunately the joys of a campfire are not open to many campers on campsites these days - for a variety of safety and practicality reasons - so a barbecue is probably the next best thing.
There has been a number of incidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning. Please check the safety advice below.
You shouldn’t normally use a gas, petrol or other combustion cooker inside your tent for two reasons: the risk of fire and the possible build-up of carbon dioxide (or worse, carbon monoxide) if there’s inadequate ventilation.
Some large frame tents or trailer tents have a kitchen annex with vertical sides, a large ventilation panel and plenty of head height, so the risk of fire is reduced, but it’s still sensible to have a fire extinguisher and fire blanket to hand.
Any heat source close to a synthetic fabric tent wall is a bad idea as the fabrics are often susceptible to heat. Appliances can also flare up, so an arching wall is a high risk. If the weather is bad, an external porch canopy combined with a windshield on the cooker will often provide sufficient weatherproofing for your cooking needs – as long as you can keep the cooker sufficiently far away from the tent walls and canopy.
Always be Carbon Monoxide Aware when cooking near your unit. Read our information on staying safe while cooking outdoors.
Are barbecues allowed?
Before lighting up your barbecue always check whether it is allowed on the site. In times of drought at the end of a hot summer, particularly abroad, campsite grass will be dry and flammable and fire risks will be high. A single spark from a barbecue can (and does) cause serious fires.
Those who love real charcoal will sing its praises as the authentic barbecue fuel. One big advantage of charcoal is that you can add herbs, woodchips and other flavourings to make the smoke smell wonderful. Fragrant smoke certainly seems to make the food taste better.
One of the biggest drawbacks with charcoal is that everything about it is dirty. The charcoal itself and the ash it leaves. But again real fans will put up with this for the advantages they claim it gives.
Today, sealed self-lighting bags are the cleanest way to start a real charcoal barbeque. There is usually a special disposal bin for the cold ashes on Club Sites
Instant barbecues are cheap and widely available. They consist of an aluminium tray already packed with charcoal and a lighting medium. They have their own wire grid on top to take the food.
A warning; don’t use your instant barbecue directly on the grass. The heat will kill the turf so that nothing will grow for many months. Purpose-built stands are available for instant barbecues, or you can use bricks to prop one up securely.
Gas fired barbecues
A gas flames heats either a metal plate, grill or blocks of lava stone, which replace the conventional charcoal.
Scientific experts will tell you that it’s the burning fat from meat or the juice from vegetables that gives the smell and the taste to barbecues rather than any intrinsic elements within the fuel itself, so you won't miss out on any flavour.
Gas barbecues come in all sorts of sizes and those that use lava stone can also have herbs and fragrant woodchips added to improve the aroma of the smoke and thus the food.
A final thought
However delicious you make your smoke, not everyone enjoys it wafting across their pitch and into their unit.
Check out the wind direction or better still, invite your campsite neighbours to join you for the most delicious meal of their lives.