What you need to know:
- It involves lighting up individual wicks that are always unwilling to cooperate. The wicks have to be of the right size.
- If they are too big they produce a large flare that is just pretty useless. If the wick is too small, the stove just won’t light up.
- It has to be just the right size; it is upon you to figure that one out.
The person who discovered cooking with liquefied petroleum gas saved me from the endless drama of using the paraffin stove.
The paraffin stove must have been developed in a concentration camp as a tool for use in the torture chambers.
Lighting up the gadget is enough to make you elect to abandon the meal you were intending to cook and die of hunger instead.
It involves lighting up individual wicks that are always unwilling to cooperate. The wicks have to be of the right size. If they are too big they produce a large flare that is just pretty useless. If the wick is too small, the stove just won’t light up. It has to be just the right size; it is upon you to figure that one out.
Assembling the gadget from first principles is an unnerving affair in its own right. The stove comprises of several pieces that go into each other like a complex jigsaw puzzle. One piece goes into the wrong place and the stove does not light up.
MANUAL PRESSURE PUMP
The stove comes with a manual pressure pump whose function is still a mystery. However, after giving the pump a few powerful strokes, the stove lights up brighter and emits a hissing sound like a tired steam locomotive. There are horror stories about stoves bursting up during the pressurising exercise, but one is always willing to take the risk for the sake of a hot meal.
Even after investing all this effort, you still have to start making your cup of tea at 4am if you are hoping to take it at 6am. The stove drags itself even as it consumes endless litres of paraffin with no tangible output.
There is a live risk of the stove running out of paraffin at 9pm just as you are preparing dinner of for the family and guests. The outlets that sell paraffin are not located outside your door, and the unprecedented event may herald a night of hunger for the entire family. If you are in good terms with your neighbours, there is a chance that you can borrow a litre of paraffin from one of them, with a promise to return in kind the following day.
There is the last part where the gadget emits noxious smoke after you extinguish the flames.
I once lived in an apartment that was characterised by hundreds of units, poor ventilation and tenants who did not have due regard for each other.
The unfortunate thing is that nearly everyone used a stove, with an exception of a few who were not spared the secondary effects and the drama.
To safely put out the flames, one must remove the stove from the house and place it a reasonable distance away. Then you pour some water directly on the wicks, thus extinguishing them. The stove does not go down without a fight. It emits noxious fumes that can bring a full UN assembly on global warming to a standstill.
In this apartment where I lived, or let me call it a flat or plot for better familiarity, terrorism by use of stove fumes was an everyday affair.
Because no one wanted the fumes retreating back into their houses, the user would walk the stove a few doors away and extinguish it from there.
The effect was that it drove the fumes into your neighbours houses. The neighbours did not just sit down and continue enjoying their difficult tenancy in silence.
They were more likely to come out spewing expletives and pointing at the likely culprits. If you were the unlucky culprit, you were most likely locked up in your unit, enjoying your meal courtesy of the stove and definitely not in the mood to face your livid accusers outside.
The skirmish rarely deteriorated into anything serious. We were all aware that it was me today and you tomorrow.
If you were unlucky and your stove had an identifier, your neighbours would drag the stove back to your doorstep, thus giving you a taste of your own medicine.
It leaves a lot of doubt as to the real intention of the person who discovered the gadget. It scores a zero across all environmental score cards, it is slow and does not deserve a badge of honour in any discussion on sustainability.