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How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in the tent?

All Tentipi Nordic tipis are designed for the safe use of a fire or stove. The designs are based upon traditional Sami shelters, where the presence of a fire was an essential part of their way of life, and this safe use of fire incorporated the use of venting.

Any carbon based heat source such as barbecue coal grill, propane burner, a camp fire’s afterglow, etc. can be a source of poisonous carbon monoxide if not enough oxygen is available for combustion. The message is a simple, but very important one — if you use a fire, you need good venting for its safe use.

Since Carbon Monoxide easily mixes with air, it’s easy to get rid of the risk if some ventilation flow is arranged — ideally using ground level and tent apex vents, because the rising column of hot air creates air flow and mixing, with fresh air being drawn in at the bottom of the tent even when it’s not windy — this is how a Tentipi Nordic tipi works.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic, completely colorless and odorless gas that can be found in exhaust gases and flue gases. The gas is formed by incomplete combustion of wood, coal, propane and more. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, low heart rate at the beginning of poisoning, but high pulse later in the process, or unconsciousness.

In practice, it’s only the campfire’s afterglow or charcoals which may create a problem. These glowing fuels do not emit smoke, and the temptation is to close off the ventilation to conserve heat. Be aware that as long as it’s glowing, some ventilation needs to be provided to the fire. We recommend that you completely extinguish your fire before closing of tent vents. This will prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide. For complete peace of mind, invest a small amount of money in a portable carbon monoxide alarm.

How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in the tent?

When using an Eldfell stove in your Nordic tipi, any carbon monoxide problems are negligible. Burning fuel within the stove creates heat, and warm gases rise through the chimney exiting the roof. This creates lower pressure inside the stove, and prevents gases from exiting to the Nordic tipi. In the (highly unlikely) situation where someone makes the Nordic tipi airtight (!), fresh air still enters the tent high up in the roof, from the space around the insulated chimney. The ventilator cap must be closed when using a stove and you must not adjust it in any way. If the cap is adjusted during stove usage, it may touch the hot chimney and get damaged.

Open fire, always use either the Hekla 7 or the Hekla 30 fire box as these have been designed to keep the fire in a compact area and, additionally, offer almost smoke-free burning. Hekla 30 is only for the larger Adventure sizes. When burning an open fire, the ventilator cap needs to be open on the leeward side so that the smoke is sucked out of the tent. Make sure enough air is coming in and that it is taken from the side of the tent facing the wind. To keep maximum heat in the tent, open the ventilator cap as little as possible. Safir and Zirkon: When using an open fire, the top ventilator cap (the smaller upper cap) must be closed. As the fire dies down, the ventilator cap may be closed and the top ventilator cap opened. This will let out the smoke while keeping insects out.

NB! If Tentipi’s products are used together with products made by other manufacturers, unexpected risks concerning personal health or the state of the product may arise. Tentipi bears no responsibility for such consequences.

Be careful

Open fires and stoves must always be used with extreme care. Always have water and a bunch of twigs handy in case you need to put out a fire. Also keep a knife nearby so you can quickly slash open the tent fabric if you need to evacuate the tent. Never leave an open flame or a burning stove without supervision.

Reports of tragic accidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning in tents seem to have two factors in common. The first concerns the use of charcoal barbecues, and the second concerns the design of the tent — most of which are never designed around the use of fire or stoves. For this reason, extra care needs to be taken with charcoal and smokeless fuels. Smoke is a warning of incomplete combustion, and your barbecue won’t provide this warning.


Read more about our equipment for heating and cooking at the links below.

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