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I've seen plenty of articles about gas stoves and the impact on indoor air quality. Specifically, there are reports of much higher CO2, NOx, PM 2.5 particulates, and formaldehyde, relative to electric stoves. However, I can't find any reference specifically to natural gas vs. propane. It looks as if most such articles are written with natural gas in mind.

How do natural gas and propane stoves compare in terms of indoor air quality.

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3 Answers 3

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Combustion of either propane or natural gas can create dangerous conditions for indoor air quality without adequate ventilation.

Propane is a hydrocarbon that ideally consists of length-3 carbon chains (C3H8 also known as C3). However, cooking propane is never 100% pure, and contamination from soluble hydrocarbons from C10 up to C40 is likely.

Natural gas is a mix of hydrocarbons primarily composed of methane (CH4) but also longer hydrocarbons and alkanes. In Canada, natural gas must be at least 90% methane to be legal for sale. Some common impurities in natural gas are sulfur compounds and mercury.

Under idealized circumstances (100% pure methane or propane and 100% complete burn) the only combustion products are heat, water, and CO2. However, ideal circumstances are never achieved in the real world.

This study shows that normal combustion of propane is likely to produce carbon monoxide (CO) because of less-than-perfect combustion efficiency and particulate matter (PM2.5) because of impurities and contaminants.

There is no substantial safety difference between propane and natural gas when used for indoor cooking. I strongly recommend electric (either resistance or induction) heat for safe indoor cooking.

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  • Is there any difference between propane and natural gas in terms of impurities? I.e. is one easier/more likely to be produced with more purity than the other?
    – Eric Marsh
    Sep 25, 2021 at 20:29
  • @EricMarsh Both propane/natgas only need to be 90% pure to be marketable. There really isn't much difference.
    – Nic
    Sep 26, 2021 at 16:20
  • I’ve been looking for an answer to this question given the recent high profile research on in-home gas appliances. I just had to add here that while I’m pretty convinced propane is unlikely to be much better if at all than natural gas, the answer above is disingenuous at best. The only information cited, about propane, to back up this claim is a study by the US armed forces testing a large propane burner array in open air conditions to simulate aircraft catching on fire. To use this as a comparable to an in-home propane range is misleading, especially considering that the study’s conclusions i
    – Jordan
    Jan 22, 2023 at 23:48
  • Mercury is rare and removed in separation. Sulfur is removed at gas plants. Compounds over C3 are removed at the gas plant as they are more value than methane. Jan 24, 2023 at 15:43
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The article you say confirms that propane produces the same toxicity and off-gassing as natural gas does not appear to be research related to cooking ranges. The article refers to "jet pools" of ignited materials, and done outdoor with burners that are not designed or operated for maximum burn efficiency, as range burners are. A simple Google search indicated that natural gas is classified "low toxicity" while propane is "non-toxic". I'm not sure why you feel the need to discredit propane as a cooking fuel, but in point of fact, it appears to be substantially less polluting tha n. gas. You also mention that propane suppliers rarely sell a 100% clean product, which can cause pollutants, but you include no data to substantiate that claim, such as measurements taken in different parts of the country from different suppliers.

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    Who are you replying to?
    – Eric Marsh
    Apr 19, 2023 at 1:54
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If a burner is working properly both gases should only produce CO2 and water ( and the original nitrogen from air). The mercaptan orderant produces minuscule SO2. The BTU level of nat gas is generally adjusted by adding air.

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