How to Fire Up a Gas Stove Without Electricity

Published Categorized as Kitchen
A man firing up a gas stove with a matchMaxal_Tamor /Depositphotos

Gas stoves are great, especially when it comes to saving on electricity. But what do you do when the power is out, and you have no pilot light?

As an owner of a gas stove, you’d think it would light in the event of a power outage, and all you’d need would be a lighter or a kitchen match. However, much of it depends on the make and model of your stove—and its built-in safety features.

For the most part, you should be able to use a match or a lighter to ignite your gas stove, even if the power is out or the electric pilot light is no longer functioning. However, some stoves are designed so that the gas valve is operated by electricity.

If the gas valve is opened and closed using electricity, you won’t be able to use the old school match or lighter routine to get your gas stove lit. This is a feature that is much more common inside the oven than it is for the surface burners.

How To Light A Gas Stove When The Power Is Out

Though this is as straightforward of a process as they get, you can never be too careful when it comes to manually lighting gas-powered appliances, and you want to make sure that you do it right.

If the power is out, turn on a flashlight so that you can clearly see what you are doing and, for safety reasons before you do anything else, make sure that all of the gas burner knobs are turned off.

If you have a long barrel lighter, that’s perfect. If not, use a kitchen match as long as you have one available. You can use a standard lighter, but you risk getting the tips on your finger singed.

Go ahead and light the lighter, extended lighter, or kitchen match—and hold it near the center burner holes. Turn the knob to the pilot position where you will get enough gas to ignite. If it’s quiet, you’ll be able to hear the gas flowing and smell it as well. Once it ignites, get your hand back quickly.

If it doesn’t work the first couple of times and you smell gas, turn all of the knobs off and go take a break, giving the gas time to dissipate. You don’t want to keep at it and end up igniting enough gas to make a huge flame when you just need to light the burner. 

Can You Light A Gas Oven When The Power Is Out?

It’s possible to light a gas oven when the power is out if it’s a pretty old model—as in, older than gas ovens built in the mid to late 90s. Gas ovens that are more modern are designed so that the gas valves are opened and closed by electricity, making it nearly impossible to light.

Of course, you could probably break the oven down to its individual components and try to open the valves yourself, but the power would probably come back on by the time you had it halfway dismantled. (And this is all assuming you will be able to put it back together!)

Some of the more recent gas stoves have valves that are controlled in the same way for the stovetop. While it’s understandable that such things are included as safety features, it’s arguably getting pretty ridiculous.

How To Turn Your Gas Stovetop Into An Oven

When the power is out and you can’t light your gas oven, an alternative solution is to bake on your stovetop (yes, you can). It goes without saying that you’ll need a hefty and sizable pot with a tight-fitting lid—not something loose and lightweight—or a good old Dutch oven.

The most important thing to do is create space between whatever you are trying to bake and the bottom of the pot or Dutch oven. Without that space in between, whatever touches the bottom will get overcooked. The good news for you is that there are several options, and some of them are least to say unique:

  • Place stones at the bottom;
  • Use sand;
  • A wire rack;
  • Aluminum foil;
  • Lined cake tin.

The basic idea is to use anything that is heat resistant to create that barrier between the bottom of your pot and whatever food item you’re going to place in it.

Rocks, for availability reasons, are a pretty popular choice. It’s important that you make sure that they are uniform and evenly distributed across the bottom so that whatever you are baking is even all the way across.

Sand is another great choice as you can easily distribute it across the bottom of your cooking vessel and, since it will resist the heat, the surface burners will only be able to transfer heat through the pot or Dutch oven.

A wire rack will work as well, however, good luck finding one that fits and doesn’t interfere with your ability to set the lid down so that it seals shut without budging.

Aluminum foil is a great option as well because it’s easy to crunch up into whatever shape you need it to be and it efficiently resists heat. You can tear off several, uniform pieces and crush them into rolls to set at the bottom or however else you want to do it.

Lastly, you can either purchase an aluminum cake tin or line a steel one with aluminum foil and place it at the bottom of the Dutch oven/pot to create the separation that you need. This is probably the least viable option unless you have a really round pot that will fit one.

Plus, you can stack cake tins on top of one another and effectively bake a cake inside of a pot or inside of a dutch oven. Since you can’t light the gas inside of an oven, it’s better than nothing at all.

As long as you create some level of separation between the food and the bottom of the cooking vessel, you will have successfully converted your stove into a makeshift oven. (Now you understand why it’s called a “Dutch oven” in the first place.)

All Things Considered

For the most part—unless you happen to own one of those completely safety-featured gas stove/ovens—you will be able to keep using your gas stove in the case of a power outage or a faulty pilot light. This is typically the case for most gas-powered appliances.

Since the oven portion of your gas setup will probably not want to play nice, it’s good to know that you still have a range of options if you like getting creative. Who wouldn’t want to cook with stones, anyway?

By Jim Stonos

When Jim isn't in the kitchen, he is usually spending time with family and friends, and working with the HCW editorial team to answer the questions he used to ask himself back when he was learning the ropes of cooking.