Can you cook marshmallows over Sterno?

Sterno cooking is a popular method of preparing food, especially in outdoor settings like camping trips or picnics. It’s compact, lightweight, and provides a portable heat source that can cook an array of dishes with ease. One of the most iconic foods associated with Sterno cooking is roasted marshmallows. However, the question remains: is it safe to cook marshmallows over Sterno?

In this article, we will delve into the science behind Sterno and marshmallow properties and discuss the potential risks and safety precautions when cooking marshmallows over Sterno.

Understanding Sterno

What is Sterno?

Sterno is a brand name for a gel fuel made from denatured alcohol and water. It comes in small cans and has a long shelf life as long as it is unopened.

How does it work?

Sterno creates heat via a chemical reaction between the alcohol and water molecules. When lit, the flame heats up the metal container housing the fuel which then transfers the heat to whatever is placed on top of it – like a pot or pan.

Appropriate uses for Sterno

Sterno should only be used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas where there is no chance of carbon monoxide build-up. It’s appropriate for heating up food items that don’t require high levels of heat such as soups or stews.

Marshmallow Properties

Composition and properties of Marshmallows

Marshmallows are made using sugar syrup that includes corn syrup, gelatin, egg whites, vanilla extract; they are aerated by beating air into them until fluffy.

Ideal conditions for roasting Marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows typically requires an open flame that can create high heat intensity in order to achieve that crispy golden exterior while still maintaining a gooey interior texture.

Why people enjoy roasted marshmallows

Apart from their delicious taste profile, the delight that comes from roasting marshmallows extends to the fun and social aspects of outdoor activities. It’s a simple act of bonding with friends and family around a warm campfire.

Comparing Marshmallow Cooking Methods

Analyzing different methods of cooking marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows over an open flame, fire pit or stove-top are the most common ways to cook them.

Pros and cons of each method

The benefit of using an open flame or fire pit is that they provide high heat intensity which creates the ideal texture; however, stovetop preparation offers more control over temperature adjustments for more precision in achieving results that match individual preferences.

Why would someone choose Sterno instead?

Persons may opt for Sterno cooking if there is no access to an external heat source like a fire pit or stove, or when conditions demand easy-to-carry portable equipment for use.

The Risks of Cooking Marshmallows Over Sterno

  1. Carbon monoxide poisoning: When Sterno isn’t used in well-ventilated areas, it could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting.
  2. Burns risk: Since Sterno emits flames as it burns fuel gel inside its container; spills may result in injury caused by flares and flames.
  3. Inhaled chemicals: Some harmful chemicals released by burning Sterno can be ingested through inhalation if any part of their fumes come into contact with food being prepared nearby, especially during prolonged heating times.

Evaluating the risks against other forms of cooking marshmallows

While risks associated with camping fires/pits are relatively more prominent on open-flame-type heating sources like gas-powered burners, charcoal grills among others; Inhalation risk is not so much since they’re both materials are non-composition.

Steps for Cooking Marshmallows Safely on Sterno

Safety precautions that should be taken while using Sterno for roasting marshmallows.

  1. Using a skewer or other extended utensil to keep hands at safe distance from the flame.
  2. Maintaining adequate space and proper ventilation when setting up and cooking marshmallows over Sterno.
  3. Avoiding consumption/contact with flame or canister in which Sterno is burned since this could cause burns/Injuries if handled improperly.
  4. Extinguishing the gel fuel properly once finished cooking.


After analyzing and evaluating the potential risks associated with cooking marshmallows on Sterno, it’s clear that safety precautions are necessary when preparing any food item over its flame; However, for those without access to an outdoor heat source like a fire pit or stove, Sterno could provide a convenient solution to satisfy their desire for roasted marshmallows.

As long as users adhere to proper safety protocols provided by manufacturers, there is no harm in enjoying this delicacy in the great outdoors or even during power outages in the home environment where it provides a secondary fuel source suitable for emergency lighting from canned candles as well as food preparation substitutes.

So next time you find yourself camping outdoors or faced with a power outage eventuality, you can rest assured knowing that with the right materials and care preparation method, enjoying roasted marshmallows over sterne remains both safe and effective!


  1. Q: Is it safe to cook marshmallows over Sterno? A: Yes, it is safe to cook marshmallows over Sterno as long as you exercise some precautions.
  2. Q: Can I roast marshmallows indoors with Sterno? A: Roasting marshmallows with Sterno indoors is possible but requires adequate ventilation and other safety measures.
  3. Q: What are the benefits of using Sterno for cooking marshmallows? A: Using Sterno for cooking marshmallows offers convenience, portability, and can be an enjoyable activity during camping or backyard barbeques.
  4. Q: Are there any alternative methods for roasting marshmallows besides using Sterno? A: Yes, there are alternative methods such as roasting over an open fire or using a gas stove burner that can yield similar results to using Sterno.

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