Cooking with gas - health and environmental concerns

When it comes to choosing a cooktop, many people enjoy the visual feedback and quick temperature control offered with a gas set up (although modern induction cooktops now offer the same benefits).

However, there’s growing concern about the potential health concerns with gas cooktops, and of course many home chefs also include environmental factors when choosing a cooktop. We’d love to hear from you on these issues, in particular:

  • What are the health concerns to gas cooktops, and are they riskier than other set-ups?
  • What are the environmental concerns, and what are the alternatives?
  • Are there any other pros or cons to gas cooktops that should factor into the discussion?

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We would not choose anything other than gas cooktops.

When we replaced the electric cooktop with a gas unit at our previous residence, it was vastly superior to cook with, and we spent nothing on maintenance in comparison to the hundres of dollars we spent on getting faulty elements replaced on the Kleenmaid piece of junk.

At our current residence, we replaced the old gas cooktop with a new Bosch unit and we have had no problems with it whatsoever.

Even with our solar and battery system, if we have serious mains outages after a cyclone, we still risk not being able to cook with electricity as the backup box only powers the lights, fans, the fridge and our bedroom power points, but this is not a problem with gas.

Both gas cooktops proved extremely economical for energy with a 9kg refill lasting up to 11 months, so it costs us less than $30 per annum.

As far as any health concerns go, as well as the rangehood, we also have a large extractor fan in the ceiling near the cooktop which vents throught theroof

Talk about cooking with gas.



We use all electric cooking - mostly induction, and oven/microwave/griller all in one, other than for boiling the kettle on a gas burner when it’s a heavily overcast day and there isn’t much solar, and I prefer not to run the backup generator any more than the absolute minimum necessary. (I’m off grid)

Gas certainly creates stuffiness due to fumes and adds humidity to the house, plus in summer it adds a lot of heat to the kitchen due to its inherent inefficiency - all that hot air and moisture that rises up past the saucepan. When I used to use gas before getting the induction hobs, it often made the handles too hot to touch when making preserves.

Scotty from Marketing wants a gas led recovery, but due to its inefficiency when burned for household or other heating use, and the amount of CO2 released, in addition to the Methane leaks and other environmental pollution associated with its extraction, especially for CSG, it is best left in the ground.
Released CO2 and CH4 aren’t the only bad environmental outcomes associated with gas, it is where many plastics come from, and the Earth and much of life on it is in the middle of a plastic led disaster.


When used in a well ventilated kitchen and/or with a range hood I am not worried as 24x7 general pollution has a wider range of irritants and often a higher concentration of ‘bad things’. Gas has an added odour to warn about leaks and a concentration building up.

There are environmental concerns with virtually any manner of cooking with the exception of solar ‘fuelled’ electric. Whether one is worse than another is complex with the exception of solar ‘fuelled’ electric, discounting production issues.

Gas is instantaneous, one can look at the flame and judge how high it is and needs to be with infinite adjustment.

All gas cooktops have flame out protection that stops gas flow. Most gas cooktops with basic flame out protection can be used during a power failure by manual lighting. Some high end products have flame-out-auto-relight features where the cooktop will not function without electric power.

The burners are not easy to clean and care is required when removing replacing them. A carelessly replaced burner that is not correctly seated might light but the gas will not always burn properly creating a potential hazard.


Over the years I have had conventional electric, town gas, reticulated LPG, bottled LPG and inductive electric cooktops

The conventional electric whether exposed element or concealed is the least useful. You don’t have the control and if you can wind it up to high heat you have a very dangerous hot surface that can easily give serious burns regardless of indicator lights etc.

The various types of gas are all about the same in heat and control provided you have the right jets installed to get good performance. This allows you to have a powerful wok burner which adds another dimension to your cooking. The main difference between different gas stoves is in ease of cleaning which varies quite a bit. Nonetheless all have some problem with spills because of the hot flame and hot air coming off the flame that burns drips on to the hobs of the stove (sometimes other bits too) and the outside of pots and pans. This hot air contains fine particulates both from incomplete combustion of the gas and from vaporisation of food scraps. No matter how good your exhaust fan all those particulates are not removed and you do breathe some in. Especially the very fine PM2.5 are very dangerous to health. You get these from other sources like internal combustion engines so it is best to reduce your exposure to them wherever possible. Of course fuel stoves are worse and in the parts of the world where people regularly cook over wood, coal or dung fires they suffer accordingly.

The world will be a much healthier place, regardless of climate change effects, with many thousands of lives saved if we get rid of ICEs and burning fuel for heating and cooking and get rid of power generation from burning coal and gas.

My favourite is the induction stove which wins on efficiency (very little wasted energy as it heats the pot directly), has good control and beats all other systems for ease of cleaning. The top does not usually get hot enough to burn food on. If it is powered from renewable electricity it produces almost zero greenhouse gas effects in operation. All stoves have some cost in GHG during manufacture.

While we are on GHG there are the obvious consequences of burning coal and gas to generate power but less obvious effects from the methane released from coal mining and from gas extraction and the GHG and particulates from flaring gas at the well. All gas fields leak gas and all flare gas from time to time - sometimes in considerable quantities.

The problem with induction is with a standard cooktop there is no wok. You can fry but you must have a flat bottomed pan to sit over the induction elements and it just doesn’t work as well. There is good reason why the wok is a section of a sphere. There are exceptions, you can get a curved induction wok burner that fits a curved wok but they are horridly expensive and you would probably need to have another circuit for it to add to the price of the burner.

So in summary there are serious health and environmental concerns with gas cooktops both in use and in the extraction of the gas. I look forward to the day when induction stoves regularly come with a wok option at a sensible price.


I have a 25+year old standard curved wok which I use almost every day on a standard flat induction hob. Yes the heat is a bit more concentrated in the middle, but it isn’t an issue since I am almost constantly turning over the contents when frying. Add some liquid and put the lid on and it works perfectly well with no stirring. Expensive curved induction tops are unnecessary IMO.


I think we have different understandings of high heat wok cooking. There is no way a curved wok on a flat induction stove would get hot enough for me. The problem is that once the iron pan (wok or whatever) is more than a few mm away from the stove the induction effect drops dramatically. The rate you stir is going to distribute the heat through the food but if there isn’t enough heat you get steamed or braised food not wok fried.


We bought a house in a rural area with gas hot water and stove-top (oven electric). The gas HWS is outdoors and therefore well vented. The gas cook-top is in a large open plan kitchen, dining, lounge, passageway area with at least one door or window open to outside air, so no issues detected there.
The system relies on 2 x 45kg cylinders. The house is cut into sloping ground and mid to very high set, so these are well ventilated through the stumps - so no problems there, although occasionally you can smell gas. The Gas man told us there is an odour chemical that is heavier than gas, which you can smell when the cylinder is running out.

We have had two major gas leaks during our 7 years. A regulator failed and was replaced by the Gas company, a feeder tube developed a hole (probably from bending when connecting and disconnecting over years). That was replaced by a plumber we called because our HWS stopped delivering Hot Water, due to insufficient pressure to light the flame (and other issues related to pump pressure). Because the cylinders are sitting in a very well ventilated area, away from windows, doors and with airflow all around, this was not a problem for us, but could be for closer settlement or confined spaces.

The previous owners constructed a set of (non standard) concrete steps down to the cylinders. At 45kg of gas, plus the weight of the cylinder they are very difficult to manhandle when full, and even empty, the stairs and distance to vehicle access and lifting into the truck made it more difficult.

We were driving them in to exchange, however (at 80 & 70yrs) we decided to go for an agent that would come out to us. It is a challenge even for young blokes with hydraulic lifts and stair climber trolleys. They service our area fortnightly and it is obviously non-economical so the agency keeps changing.
The environmental issues around gas extraction does concern us - fracking, loss of arable land, water issues etc. We don’t have solar, so relying on grid power with attendant environmental issues too. We are low energy users - eg we sweep rather than vacuum, was cold rather than hot etc.

The gas cook-top - I found that gas, even turned down to the lowest flame, is still too hot. I do slow cooked stews with tough (cheap) meat that needs to be “just moving” but I can’t get it below a boil. The cook-top has lasted many years of daily use and is still reliable and fault free. It is the oldest and most reliable appliance in the kitchen, if not the house. So it has not contributed to landfill or recycling.

The advantages - when the power goes off we can still cook (with manual lighting), however water is unavailable as the pumps are electric. Power goes off more often than we would like, and sometimes for a day, so we have a generator set up that will power the entire house.


I had the same problem with my last gas stove. Even with a mat to spread the heat the smallest burner was still too high for very slow cooking.


Perhaps a pressure cooker or a slow cooker.

We used to regularly use our slow cooker but since we bought our 8 litre Tefal stove top pressure cooker several years ago, it has not seen the light of day. I assume it is still hiding in the kitchen somewhere.

The pressure cooker turns tought cuts of meat into stews and curries in 20 to 40 minutes and even corned beef is cooked within an hour.


I’ve got a 5 burner stove, but even the smallest is a little too large for a small saucepan that holds 7 eggs - the heat & flame seems to be more up the sides than on the bottom.

My mother was an early adaptor, and had every gadget going, mostly now just taking up bench or cupboard space. I am nothing like her and have limited myself to a microwave, bread maker, hand-held beater - that’s it. So, while the gas cook-top does the job, I probably won’t be getting a slow cooker, although it is probably something I would consider eventually. Mr Z has a pressure cooker from the 1960’s but my experience from home where a couple of my mother’s blew up has kind of put me off the idea of using it.


I was quite hesitant at first regarding getting a pressure cooker but the feedback from my wife’s sister’s husband got me started and they are now extremely safe.

However, I would not contemplate using an early pressure cooker under any circumstances. My late aunt used to use one regularly way back then, and at least once ended up with cabbage on the kitchen ceiling.

Perhaps pension the old one off and invest in a nice new one.

Our Tefal one is the best cooking appliance I have ever bought.


Over the years I have had reticulated gas, electric, bottled LPG, and induction cooktops.

The gas cooktops required maintenance in replacement of parts over time. It was expensive to convert from reticulated to LPG or visa versa. The gas was more controllable and instantaneous than the electric. The gas hobs were hard to keep clean, and occassionally spillages flowed down the holes through the guts of the cooktop onto and into the griller area. Gas was great in it’s hay day (before induction cooktops) when it was very cheap and abundant. It is now no longer cheap, and it annoys me that the exported gas we are sending overseas, including all the shipping costs, is being sold cheaper than we are getting it for in Australia. I also object to the development of more gas fields to make up for the shortfall caused by the excessive gas export trade. There is something VERY wrong there.

Another problem is that nowdays there are less LPG gas bottle refilling sites, and ‘swap and go’ is the norm. You have to pay a deposit for the first gas bottle, but I was told that I should take any empty gas bottle I don’t want refilled to the tip, even if the bottle is still current, as they do not refund the deposit. How wastefull is that!

Our induction cooktops are and have been far superior to any of the other modes, and they don’t get hot on the top. Induction has instantaneous and highly controllable heat. It is easy to wipe down. Even if something flows over and adheres to the glass, it is easy to scrape off. It heats faster (in my opinion) than any standard gas cooktop. Induction is more energy efficient and can be powered by renewable energy.

(If ever the power goes out, we have a fabulous gas powered portable BBQ to use.)


So do we. Our fantastic Weber Family Q, which is used for all roasts, steaks, sausages, bacon & eggs, kebabs, home made pizzas, and many other things, irrespective of whether the power is on or not.

And as it is outside on the back patio, no concerns with particale emissions.



I can’t think why it should be, it is a matter of installing the right jets which takes a few minutes. There are some plumbers who manage to make anything bigger than Ben Hur.


The extra cost is plumbing in the gas bottles if one is on town gas…or connecting to town gas if one is on bottles.

The one we had (F&P 90cm benchtop) was very easy to clean. It was one piece of pressed brushed stainless steel. After a year or two, there was baked on residue accumulation around the burners, but this was easily removed with oven cleaner and a paper towels.

We have ceramic cooktop in the new house…but miss and wish it was gas as…

While the manual said it would work in blackouts, it would if one held the gas knob down and lit the gas with a lighter. I think the manual said what it did because the electric piezo starter and flame out protection was mains operated.


I much prefer gas but will probably get induction electric if I am ever choosing a new stove. That will mainly be for environmental and cleaning reasons although cleaning isn’t that difficult. The only health concern that I am aware of was the day my cleaner somehow knocked and left on a gas jet while we were away on holidays. A locked up house full of gas for a week…what could possibly go wrong?


I have a gas cooktop and an electric oven. I followed the existing placement of appliances when I renovated, to save money on the installation, but I’m happy to have both sources in case one or the other becomes unavailable.

With Gas, the main health concerns can be addressed by a well designed kitchen, having windows of good dimensions and a strong exhaust fan, ensuring adequate aeration.
It is essential to have a correct installation and ongoing prudent maintenance.
A Carbon Monoxide detector can be installed in the kitchen, to alleviate fears of CO leaks.

Gas cooking gives a cooler temperature in the kitchen as the heat stops immediately when the flame is turned off.
Also, cooking temperature changes are immediate.
At the moment it is cheaper to run than
electricity, all things considered.


Even considering that you are paying for 2 utilities (electric + gas), when electric alone will do it all? Of course, that doesn’t apply if using bottled gas instead of being connected to the gas network, where the daily connection charge can be significant.


I agree with Gaby. We chose to have a gas cooktop and electric oven because around that time (mid 1980s) there were occasional power strikes. Our rangehood exhausts into the ventilated space under the tiled roof (no sarking to seal it off, so air vents between the tiles).

We also use a Weber BBQ outside with bottled gas.