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I'm interested in the GSI Bugaboo 4-person cookset and the accompanying Destination Kitchen however I have two similar/related concerns about safety and I was hoping someone in this community might have experience with them or similar products.

In the Cookset product description it says:

"For your safety, we recommend you not use directly over a campfire..."

I can't tell if this means: don't stick the pots/pans directly into a fire, or if it means that its not even recommended that you use them over a fire, on top of a metal grate/grill...

If its the former, then obviously, I'm all set (duh! dont put stuff that has plastic in it directly into a fire!). But if its the latter then...how the heck are you supposed to cook with them?!? I'll be doing a lot of camping this summer, and at each campsite there will be a fire pit with a metal grate on top of it that can be used as a cooking surface. I need a cook set that can be placed on such a grate and used safely.

Similarly, the Destination Kitchen contains a spatula...will this thing melt the moment it comes into contact with a super hot pot/pan (thats cooking over a fire on a metal grate) or is it some kind of super plastic that will withstand that type of heat?

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The reason that pan is not reccomended for campfire cooking is because it has a teflon non-stick coating which won't hand the heat.

Over time exposure to high heat will deteriorate the surface. Also, depending on the type of nonstick coating on your pan, cooking over high heat can lead to the release unhealthy, potentially toxic vapors.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Nonstick Cookware

"There's a whole chemistry set of compounds that will come off when Teflon is heated high enough to decompose," says Wolke. "Many of these are fluorine-containing compounds, which as a class are generally toxic."

Source

Apparently, campfire temperatures are higher than what a camp stove would put out and that's why a camp stove is fine but a campfire is not.

I would suggest getting an anodized aluminum kit instead of you wanted to cook over a fire.

  • Thanks @Charlie (+1) - what about something like this? It reviewed well, I'm just worried about those handles melting... – hotmeatballsoup Jun 21 '19 at 13:00
  • @hotmeatballsoup That's the exact set I have, I have never had a problem with the handles melting, you just have to be careful and cook over a small fire – Charlie Brumbaugh Jun 21 '19 at 13:53
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In addition to Charlie's answer (damage to non-stick coating), I believe the more indirect and potentially hotter heat from a fire may damage the coating you can see on some of the handles. A stove of some kind would normally directly heat only to the bottom of a properly sized cookpiece so the handles would not get anywhere near as hot as would be possible in a fire.

And, yes, plastic cookware can melt if placed in/on very hot surfaces. One of our normal kitchen spatulas has a melt mark on it that one of our boys did somehow. It would take significant exposure to heat so I would not expect it to be an issue normally unless the piece you left it in was hotter than it should be.

A final consideration is most people have no idea how hot a fire is, and it is not easy to regulate whereas most stoves you can control the output pretty quickly and easily.

  • Thanks @topshot (+1) - if you don't mind please see my question underneath Charlie's answer -- I have the same question for you! Thanks again! – hotmeatballsoup Jun 21 '19 at 13:01
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    @hotmeatballsoup Regarding that set, only if you are very careful with the handles. I note one answer to a question, I was hoping the plastic was at least heat resistant. But, nope melted first cook. The seller themselves said in an answer, The handle made by steel with plastic, so please keep away the fire. – topshot Jun 21 '19 at 13:23
  • Thanks again @topshot (+1 again), do you know of any anodized aluminum camping cookware sets that are all metal (no plastic)? – hotmeatballsoup Jun 21 '19 at 13:31
  • @hotmeatballsoup Not sure about aluminum but Primus makes a stainless steel set and Snow Peak makes SS and titanium sets. There have to be some AL ones out there. – topshot Jun 21 '19 at 13:40
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While I worked in outdoors retail, I saw the evolution of GSI's line. The Bugaboo had at some point a very bad but well-known flaw where the plastic lids (polycarbonate then some other molecule when BPA was banned from cooking apparatus) would actually melt. It wasn't a rare occurence, we'd get a few returns each month. This was usually because of partially filled pots (not enough water or food to heat) and happened on wood fires and stoves.

It was much worse over wood fires though as the flame's area is usually wider than the pot, the heat could directly affect the plastic instead of just diffusing though the pot material. When I would see a charred pot bottom in a return, I knew why the lid had melted.

GSI started adding disclaimers on their packaging during that time and they eventually upgraded their lids with silicone gaskets so heat wouldn't transfer as directly from the pots. It's still a bad idea to put a pot with plastic lid over a fire, and there are series with metal lids if you really want to do it.

But then the problem of non-stick coatings comes into play, as Charlie already mentioned (although personally I don't have any concern over it).

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