What is a Wok Burner?


Wok Burner

In my search for different types of woks, I came across a wok burner as an alternative method for heating woks.

I did not know what a wok burner was, so I decided to do some research. Here is what I found about wok burners:

  • Wok burners are made for woks.
  • Wok burners generate a tremendous amount of heat.
  • Wok burners can use common sources of fuel, like propane. 
  • Wok burners can be used on camping trips or picnics. 

Woks need high temperatures. The stoves and ovens in our homes and apartments usually don’t have the type of heat that Asian restaurants have. Gas stoves, electric glass or porcelain stoves, and electric coil stoves cannot duplicate the kind of temperatures that Asian restaurants can provide in their kitchens.

Wok burners are a solution to the problem of supplying enough heat to duplicate true Asian wok cooking. Wok burners can generate 20,000BTU’s to 100,000BTU’s and more, which is more than adequate for heating a wok.

Wok burners can use propane fuel for cooking and are very economical, if correctly adjusted.

With wok burners, round-bottomed woks are the norm because of their shape.  You would be hard pressed to find a flat-bottomed wok in an Asian restaurant.  Almost 100% of woks that are used with wok burners are made of carbon steel.

When you use a round-bottomed wok with a wok burner, the cooking is so fast that the food is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The food extracts some of the flavors from the wok itself. If you don’t use a wok burner, flavors from the wok are difficult, if not impossible, to infuse into your food.

Transporting a wok burner is easy, because they are usually smaller than a barbecue grill. They take up less space in your car, and all you need for fuel is a bottle of propane.  You will not have to haul around charcoal or wood to burn.  Wok burners are perfect for picnics, catering, or for use at your home. Wherever you use your wok and wok burner, you will find that clean up is a lot easier than with a barbecue grill.

Are Wok Burners Safe?

Wok burners are very safe, if you use them according to the instructions. When you get your wok burner, make sure you follow the instructions so that it is assembled properly. Test all fuel line connections by spraying water on all the fittings. If bubbles appear, tighten the connections. If you do not see any bubbles, then you are good to go.

Woks burners can come with an electric or a manual start. When you start your wok burner, make sure that you turn the main fuel supply down and slowly open the pilot valve. Once you have done this, it is safe to start the burner.

If you have an electric start, push the button to ignite the pilot light.

If you have a manual start, you will need a match or lighter. Turn your main fuel supply to its lowest setting or just shut it off. Then slowly open the pilot valve and light the pilot with a match or lighter. When you slowly open the pilot valve, you will hear gas rushing through the pilot gas system.

A lot of wok burners don’t come with stands to support them. You can set the burner on a table, box or whatever you have handy.

You must be sure that:

  1. The support you choose for the wok burner is stable and robust. The support should not wobble. You do not want your wok burner falling over when you are cooking.
  2. Because your wok burner and wok will be very hot, be careful not to touch either the wok or wok burner until they cool down.
  3. Children and animals should be kept away from the wok burner. If either of them goes near the wok burner and it turns over. it could cause severe burns. Just be safe.
  4. All your food is assembled and ready to go by your wok cooking area.  Wok burners create such high heat that they cook very quickly.  You do not want to run back and forth into your kitchen to get food, while the wok burner is running. You could burn the food in your wok, if you leave it to get other food from your kitchen.
  5. Oil is only added to the wok as it is beginning to heat.  Do not put oil in your wok if it has been at a relatively high heat for any length of time. The high heat generated by the wok burner could cause the oil in your pan to flame up and out.

Can You Use a Wok Burner Inside Your Home?

Do NOT use your wok burner inside your home. Wok burners burn hot and will give off carbon monoxide.  Also, if the burner turns over, it could start a fire.

Only use wok burners outside of your house.

Is a Wok Burner Stand Recommended?

In my research I discovered that a lot of the stands that come with wok burners are flimsy. The legs on some of these stands are made of very thin-walled metal, which means they are weak.

If you place the burner on a wooden or glass table, you should consider using a large brick or stepping stone under the wok burner to keep the heat away from the table surface.

What Are The Best Wok Burners for Home Owners?

There are many different types of wok burners on the market. They all work on the same principle. Most all of them use the same kind of fuel (propane gas).

I did a lot of research on wok burners. Some of the burners sit on solid metal tables. Other wok burners are table-top models. Some wok burners even have legs to support them.  If you want to build your own wok burner, you can also buy the parts from Amazon.

The wok burner I like the most is the Thunder Group H-205 Fast Stove. Check Amazon for availability and prices. This burner would be perfect for your back lawn or patio, yet big enough for use by catering companies.

  • This heavy-duty fast stove is built with a burner that can quickly be adjusted to low and high settings.
  • It comes complete with a hose and gas nozzle to accommodate meals on the go.
  • This stove would be a great addition to any busy kitchen or catering company.

If Using a Wok Burner, What Kind of Oil Should I Use in My Wok?

With any wok cooking, you should use an oil that has a HIGH SMOKE point. Any of the following oils would be safe to use:

I would not use flaxseed oil to cook with a wok because the smoke point is only around 225 degrees F.

You can get more information on oils to use for woks or carbon steel cookware here. Note that this article on oils pertains mostly to seasoning carbon steel, but also relates to cooking with carbon steel cookware.

Related Questions

What is a BTU? BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. According to Wikipedia:  It is a traditional unit of heat; it is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Its counterpart in the metric system is the calorie, which is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.[2]

How many BTUs are is a wok burner? To stir-fry in a wok properly, the temperature needs to be high enough to cook your food the instant it hits the pan. Restaurants will have burners that are 20,000 to 50,000 BTU.  Some restaurants will even have special wok burners that are 250,000 BTU.

How many BTUs are in a home gas stove? A home stove has, on average, about 7000 BTUs per burner. Some burners are lower, designed for simmering and low-heat cooking and only put out 3000 to 5000 BTUs.  There may be one very large burner on a range that goes up to 12,000 BTUs.

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