Frequently Asked Questions

I'm really more in the business of teaching cooking than selling equipment. So I am delighted to explain as much as I can the nuances of working with my equipment. Email your questions and I'll try to post responses.

A Note About Burner Output

A BTU is the amount of heat required to raise a pound (pint) of water 1° Fahrenheit. BTU's are usually measured over time, so Btu is actually short for Btu/hour, telling you how fast a heat source puts out a given amount of heat.

Now, when people rate heating and cooling equipment, they talk about input and output btu's, which confuses things because a gas burner that uses 10,000 btu/hour gas does not put out 10,000 btu/hr. Technically, the btu measurement is made heating water from 60° to 61°. At higher temperatures, there are losses of all kinds, which means that very few burners put out more than 1/2 their rated input Btu/hour. To be sure you are getting the burner you think you are, you might want to measure the heat yourself.

For ease in measuring, take 10 pounds of water or 5 quarts and raise it ten degrees in one hour, which will take 100 Btu. So if you take 10 pounds of water or 5 quarts and raise it ten degrees in a tenth of an hour, six minutes, you have a burner putting out 1000 btu's. So if you take 50 quarts--4 1/2 gallons--of water and raise its temperature 100° in six minutes, you have a burner putting out 100,000 btu/hour.

Good luck finding a burner that hot. Burner salespeople use ratings pretty loosely.

My Wolf commercial range burner raised 15 pounds of water 67° in 6 minutes, which corresponds to 10,500 Btu/hour. My natural gas jet burner raised 18 pounds of water 80° in six minutes, which corresponds to 14,400 Btu/hour. That doesn't sound very impressive, does it?

Then I heated 18 pounds of water on my wife's normal kitchen stove: 32° rise in six minutes which calculates out to 5760 BTU/hour.

Normal stove burners like that one are generally rated 10,000 Btu/hour.

My propane heavy duty burner raised 18 pounds of water 123° in temperature in six minutes, corresponding to 22,140 Btu/hour. Hidden in those numbers is the reason I use these burners for catering. That's enough water and enough heat to cook pasta from cold water for 50 or more in less than 15 minutes. Or wokked vegetables Chinese style for 100 in 3 minutes. Or deep-fried calamari for 200 in 10 minutes. If I could find a burner hotter than that, I'd carry it. But very, very few cooks would be able to make much use of it.

So when people ask me if my medium duty burner is hot enough for good cooking, I need to know if they want the long answer or the short answer. The short answer is "Yes." The long answer is that there are very few portable burners anywhere that are as hot.
None of the built in natural gas wok burners that come with commercial ranges are even close to my smallest jet burner in output. And I have larger ones. My medium propane burner is at least twice as hot as any commercial range burner: Viking, Garland, Wolf and the like.

Unless you are continuously boiling enormous pots of water all the time, you will not be using any of my burners on maximum for more than seconds at a time. But you will be happy to have all that heat when you need it. Just don't use it inside without commercial ventilation and fire protection. And pay very close attention at all times.

When your friends ask you how many BTU's your burner has, say 100,000 or 150,000 or whatever you want. You won't be any more misleading than the people who really should know better.

Send questions, thoughts or recipes to Jozseph.