As a nation that has been blessed with one of the best climates in the world, a significantly large portion of our chosen outdoor lifestyle has always been devoted to outdoor activities and, in many areas of our al fresco lives, gas has been playing an important role across South Africa for many years.
Even during the chill of a Highveld winter there are still many sunny days on which we will be fortunate enough to enjoy a braai during the hours surrounding midday and, given a little artificial warmth from a space heater, still enjoy a sundowner or two on the patio, either at home or at a local eatery.
The ability to compress, safely contain and to regulate the flow of butane or propane has meant that many of the invaluable facilities that were once confined to the home have now become freely transportable. These fuels, burned under controlled conditions, are able to provide us alternatively with light, warmth, the means to cook our food and even to initiate the heat exchange process that is required to operate a refrigerator.
Of course there are still many of us that prefer to continue using one of the less refined sources of hydrocarbons. Fans of the charcoal braai will seldom hesitate to claim that there is no way to duplicate the taste of a steak or a chop that has been cooked over an open fire. In fact, the flavour to which they refer is simply the direct result of burning fat releasing smoke that then permeates the meat, and this effect is one that Cadac gas operated cookers are able to achieve just as readily.
The kettle braai is very popular in South Africa and, with the lid in place; the smoke is retained to create the desired atmosphere. The same effect can be achieved with LPG burning appliances by the simple step of including a layer of lava rocks between the burners and the meat. For easier cleaning, ceramic chips are now available and act in very a similar fashion to the chunks of lava.
Liquid petroleum-based fuels tend to be very thermally efficient which means that, to quote a popular metaphor, you get a lot more bang for your buck. Even for the regular camper or outdoor diner, a 9 Kilogram cylinder should be able to meet his or her needs quite comfortably for an entire season. As a result, despite the high price we must now pay for oil and all of its derivatives, this is still a very economical source of energy.
It is not that long ago, that the nation was gripped by a power crisis and rolling blackouts and brownouts, with all of the attendant discomforts, became a regular feature of our daily lives. For those who were already fans of liquid petroleum gas, the benefits were immediately apparent while those in the affected regions of South Africa who were not yet equipped for such contingencies wasted no time in rectifying the situation.
While charcoal may be great for grilling your T-bones or sosaties or for simmering a tasty potjie, as an energy source, it lacks the versatility of a propane cylinder. Certainly, you can huddle around a charcoal braai in your attempts to keep warm but you can only do so with safety when out of doors and did you ever try reading a book by its light or running your fridge? For those who lacked the funds to invest in an expensive and unsociably noisy generator, the humble skottel, together with the handy heating and lighting accessories offered a perfect all round and cost-effective solution for surviving Eskom’s darkest days.
The magic of the mountains or the bushveld casts, for many of us, a spell that is simply irresistible and camping often ranks high on our list of favourite outdoor activities. Here too, we want to enjoy not just the fresh air and scenery but also, at least one or two of the more basic comforts of modern living.
We may be content to remain out of cellular phone contact and to have no access to broadband but the convenience of coffee in a jiffy and mielie meal in minutes is too much to forsake even in exchange for the peace and the views. Once more the answer is found in one of the smaller, compact gas cylinders that fit conveniently into a back pack to serve campers, fisherman and hikers all over South Africa.