A gas ring is a burner which is designed to control the flow of gas to create a steady, easily adjusted heat. Gas rings come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles designed for everything from open air cooking to gas stoves. They are typically available from hardware stores, along with necessary fittings to ensure that they are safe to use.
When gas is used as a cooking fuel, it is vital to be able to control the gas. A gas ring has a series of small nozzles which release gas when a valve is turned, allowing the gas to mix with oxygen so that complete combustion can occur. Depending on how widely opened the valve is, the heat generated can be adjusted, allowing cooks to control how high and hot the flames are. When the valve is turned off, no more gas can flow through the gas ring, and it becomes inert again.
On a gas stove, the burners are classically lit with a pilot light or an electric starter. In the case of a stove with a pilot light, a small gas fire is kept burning constantly, so that when a burner is turned on, the gas ignites. In a stove with an electric starter, turning the valve to send gas to a gas ring also triggers an electrical signal which generates a spark, igniting the gas. Electric stoves can also be manually lit with the assistance of a lighter or match.
Gas rings can also be fitted directly over gas tanks, a technique which is sometimes used to cook outdoors. Such rings have the advantage of being potentially quite large, which can be useful when cooking huge pots of food. They can also be designed to emit heat to warm an area, or to be decorative, in which case the gas ring may be partially enclosed for safety.
Cooking with a gas ring of any size is usually fairly easy, but there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind. Gas rings should be regularly scoured to remove buildup, ensuring that all the nozzles are clear, and it is a good idea to check the seals and connections between a gas ring and a source of gas for leaks. Even a small leak can be potentially explosive, as well as harmful for pets and people who might inhale the gas.
If a gas ring is turned on and it does not immediately ignite, it should be turned off again while the pilot and other connections are checked. Otherwise, the gas could ignite explosively when it is exposed to a flame.