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> How is proper stack handling supposed to be done?

I don't think there is an official way to handle stack.
You can, as Peter Pimley points out, remove all elements from the
stack  ( i.e. lua_settop(L, 0) ) after calling lua_pcall.
What my library LuaClassBasedCall does is to call lua_settop *at the
start of* the calling process.
By the way, using LuaClassBasedCall prevents the programmer from a lot
of API misuses, like stack overflows...

Schematically, the library always performs these 5 operations :
 1) lua_settop(L,0)
 2) compile snippet to stack (or take from cache)
 3) push input arguments to stack
 4) lua_call
 5) retrieve results from stack