Fuels Used for Camping Stoves

Fuels Used for Camping StovesThe primary difference between camping stove models is the fuel they're designed to burn. Solid fuel stoves are simple and cheap, unpressurized liquid stoves are easy to use but inefficient, pressurized liquid stoves are efficient but higher maintenance and gas stoves are lightweight but more dangerous. Understanding the differences between fuel types and the pros and cons of each will help you choose the right fuel.

White Gas

This fuel is suitable for winter and high-altitude camping, and the stoves are reasonably lightweight. Since it's a popular choice, white gas is readily available in North America, Australia and New Zealand. Its efficient burn characteristics keep operating costs low, but white gas stoves are complicated and difficult to maintain.

Liquid Petroleum Gas

These compressed-gas canisters are often a blend of butane, isobutane and propane. Since a valve is the stove's only moving part, they're user-friendly and low maintenance. LPG fuel is available in most developed countries, but it doesn't do well in the cold. It's also a poor choice for traveling light since it's hard to know how much fuel is left and you can't discard empty canisters.

Methyl Alcohol

As the only unpressurized liquid fuel, methyl alcohol is both safe and quiet. It's also readily available throughout North America. You can find it in hardware stores and some gas stations. It's not as efficient as other fuels, and it doesn't do well in low temperatures, but it's suitable for baking and slow cooking.


This fuel is easier to get than most, and it burns as efficiently as white gas. It also has a strong odor and leaves oily stains when you spill it. The odor and soot from kerosene can contaminate your food if you don't keep your cookware tightly covered. Since it has a higher kindling point than other fuels, you'll need a priming agent to get it started.

Chemical Solid Fuels

The simplicity, low cost and light weight of solid fuels and their stoves makes them a viable alternative. These fuels are sold under the Esbit, Hexy, Triox, Hexamine and Fuel Tab labels. Solid fuels can be more efficient than liquid alternatives when the ratio of water boiled to fuel consumed is considered. However, these fuels aren't odorless, and they leave a sticky residue behind. They're also slow cookers, and solid fuels are more difficult to find than their liquid counterparts.

Article Written By Dan Eash

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.

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