White Gas: The Magical Winter Camping Fuel

To have a complete camping experience, you cannot do without toasted s’mores and the warmth of a campfire. However, for avid campers, a camping stove is an essential piece of gear, and the type of fuel it requires should be considered before setting out on your adventure.

While a wood-burning stove may work in the summer and fall, it will not be suitable for winter camping.

Therefore, you will need to use a specialized and dependable camping fuel. This is where the amazing white gas comes in!

What Is White Gas?

White gas is a type of liquid fuel that comes from petroleum. It is colorless and does not have any additives. It is often sold in one-gallon gas cans under the chemical name “naphtha”. It has a high carbon content of 5 to 9 carbon atoms per molecule, which makes it a good source of energy.


White Gas for camping

White gas is a popular choice among campers because it can meet some of the most essential camping needs. Food, warmth, and safety are crucial aspects of camping, and experienced campers know this very well.

It has the unique ability to burn hot, fast, and brightly, making it a popular choice for avid campers who use it as fuel for their camping stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting purposes.

In addition to cooking and lighting, white gas is also used by fire artists for fire dancing because it lights up quickly when a flame is nearby and extinguishes just as easily.

How To Light a White Gas Stove

White gas is commonly used as fuel in nearly all liquid fuel stoves. To understand how white gas works in achieving its purpose, we need to explore the mechanism of action of white gas in liquid fuel stoves.

Parts of a White Gas Stove

Liquid fuel stoves typically consist of a fuel tank, pump, valve, and burner. The fuel tank holds the fuel, while the pump generates enough pressure to cause the fuel to flow. The valve then controls the flow of fuel, which connects to the burner through the fuel line. The burner ignites the fuel to create heat for cooking.

Steps in Lighting

To light a white gas stove, you first need to pressurize the fuel tank using the pump system. This process involves pumping up the fuel bottle/tank to generate enough pressure to cause the fuel to flow. Typically, you will need up to 10 pumps for smaller tanks and 15 to 20 pumps for larger tanks to generate sufficient pressure. The valve then releases fuel into the fuel line, which flows into the burner in liquid form.

Next, you need to prime or pre-heat the stove by burning a little alcohol on the burner. This process may involve using alcohol to keep the stove soot-free. The purpose of this heating is to convert the liquid fuel into gas. Once the fuel is primed, you need to ensure that the lighting lever located on the side of the valve is facing upwards until the flame turns blue. This allows more air to mix with the fuel, resulting in faster ignition. Once the stove is primed, the lever should be turned into a downward position.

The burner then mixes the fuel with air, resulting in a chemical reaction that vaporizes the liquid fuel into a gaseous fuel. The gaseous fuel is then released for ignition. Although liquid fuel stoves work best when powered with white gas, lighting the stove requires some skill and getting used to. For example, you should stop pumping once you achieve a blue flame. The stove usually burns with a yellow flame as the generator assembly gets hot enough to vaporize the fuel. A blue flame is thus an indicator of a proper mixture of fuel and air.


White Gas for camping benefits

White gas has become one of the most popular camping fuels due to its many advantages over other fuels. Here are some of the benefits of camping with white gas:

Unmatched Purity

White gas is a highly refined gas with no impurities or additives. This purity makes it much safer and easier to store and transport compared to gasoline or other fuels. Additionally, white gas resists gumming and clogs on the fuel line of your stove, allowing you to enjoy other camping activities without worrying about cleaning your stove. When cooking with white gas, there is no aftermath soot on your stove, and it does not affect the taste of your food, unlike other gases such as propane that produce heat, light, and carbon dioxide.

Burns Brightly

White gas burns very brightly, making it an excellent choice for lighting lanterns. It provides good night vision, which is crucial during those camping nights in the outdoors.

High Energy Emission

White gas is an excellent source of warmth in lanterns and is best for winter camping as it burns very hot, producing high energy to provide the much-needed warmth. It is also hotter than propane, which means you will consume less white gas and achieve the same results as when using propane when heating the same amount of water.

Rapid Ignition

Rapid Ignition white gas for camping

White gas burns hot and fast, making it ideal for cooking and boiling water during camping when time is of the essence. This fuel is especially handy during winter camping when snow is the only fresh water source available as it melts it quickly, helping to prevent dehydration.

Convenience of Use

Using white gas is convenient because you can control the temperature of the burner using the temperature knob, allowing you to regulate the heat and avoid burning your food. You can also estimate how much fuel you will need for your trip based on factors such as the season and activity.

For example, you may need 4 ounces per person per day during the summer and 8 ounces per person per day during winter camping. This estimate is accurate when boiling snow for water, which uses up more fuel.

Efficient in All Temperatures

White gas performs exceptionally well in both high and below freezing temperatures. Its low flash point makes it easy to vaporize quickly, allowing for easy ignition even in low temperatures. This feature makes it a popular choice for winter camping and can be easily found in North America, known for its extremely low temperatures. However, it is still highly flammable and volatile, requiring caution when handling.


White gas is colorless and odorless, making it convenient in case of spills. However, it can also be a disadvantage as it’s challenging to detect leaks without visual inspection. In the event of a leak near an open flame, an explosion can occur.


White Gas for camping portable

The simple design of liquid fuel stoves, including only essential parts such as the burner, gas connection, and internal gas line, makes them lightweight and easily portable. Coleman fuel bottles are also lightweight and disposable, making them easy to carry. In comparison, propane cartridges are heavier and non-disposable, adding weight to your gear.

Long Shelf-Life

White gas has a long shelf-life of up to five to seven years when unopened and properly stored. Once opened and exposed to air, its shelf-life reduces to about a year. Experienced campers appreciate this fuel’s durability and reliability for extended camping trips.

Ease of Accessibility

White gas is readily available in most camping stores, especially in the U.S. where camping is a popular activity. This easy accessibility ensures that campers need not worry about running out of fuel while out in the woods.

Furthermore, many liquid fuel stoves can use alternative fuel sources, making it helpful when camping in countries where white gas is not readily available.

In terms of cost, white gas is relatively inexpensive and burns hotter and faster, making it a more cost-effective option in the long run compared to other fuels.


White Gas for camping Disadvantages

Despite its many advantages, white gas is not without its shortcomings. These are some of the limitations associated with this camping fuel:

Requires Pumping

They require pumping before use to put the fuel under enough pressure to rise to the burner. This makes it a bit more complex to work with compared to other fuels which are usually pressurized.

Requires Priming

White gas stoves require pre-heating to vaporize the fuel for it to burn correctly, unlike other fuels that do not require priming.

Highly Flammable

It is liquid at room temperature, making it prone to spillage, and any leakage can result in an accidental explosion. It should be stored away from flames, and leakages should be checked for as the fuel is odorless.

Impurities from Other Fuels

When working with multi-fuel stoves, other fuels with impurities may clog white gas stove parts over time, resulting in stove flare-ups. This would not be the case if white gas were used solely.

Why Is White Gas a Better Fuel Choice for Backpackers?

White gas is a better fuel choice for backpackers for several reasons:

1. Efficiency: White gas is a highly refined fuel that burns hotter and faster, making it more efficient than other camping fuels. This means that you will need less of it to achieve the same results, which is especially important when backpacking as every ounce counts.

2. Portability: White gas stoves are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for backpackers who need to carry all their gear on their backs. The fuel bottles are also relatively small and easy to pack, which is a bonus when you have limited space.

3. Versatility: White gas stoves can also burn other fuels such as kerosene, unleaded gasoline, and diesel, which makes them a versatile choice for backpackers who may not always have access to white gas.

4. Durability: White gas has a long shelf life, which is important for backpackers who may not use their stoves frequently. Unopened white gas bottles can last up to 5-7 years, while opened bottles can last up to 1 year if stored properly.

5. Safety: White gas is a clean-burning fuel with no additives, which makes it safer to use and transport than other fuels such as gasoline. It is also less likely to clog your stove or produce soot, which means less maintenance and cleaning.


gas for camping Hazards

White gas, also known as Coleman fuel, has several hazards associated with its use. Here are some of the most significant hazards to consider:

1. Flammability: White gas is highly flammable and volatile, which means that it can ignite easily and burn rapidly. This makes it important to handle the fuel with great care, and to store it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area away from any heat sources.

2. Health hazards: Exposure to white gas can cause skin irritation, redness, and swelling, especially if it comes into contact with the skin for an extended period of time. Contact with the eyes can cause burning, tearing, and redness. Inhaling the fumes from white gas can also cause respiratory irritation and other health problems.

3. Environmental hazards: When white gas is released into the environment, it can contaminate soil and water, and harm wildlife. It is important to properly dispose of any unused white gas and to avoid spilling it on the ground or in water sources.

4. Combustion by-products: When white gas is burned, it produces combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. These by-products can be harmful to human health and the environment, especially if they are released in high concentrations.

To reduce the hazards associated with white gas, it is important to use it only in well-ventilated areas, to store it properly, and to dispose of it responsibly. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, and to wear protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when handling the fuel.

Safety Tips:

gas for camping safety tips

When handling white gas, it is essential to follow certain safety tips to prevent accidents. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using white gas:

1. Use in a well-ventilated area White gas should always be used in a well-ventilated area, especially when burning it indoors. This will help prevent the buildup of harmful fumes.

2. Keep away from flames White gas is highly flammable and should be kept away from flames and other sources of ignition. Ensure that your stove is turned off and that there are no open flames nearby when refilling your fuel bottle.

3. Store properly When not in use, store white gas in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Keep it in a tightly sealed container, away from children and pets.

4. Use with caution White gas should be used with caution, and only by individuals who are familiar with its handling and usage. Always read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

5. Avoid spills Avoid spilling white gas by using a funnel when refilling your fuel bottle. In case of a spill, clean it up immediately and properly dispose of any contaminated materials.

6. Check for leaks Before using white gas, always check for leaks. You can do this by smelling for gas or by using a leak detector. If you detect a leak, do not use the fuel, and seek assistance from a professional.

7. Do not inhale Do not inhale white gas vapors, as they can be harmful to your health. Use a respirator or other protective gear when working with white gas for an extended period.

By following these safety tips, you can enjoy the benefits of white gas while minimizing the risks associated with its usage.

Storage Tips

gas for camping storage

Proper storage of white gas is essential to prevent fires, spills, and contamination. Here are some tips for storing white gas safely:

1. Store in a cool, dry place: White gas should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat, flames, and direct sunlight. The ideal storage temperature is below 50°F (10°C).

2. Keep away from ignition sources: White gas is highly flammable, and even a small spark can ignite it. Keep the fuel away from any ignition sources, such as stoves, lighters, matches, and cigarettes.

3. Use appropriate containers: White gas should be stored in appropriate containers that are specifically designed for fuel storage. The containers should be made of metal or plastic and have a tight-fitting cap or lid to prevent leaks.

4. Label the container: It is important to label the container with the contents and the date of purchase or expiration. This will help you keep track of the fuel and ensure that you use it before it expires.

5. Keep out of reach of children and pets: White gas should be kept out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion or inhalation.

6. Dispose of properly: When disposing of white gas, it is important to follow local regulations and guidelines. Do not pour the fuel down the drain or dispose of it in the trash. Instead, take it to a hazardous waste collection facility or a recycling center that accepts hazardous materials.


gas for camping faq

Can white gas be used in a propane stove?

It should not be used in a propane stove as they are not designed for use with liquid fuel. Propane stoves are designed to work with pressurized gas, and using liquid fuel like white gas can damage the stove and cause safety hazards. Always use the appropriate fuel for your stove as indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can its be used in a kerosene stove?

White gas can be used in some kerosene stoves that are designed to be multi-fuel stoves. However, it is important to check with the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the stove is compatible with white gas. Some kerosene stoves may require specific types of kerosene, so it is essential to use the right fuel for optimal performance and safety.

Is white gas the same as gasoline?

White gas is a petroleum distillate that is derived from gasoline, but it is not the same as gasoline. White gas is highly refined and has no additives, making it safer and easier to store and transport than gasoline. Additionally, white gas has a higher carbon content, which makes it a better source of energy than gasoline for camping stoves and lanterns.

Can it go bad?

White gas has a long shelf-life of about 5-7 years if the fuel bottle is unopened and stored in a cool, dry place. However, once the fuel bottle is opened and exposed to air, the shelf-life reduces to about a year. To extend the shelf-life, it is advisable to store the fuel in a tightly sealed container and avoid exposure to extreme temperatures or sunlight.

Can it be stored in plastic containers?

White gas should not be stored in plastic containers as it can react with the plastic, causing it to weaken and eventually fail. White gas should only be stored in approved metal fuel bottles that are designed for this purpose. Using the wrong type of container can result in spills, leaks, and safety hazards.

Can white gas be transported on a plane?

It is considered a hazardous material and is not permitted on commercial flights. It is essential to check with the airline’s regulations and guidelines on transporting fuel before traveling with white gas. Additionally, it is crucial to follow the recommended safety measures when transporting fuel to avoid accidents or injuries.

How much of it do I need for camping?

The amount of white gas you need for camping depends on various factors such as the duration of your trip, the number of people, and the activities you will be engaging in. As a general rule, you can estimate 4 ounces of white gas per person per day during the summer and 8 ounces per person per day during winter camping. However, it is always advisable to carry extra fuel in case of emergencies.

How do I dispose of used white gas containers?

Their containers should be disposed of responsibly to minimize the environmental impact. If the container is empty, it can be recycled as scrap metal. However, if the container has some leftover fuel, it should be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility or a designated collection center. Do not dispose of used containers in regular trash cans or open flames.

Can white gas be used indoors?

White gas should never be used indoors as it emits toxic fumes that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning or other health hazards. Always use white gas in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, and away from any flammable materials or open flames.

How do I extinguish flames?

White gas flames can be extinguished by turning off the fuel source, closing the valve on the stove or lantern, or smothering


White gas or Coleman fuel is an excellent choice for camping and backpacking. Its benefits are numerous, including unparalleled purity, bright burning, high energy emission, rapid ignition, convenience of use, efficiency for all temperatures, odorless, portability, long shelf-life, and easy accessibility. However, it also has its shortcomings, such as the need for pumping and priming, high flammability, and potential health hazards upon contact.

By following safety and storage tips, campers and backpackers can safely and effectively use white gas for their cooking and lighting needs in the great outdoors. Overall, white gas is a reliable and efficient fuel choice for outdoor enthusiasts who prioritize safety and convenience.