I'll start with the white gas first because I have more of a history with this fuel type. The fuel tank is pressurized by a pump system...kinda like pumping air into a tire. The pressure pushes the liquid through a small pipe over the stove outlet, this turns the liquid into a gas once the stove is heated or "primed". Once the pipe is heated, the choke, is turned into a down position. The tank does have to be occasionally pumped to regulate the pressure inside the tank to keep the flame output consistent. A gallon of white gas last cost me $7.50.
The propane canister stove is much easier to work. Turn the dial and light the flame. The canister is already pressurized, so you don't have to do any stove maintenance while cooking. That's it. The cost for 2 canisters is around five bucks.
|White gas Coleman on the left..... Propane canister on the right|
I wasn't able to keep an accurate log on the minutes of use per stove, but the propane canister stove was used more often. Probably because of ease of use and familiarity to the equipment. During the 3.5 day trip, 5 canisters were used for cooking, one of the six crew members drank coffee all day and night and preferred the propane canister setup. I used 1.3 tanks ( which are not filled to the top ) of white gas and from my observations the white gas lasts longer. I would estimate that I might have used no more than a quarter of a gallon, or $1.87 worth of white gas fuel. I asked all five guys,"Where can I refill the canisters?", and no one had a clue. The canisters also have a problem in really cold ( below freezing ) temperatures with reaching the canisters full output potential...Charles Law.
In conclusion, I personally prefer the white gas stove because of the outside air temperature having less impact on the stove's efficiency, and the cost of the fuel. Becoming familiar with the stove operation is the hardest part of owning this type of fuel system. The continued pressure regulating of the tank is the biggest negative for this type of stove. The white gas is more fuel efficient, and works better in cold weather. I'd hate to have to rely on a propane canister to melt snow for water. Not knowing where to refill the canisters was also a big negative for the environmentalist in me.