Sunday, February 26, 2012

Propane Vs. White Gas Fuels

I had the opportunity to test my white gas Coleman 425 stove against a propane canister stove. I noticed that both stoves are pretty much the same, and I was taking notes more about the fuel type rather than the stoves. I purchased the white gas stove because I use the same type of fuel for my MSR Whisperlite Intl.

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.

11 comments:

  1. I really prefer the white gas fuel use myself. Especially in cold weather, the liquid propane is NOT a good option.

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  2. Never heard of white gas, though my hubby has. I know dozens of places to refill propane (gas stove, gas grill, gas smoker).
    Interesting post. Thanks!

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  3. refill hookups are available online for filling small canisters from big propane tanks. Check amazon.

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I'll have to make a purchase and try out the refill hookups myself. I sure hate to waste a perfectly good canister.

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  4. You "CAN" refill the canisters, however, it's very hard to get them beyond 1/2 full. There is a fairly hefty fine if you are caught doing it (or is it transporting it?)

    They also tend to leak after 2 or 3 refills. I have a Mr Buddy heater that I tried refilling little cylinders for and they are a pain to deal with. Like propane, White gas, so long as you keep it dry, lasts virtually indefinitely.

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    1. Thanks for the added info! I'll have to look into refilling, it seems that you have experience with them. I'd look forward to any more information that you might have...I'd be happy to link a post to your blog. - K

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  5. the propane also in addition to being able to use a small adapter , to refill the small tanks... You can get an adapter that allows you to to hook up a larger tank from like a bbq grill that will last for weeks if you just use it for cooking ... An you can get a (tree) adapter that you can run nurmous items off of ,,, ie run 2 cooking stoves if you have a large group, you can run lanterns , heaters etc..... An you dont have any worry about any spilled fuel on your hands , the ground , your clothes , your tent.... Ive seen several of those white gas stoves go up in flames cause ppl dont know how to use them, slop the fuel every where... An the propane is cheaper if you get a 30lb tank....

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    1. Yep, gotta be careful with the white gas, but mainly use some common sense. Appreciate the input, hope you find other articles helpful too.

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  6. TOTally agree. And, environmentally, much better. I've had my Coleman white gas stove for about 30 years, as well as my lantern. Have had to replace the plunger on each, only once. Love them!

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  7. If you're going to refill little propane canisters keep them outdoors afterwards. They are not intended for refilling and the valve may leak afterwards. Or, you let the valve wear way too much or dirt gets in there. I use an 11 pound propane tank with a tree for my stove/lantern combo but the observation of white gas cost and economy seems on point only versus small cans, not bulk propane in larger tanks. I do like my white gas stove, however, and use it rather often.

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  8. It seems that you can get a can of propane for fairly cheap. One of the things I like about them is that they are already pressurized. This makes it a lot easier to use so you don't have to do it yourself. I'll have to talk to my friend Hank to help me out with some more propane things. http://www.averyoilandpropane.com

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