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Stoves 101: How to Get the Most out of Your Fuel Canisters?

Stoves 101: How to Get the Most out of Your Fuel Canisters?

Having a fuel canister is not only about using it, but more about getting the most out of it. Fuel canisters are made of a mixture of gases, generally a mixture of propane and butane, or a mixture of propane as well as isobutane, with an interior pressure that keeps the mix in liquid form. A small amount of the liquid evaporates and turns into a gas that floats above the remaining liquid. When the fuel canister is connected to a stove, the gas will feed the spark of your burner. And trust me, it burns.

Fuel canisters are one of the most significant items ever created. Those small butane fuel cans have modernized our camping style to catering and heating. This process eradicated the guesswork of creating a fire or the preparation interval of preparing a liquid-fuel or white-gas stove.

So, how can we make the most of our prepackaged fuel? We need to know how much fuel we should carry with us before going to any camping trip, however as the seasons vary and temperatures start to change, it is always preferable to know how to acquire the full potential of our fuel canisters.

Factors affecting our fuel canisters

To get the maximum potential of your canister, it is important to understand what factors affect the performance of a typical fuel canister. One of the most essential factors to have in mind is temperature.

For the optimal functioning of the canister, the internal pressure of the canister needs to be higher than the outside pressure. If the temperature of the canister decreases too much, then the liquid will not evaporate into a gas. For butane fuel canisters, this can happen at 31 degrees Fahrenheit. For canisters having isobutane, this occurs at 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

An additional factor that disturbs the canister’s performance is height. Height equalizes the temperature, as minor outer pressure, which is attained at higher altitudes, aids to keep the interior/exterior pressure of the canister in a good balance.

How can we keep our Portable stoves working stronger & longer?

  • Keep your fuel canisters warm

The first thing to do is to preserve your fuel canister from becoming too cold. The easiest way is to warm up your fuel canister before connecting it to your portable stove through either keeping it in a sleeping bag or preserving it in your isolated jacket.

Another solution would be to warm up to your two canisters at the same time so that one canister begins to get cold and fade during its usage, and you can switch it for a warm canister and continue cooking.

  • Look for isobutane fuel mixtures

The fuel formula is an essential element to be aware of. Isobutane fuel has a high-vapour pressure. Due to this particular factor, the liquid evaporates, yet the fuel pressure will keep the canister at standard temperatures -around 20 degrees Fahrenheit- which is lower than the one of butane fuel. This will preserve your portable camping stove cranking out heat whenever others might fail.

  • Use your portable stove in a liquid-feed manner

Some portable stoves, such as the MSR as well as the Whisper Lite Universal, allow you to reverse the fuel canister to feed liquid fuel to your stove. Doing this will preserve the performance of your portable stove without thinking about vaporization. (Make sure that your portable stove has this property before you use it!)

  • Generate a wind barrier

Try to lessen the wind by creating a barrier around the portable stove area to cut off wind breezes that can put out the flame. Keep in mind that a 5 MPH wind can be the reason of three times more usage of fuel in certain periods of cooking. (bear in mind that a metallic windscreen is not suggested for propane-based fuel canisters, because this can enhance the potential for a blast! No one wants an explosion in the middle of nowhere!)

  • Protect the fuel canister from the ground

Placing a noninflammable barrier under your fuel canister will persevere it from the cold ground as well as keeping it a little warmer when you are catering, letting it continue to feed your portable stove with fuel.

  • Do not worry about boiling

When producing drinks, do not carry your water to boil. No one can drink a boiling cup of water. If you require one liter of boiling water, boil 2/3 of it; and add 1/3 of cold water. You will have hot water and utilize less fuel.

  • Allow pasta & rice soak

Pasta, as well as rice, do not need continuous boiling. Put both of these constituents in the boiling water for some minutes. And then, turn off your fuel and allow them to soak having the lid on. You will save your fuel by enabling them to cook.

  • Turn stove temperature down a notch

Another simple solution is to turn your portable stove heat down a notch. This may look a bit primitive, however, the performance of the stove will not be affected, but the volume of fuel used will go down significantly, enhancing the longevity and effectiveness of the fuel canister.

Is a particular stove system suitable for you?

If you are camping in cold circumstances, and most of the times cooking boiled meals, a portable stove system can be the perfect tool for you. Stove systems, such as MSR’s Reactor as well as WindBurner, adds to the effectiveness of the canister fuel. However, their extremely fast boil-time, as well as fuel-sipping effectiveness, mean you will utilize less fuel rather than the normal stove.

These exceptional systems are windproof. They regulate fuel pressure which results in high yield even if the pressure decreases in the fuel canister, offering you extra power out of your portable stove through a wider range of situations.

How long does your fuel canister last?

A fuel canister with an 8-ounce fuel capacity can run on high for around three hours. This can provide you a clue of how long your fuel canister can last depending upon how long you have to cook every day for each meal.

How long does MSR fuel canister last?

When preparing for your camping trip, one problem that always arises is the question of: how much amount of fuel is required? Fuel canisters are comparatively large as well as heavy; therefore, the objective is to transport as little as possible although still having sufficient to do your cooking. So how long does MSR fuel canisters last?

A canister of MSR IsoPro having 8 oz. fuel will be sufficient for boiling water for two people above four days in summertime. Lower temperatures may result in your need for 3 to 4 times more fuel. This is an irregular estimation, and the real number may differ according to your portable stove and to the current temperature.

Moreover, to figure out the quantity of fuel canisters that you need to transport, you first have to be aware of two things. How many individuals are in your group? And how many meals and drinks will your individual fellows of the group need? You can start by multiplying the people in your gathering with the number of meals. After that, add the number of drinks required. This will provide you with a rough estimation of how much quantity of water you have to use and boil during your camping trip.

After making your guess, you need to figure out how much water your portable stove boils for each ounce of canister fuel used. When getting the stove, the attached manual will reveal how much water you can boil during summer months for each ounce of fuel for standard canister stoves.

Usage of fuel in various situations

For the most manufacturers, portable stoves are usually tested at sea-level, without strong wind, and at around 21 degree Celsius (about 70°F) of temperature.

  • Temperature

When the temperature decreases, the stove fights to work, and the extra fuel is used. Straight canister stoves can work consistently down to around 20˚F. When you plan to stay in a cold climate, a portable stove or a stove having liquid fuel is a better idea than a canister stove.

  • Altitude

At higher altitudes water boils faster than at the sea level. On the casual side, raw food is cooked much slower when you go to the higher altitude. As a rule of thumb for every 8 degrees Celsius (about 18°F) decrease of water boiling point, the cooking time will be increased by twice.

  • Wind

Wind is the main factor in the consumption of fuel, as strong wind can cause multiple times of extra fuel consumption for an open blaze burner stove. When you have your camp ready, you can fairly overcome this by catering at the porch.

  • Water condition

Melting snow greatly enhances the boiling time of water and consequently fuel usage. When the water is too cold, it will consume more time to boil it.

With that being said, we come to the end of today’s article. If you liked today’s blog, make sure to visit us more often for optimized content brought to you on a golden plate. See you in the next article. Peace!

About The Author


We are a group of friends who are passionate about camping related stuff, gym rats, Netflix subscribers and also enthusiasts of outdoor equipment and tools. "Get out there and play!" they said, and they are right!

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