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What Do I Need to Know About Camping Stove Fuel Types?

What Do I Need to Know About Camping Stove Fuel Types?

Having a camping stove is one of the most valuable assets that you can ever invest money on. Not only it will increase your level of enjoyment of any given camping experience, but it will also massively help in keeping you assured that you can have a hot meal when you’re hungry.

One thing to be considered is that different camping stoves work better with different stove fuels. After all, the last thing you want to do is to go camping and forgetting the stove fuel at home or bring a stove that doesn’t work with the fuel you had in mind.

Think of stove fuels as car tires, you can attach different kinds of tires to the same car, yet it will not perform effectively unless the right tires are equipped. This is why in order for your camping stove to work effectively, you need to look for the RIGHT fuel, and this is what we are going to tackle today.

1. Butane

The reason why this type of fuel is mentioned in the first place is because it is one of cheapest fuels available in the market. You can literally find it at your typical gas station, grocery store, Wallmart, and even at Target. The best thing is that you can get it for a low price which gives it one major advantage for those of you who have a butane camping stove and are willing to camp on a budget or who adapts the frugal mindset.

Yet, if you are willing to consider it in terms of price, you need to have in mind that every compromise is not only made of only pros. One of the cons of butane is that it has a burning point of only -1° Celsius and a low vapor pressure which can be a bit problematic.

One other thing to add to the cons package is that it doesn’t perform very well at cold temperatures which means that the higher you get, the lower the performance of this fuel will be. So, it is advisable to consider this type of fuel if you are going to camp at the beach or somewhere where the temperature will not represent a problematic aspect.

2. Isobutane

If we would like to compare isobutane to butane, it is fair to say that the former is better in terms of performance and the latter in terms of price.

To understand this in a better way, it should be highlighted that this fuel type is kind of expensive if you are considering having isobutane camping stove on a budget. The reason why it is a bit pricy is because it has a higher vapor pressure than the butane stove fuel which gives it a boost in terms of performance and has a boiling point of -12° Celsius.

Not to forget, this fuel type performs very well in cold temperatures so, no need to worry about taking it to cold places.

3. Propane

     It is one of the favorites, despite the fact that it may not be the cheapest option. The compromise here advocates quality over price, and you can see this in the advantages related to it.

Propane is one type of fuel that has your back in very cold temperatures so, you can pretty rest assured that it will not let you down if you ever considered taking your propane camp stove for a trip to the mountains since it comes with boiling point of -42° Celsius. Not only this, but propane is also a fuel type with high vapor pressure, the highest in comparison to butane and isobutane, which gives it one huge advantage over other fuel types since it will perform way better in multiple conditions.

On the other hand, its high vapor pressure requires it to be liquefied and contained inside stronger and heavier containers which make it a bit hard to pack and travel with.

4. Alcohol

Yes! You heard it right (or read it right). And if you’re holding that Daniel’s bottle in your hand, you’re probably thinking about ways to attach it to your camping stove at the moment.

HOLD it there, champ. That’s not the type of alcohol we are discussing here. The alcohol type we are talking about is called ‘denatured alcohol’ and is good for backpacking stoves for a reason.

Let’s start, first, with the fact that they are inexpensive. You can simply create your own with a cat food can and just make a whole punch in it. In addition to that, they are lightweight and can be easily packed. This makes of it one of the best backpacking stove fuels out there since its compactness is highly valued by many hikers.

The best thing is that it doesn’t require any maintenance like other fuel types which makes it one great option to be considered, especially if you are one camper who wants to enjoy the trip more than working on the maintenance in it.

Not only this, but this camping stove fuel type doesn’t require any kind of particular canisters or fuel bottles. You can literally use any bottle including plastic soda bottles.

Above that all, it is environment friendly so, you can do Mother Nature one great favor if you ever considered this type.

5. Twigs

A lot of beginners get resort to twigs simply because their stoves are widely available and sometimes, the camping areas you consider have what is called a ‘Leave No Traces’ policy.

Sometimes, fuel sources can become very problematic. Yet, if there is one thing that we know about North America Mountains, is that most of them are filled with wooden twigs that you can easily gather in the backcountry.

So, you can think about this source of fuel as a lifesaving option if ever your primary source came to an end.

You can consider it as the first source of fuel but you’ll have to deal with the certain conditions like environment temperature and boiling speed.

6. Solid Fuel

This particular kind of fuel wouldn’t be my first option due to the odor that remains after its use. Sometimes, it leaves certain residue on the pots, yet no one can deny that it is easy to pack and highly available in the market.

The fuel tablets are one of the mostly used camping stove fuels out there, especially in certain third world countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. The reason why it is widely popular is that they are one of the cheapest types of camp stove fuels and their use does not require any sort of attachment or preparation.

7. Liquid Fuel

Liquid fuels are the most used ones and the reason is because this category of fuels encompasses a range of sub-fuels such as: white gas, kerosene, diesel, and unleaded auto gas.

The good thing about this type of fuels is that you can take the amount of fuel you want for your given trip instead of taking the whole container. They perform well in cold temperature and they are adaptable to the vast majority of camping stoves.

Yet, on the other hand, this type of fuels requires maintenance and the stoves that are adaptable with this kind of fuel are heavier in comparison to the ones that use gas fuel, and sometimes more expensive as well.

Another thing is that some of them leave a strong unpleasant odor such as the diesel fuel, something that some people may find unsatisfactory.

8. Blends

Personally, blends are one of my favorites because they reduce the cons of the blended fuels and add to the advantages. For example, one canister of propane will cost more than one canister of butane of the same size. Yet, having a blend of these two can give you the advantages of both camp fuels in terms of price, vapor pressure, and will burn in a cold temperature.

As far as blending is concerned, propane is the mostly used fuel type to blend with either butane or isobutane.

9. Wood

     And the best for the last. Wood is the all-time best camping stove fuel since it combines the benefit is of an environment friendly fuel, it is available almost everywhere, it lasts longer, it is accessible from any place, and most importantly, the scent that remains afterwards is something that you should never skip.

Wood burning camping stoves are considered as one of the best stoves in the market since they are risk-free to use and the necessary resources for its functioning can be obtained anywhere. You can simply use a broken chair as fuel for it, or look for a near tree to cut a piece from it.

With that being said, it seems that choosing one type of fuel is a matter of personal budget, camping stove and site, but most importantly a matter of taste.

A lot of people can’t bear the smell of certain fuels while others enjoy that scent. This is why it is important to consider all the fuels types mentioned above as well as their pros and cons before buying it if you ever wanted to experience camping to the fullest.

And with that, we come to the end of today’s article. If you ever wanted to know more about camping stoves and everything related, make sure to read our previous articles and don’t forget to check the website more often. See you soon!

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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