aka Liquid Fuel Stoves, Kero
Burners and Classic Camp Stoves
These are the meat and potatoes of camping stoves. They are generally heavy duty, heavy, and are good for cooking and simmering large meals. Acceptable fuels tend to be easy to find and cheap. These stoves are time tested and have journeyed to remote parts of the world and kept many explorers alive in some of the harshest of environments imaginable. They are the only stoves that may work in the extremes of colds and are ideal in parts of the world where kerosene, diesel and avgas many be the only available fuels.
Because of there longevity, they are quit popular and many outdoors people are well acquainted with these wonderful tools. But despite being quite popular with the outdoors community, they're the frowned upon by true ultraliters because of their excessive weight, dangerous caustic fuels and maintenance/reliability concerns.
There are many commercial stoves on the market and due to the inherent dangers associated with liquid petroleum fuels, modifications and homemade versions are not recommended.
easy to find
high heat output
easy to find and inexpensive fuels (often the only fuel option available in many remote places)
the only type of stoves that may work in extremely cold environments (Alaska, Antarctica, Himalayas, Northern Europe in their respective winters)
some can burn a variety of fuels
fuels have high heat to weight ratio
outrageous weight to include weight of fuel containers
many don't simmer well unless you block the flame from your pot while wasting fuel
jet noise (pressurized versions)
flare ups can be dangerous
some fuels blacken pots with soot
significant maintenance concerns
complicated to operate (a plus for some)
most require pumping
fuel storage concerns
skin exposure to fuels extreme cold can be dangerous
Pump Pressurized Stoves
Since it's introduction in the late 1800's this has been the most popular camp stove design. Most of these systems work by pressurizing the fuel with a hand pump, metering its flow through tubes heated by your priming flame which in turn creates pressurized vapor that is forced through a jet into a mixer tube where gaseous fuel mixes with oxygen and then into some sort of flame reflector where it is ignited. See How Stoves Work for more information.
There are hundreds of petrol stove models available on the market today the the following represents just some of the general classes of these stoves.
11.5oz MSR WhisperLite Internationale stove and pump (bottle and accessories not included in weight)
The MSR WhisperLite Internationale is an example of a popular "lightweight" multi-fuel camp stove with a fancy flame dispersion pack. It has a larger diameter generator tube (vaporizer tube) that allows for less volatile fuels such as kerosene to be used with the stove and a set of jets that can be changed for use with different fuels. This design connects to a detachable fuel container.
15.1oz Brunton Optimus Nova Multi-Fuel stove and pump (bottle
and accessories not included in weight)
Designs such as the Optimus Nova and the MSR Dragonfly have a control valve close the the jet to allow of precise control of fuel flow to allow for simmering. Both the Dragonfly and Nova are used by the US military since they can burn JP-8 (military vehicle fuel) and are referred to as the Squad Stove.
12oz MSR XGK Expedition stove and pump (bottle and accessories not included in weight)
The venerable XGK Expedition isn't lightweight by any means, but is very popular due to its dependability and ability to burn different fuels. It has a simple bell shaped dispersion plate, large diameter generator tube and is better suited than other stoves to burn poor quality fuels or for melting large amounts of snow. It is the choice stove for subfreezing expeditions and has been to both poles and the highest places in this world.
12.6 oz MSR XGK EX (bottle and accessories not included in weight)
MSR has has a new version of the their XGK expedition stove shown above. It comes has a flexible fuel line that allows for easier packing, retractable legs and pot supports for improved stability both on the ground and for the pot.
21.6oz Coleman Exponent Multi Fuel Stove
The Coleman Exponent Multi Fuel Stove is an example of a multi-fuel stove with the burner unit mount directly over the integral fuel tank. This single unit design is desirable to many campers but has some inherent drawbacks. The down side of having the fuel tank under the stove is that it may overheat from the heat radiating off you your cookware and doesn't allow flexibility for various sized fuel canisters. Another drawback with the popular Coleman single unit stoves is that if overfilled, they may leak liquid fuel from the top of the stove and cause a huge fireball. Coleman stoves are probably the stove most likely to be thrown into a lake.
Optimus Campingkök Nr. 9
There were many stove designs such as the Optimus "Halmia" No:9 that mount its burner horizontally with the fuel tank. Most of these stoves are no longer made or are far too heavy to general backpacking use. The older ones are very difficult to find and are horded by collectors.
2oz MSR Fuel Pump
Homemade versions of pressurized petrol stoves can be quite challenging to construct and it would be very difficult to make a safe, lightweight, durable stove that would be worth your while. Add the explosive nature of some of these fuels to stove designing, and you have a recipe for catastrophic failure. Modifications beyond windscreens, footprints and pot supports are discouraged and dangerous. If you still feel compelled to build one, check out the home-fabricated Hjemmelaget primus. Tinkerers may possibly benefit from starting with a prefabricated pump assembly (made for a stove or a tire pump) and build the stove from there. White gas and gasoline fuels are not recommended for first time homemade stoves since they are extremely explosive.
Optimus Nova Pump
Fuel pumps are an important part of most petrol stove systems. They are responsible for pressurizing fuel while preventing fuel leaks, both when connected and disconnected from the stove. There is some argument as to which stove company produces the best pump. MSR produces lightweight plastic systems, while their Swedish counterparts produce what are arguably more durable metal versions.
2.1 oz (60 gm)
2.1 oz (60 gm)
Coleman Exponent Dual Fuel Apex II
3.5 oz (98 gm)
Primus Himalaya OmniFuel and MultiFuel
3.6 oz (102 gm)
4 oz (115 gm)
|Lezyne HV Alloy Drive Mini Pump (bike)||3.95 oz (112 gm)|
|Topeak Micro Rocket CB Pump (bike)||1.94 (55 gm)|
An alternate method for pressuring a stove is to use a bicycle pump. You can use an adapter which connects to a stove's pump, or place an adapter inline with the fuel hose/tube or add it directly to the tank or install one in the tank's filler cap. For some stoves, the stock pump can be replaced altogether with a mini bicycle tire pump and a bottle cap with an installed valve. The Amish have been know to use a tire pump to pressurize lanterns and stoves, which makes sense as they are more likely to have a tire pump at home than a backpacker on the side of a mountain.
Bicycle and motorcycle tire valves are often used on filler caps of many stoves. A small bicycle pump will allow you to pressurize a larger tank much quicker and easier than the built in pump on most pressurized stoves. This also makes DIY pressurized petrol stove fabrication that much easier to make. You could even pressurize a Gatorade with this method and run tubing to your stove.
Filler Cap with Schrader Valve
spiritburner.com 25313 bwca.com 112714 Using pump to get rid of dents in bottle
Schrader valves (aka American Valve - used in car tires)
TR-4 - straight metal stem (8 mm dia.)
TR-6 - straight metal stem (8 mm dia.)
TR-13 - straight rubber stem (11.5 mm dia.)
TR-15 - straight rubber stem (16 mm dia.)
TR-87 - short 90° metal stem (10 mm dia.)
TR-87C - tall 90° metal stem (10 mm dia.)
TR 413- 0.453" (11.50mm) rim hole diam. 1.25" (31.8mm) long
TR 415- 0.625" (15.87mm) rim hole diam. 1.25" (31.8mm) long
TR 418- 0.453" (11.50mm) rim hole diam. 2" (50.8mm) long
TR 425- 0.625" (15.87mm) rim hole diam. 2" (50.8mm)l ong
Metric: 7.7 mm OD, thread root diameter is 6.9 mm × 0.794 mm pitch.
Imperial: 0.305 in OD, thread root diameter 0.271 in × 32 tpi (threads per inch)
Internal thread (to accept the threaded valve core)
Metric: 5.30 mm OD × 0.706 mm pitch
Imperial: 0.209 in OD × 36 tpi.
For refrigeration, a 1/4" male flare fitting is used, with the same internal thread as above.
Presta valve - Narrower valve for race bicycle rims
Dunlop valve (Woods valve or English valve) - hybrid valve with wide base similar to Schrader valve and narrow top similar to Presta valve
9oz Borde Benzinbrenner
aka "Borde Bomb," Borde Benzin-Kocher, Borde Bezinkocher, The Bordeaux Burner [ボルドーバーナー], Borde-Kocher, Schweizer-Armee-Kocher, Schweizer Armee Kocher and Schweizer Kocher
The Borde Benzin Brenner was created in 1956 by the Swiss inventor Joseph Borde and was later transferred over to Norbert Baader who is still making them by hand. Only a couple hundred are made a year and can only be easily found in some European specialty shops, Japan and on Ebay (from anywhere between 15 to 180 USD).
It incorporates a small fuel tank to the side of the burner and a coiled generator tube that doubles back to the burner. The stove is preheated by warming with your hands for a minute or so, flipping it over to allow fuel to leak onto the burner star and lighting it to heat up the generator tubes. Once the stove gets up to operational temperature, the heated generator tube boils the fuel in it and transfers heat back to the fuel tank, which in turn heats the fuel in the tank, build up pressure and forces fuel to the generator tubes. The flame is then adjusted by twisting the burner star with a metal hook to open and close the fuel outlet. Since pressure continues to build up as the stove gets hotter and hotter, occasional adjustment of the burner is required.
More information can be found at:
Classic Camp Stoves
Rakuten.co.jp - Demonstration (Japanese) Google Translation
Instruction Sheet (Japanese)
Instruction Sheet (Japanese) Google Translation
Roman Auf der Maur - Borde (German) Google Translation
ボルドーバーナー (Japanese) Google Translation
ボルドバーナー ショート化計画 Google Translation - Old style vs New Style
This stove also needs some sort of Pot Stand for your Pot.
With a little metal fabricating skill, is would be pretty easy to make a working stove modeled after Joseph Borde's design. Interested DIYers will want to check out:
Left16's Pakuricon Series Google Translation
ストーブ Google Translation - Trimmed down version
ひとりキャンプ用“ボルドーバーナー”欲しくて手作り Google Translation
自作バーナー!! ボルドーバーナー編 Google Translation
Hario Pitorch Glass Lamp
The Pitorch alcohol stoves (パイトーチ), Taico Dickson, Tay-Kit, Stesco and many other older stove designs use a similar coiled generator tube for their burner.
Hario Pitorch Glass Lamp
Alcohol stoves of this design generally have two small holes drilled in the base of the coils positioned to allow for jet/flame collision with the tops of the coils.
19oz Optimus Svea
The rugged 19oz Optimus Svea and 23oz Hunter stoves are self pressurizing and use a wick to draw fuel to the burner while the stove preheats. These stoves are quite heavy but are know for their reliability and longevity.
1.4oz Midi Pump
Optimus uses a simple thermal feedback design for their Svea and Hunter but this design doesn't produce as much pressure as conventional camp stoves with built in pumps. To make up for this, they offer an optional Midi Pump to increase fuel output and to pressurize the stove prior to startups on those cold days.
Gravity Fed Stoves
Desca Alcohol Burner
There are a few stoves that use gravity to move fuel to the their burners. Models include alcohol, kerosene and diesel singe and multiple burners. Most of the few gravity fed stoves available today are alcohol Marine Cookers and are too large for backpacking use, but there are still a few smaller ones out there.
Gravity feeding means that you don't need to worry about pressurizing but since fuel must be collected at a low point in the fuel chamber, there is the inherent problem of debris clogging these stoves. Some designs use wicks to prevent sediment blockage in the generator tubes, while other designs are wickless.
Fuel tanks can be permanently mounted higher than the burner, attached to a swivel or hose to allow for packing, or set up with a removable fuel tank that sits on the stove like a water jug in a work place water cooler (aka water bubbler).
DIYers will want to check out the gravity fed South African FSP Stove.
Some models include (for research purposes):
Turm (38 and Sport)
Montgomery Wards no. 3
Falks Wickless (Veritas)
Veritas-Atmos paraffin cooker
Meva nr. 165
Norma E14 Spiritus Kocher
Radius Alcohol Stove
Quikcook Alcohol Stove
Manning Bowman & Co
Primus (Caesar, No. 325 and No:301 Alcohol Burner)
Images of several gravity fed stoves can be found at:
Scherning - Kocher
Petromax Forum - Kocher
Classic Camp Stoves - Collectors Galleries
An older simpler version incorporates one or more wicks. This design is still used in large kerosene heaters and in some stoves made in Asia.
Chinese Yangzhou Hurricane NS22 kerosene stove
Commercial petrol wick camp stoves are hard to come by these days unless you live in or are traveling through Asia or the subcontinent of India. Don't expect to find an ultralightweight version in this design, unless you build it yourself.
Homemade versions of wick stoves that use kerosene or oil can be pretty simple to build, but messy to operate and/or store.
Zen Paraffin and Wax Burning Stoves
Burning Kerosene in Pea Soup Can
Amazing Mini Kerosene Stove
Capillary Technology Stoves
Instead of using pressurize building pumps, gravity, generator tubes or wicks to transport fuel to your stove, capillary attraction from specially engineered ceramics can be used to deliver atomized fuel jets directly into the flame.
MSR Capillary Stove with integral pot
MSR's Capillary Force Technology Stove System using the Vapore-Jet Capillary Force Vaporizer is scheduled for release in 2007 at the earliest, but looks like it still needs a little testing for both the commercial and US military use. Instead of using pressurized fuel or wicks, it incorporates a ceramic cartridge that uses capillary attraction of draw up and vaporize fuel.
US Military MIWH
The US military is working on a "lightweight" and compact system called the Modular Individual Water Heater (MIWH) that incorporates the capillary system fueled by JP-8 (kerosene-like fuel used by most US military ground vehicles). This will be the new "Pocket Stove" to replace the old World War II gasoline burner.
Experimental US Military Pocket Stove
The final product used by the military may end up far sturdier than required for ultralight hikers, but the prototype designs can be easily improved on and tailored for minimalist use.
For more information see:
defenselink.mil - Capillary Force Vaporizer Fuels Pocket Stove
military.com - VAPORIZED: Capillary Force Revolutionizes Burner Technology
May-June 2005 The Warrior PDF
SSC-Natick Press Release
Commercial petrol stoves are designed to work with certain fuels and manufactures will often recommend or even mandate a specific kind or brand of fuel. But because of the many similarities in petroleum fuels, many petrol stoves can burn a variety of fuels. Operating your stove with a fuel different than the manufacture's stated primary fuel may necessitate modifying airflow and/or changing jets in order to optimize use of various fuels by adjusting the air/fuel ratio. Many multifuel stoves come with different sized jets to allow for use of different fuels. Larger vaporizer (generator) tubes may also be desirable for heavier and less volatile fuels, requiring drastic modification of existing stoves, or replacement with a stove specifically designed to burn kerosene and/or diesel.
For information on international names and idiosyncrasies of petrol fuels check out Mike Buckler's and MSR's list of international fuel names.
The heart to petroleum refining is the fractional distillation process. Raw petroleum is heated up, and separated into different distillation ranges via a pipestill.
Boiling Point Range °C
C1 - C4
Gas fuels for cooking and heating. Methane is used for producing hydrogen for manufacture of ammonia
C5 - C7
Solvents for varnishes, dry cleaning and cracking stock for methane
C5 - C12
Fuels for internal combustion engines
C12 - C18
Jet engine fuel and diesel fuel #1
Diesel Fuel or Gas-Oil
C18 - C24
Diesel fuel #2 and cracking stock for gasoline
C20 - C30
Non volatile fraction
Lubricants and cracking stock
C25 - C30
Candles, packaging, polishing, petroleum jelly, and water proofing
Greater than C30
Asphalt and road surfaces, waterproofing
These distillates are further refined to produce fuels, solvents, and other products that meet specific criteria. These criteria vary depending on manufacturer, destination country, retailer, and targeted use, making it difficult to accurately define attributes such as composition, toxicity, heat output, and performance between various fuels.
The following considers a handful of usable fuel categories for petrol camp stoves and is neither all inclusive nor technically complete. The following is given as a brief guideline for backpacking stove use, and nothing more.
NOTE - All petrol fuels are toxic and all are dangerous. Those not listed are possibly even more so dangerous and toxic. Even when well designed petrol stoves and accessories are used in a "safe" manner, they are not risk free. Using fuels in a manner outside of manufacture's recommendations and/or contradictory to common sense can prove deadly.
Naphtha (aka. Coleman Fuel, MSR Fuel, White Gas [North America, Australia, and New Zealand], Shellite, Fuelite, Zippo fuel, Ronsonol fuel, heptane, Blazo, cigarette lighter fluid, some charcoal lighter fluid)
Naphtha is a term relating to a range of hydrocarbons used as solvents or feedstock for petroleum products. For purposes of categorizing fuels for stoves, "naphtha" is used to include all naphtha and gasoline-like fuels that have been refined to be as aromatic and additive free as practical for stove use. This is a much "cleaner" stove fuel than other petroleum products (except possibly the liquefied gases) so it is less likely to clog stoves. It is also considered by many to be the best fuel for high altitude and extremely cold treks. It evaporates quickly, is quite volatile, burns very hot, and leaves little residue compared to kerosene. Naphtha requires a lot of oxygen to burn and therefore may be a little easier to extinguish than other petroleum fuels. Naphtha is much more explosive than kerosene but is a bit less explosive than gasoline. This fuel category might be slightly less toxic than gasoline but is still very caustic, and releases an unpleasant odor that lingers.
Naphtha is a mix of 5 to 9 carbon alkanes with a boiling range of 104 to 401°F (40 to 205°C). The term "naphtha" has several accepted and obsolete definitions and can even be inclusive of gasoline and kerosene.
Coleman Fuel (Calumet Lantern Fuel )
Coleman fuel contains about 50% naphtha, 50% aliphatic petroleum distillates, 2% xylene, 2% toluene, 0.5% benzene, green dye and rust inhibitors (to help prevent rusting of internal parts and facilitate long shelf life). The carbon number range is C5 to C9 with a boiling point range of 100-350° F. Coleman Fuel contains up to 25% n-hexane and up to 15% cyclohexane by weight and it is fully hydrotreated to remove aromatics, (reported to contain less than 0.001% benzene).
Contains >60% Paraffins and naphthenes, N-hexane 13%, <5.0% Aromatic hydrocarbons (3.5% Toluene, 1% Ethylbenzene, <0.5% Benzene, 1% C8 and higher aromatics) and other stuff
This is an old term referring to overpriced unleaded gas marketed as lamp and stove fuel back when leaded gas was referred to as Red Gas. True white gas is gasoline without additives, is more volatile than true naphtha and not as safe to use. Some white gas (not made for stove use) even has tetraethyllead added to it.
There are several companies that sell highly refined and filtered naphtha for use in subfreezing environments. These may be more expensive than other camp fuels but should be less likely to clog stoves or cause other problems than other petrol fuels. Since a functioning petrol stove may be necessary to keep an expedition or trekker alive in artic or high altitude conditions, this fuel may be preferred over other options when the added expense of this fuel outweighs the increased risk of problems if using other fuels.
Environmental gasoline (lawnmower fuel, special bensine, alkylate petrol, Alkylatbensin, Miljöbensin)
This should be "free" from aromatic hydrocarbons and olefins such as benzene and many of the toxic additives in regular unleaded gasoline for your auto.
Unleaded Gasoline (aka petrol, automotive gas, unleaded, benzine) (Not Recommended)
This burns very hot, is extremely explosive, is very caustic, releases a terrible odor that lingers, and its additives and high octane components release deadly vapors when burned. It may also prematurely clog your stove when compared to white gas. Avoid if possible and go with the lowest octane available if this is your only choice. The greater the octane the greater the amount of octane-enhancing/antiknock additives.
Additive packages include: octane-enhancing additives (methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl [MMT] in some countries, methyl t-butyl ether [MTBE] in US, etc), anti-oxidants (inhibit gum formation, improve stability), metal deactivators ( inhibit gum formation, improve stability) , deposit modifiers (reduce deposits, spark-plug fouling and preignition), surfactants ( limit icing, improve vaporization, inhibit deposits, reduce NOx emissions), freezing point depressants (decrease icing), corrosion inhibitors (limit corroding of storage tanks), dyes (product color for safety or regulatory purposes).
Gasoline contains over 500 alkanes, cycloalkanes and other hydrocarbons with 3 to 12 carbons (including Benzene, Butane, Cyclohexane, Ethylbenzene, Heptane, Hexane, Pentane, Toluene, Trimethylbenzene, Xylene) and has a boiling range from 86 to 428°F (30 to 220°C)
Gasoline uses oxygenates to increase octane and decrease carbon monoxide emissions. What additives are used depends on what part of the world you in and even differs from State to State in the US. Oxygenates include ethanol, MTBE (illegal in many States), tertiary-amyl methyl ether (TAME) and/or ethyl tertiary-butyl ether (ETBE) These additives are often toxic and don't help in stove performance.
Typical Properties of Oxygenates
Oxygen content, percent by weight
Blending vapor pressure, RVP
Source: National Petroleum Council, U.S. Petroleum Refining: Meeting Requirements for Cleaner Fuels and Refineries (Washington, DC, August 1993) Appendix L.
Winter Oxygenate Gasoline
In some places, gasoline is oxygenated to reduce carbon monoxide emissions in the winter. Oxygenated gasoline decrease carbon monoxide emissions (particularly older vehicles) by burning leaner in autos engines. According to Chevron, MTBE is used primarily in California and for the East-of-the-Mississippi Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) areas, while ethanol is used in Anchorage, Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, Portland, Southern Oregon, Salt Lake City, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, and El Paso.
Nov 1 - Feb 29
Nov 1 - Mar 1
Oct 1 - Mar 31
Oct 1 - Feb 29
Oct 1 - Mar 31
Nov 1 - Feb 29
Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington
Oct 1 - Jan 31
Salt Lake City
Nov 1 - Feb 29
Nov 1 - Feb 29
King, Pierce, and Snohomish
Nov 1 - Feb 29
Josephine (Grants Pass), Klamath (Klamath Falls), and Jackson (Medford)
Sep 1 - Feb 29
Oct 1 - Mar 31
Nov 1 - Feb 29
According to REI:
"NOTE: Never use oxygenated gasoline in your backpacking stove. Sold in many parts of the U.S. in the winter months, its additives can destroy rubber stove parts and seals."
The reformulated gasoline (RFG) program requires reductions in automobile emissions of ozone-forming volatile organic compounds during the summer high-ozone season, and of toxic air pollutants and nitrogen oxides during the entire year in certain areas of the United States. Reformulated gasoline requires a minimum 2.1% oxygen by weight when averaging, which corresponds to approximately 11.7 volume percent MTBE or 5.8 volume percent ethanol. While the sale of Federal reformulated gasoline was mandated for only nine areas in the nation with the most severe ozone pollution, other areas are allowed to voluntarily join the Federal RFG program.
Emissions/Eco Friendly Gasoline
These products are become more popular in heavily polluted areas. Brands such as Blue Planet Earth Friendly Gasoline have lower levels of sulfur, benzene, other volatile organic compounds, toxins, and are MTBE free. These may be the better choice of gasoline for stove use as it should be less likely to clog your stove or cause health problems than regular gasolines.
Leaded Gasoline (Aviation Gasoline, AvGas) (Not Recommended)
If this is the only fuel you can find, consider eating cold meals. In addition to many of the health concerns that come with unleaded gasoline, these fuels also contain tetraethyllead Pb(C2H5)4 (TEL) which is not only bad for your health but may quickly clog your jets.
Fuel Grade (Octane Rating)
TEL per Gallon
100LL (low lead)
1.2 - 2.0mL
3.0 - 4.0mL
Kerosene (aka. paraffin, some charcoal lighter fluid, K-1, high grade diesel fuel, DERV, kerosine, coal oil, Range Oil, kero, Klean-Heat, Deobase)
This is almost as hot as naphtha once it gets burning and can be easier to find than naphtha.. It may prematurely clog your jets, has a very strong odor, leaves an oil residue on everything it comes in contact with and may flavor your food if you don't use a tight lid on your cookware. This fuel is extremely difficult to extinguish and like gasoline, the fumes have an explosive potential (though not nearly as great), and should be stored in a metal container protected from direct sunlight. Kerosene may take longer to prime and requires a separate priming agent if you don't want a lot of soot on and in your stove, jets and pot. You may need to run a narrower jet than used with naphtha for optimal performance.
narrow cut kerosene (Jet A1, K1) is a mix of 10 to 18 carbon alkanes with about 20% aromatics and distils between 350 to518°F (175 to 270°C)
wide cut kerosene (Jet B, JP-4) is cut down to also include some of the gasoline/naphtha range and distils between 212 to 482°F (100 to 250°C)
diesel (#2, Fuel Oil No. 2, Heating Oil No. 2) is a mix of 9 to 20 carbon alkanes and distils between 482 to 716°F (250 to 380°C)
K-1 (low sulfur kerosene) (may have red dye)
This is a low-sulfur kerosene approved for use in nonflue-connected (ventless) kerosene burner appliances and for use in wick-fed illuminating lamps, space heaters, etc. This is the best kerosene choice for stoves. K1 is often referred to as Kero, but Jet A (with toxic additives) is also sometimes sold as Kero.
Odorless Kerosene (Klean-Heat, Deobase, odorless mineral spirits)
This is kerosene that has been "sweetened" with most of its mercaptans (sulfur compound) and aromatics removed. It supposedly burns cleaner, odorless, with less smoke and soot. It may also have a narrower molecule range (C9-C12), higher flashpoint than K-1 (125°F or greater vs. ~100°F) and a much higher price.
K-2 (regular kerosene)
Has a higher sulfur content than K1.
#1 Fuel/Heating/Gas/Burner Oil. (may have red dye) (Not Recommended)
This fuel has high sulfur levels. This fuel is designed for use in conventional pressure and air atomizing domestic oil burner systems such as in domestic and small industrial space heaters and burners. Number 1 Fuel Oil is particularly adapted to vaporizing type burners or where storage conditions require low pour point fuel.
Charcoal lighter fluid
Some of these are a mix of kerosene and naphtha and some are just straight naphtha.
Jet Fuels (Not Recommended)
These fuels are used for powering jet and turbo-prop aircraft. They are are different cuts of kerosene with some additives to improve engine and fuel performance. These include Tetraethyllead (TEL, anti-nock/detonation), antioxidants (prevent formation of gum deposits and peroxide compounds), static dissipators (reduce the hazardous effects of static electricity), corrosion inhibitors, lubricants, icing inhibitors, metal de-activators (decrease copper oxidation ability), biocides and thermal stability improvers (prevent deposits in high temp areas).
Jet A1 is a kerosene type fuel with a flash point above 38°C (100°F) and a freeze point maximum of -47°C. It is widely available outside the US.
Jet A is a similar kerosene type of fuel and is generally only available in the US. It has a higher freeze point maximum (-40°C) than Jet A-1.
Jet B is a distillate covering the naphtha and kerosene fractions (wide cut kerosene). It is more flammable and explosive than Jet A and is used for very cold climates.
Jet B with the addition of corrosion inhibitors and anti-icing additives.
JP-5 is a high flash point kerosene making it less likely to explode if hit with small arms fire.
Jet A-1 with the addition of corrosion inhibitors and anti-icing additives.
Diesel fuel quality varies depending on the manufacture, what time of the year it is and what part of the world you find it. And depending on composition, it may smoke a lot and clog your stove much faster than with kerosene. How refined your fuel is and the amount of impurities in it will influence whether or not it will work in your stove. This fuel will generally only work well in specifically designed and jetted stoves such as the MSR XGK and Primus Omnifuel. You may need small jets, a large vaporizer tube, a separate priming agent and lots of maintenance to successfully burn diesel.
#1 Diesel Fuel (Kerosene-like, kerosene, Diesel 1-D)
The specifications for No. 1 diesel (minus additives for diesel engines) are so similar to kerosene that many manufactures make a dual purpose product that is sold as both kerosene and diesel #1. This fuel can be ultra low, low, or high sulfur. It has better solvent qualities than #2 and is used in lower temperatures or blended with #2 to improve performance in colder temperatures. Winter diesel blends can have anywhere from 10-50% #1 fuel added to #2.
#2 Diesel Fuel (Diesel 2-D, Home heating oil, No. 2 Gas/Burner oil)
This fuel can be ultra low, low, or high sulfur and is composed of much larger hydrocarbon molecules than diesel #1 (kerosene). This product is approved for use in domestic and small industrial burners.
New low sulfur diesel doesn't lubricate as well as high sulfur diesel and many manufactures have added lubricants and other additives to prolong engine life. If you have a choice, you may want to avoid fuels with additives.
Premium Diesel Fuel (Not Recommended)
"Premium" is an unregulated term used by manufactures/distributors to describe higher quality diesel fuel qualities or fuels enhanced with additives. This may include enhanced cetane number, detergent for system cleanliness, heat content minimum, stability during storage and use, low temperature performance, lubricity, corrosion protection and water handling characteristics. Again, avoid if possible.
#4 Diesel (Marine Diesel, Diesel 4-D, Heavy residual fuel oil) (Not Recommended)
This fuel can be very crude and isn't suitable for vaporization/pressurized stoves. Marine diesel varies from country to country and it is possible to get high quality fuel intended for auto use in some ports.
Using fuels with less sulfur in automobiles is a recent big environmental theme aimed at decreasing sulfur emissions and problems such as acid rain. Avoiding high sulfur fuels isn't such a bad idea for stove use either, if you are concerned about your health. If you're not concerned about your health, high sulfur, non-highway use fuels may be cheaper to use and make you feel like a made as the sulfuric acid created by the fumes deepen your voice.
Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel CARB Diesel Fuel
This was designed to meet the special requirements of the California Air Resources Board Urban Bus Rule. It should contain a maximum of 15 ppm of sulfur.
Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel
Sulfur content is limited to "no greater than 0.05%w." Approved for use in on-road diesel engines.
High Sulfur Diesel Fuel (red dyed, agricultural diesel) (Not Recommended)
Sulfur content is limited to "no greater than 0.50%w." This product is for use in off-highway diesel engines. "Red Diesel" may be much cheaper than the taxed auto diesel in your country.
Lamp oil (aka paraffin, some mineral oils) (Not Recommended)
Lamp oils vary from brand to brand. Some are kerosene labeled as lamp oil while others are more refined, contain heavier (10-24) carbon alkanes and are free from aromatics and other undesirable petroleum products. These fuels are very similar to kerosene but burn cooler, requires more oxygen, are easier to extinguish, have slightly less explosive potential and generally contain fewer toxins. Depending on the makeup of the fuel and the stove you are using, it may not work well and may produce a lot of smoke and soot. It may also require a separate priming agent.
Other Solvents - should never be used!
There are many volatile and flammable solvents that will work in camp stoves. Unfortunately, they also tend to be extremely toxic and should never be used. There are better ways to die.
Biodiesel (veggie diesel, vegetable fuel) (Not Recommended)
A slow burning fuel similar to lamp oil. Releases a French Fry, peanut, fish and chips, etc smell when burned. Biodiesel fuel is one of the safest fuels around as it is relatively nontoxic and not very flammable. Depending on the makeup of the fuel and the stove you are using, it may not work well and produce a lot of smoke and soot. This fuel may only work well in specially designed stoves such as the MSR XGK and Primus Omnifuel. You may need small jets, a large vaporizer tube, a separate priming agent and lots of maintenance to successfully burn biodiesel.
Rapeseed oil (Canola oil, Colza oil) (Not Recommended)
With proper jets vaporization of fuel, you may be able to get good quality vegetable oil to burn in a stove.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Several commercial stoves are able to burn liquefied gas fuels such as butane, isobutane, propane, etc with the addition of an adapter. This fuel burns clean but may not work well at subfreezing temperatures and can be expensive and difficult to find. See Canister Stoves for more information.
Burns clean and cool. Poor heat to weight ratio. You may need to use a larger jet to burn this fuel optimally. See Alcohol Fuel Options for more information.
MSR Aluminum Fuel Canister
Ideally, petrol fuel should be stored in an airtight metal canister. Most backpacking canisters for liquid petrol stoves are made to work with that manufacture's pump. Unfortunately, not all pumps will work with all canisters and you will need at least one canister that is compatible with your pump. Note - MSR made titanium fuel bottles for those with deep pockets and are able to locate these discontinued bottles.
Coleman Fuel in Plastic Bottle
Additional fuel beyond what is in your main tank can be stored in other metal cans or even in certain plastic bottles. If you are wondering if petrol products can be stored in plastic, consider that auto fuel tanks are often made of plastic and many petroleum fuels are sold in plastic plastic containers, to include lighter fluids, camp fuels, lamp oils and kerosene. If you decide to transport fuel in a plastic bottle, you may want to first test store it in a safe area, add a good gasket to the lid and wrap it up in a fuel proof bag away from food, just in case.
Ideally, you should completely overhaul your stove prior to any backcountry trek. Even with a stove in tip top condition, you may still need to carry enough items to disassemble and clean possible trouble spots, especially if you are using less than ideal fuel or on an extended trek.
Some stoves come with, or can be upgraded to include a integral shaker pin that self cleans the jets when the stove is flipped over.
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Zen Backpacking Stoves
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