3 Coleman Fuel Substitutes that can be used in Camping Stoves and Lanterns
For those individuals that use camping lanterns and camping stoves, Coleman fuel is likely a regular purchase. Coleman fuel is a petroleum naphtha product that Coleman sells to fuel its many stoves and lanterns. It can also be used for appliances made by other brands that take liquid fuel.
Coleman fuel comes from natural gas or is distilled from oil, tar or peat, and has a few other chemicals mixed in (cyclohexane, nonane, octane, heptane and pentane). Coleman fuel, when unopened, will last about two years.
As people become more and more cost conscious, they may become motivated to find more economical substitutes that can be used for lanterns and stoves. Coleman fuel is not cheap; a two pack (16 ounces each) of Coleman fuel is available on Amazon
For those that regularly utilize their appliances, it is worth exploring other options, whether they are as effective, and what their positives and negatives are, including when it comes to price. Keep in mind that before you consider any alternative fuel choices, it is important that you read the manual for your appliance.
One great option to consider is unleaded gasoline. Unleaded gasoline can be used in stoves and lanterns that run on liquid fuel. The performance will be similar to that of using Coleman fuel. And of course you cannot beat the price; if a gallon of gasoline costs $2.15, using gasoline offers a significant savings; a gallon of Coleman fuel can be purchased on Amazon for $91.
Unleaded gasoline is a convenient choice. It is not hard to find and while it is certainly not hard to find Coleman fuel, unleaded gasoline would be even easier to locate, no matter where you are.
There are negatives to choosing to use unleaded gasoline over Coleman fuel. For one, unleaded gasoline will likely clog the tubes of your generator, leading to ashortened time of how long you will be able to use the product before it needs to be repaired or replaced.
How quickly your tubes will get clogged will depend on how fresh the fuel is and how often you use it. Burning gasoline will lead to a build-up of varnish. You will save quite a bit of money using gasoline, so replacing parts or the item itself will still be cost effective.
It is important to keep in mind that gasoline has a short shelf life. Unless you treat the gasoline with a stabilizer, you will want to use it within six months. Due to the low cost, this may or may not be an issue.
Unleaded gasoline is a popular alternative to Coleman fuel. Many Coleman products are even designed to run on either Coleman fuel or unleaded gasoline.
Another alternative is to purchase naphtha, either from your hardware store or on Amazon. Naphtha is also called white gas. Naphtha or white gas, as with Coleman fuel, burns cleaner than other options and is easiest for starting up your appliance.
A stove that runs on white gas should also run on Coleman fuel. The brand MSR sells a blend of white gas that is called SuperFuel. This product burns cleaner than even other white gases and is free of additives. This means that fuel line clogs will be less than with other fuel options.
With white gas, it is a good idea to buy it in smaller containers because once the container is opened and the fuel exposed to the air, it will start to degrade. Due to the degrading of the gas, upon use it may lead to more clogs in your appliance.
It is not a good idea to use raw naphtha from a refinery, as some of what it is made of can turn carcinogenic when burned.
A possible substitute for Coleman fuel is Kerosene, which is a mixture of petroleum hydrocarbons.Kerosene has a lot of advantages. For one thing, it is inexpensive, and it is also very easy to find. No matter where you are traveling, you should not have difficulty purchasing kerosene for your stove or lantern.
There are a few negatives to kerosene, however. For one, it is dirty and smelly. It also can be more difficult to light than Coleman fuel.
A big negative is how the product varies from place to place; the product you get when purchasing “kerosene” in one part of the world may be less refined than the product you get when purchasing it elsewhere. Coleman fuel, on the other hand, will be consistent no matter where you purchase it.
Prior to deciding to use kerosene on your stove or lantern, you will want to get a good understanding of the maintenance requirements. It is likely that kerosene you purchase will burn dirty and can clog your stove or lantern faster than Coleman fuel.
It is also important to keep in mind that kerosene has a higher flash point than Coleman fuel and will have to pass through a generator tube that is preheated in order for it to be lit and for your appliance to operate.
In order to preheat the generator, raw fuel will have to be burnt underneath it, which is likely not an option already built into your appliance. In order to use kerosene, you will have to create a cup that fits your appliance and allows you to preheat the generator as necessary.
The price difference between Kerosene and Coleman fuel is significant; while you can purchase 32 ounces of Coleman fuel on Amazon for $21, you can buy 128 ounces of Kerosene for $20.
Making Coleman Fuel at Home
You can make your own Coleman fuel at home if you have a gas distillation apparatus. I am not a scientist, however my husband is and he cautions against doing this at home. It is very dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
Should you have a gas distillation apparatus, it should have water connections to the condenser and there should be a k-type thermocouple. You can pour regular unleaded gas (ethanol free) into the apparatus, which should have a sealant on the connection and everything should be air tight, including the lid on the place where you pour the gas in.
You can then set the end point of the PID temperature control to 155 degrees Celsius and then turn on the water flow to the condenser. Then you will seal everything and use thermal bricks to close it off. You may see fumes, which are mostly butane dissolved in gas.
In an example available to watch on YouTube, the first drops came through the apparatus at 23 degrees Celsius. The flow increases by 31 degrees Celsius. If you start with 4000 mL of regular, unleaded gas, by 96 degrees Celsius the jar will be filled of about 800 mL of distilled gasoline.
You may wonder about the “dregs”. These are hard to light and will not be useful for your lantern or stove. Through the use of your gas distillation apparatus, you will have created a fuel of similar quality to that of Coleman fuel.
When considering whether to use an alternative to Coleman fuel, you will want to consider how often you use your appliances, how long you go between uses of your fuel, what you are expecting as far as performance, and where you will be using your stove and/or lantern.
Coleman fuel will light your stove or lantern quickly, and burn cleanly and quietly. It w0ill also not be hard to find, should you find yourself having run out. While there are definitely alternatives to the more pricey Coleman fuel, only you can decide whether any potential drawbacks are worth the immediate price savings.