Stoves (Kerosene, Propane, Butane, Alcohol, Wood) For Cooking Preparedness

portable cooking stoves

Guest article by Chuck Findlay

This comes from a life-long ‘stoveaholic’ that has way too many stoves and is not at all in recovery. The addiction is life-long and in full bloom with no hope for recovery.

I have been an avid tent camper my whole life, from the time I could walk to today (57-years old) I have had all kinds of camping gear. That includes stoves that ran on all kinds of fuel.

The stoves I have are butane, gasoline-white gas, propane, wood, and kerosene. Most of them are small backpack stoves and are not made to serve a large family.

Svea Stove

I still have a soft spot for my Svea-123 stove as it’s a stove that has been in production since the late 1800’s. It has been to everyplace on the planet, in all kinds of temps. From Death Valley to the top of Everest, millions of back-country meals have been cooked on the Svea over the last 120-years. I have 3 of them as they are hands-down the best backpack stove ever made.

Here is the Svea 123. I would not want to ‘not have’ this stove. It’s the first stove I bought when I was 15-years old and in the Boy Scouts. Still works as good the day I bought it. U-Tube is full of people that have 30-year old Svea’s that still work good. One guy had one in a bucket in the back of his truck. The bucket filled up with water and froze the stove in the ice. He thawed it out and without changing fuel he lit it up and it worked good. It does have a learning curve to get it to work, but it’s not really hard and you can look on U-Tube to see how to do it.

Svea Outdoor Stove

 
OTHER STOVES
Over the last several years I have gravitated to a (boat) alcohol stove, several homemade alcohol and wood stoves, the Svea and a homemade forced air stainless steel woodgas wood stove.

I see a few problems with gasoline, kerosene, propane and butane stoves. That being they need an ongoing infrastructure to get fuel to run them. And it’s also a concern with the associated cost of buying fuel. You can do as I do (stock up on fuel). But understand and plan for a Post-SHTF World that may be short on these fuels, and your reserve will run out at some point.

I stock up on the fuels for these stoves, but it does take up space.

 

Butterfly Kerosene Stove

I have a butterfly kerosene stove that fills the SHTF / economic downturn world fairly well. I have stored the stove, extra parts and years of fuel.

The Butterfly Kerosene Stove is not a camp stove, it’s a kitchen stove that lends itself to off-grid use quite well. I read that 20% of the people on the planet use this type of stove for every day cooking.

Here is what it looks like; you can also buy a steel oven that sits on top of it. I have the oven for it.

Single burner kerosene stove:
Butterfly 2412 Kerosene Brass Pressure Stove

The one I have is a bit different in layout than the picture above, but basically this is what I have. I bought it a few years ago to be able to can food off-grid if needed. The one I have has more space between the burners so 2 large pots can easily fit on it.

Kerosene Run Time

I have over 35 gallons of kerosene stored up for this stove. It burns a bottle of fuel for every 12.5 hours of running. I’m about to get another 25+ gallons of fuel that my brother had stored up (last week he just lost a 3-month battle with a bad heart attack and his daughter doesn’t want the kero.) I figure I have a few years of fuel for it.

It runs over 12-hours (at full burn) on a tank. I can’t see cooking on the stove more then 6 to 7-hours a week. A gallon of kero should last about a month even with a lot of use. I have two 12-gallon barrels of kero stored up and several 5-gallon jugs, full and with a fuel stabilizer. Add to that my brothers fuel and I’m sure I can cook for 4 or 5-years with it.

I would also use other fuels to cook with. I use them now when camping, in the back yard and in the garage in the winter when I need a fix of cooking on a camp stove. What can I say, I’m a stoveaholic that loves to make and use camp stoves…

Kerosene Storage

Kerosene is an easy fuel to stock up on. It is not under pressure so no gas to slowly leak away. Short of a hole in the tank it’s not going anyplace. It’s a fairly shelf stable fuel to store. Add stabilizer to it and 10-years is not unreasonable. Like any fuel, take care with storage. And like all fuels it’s not allowed in storage units or apartments. And you have to protect if from growing legs and walking off.

No-Spill 5-Gallon Poly Kerosene Can (CARB & EPA Approved)

 

Propane & Butane Stoves

I have 5 or 6 propane stoves from small single burners up to the green Coleman 2-burner stoves we all have seen.

Propane and butane stoves are nice in that they both work almost the same as a natural gas kitchen stove. You turn the knob, light it and cook just like you normally do. Flame adjustment is super easy.

Each one has it’s good and bad points. Propane is good for cold weather. It’s under 125 psi and it pumps out the propane even when it’s cold outside. Butane is under much lower pressure (Not sure but I think it’s like 20-psi) and doesn’t work well in the cold.

Propane needs heavy metal canisters so they are heavy.
Butane uses lightweight tin canisters so they are easier to carry around.

This makes butane popular with backpackers, you don’t see any backpackers with a propane stove as the tanks are too heavy.

Pocket Mini Folding Butane Gas Burner

( Related article: Single Burner Butane Stove For Cooking Indoors )

I have 1 butane stove, with a matching lantern and 20 canisters. I bought it years ago from Big Lots. I don’t use it much, nothing against butane. I just don’t use it.

One problem I have seen with butane is that the canisters are proprietary in nature. Every brand seems to make a canister that only their stoves use. And within a few years they stop making the stove and canisters. You then are stuck with a stove that works great but has no fuel. The one butane stove I have (made by Bear Country) works great and I will likely give it, the lantern, and 20 or so tanks to someone post-SHTF.

I bought a Coleman backpacking stove and lantern that worked great, but 10-years later Coleman stopped making fuel for them. It was a good fuel that was a mix of propane and butane. They solved the problem of butane not working in cold weather and at the same time solved the heavy propane tanks by having a mix of both fuels in the same canister. It was a very good idea, but with no ongoing fuel the stoves are useless. I now shy away from butane stoves that I likely won’t be able to use because of the company making the decision to stop supporting them.

Post-SHTF butane canisters are going to be hard to find, heck you see few of them in camping stores today. This is why I don’t use butane much.

This is why I like gasoline/ white gas, alcohol and wood stoves. These fuels are abundant.

 

Wood Stove (Rocket Stove) for Cooking

Wood is free, I can walk around the yard and in 5-min can get enough twigs for several days of cooking. Wood backpacking stoves are a bit heavy to carry in a backpack (backpacking or bug-out situations) but they start to pay for themselves as far as weight around the 20-day mark.

Before 20-days they are heavy, but after 20-days they start to shine because the heavier stove weight is offset by the ability to gather fuel as you go. Other stoves get heavy if you account for more then 2-weeks of fuel needed. In a bug-out that doesn’t last too long alcohol or butane could work, but if the event goes on for a long time wood stoves rule the day.

My Svea is actually a white-gas (Coleman fuel) stove, but for over 30+ years all I have run in them is unleaded gasoline. Most white-gas stoves will clog up if ran on gasoline, but the Svea has a cleaning needle that cleans itself every time you turn the knob on.

 

Alcohol Stove

Next to wood stoves, alcohol stoves are the most reliable stoves made. Most of them have zero moving parts. Nothing to go wrong with them short of running them over with an auto. Also in 5-min you can make an alcohol stove out of things you throw away in your garbage.

Alcohol stoves run on denatured alcohol, not rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol doesn’t burn well if at all because of the water in it. Denatured alcohol is sold in many stores in the paint department. Just look for denatured alcohol / stove fuel printed on the can. It sells for $6.00 a quart or $14.00 a gallon. Obviously the gallon is a better buy. As long as the can is sealed up tight it will last for years.

Esbit Lightweight Cook Set with Brass Alcohol Burner Stove

You can also make your own alcohol for these stoves; I would bet this may be a good SHTF skill to know how to do. Practice it now if you have such aspirations. Denatured alcohol stoves are safe to use indoors, denatured alcohol doesn’t generate explosive fumes, and a alcohol stove fire can be put out by throwing some water on it. It will die the second the water hits it. These 2 reasons are why denatured alcohol is used on boats. Fire and explosive fumes are frowned upon on boats. For an indoor fuel it has a lot going for it on the safety issue.

If you are on a budget or just like to make things a quick search on-line and you can find endless info on making wood and alcohol backpack stoves. Search homemade alcohol stove and Hobo stove.

 
Don’t forget the ultimate SHTF cooking method that has been used for 50,000 years, the camp fire. It’s also fun to sit around a camp fire with friends.

– Chuck Findlay

 
Related: Cooking Without Electricity

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75 Comments

  1. Good article Chuck Findley. I too have a bit of a fetish when it comes to stoves. When I received my first paycheck from my first job, the first thing I bought was the Coleman double burner stove. After we moved out to the country, I purchased a rocket stove. Like you, I worry about availability of fuel. There are others that I drool over but DH wont let me purchase anymore stoves. We can also cook in our wood stove. Then the propane grill has a side burner. Then like you said, we can always cook over a camp fire.

  2. The first stove I ever bought (a long time ago) was a Coleman dual burner. I can also remember (a long, longer time ago) as a young kid, my dad’s Coleman stove. Lots of memories with that old stove. I recall the simple enjoyment of pumping up the tank. It was real special when I was allowed to light it with a stick match… I’ll never forget the whooshing sound of the burners cranked up to max.

    1. Ha ha, the whooshing always scared me. That’s why I converted it to propane. It’s still my favorite stove.

      1. My Son (who’s 28 now, god I;m getting old) loved camp fires, stoves and cooking on them when I took him camping or used them in the back yard.

        To this day we both love to cook pizza pie irons on the fire pit I made in the backyard.

        I miss those times with him. Now that he’s an adult, has a wife and a new house he has to work a lot. He talks about going camping but like many people life gets in the way.

        I bought a 34-foot motorhome and am going to put it on a lot out by the lake and invite him and his wife out. We did only tent camping and it was a lot of work. But with a motorhome on a lot 25-miles away it should be easier to get them to drive out for the night or an overnight.

        1. awesome nothing like family time in the wilds fishing hunting camping or just a outdoor adventure … best times I ever had ..

  3. – Always liked having choices. the main reason for having multiple platforms, i can have the most convenient or cheapest or whatever for the short term. I can use what’s available in the mid-term without having to locate the proper equipment at the same time; in the long term, though, something like 8 of ten meals in the world are cooked over wood fires. That’s my excuse for collecting cast iron, from a Granny Clampett cauldron to a casting ladle like Mel Gibson in the Patriot.
    That’s something I learned a long time ago from a friend’s mother. She was Kiowa, raised in a poor family on the res, and wood was lots cheaper that propane or even butane. the majority of their meals year around were cooked on a wood fire, because the labor and tools for a wood fire didn’t cost anything but time. I learned a lot about cooking on a campfire from her directly and indirectly from her sons.
    – Papa

  4. I grew up cooking on wood stoves at the cabins on the ranch we lived on, they were for heating water, the space, and for cooking, did all quite well, still love the smell of coffee, wood smoke and frying ham, the smells of my childhood, my plan is to build a wood cook stove and a cast pizza oven out the back of our house, on a patio, a friend of mine built one similar to what im looking at, had a glass door on it and basicly looked like a wood stove but had a large removable flat surface on the top of it, real nice sitting out there on a cool evening with a pot of tea, doesnt get much better

  5. Years ago, kerosene was cheap, as was “white gas” (gasoline w/o any additives). In the small farming/ranching community where I grew up, many service stations had pumps for both in addition to gasoline and diesel for automotive use. Kero (which many tractors would run on) and white gas (which many farm folks used for their cook stoves) sold for 10-15 cents a gallon cheaper than the others.
    I bought a catalytic kerosene heater prior to y2k only to discover I needed the “grade one water clear” kerosene costing $3 a gallon (we could only wish now). I was shocked at the cost. Now I see it selling for 3x that, yet I read many touting kerosene as a fuel. Question for those: are these prices regional, that is, is kerosene cheaper in some parts of the country? I’ve not seen the old standard grade kerosene we used in tractors and lamps as a child in a very long time.

    1. Dennis;
      10-15¢ a gallon, dude, your showing your age HAHAHAHA

      Oddly enough, here in the “real” world, one can still buy Kero from a pump at “some” stations for around $3.50 a gallon. Of course ya always get the hairy eye-ball when you fill a 55-gallon drum, but ohhhhh well. Plus I see a lot of stations installing “Non-Ethanol” pumps for around $3.75 a gallon.

      1. I remember the gas wars, as a youngster, and freaked out when gas went to $.45 per gallon!!
        We love our Coleman stoves, as well as our rocket stoves.

        1. TPSnodgrass
          Ahhhh heck, I remember the 1973-74 Gas “shortages”, lines blocks long and one could only buy 10 gallons at a time.
          Fortunately I had “commercial” plates on my PU and was allow to buy as much as I wanted, had (2) 55-gallon drums in the bed of the truck and a Company Fuel Card….. Almost got into a few fights over filling them….

      2. NRP
        Use a lot of the no alcohol gas for all my power tools that run on fuel. Have some gas tools that are old but still run great, chainsaws, generator, mowers and a host of other’s. A saw dealer almost fell over when I bought three new saws. Told me in ten years I had only got chains and bars from him. Wanted to know if someone stole my saws. If you use good fuel, oil and never lend a saw will last for ever. This very true with my brother-in-law who can screw up any tool he touches.

        1. I have a Craftsman 18-inch gas chain saw, it runs good. I bought it at a garage sale for $25.00.

          I heat the garage with wood and for the last 30+years have mostly used electric chain saws. They don’t do the work of a gas saw but I have found that there are very few logs I can’t cut with them.

          I have never had the need to cut a really big tree down, mostly I deal with smaller wood.

          Electric chain saws are nice in that you can leave them sit for 3-years and they work as well as the day you put them up.

          @-cycle saws always need to be tinkered with to run after even a Winter of storage.

          Both have their place, but I like the electric ones more.

        2. Southernman;
          Reminds me, the new Stihl saw I got recommends and I quote “Do NOT use Ethanol Gas in this Chainsaw, use only Non-Ethanol Gas”.

        3. You do know that there is a very old rule about not letting brothers-in-law touch tools, don’t you? It’s a guarantee that they will mess whatever up, if they don’t destroy it.
          -Papa S.

      1. McGyver;
        Basically no, there are some additives that are added to Jet-A and Jet-A1 that can be considered toxic when burned. Mainly Napthalene, Ethyl Benzene and Diethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether, these would be a HUGE no no if burned inside in a Lantern of Kero Stove. Jet-B is even worse, being a mixture of approx. 30% Diesel and 7-% Gas. Lastly Avgas is a HUGE no no no, being it’s basically purified gasoline.

        1. NRP,

          Yes, I’m familiar with the properties of 100LL; burned quite a bit of it punching holes in clouds. But I did not know about the additives in Jet A. Always assumed it needed to be ultra pure. Good info.

      2. NRP, McGyver,

        I’m guessing here, but wouldn’t Jet fuel have anti-gelling agents since they routinely fly at altitudes where the temp approaches 50-60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit?

        1. Yes Dennis, I think you are right. JP-5 is almost #2 Diesel. Just tighter tolerances and standards. I always thought it went through a heat exchanger to warm it up first.

          But I’m out of my league on this. I must defer to the demonstrated expertise of The Land of Enchantment’s Mr. Whipple on this one. NRP?

  6. As old as I am, I started out camping with a coleman with white gas. Then graduated to a propane coleman. When we moved to the middle of nowhere my old man came home with a super duper coleman propane 3 burner. One burner was big enough to can on.
    Then we bought a volcano stove for camping. So far we are really happy with it. You can cook with wood, propane or charcoal. His favorite is charcoal, mine would be propane. But he sets it up and I cook. It has a large surface for cooking and I have the griddle that can go on top. The only drawback is the weight. Soon it will take both of us to carry it.

      1. I have a Volcano stove and find it with a few charcoal briquettes makes supper for my family. Given I can make (and have) charcoal I expect to pass on my Volcano to the next generation.

        I am also fond of the Kelly Kettle as well as my homemade #10 can plus two long bean cans rocket stove. With some fiberglass insulation stuffed in it they burn squaw wood and pine cones with little smoke AND can be used on a picnic table with out hazard. PLUS aside from my labor with tin snips FREE.

  7. Chuck Findlay;
    First, sorry about your Brother.
    Great article, and good timing, falls right in with Ken’s theme he’s doing right now.
    On Kerosene, it was my understanding that Kero really did not need an additive to last a very long time (8-10 years), can you verify the need for the additive? One last thing on Hero Stove, have you ever experimented with #2 Diesel rather than #1 Diesel (Kerosene) in the Kerosene Stoves?
    As far as Colman White-Gas like quite a few here I also remember the many of hundreds of times camping with the family and using a 3 burner Colman and the good old Colman White-Gas lanterns.
    I guess that may be the reason I like this type of stove so much, I never got into the Propane Colman stoves much, or maybe I was worried about the propane tank exploding that sat within a few inches of the flame???
    I will agree 1000% on the availability of fuel if/when TSHTF, wood is the final backup for me, even living in the high desert I can find wood to burn everywhere, even floating down the river HAHAHAHA

    1. (can you verify the need for the additive? One last thing on Hero Stove, have you ever experimented with #2 Diesel rather than #1 Diesel (Kerosene) in the Kerosene Stoves?)

      NPR I’m not sure how long kero last without a stabilizer, I know it’s much longer then gasoline. But I just use the stabilizer because I feel it’s a good idea and it’s not expensive and easy to get today. Why not add it now to protect and extend it’s life?

      Never gave diesel much thought, I put up the kero and expect to use it. If my kero goes away for some reason I would try diesel if I could get it but I would do so outside as I suspect it’s a much dirtier fuel and would smell more.

      As far as propane tanks on camp stoves being exposed to a dangerous level of heat, pretty much all the propane camp stoves have a flex hose or a brass tube that keeps the tank a foot or so away from the burner. Being that there is not a rash of propane camp stove explosions on the news I think this distancing works.

  8. Isn’t Sterno basically an alcohol gel stove? I bought a case (24) of them at an estate sale once; like alcohol stoves you got to be careful as the flame is nearly invisible.

    Kerosene is quite impressive as a fuel for its’ heat and efficiency. I set afire about an 1/4″ of it in the bottom of a coffee can and it burnt much longer than what I would’ve expected.

    1. Old Chevy;
      Sterno is a great fuel source, unfortunately it has a tendency to “dry out”, have had a many of times using them under a serving pan, open a new can and it’s completely dried.
      So long term I’d say probably not so good.
      But that’s JMHO.

      1. Of course you can always make your own alcohol gel that would work on the sterno. I have a recipe on how to make it. That reminds me, I also have a two burner fold up sterno stove. I think it didn’t run as hot as my coleman, so it kind of fell out of favor.

        1. I have done this.

          When I used Sterno stoves that have dried out I stuffed a paper towel into the can and filled it with denatured alcohol. The paper towel works as a wick, It works well, the paper towel only gets a bit burnt on the top edges. If you let the alcohol run out (and it will) the paper will burn. But all you need to do the next time you use the stove is to put in a new paper towel or any paper.

          To slow the Sterno can from drying out pour a wax seal from a candle around the top ring.

          1. Hi Chuck,

            FYI, there is also liquid Sterno in a 16 oz squeeze bottle. I get it at the dollar store. Oldest stuff I have is twenty years old and it is still quite flowable.

          2. Thread ran it’s limit and I can’t comment on McGyver’s post below.

            Liquid alcohol is very easy to find. Go to Sam’s Club or Wally World and buy a gallon of hand sanitizer. It’s alcohol, cost $6.00 a gallon and burns good. It’s worth having a few gallons of it on hand and $6.00 a gallon is much less then most other fuels cost. Keep it sealed up and it last for years. You can buy small bottles of it and put them in your get-home-bag and or auto and use it as a stove fuel or fire starter.

            One thing to note about any alcohol, it will adsorb water out of the atmosphere so it needs to be in containers with a good lid.

          3. A convenient way to carry small amounts of alcohol is in those little HEET auto fuel additive containers, although an expensive way to buy it, you can refill them easily and for cheap.
            There are a lot of toilet paper roll stove ideas on YouTube, which might be of interest to anyone who hoards t.p.
            ;-)

  9. classiccampstoves is a good site for information on older camping stoves. I was looking through it for information on an old MSR model that I’ve owned since 1976, I think it is a model 9 or a model 9A. It is a multi-fuel stove that will burn either gas or kerosene/diesel. If burning the latter it needs to be pre-heated with alcohol to get the fuel to vaporize. It sound like a jet engine when it burns and probably would not be practical to use with starving folks in the neighborhood. Sad to think that it was new when I bought it in 1976 and is now vintage. Makes me vintage also.

    As I mentioned in the previous butane article I had a 2 burner alcohol stove and now have a 1 burner stove. They have been very popular on boats for years and are considered as one of the safer fuels to cook with on boats. I did have a girlfriend who managed to set her boat on fire with one but it was easily extinguished. The drawback is they just don’t burn very hot. At least mine didn’t. I couldn’t fry with it. Alcohol burns with a very clear flame which can be difficult to see.

    DW had a kerosene stove on the boat she sailed to Tahiti on and it too had to primed with alcohol. I don’t know if the newer stoves require it.
    Anyway at her urging we installed propane on the boat we took to Mexico.

    If I was going to do an off grid stove that wasn’t wood I’d look at kerosene. You do get a lot of bang for the buck on the fuel as most of them can use diesel just as easily. The marine stoves are not dependent on electricity to light. Kenyon and Force 10 come to mind when I think marine grade. They are pricey but I imagine there are a number of used ones coming off of boats that were totaled in the recent hurricanes. Craigslist and eBay might be useful sites. Old RVs that are being parted out could also be a source for propane stoves.

    Chuck, my condolences on your loss. It’s always hard when a loved one passes.

    1. Should have added that CNG is another consideration. Compressed natural gas come in tanks resembling SCUBA tanks. They would be darn near impossible to fill in a grid down situation and I only mention them as I believe they can be converted to burn propane without much difficulty.

      1. me,

        You gave me an a-ha moment. Maybe 15 years ago, Honda was testing CNG passenger cars. Customers would purchase a small, wall-mounted compressor that would take standard residential 0.5 psi nat gas and compress it to something insane, like 3,500 psi as I recall. I wonder if any of that equipment is still available, scavenged tanks, etc.

        Last Summer I took a ride from Yerevan down to the northern Iranian border. I didn’t see any gasoline stations, only Nat Gas. My friends truck had two hi- capacity fiber wound tanks in the back. took about 25 minutes to fill them both, but the truck ran all day. There are plenty of surplus CNG bottles around the world. I wonder if it would even be possible to import them here.

  10. Good informative article C F .
    I especially liked the mention of the butterfly oven to use on my propane stoves for baking instead of a cast iron pot. The oven priced $79.00 at St. Paul Mercantile looked very well built, sturdy and with a tempered glass window .
    We use kerosene for lanterns and a portable heater. Kerosene last week was priced locally for $8.50 per gallon . I have seen it on sale occasionally for $ 6.00 a gallon in a 2 1/2 gallon jug . A friend of mine adds Pri-D fuel stabilizer to kerosene for long term storage .
    Aaahhhh yes , the good old days of $ . 25 a gallon gasoline with no ethanol in it .

    1. I also use Pri-D fuel stabilizer, I wonder what it does as far as off-gassing fumes if used indoors?

      I wondered about it but I never really looked into this.

      I would think it would be more an issue with kero heaters that would be running 24/7 all winter long then it would a cooking stove that only sees use a few hours use a week.

      1. Chuck Findlay;
        Pri-D = 1 oz per 16-gallons of fuel, doubt if you’ll get much off-gassing from that????

        1. Off gassing was / is only a minor concern. There are way too many other things that are bad for you to worry about this.

          Like the Chinese buffets I go to, lots of salt and other things that do more harm then a bit of stove fuel fumes…

          Never a big concern but I like to research things to be informed so the off-gassing was something I tried to look at, and found no answers to.

          It’s interesting that most all of the important things I know was not taught in school. I’m very much a self taught person that has a strong interest in knowing hot things work and how to do things.

          I feel that schools (and government regulated schools we have are really bad) don’t teach much about life and how things work in the real world.

          I’m not sure people today have the drive to learn that they did when I was younger. Heck I;m 57 and still like to learn new things. I find great enjoyment in it.

          With the smart phone addiction today and the amount of info that can be access in a modern phone you would think young people would be able to do much more then us old people can do because info is at their finger tips. But I see the opposite, The young can hardly change a flat tire and they seem to have little desire to learn beyond using Facebook..

          Sad if you ask me…

  11. I have a number of Coleman tins of fuel that are a few years old. I have intended to use them in my Coleman dual fuel stove but I am not sure if this fuel degrades. Anyone have any experience with aging camp fuel?

    1. hermit us
      I have revamped/rebuilt a couple of Colman Lanterns in the last few months, found them in a Garage Sale ($10 is cheap), After cleaning them completely, I used some of my older White-Gas (Colman Brand) that’s probably 10-15 years old, these puppy’s fired right up and did a complete “out of fuel” burn.
      Being a totally “non-ethanol” and very clean fuel I would have zero concern on storing true “White-Gas” for many many years.

      As a side note; a very good friend the Chemistry Doctored that worked in a Refinery for many years, and I had a long discussion on life expectancy of stored fuel, this is the summery.
      1. Modern Ethanol containing Gas, 3-4 months without additive, 1-1.5 years with
      2. Non-Ethanol Gas, 1-1.5 years without additive, 5+ years with
      3. Diesel #2 Red, 1-2 years without additive, 5+ years with
      4. Diesel #2 Green, 1 year without additive, 5+ years with
      5. Kerosene aka #1 Diesel, 5-10+ years, no need to add an additive
      6. Propane or Butane, unlimited time up to 50 years
      7. Alcohol Rubbing or De-Natured, 5-10+ years

      He did add that 100% of the time the amount of Air that the liquid fuels are exposed to is the limiting factor in longevity. He suggested keeping the containers completely full except for a very small amount of air space for expansion. Example; 1.5” head space in a 55-gallon Drum. Or he added, if you buy a 1-gallon of Colman Fuel, do NOT open it until ready for use in its entirety in 1 year.

      Honestly the Man is a LOT smarter than I am concerning this stuff. Sooooooo take it as is.

      PS, A fun note; Since someone mentioned Colman Lanterns did ya know there is a Number stamped on the bottom of each tank? This number, aka 56, 64, 82 ,is the year they are built. I have one that has a stamp of 53……. Built in 1953

      Ok, back on subject.

      1. NRP
        Thanks. I will just leave them tins for a few more years and give them a try – or if the crap hits the fan.

      2. NRP,
        If you paid $10 a piece for those Coleman lanterns, you paid about $5 too much, unless they had intact glass, then you should have tried for $8. LOL. Years ago at the Denver flea market, I could get Coleman single burner stoves for $8, and if I paid more than $3 for a lantern I felt I had lost my touch!

  12. – Couple of minor comments. 1) I have used diesel in kerosene heaters; it works fine but will stink you out of the building. 2) I have never seen or heard of this happening with kerosene, but have seen ‘dinosaur snot’ occur in old diesel, so would not be surprised to see this happen. I think I remember it being an algae.,
    For wick-type burners, I have used everything from alcohol to white gasoline (not recommended) in a Zippo lighter.
    – Papa S.

    1. Papa Smurf I’ve had a few MSR stoves (Firefly and Dragonfly) and one thing I’ve always found (and it’s mentioned on numerous backpacking sites) is you need to have both the yearly maintenance hit and the field maintenance hits. Good stoves when they are working but always seem prone to clogging issues.

      With the SVEA you need the stove and fuel, that’s it as it works every time even with last years fuel still in it. You can run a Seva for 30 or more years and never need to do anything but put gas in it.

      I don’t think they even make a field maintenance kit for it.

      There seems to be a strong loyalty to MSR stoves, but I find it hard to understand when everyone says you NEED to have the rebuild kit with you for when the dang stove dies in the field.

      1. Me Bad
        yearly maintenance kit and the field maintenance kits.

        Not
        yearly maintenance hit and the field maintenance hits.

        1. Me Bad # 2

          Meant to respond to CaliRefugee

          not to Papa Smurf.

          My computer is not working right today, after all it can’t be me………

      2. Chuck, my Dragonfly is about 20 years old. The only maintenance I have ever done is replace the pump once. I’ve only burned white gas in it, and some of that gas has been from a half full can a few years old. I swear by this stove, and recommend it to everyone.

  13. Thanks for the article Chuck Findley.

    For backpacking, I have used white gas almost exclusively. I started out with an Optimus stove that was in its own blue carry case ( sister company of the classic Svea). When I got a job that involved a lot of backpacking, I upgraded to the MSR XGK multi fuel stove and I fixed and repaired it on an annual basis. My “season” was anywhere from 4 to 6 months long in the southern Sierras and I used the stove in alpine zones and in the winter to melt snow and boil the water for over 5 years.

    The kitchen bag and the first aid bag were indispensable on that job because a rescue frequently involved warming up a hypothermic victim as a first priority. The stove had to work quickly and the MSR never let me down. It also saved a lot of lives in the high country. People felt better and some were able to walk out of the back country on their own after a hot meal or bowl of soup in their system. At the very least, the few minutes it takes to boil the water and drink the soup gives the hypothermic person a chance to regroup mentally before beginning the long trek to the parking lot.

    On solo trips moving fast, 1 pint container of white gas would be adequate. I generally carried a 2nd redundant pint of white gas with me as back up. This was on or near the Pacific Crest Trail so there was no burnable wood easily found along the path. For those of you back east, you may see the same with the Appalachian Trail. When the trail is open and you are 2+ weeks in season, the dead and down wood is gone.

    At home and in the cabins, I like using propane for the convenience as I also looked forward to trips to town to do my laundry and to eat some one else’s cooking. Some back country cabins had wood stoves and I would practice wood stove etiquette: Leave some wood under a tarp and leave some smaller pieces for use as kindling for the next govt. employee that rolls in here. ( they may be arriving cold and wet.).

    If you are going to be using wood as your fuel, bring along the pruning shears, small axe and pruning saw to gather the wood you need. If the wood is too big for these tools, then you are talking about specialized tools like long bar chainsaws and splitting malls and wedges. Lastly, do not add dry dead sticks of poison oak into the wood fire. bad things will happen.

  14. Wow,brings back good memories of using the pump up alcohol stove on the boat and the old lanterns shrimping and crabbing off of the Florida causeway bridges back in the early seventies.
    I have a Camp Chef camp oven with the 2 burners on top. Works well. You can bake a cake or a couple loaves of bread in it.
    Just a tad heavy to lug around …

  15. It is agreed that wood is the most abundant, available and affordable fuel for cooking. And it doesn’t even need a stove to cook with it. The vast variety of techniques and utensils to cook with wood makes it perhaps the most versatile fuel of all. I’ve seen chicken, dutch ovens hanging over a campfire from a tripod, over the fire grills, reflector ovens, cooking in a pit with a buried coals and rocks, wood stoves. And since charcoal is processed wood, I think of uses of that as wood fuel too. I love cooking in our 3-legged Dutch oven with some coals on the lid and underneath.
    Great topic and well written.

    1. Old Chevy ever make your own charcoal? It’s pretty easy to make in small batches. I fill an old metal paint can with chunks of hard wood that I punched a hole in the lid with a screwdriver. tap the lid on tight and set it in a camp fire till it quits smoking. Take it out and let it cool and I have charcoal.

      It doesn’t light as easy as the commercial stuff does and it doesn’t burn quite as evenly, but it works and for an off-grid world it would be handy to be able to make.

      I should make an effort to find a larger can then a paint can to make it.

      1. Chuck Findlay;
        Speaking of Charcoal, has anyone purchased Propane lately?
        Just had a 100 pounder filled, was $42 with Tax……

        1. NRP,
          Was that a local supplier or the ‘national brand’? I am finding that the locals seem to be much cheaper. Trying to save up to put in a big buried tank this summer, and buy it on the cheap.

          1. minerjim;
            Thats a local I’ve been dealing with for 25+ years. Thay also have my 500gallon house tank. Right now propane is @ $1.57 per gallon for house. Bit hear its going up in 4-5 months to around 2-bucks. Suggest doing your thing soon.

        2. NRP,
          I recently purchased a used 325 gallon tank and had it filled at $ 2.19 per gallon from Ferrellgas. At this time we only have 1 appliance , so the fill should last us about 5 years . After doing some research I found that August is the best time to for our area .

      2. – Chuck F.
        My apologies for not saying my condolences earlier. If you have read G.Dickson’s Wolf and Iron’. there is a very good description of how primitive charcoal burners would bury large piles of wood while it was burning, then dig up the charcoal several days later. Might be worth experimenting with.mmk
        – Papa S.

  16. Great article. I am obviously a bit of a stove addict myself.

    My first off-grid cook ‘stove’ would be a sterno set-up making fondue! lol

    My first off-grid REAL cook stove would be the old Coleman 2-burner green camping stove.

    We have a nice rocket stove but it really is heavy and needs lots of babysitting because the sticks used for fuel need to be replaced so fast. But the cooking is totally free and it’s pretty fun!

    We also have the set-up to do campfire cooking with a tripod and lots of cast iron — not really a ‘stove’, but it’s a means to cook by. We also have the typical charcoal grill set up, but we have also used the grill with wood instead of charcoal for a year to learn how to cook w/out burning the foods.

    We have several small alcohol stoves, too, along with a few little stoves in our GHBs that use a compressed fuel cake to start a small fire. Don’t remember what the chemical is that is used to burn though.

    We also have an antique Roth wood cook stove that’s a 4-burner stove with a baking oven. It’s a nice small size, not one of the behemoths listed at Lehman’s, costing $5K or so.

    Thanks for the tips on Sterno drying out — I wasn’t aware of that so I’m gonna copy what you shared and prep a card to keep w/ my cans of Sterno. I’m also going to wax the tops like you instructed. Makes sense to do that!

  17. Chuck Findlay,
    Nice article, thank you! my oldest gas stove is an old Primus single burner with a blue metal container (1970). Lights off every time with white gas. I also have a couple of Colemans, a 502 ( 1960s), two 530 GI Pocket Stoves ( 1948-49), and a 520 GI Issue from WW2( 1942). All good units. (also have two or three double burner stoves too.) Throw in my 30-35 Coleman gas lanterns, and I have enough for a big crew. Like your explanation for butane, lower pressure so they can put it in light weight aluminum cans. Makes a lot of sense. So I guess butane stove if you really are watching the weight of your pack. ( I’ll choose to suffer with a little more weight and take my white gas stove).

  18. I have 2 Coleman butane single burners like from the article a couple of days ago, a white gas Coleman double burner, an MSR Dragonfly, and a Camp Chef propane two burner “blaster”. Each has its specific uses, and I love each of those stoves for their particular strengths. I like the versatility of white gas, and use it for lanterns and stoves. It isn’t as convenient as propane or butane, but there is a certain ritual to priming and pumping that I enjoy. I also hate the waste of empty propane and butane canisters, so the things that I can use either a refillable 20# propane tank or white gas tend to see the most use.

  19. I started with Coleman propane 2-burners and was very unsatisfied with the way they cannot be turned down to a really, really low flame; which you can do with the white gas version. So out with the propane model and in with the white gas. Also the white gas fuel tank stores within the stove which makes it more compact.

    The diversity of stoves one uses is not an indication of a ‘stove fetish’ but demonstrates how not one single stove is adequate for all situations. Likewise I can’t help but be aware of how each stove and application requires different cookware. The pocket butane stove for a backpack camping trip isn’t a match for a cast iron dutch oven. Likewise lightweight Mt. Everest type cookware isn’t suitable for the backyard grill and so forth. This article made me realize my sufficiencies and insufficiencies in these categories.

  20. Coleman double burner here too. But my latest is a solo stove, light weight unlimited fuel, how can you go wrong? Coffee percolator and 2 titanium cooking pots…

  21. I like the ease of the Coleman 2-burner stoves for many uses, but yes, the propane is heavy. Their backpacking stoves are pretty good too, but it’s getting harder to find coleman fuel (and I don’tknow of a good alternative – but I’ sure there is one).

    As backpacking stoves go, I like the MSR ones that use the white gas. Sturdy and reliable, this is my preferred stove while on the move.

    I do really like rocket stove style methods, as they often can be created on the fly, and are effective. And so long as I am in an area where such resources are available, that results in less weight forme to carry.

  22. C.F., very sorry to hear about your brother. Thanks for the good article. Enjoyed many a fresh fish and chips dinner/supper cooked on a Coleman 2 burner, Coleman fuel/white gas stove. I don’t recall there ever being any problems with it. Along with the 2 mantle, Coleman fuel lantern. Great memories of my dad and uncle melting lead on it when they made their own sinkers, and weighted treble hooks for coho. Not sure if you can use those nowadays for coho.
    There is a good size concrete block that is/was used in the base of chimneys, one side has sort of like a concave arch in it, which allows for a good draft. Not sure what that block is called. Some of you guys that build might know what I’m referring to. Not necessarily portable, as it weighs about 20 lbs. or so. But would make a decent, solid, stable wood burning stove if the need should arise.
    Also having a Dutch oven would be a very welcome addition to ones grid down supplies.

  23. Last week I got a hankering to cook a couple more Beercan Chickens in my wood/charcoal grill (not smoker), but the wife told me that she had plenty or beercan chicken in the freezer, so I didn’t. I usually do two at a time with retail beer can chicken stands and charcoal, but wood could be used as well. Look up the process online to see how you can steam/roast chickens in a fire box.

    A Trashcan Turkey is a method of roasting a large turkey using a metal trash can and either charcoal or wood. I’ve only done one, and that was a few years ago, but it turned out great. I still have my metal trash can (with the galvanizing burned off) and plan to do another one sometime. The method was supposedly developed by beach-going college kids on the west coast. Check it out online.

    These are just a couple of ways to cook large birds with non-conventional methods.

    CD in Oklahoma

  24. I have an older model Coleman white gas stove, I’ve read that you can use ethanol-free gasoline in them. Anybody done this?

  25. just a tip – in a SHTF time have the 6 foot adaptor hose for a “Colman” type propane camp stove. A place to find propane bottles is at a factory that uses propane fork trucks. There will be bottles on the trucks and should be a storage rack of bottles as well. also some welding shops use propane instead of acetylene in there cutting torches. so look at the bottle storage racks there too. These bottles will not look like a “standard” propane bottle they will be larger same as the bottles off a fork truck they will be a bigger bottle than you think.

  26. I did my spring tuneup of camp stoves and my oldest Coleman white gas stove needs an overhaul. Taken apart and rust removal.

    1. Trangia’s alcohol stoves work’s even in arctic. I have two and one Optimus 111 kerosene military stove, works great if -20

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