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Today we will talk about a few other types of fuel that you may think about storing: kerosene, “white gas”, and butane.

Kerosene

Although kerosene has become less common in the United States, it is still commonly used in Japan and in developing nations.  The Amish use kerosene for their lighting at night.  In addition to lighting, kerosene is used for heating and cooking, fire-breathing, and cleaning gunk from bicycle chains!

There are some definite advantages to storing kerosene.  For one thing, kerosene does not have explosive vapors, so it is much safer to store than the other fuels we’ve looked at.  Kerosene is also inexpensive, and a dense store of energy.  Unlike gasoline, it does not need to be treated with stabilizer.

If you have ever used kerosene before, you’re probably aware of some of the drawbacks: when kerosene burns it is smoky and has a strong smell.  It requires priming, and you’ll need to buy wicks.  Over time, as you store kerosene, water will accumulate in the fuel and you’ll need to filter it out.

If you decide to store kerosene, you’ll need to know that it must be stored in blue containers, so that it not mistaken for gasoline.  You can get 5 gallon containers, or in a lot of places you can have a company deliver kerosene to you, in a 50 gallon barrel.  In some areas you can purchase kerosene at gas stations.  Wherever you buy it, try to keep it in a tightly-sealed container, out of sunlight, and try to store it away from big temperature swings.

White gas aka. “Coleman fuel,” “camp fuel,” or “Naptha”

White gas is primarily used by backpackers and campers; it is usually used for lanterns and camp-stoves.  A few of the advantages of white gas are that it is easy to find (Walmart carries it, for instance), and it has a high BTU.  It can be used in any temperature.  Disadvantages are that this fuel is highly volatile—it can explode.  (Do not keep white gas inside!)  When you use white gas, you have to fill appliances with the fuel, which is kind of messy and a hassle compared to propane, where you can just hook it up.  White gas can evaporate even in a closed container.  It cannot be used as a substitute for gasoline in modern engines.  Most sources say that white gas will store for 2-5 years, but other people online claim that it works fine even after 10 years.  (Using white gas after that long is not really advisable, because you will likely need to clean out your camp stove afterward.)

Butane

You may already be storing butane, without even realizing it!  We are.  Butane is the fuel used in lighters, and it is also used in aerosol sprays.  For our emergency preparedness purposes here, butane comes in blue cylinders, and it can be used with a butane torch, with refillable lighters, and camp stoves.  You can also find butane heaters and lighting, but they are less common.

Butane is a pressurized gas, which becomes a liquid.  It usually comes in aerosol type cans, called cartridges, or in blue cylinders.  One canister is enough for three hours of cooking, or light cooking for several days.

Advantages of butane are that it is not considered a toxic gas, it is windproof, and it can be used to light campfires (or other things upside-down).  If you keep butane cylinders dry and free of rust, they last indefinitely.

The main disadvantage of butane is that it is quite difficult to find, compared to other fuels. (This actually is a pretty serious problem, because in an emergency if you run out of fuel and your heating, cooking, and light depend on butane, it will be hard to find someone else with extra fuel you can trade for.)

If you do decide to store butane, you will likely have trouble finding a place to buy it.  It is readily available online.  Store your butane out of the heat, or it can explode.

Now we’ve looked at several fuels that can be stored for an emergency—we started out by talking about storing gasoline and propane, and today we’ve finished up our liquid fuels by looking at kerosene, white gas, and butane.  We’re not done yet, though!  Next week we’ll consider a couple other fuels: wood and coal.

6 Responses to “Kerosene, White Gas, and Butane”

  1. Sunflower

    I do not have a stove top or oven. I use electric appliances due to space constraints and priority of available funds. Tonight, I picked up a $80 value two burner Coleman campstove from Kmart. I also picked up 20 canisters of fuel. I figure the fuel might be good barter if I don’t use it up too quickly. It is a relief to me to finally have this little camp cook unit. It is my #3 in the prepper’s Rule of Three.

    • Emily

      Way to go! My husband and I also ordered a two burner Coleman camp stove, just recently. We need to do a trial run with ours and see if we have the right connection hoses, because we’re using big cylinders instead of the usual fuel canisters. You’re right that it will probably be good for barter later if you don’t need it or haven’t used it.

  2. Bev

    It is my understanding that the current unleaded gas is the same as white gas. Back in the day leaded gas did not work in the Coleman Campstove hence we purchased white gas which is the same as unleaded gas. I have checked with several folks about this and it appears white gas is unleaded gas. Any info on this would be welcome.

  3. Mike

    White Gas is not the same as Unleaded Gas. Colemen make a “Dual Fuel” stove that will work with either. Unleaded gas is full of additives to make our modern cars run (even different blends and additives for Summer and Winter). White Gas is pure gas without the additives so your stove stays clean and working. I would stick with White gas, the smell of unleaded additives stink when burned in a stove and will dirty your stove. But, it will work in a pinch especially if you have a “Dual Fuel” stove. Dual Fuel stoves will burn unleaded and won’t need the frequent cleaning and maintenance when burning unleaded. If you burn unleaded in a stove designed only for white gas, you’ll be cleaning it to keep it working.

  4. okiejoe

    White gas back in the 1950’s and earlier apparently was “unleaded” gas but it also was un-everything else. It had no additives at all and was simply pure low octane gasoline. It wouldn’t work in a modern engine at all.

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