You should start thinking in terms of multi-fuel devices as one specific type of fuel may be unattainable. They make multi-fuel stoves for camping ($70.00) such as the Primis or the Coleman Platnum. They also manufacture large diesel stoves with ovens for ships ($1000-3000). If the stove or motor works on kerosene it usually works on diesel and vice versa.
Types of Fuels
- Kerosene (Coal oil, Pariffin oil, Fuel oil)
- Mineral Spirits
- Propane (Gas)
Considering Fuel Options for Cooking
Before you look at specific equipment, take a few minutes to decide which type (or types) of fuel will work best for you. This will help you narrow down your options:
Butane, Propane or Isobutane Blend Canisters
Positives - Convenient, clean-burning and easy to light. Burn hot immediately and do not require priming. Can be adjusted easily for simmering. Can't spill.
Negatives - More expensive than other fuel types. You must carry and dispose of the fuel canisters, and they may not be readily recyclable. Performance may decrease in temperatures below freezing, however blended alternatives - butane/propane and isobutane - work better than straight butane in cold conditions. Pure propane works well down to 0°F. Butane will not work below 32°F. Non-burned gas is poisionous to breath.
Overall Review - Great for warm- to moderate-weather campers who want easy adjustability, few hassles and who don't mind carrying a little extra weight in their packs.
Positives - Not volatile. Inexpensive, easy to find (throughout the world), high heat output, spilled fuel does not ignite easily. Burns with little carbon monoxide.
Negatives - Somewhat messy (burns dirty, smelly). Priming is required (easier if a different priming fuel is used), tends to gum up stove parts. Spilled fuel evaporates slowly.
Overall Review - A cheap, versatile fuel choice, especially for backpackers who plan on traveling outside of the United States (where white gas and butane blends may not be readily available). Not as clean or easy to deal with as butane or white gas.
Mineral Spirits (Low Odor)
Positives - Not volatile. Easy to find (throughout the world), high heat output, spilled fuel does not ignite easily. Burns very clean.
Negatives - Expensive. Spilled fuel evaporates slowly. Usually purchased from paint stores as it is used as a solvent or paint thiner.
Overall Review - A versatile fuel choice, especially as a substitue for kerosene and white gas. Not as clean or easy to deal with as butane or white gas.
Positives - Inexpensive, easy to find throughout the United States. Clean, easy to light, spilled fuel evaporates quickly.
Negatives - Volatile (spilled fuel can ignite quickly), priming is required (fuel from the stove can be used). Can be hard to find outside of the United States.
Overall Review - A great overall performer, perfect for travel throughout North America in just about any weather conditions. Reliable, inexpensive and efficient.
Positives - Relatively inexpensive, easy to find throughout the world.
Negatives - Extremely volatile. Burns dirty/sooty, can lead to frequent stove clogs.
Overall Review - Usually used as a last resort only. Price and availability make it an attractive option for backpackers traveling in extremely remote areas.
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.
Positives - A renewable fuel resource, low volatility. Burns almost silently. Alcohol-burning stoves tend to have fewer moving parts than other types, lowering the chance of breakdown.
Negatives - Lower heat output, so cooking takes longer and requires more fuel. Fuel can be hard to find outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Overall Review - A viable, environmentally friendly option for travel in the U.S. and Canada, especially if you crave peace, quiet and a slow pace on your backpacking trips.
Storage of fuels
The fuels we buy are made for seasons and regions. Gas and diesel fuels are blended for the ambient temperatures of the area where they are purchased. For example, the winter time fuel needs are quite different in Tampa, Florida as compared to Minot, North Dakota. If you store fuel purchased in the summer you may experience wintertime operation problems. In the case of diesel the fuel may cloud or gel. In the case of gasoline, the gas may not vaporize well and cause starting problems. If you are storing fuel in a boat, RV, generator, tractor, auto, etc., it is best to leave the fuel tank full and use a commercial grade fuel stabilizer prior to equipment storage.
Fuel should be treated using PRD-G (Gasoline) or PRI-D (Diesel & Kerosene) Fuel Treatment. Fuel Treatment when storing prevents algae growth. Algae grow when fuel contains water. The algae lives in the water and feeds on the contiminates in the fuel such as sulfer, rust, dirt particles and nitrates. These treatements (Biocides) have been developed to kill and prevent algae, bacteria, and fungus in fuels. When using fuels that have been in long term storage, don't pump from the very bottom of the tank, and filter the fuel.The water in your tank is primarily from condensation and is heavier than diesel. So usually the "gunk" is at the bottom of the tank.
Keep fuel in a cool area (shade) and avoid wide temperature swings. Keep storage containers free of water and harmful metals. Metals such as copper and galvanized/zinc should not be used in fuel storage. If you are storing in plastic type containers be sure these containers can handle fuel, i.e., the fuel should not disolve the plastic. Be sure the tanks are clean. When you finally get around to using the fuel, always filter it to keep that gunk out of your motor.
There are a lot of variables that effect fuel storage. In general the use of a commercial grade fuel stabilizer on an annual basis will extend the useful life of fuel for an extra year. This annual procedure can be repeated between 5 and 10 times, thus giving fuel between 5 and 10 years of storage life.