Winter Camping 101: What Is White Gas and All You Need To Know About It

Do you always ditch the idea of camping or backpacking during the winter season because everything takes double the effort? Trekking is hard, sleeping at night is a pain, and cooking becomes a challenge. Fret not about the food because liquid fuel stoves that run on white gas will get your food done!

Perhaps you’ve used small canister fuels in one of your winter expeditions. Yes, it gets the food ready but if you haven’t tried liquid fuels yet, sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re not doing it right.

Alright, let’s get down to business – what are liquid fuels and what exactly is white gas?

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Why Should I Use A Liquid Fuel?​

Why Should I Use A Liquid Fuel?​

If you plan on exploring the great outdoors during the winter season, you should definitely get yourself a liquid fuel, rather than canister fuel stoves.

Liquid fuels are your best bet for the cold season because of their unparalleled cold weather performance, low environmental impact, wide availability, and low cost (ideal for cheapskates like us).

A liquid fuel stove is consist of four parts: the tank, pump, valve, and burner. The tank holds the fuel while the pump creates the pressure that causes the fuel to flow. The valve is the part which controls the fuel’s flow, and finally, the burner mixes the gas with air, creating a chemical reaction that ignites and burns the fuel.

Ideally, liquid fuel stoves that run on petroleum distillates such as white gas or kerosene burn the finest and strongest. Unlike isobutene fuelled-canisters which only burn at temperatures ranging from 10 to 15 degrees F or above, white gas generates enough heat even at low temperature to melt snow.

Getting a good liquid fuel stove should be your top priority before winter camping because if you don’t know by now, snow seems to be the only drinkable fresh water source there is at very high altitudes. Liquid fuel stoves can apparently save you from dehydration.

White Gas: The Miracle Gas​

White gas, commonly known as Naphtha or Coleman Fuel, is the most common fuel for liquid stoves, especially in North America. They use this particular gas when embarking on late spring vacations and extended winter outings in the beautiful Alaskan range.

First off, let’s discuss its source. White gas is extracted from petroleum, and it’s the purest form of gasoline - it lacks additives as compared to kerosene, diesel, and unleaded fuel which are sort of “dirtier”; they emit a nasty burn.​

In essence, white gas burns cleaner. Also, it vaporizes at a minimum temperature, ensuring an easy stove ignition, a cleaner residue-free stove, and an odor-free surface even when a spill occurs. Most importantly, it won’t clog the valves in the stove, allowing you to spend time on more enjoyable things than cleaning.

Furthermore, white gas is self-priming. Priming is simply the process of warming up the stove, so the liquid fuel turns into gas more efficiently. If kerosene requires a more volatile fuel like alcohol or primer paste to prime it, white gas primes its own.

White gas is simply the most reliable and efficient in the cold season. It burns cleaner, faster, and it’s gentle on stoves. Overall, white gas brings a more charming cooking experience!

However, its charms can’t hide the fact that it takes some skills and patience to light a white gas stove. The truth is, white gas stoves can be challenging to operate. The painstaking act of operating it seems to be the main reason why people turn away from using it though it has proved to be better than other gas types.

Again, worry not because we’re here to teach you how. Now, go get that stove and let’s try lighting it up!

Lighting A White Gas Stove: A Step-by-Step Guide​

  • Step 1. Unclog the stove nozzle. This is a crucial step because the stove won’t burn correctly if the nozzle is clogged. You may use the cleaning needle that comes with the stove to push out any dirt in the nozzle’s hole.
  • Step 2. Connect the burner to the liquid fuel line. Place the assembled stove on a flat, stable surface.
  • Step 3. Pump up air into the fuel bottle to pressurize it. You may have to pump 15 to 20 times to get started (for new stoves) and more if the temperature and fuel are low. If the pressure drops, you can stroke it up some more while the stove is burning.
  • Step 4. To get an efficient burn, the fuel must first vaporize. To do this, preheat the stove by turning the valve for about 2 seconds, letting a small amount of fuel leak into the priming pan located at the base of the stove.
  • Step 5. Light the alcohol in the dish and let it do its job. By the time the alcohol is completely burnt (indicated by a yellow instead of blue flame), the stove should be preheated again. Simply turn the knob slowly back on for 2 seconds. The flame will now engulf the vaporized gas in the burner, causing it to burn.

In the case that the stove fails to light or if the yellow flame gets too large, turn off the stove and wait for 3 to 5 minutes before doing steps 1 to 5 again.

This video here below provides a visual of the steps to make everything easier for you. May you light your stove successfully!​

See more: How Long Will My Propane Last? It’s Easier To Calculate That You Think.

Final Thoughts

You see, white gas is so underappreciated. The full spectrum of its advantages and perks are clouded by the assumption that it’s a pain to operate. Remember, the most important step in operating a white gas stove is priming and vaporizing the fuel.

Now that you know very well how to light this terrific gas, you just have to practice some more to be a pro at it. Teach others too!

I hope we’ve answered all your questions regarding white gas-related things and if you have any questions and such, just hit the comments section below. Tell us what you think of this post and if it’s any help to you, our dear camper. Don’t forget to share this post before leaving. Cheers!​

Winter Camping 101: What Is White Gas and All You Need To Know About It
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