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Catie & White gas

RE: the person in the outdoor leadership program at the end of your program today on UWNC. Stale “white gas” (e.g. Amoco) can be used in a car with a full tank. The additives have gone bad, but not the gas. Coleman fuel (white gas, without the additives) can probably be added to a full tank, as the other 15 gallons will have enough additives (it is illegal, however, as the taxes have not been paid). Since you bought your lantern, Coleman started making butane lanterns, so both of you were right in talking about lanterns.

I have heard that one should be very careful about adding Coleman Fuel to a near empty gas tank in a car, but not for the reasons that Katie’s instructor said: the Coleman fuel is highly refined and thus has very little lubricating qualities (less than ordinary gasoline), which could damage the engine if it is not diluted enough with regular gasoline. I thought I had read this on the can of Coleman Fuel but I just checked in my garage and neither the new can nor the ancient can said anything about it.

Secondly, although I agree with Tom and Ray that Coleman Fuel seems to last forever, I recently have had lots of problems with my liquid fuel Coleman stoves (but never with my liquid fuel lantern - go figure). When I spoke with Coleman, they gave me a bunch of ideas, one of which was to remove the fuel if I ever let the equipment sit for more than two weeks.

Their reasoning: if left in the stove’s gas tank, the fuel can get ‘varnishy’ and the stove will not work properly. The solution is to open the stove, pour out the fuel and put denatured alcohol (NOT rubbing alcohol) in the tank, slosh it around, let it soak for awhile (a day?) and pour it out (I may even pressure the tank and send it out through the generator to clean that area as well).

Note that Coleman was NOT telling me to discard the old fuel (unless, of course it had already turned to varnish); rather, they were saying that the fuel could be returned to the gallon container it was purchased in. I can only conclude that fuel in the stove’s gas tank goes bad more quickly than fuel in the can that it came in from the store.

As I mentioned above, my experience is like Tom and Ray’s: even fuel that is several years old does not go bad when left in the container it was purchased in.

Agree; we have both a Coleman stove (large model) and lantern using white gas (naphtha). It sat in the shed for 5 years, and my son borrowed both for a camping trip. We filter the gas when pouring it, and he had no problems whatsoever with easy lighting and a steady flame.

This topic brought back memories of our family camping trip through the Rockies in 1958. We had a Coleman stove and had to look for White Gas to make sure we got our oatmeal and Mother got her coffee. Often near campgrounds a service station would have a separate tank of white gas. And one time (this was back in the day of leaded gasoline) when we went to a country store type place with pumps in the front (it was an Amoco branded station) the attendant just filled up our can with premium unleaded fuel and it worked fine.

Looking through the internet to learn more about the difference, I have concluded that white gas may be put into a gas tank (better if there is at least half a tank ) and that 87 octane unleaded will work in the Coleman Stove (but probably not as well as “pure” white gas). Here is one of the many articles I found

Happy Camping

ps one article put the shelf life of white gas at about 5 years

In doing a bit more reading on this, what I learned was that White Gas was (is) a more refined version of gasoline, as stated previously in this thread. It was put in to use while leaded fuels were in common use to protect the stoves and lanterns to “prevent fouling in situations where the properties of the tetraethyl lead additive were not required.” (See Wikipedia on White Gas for sources). Basically this was all stated by previous posters.

Today, all of the outdoor equipment makers make stoves that will run on multiple fuels. My Coleman stoves and lantern all are specified to run on preferrably White Gas, but are safe to run on Unleaded Gas as well (Coleman models are silver and branded with Dual Fuel on them). Other fuels are supported as well in some cases to support use in countries where the gasoline infrastructure isn’t as well developed.


My daughter borrowed my old coleman stove, The stove tank still had some gas in it, at least 25 years old, and worked fine. I filled the tank from a can of fuel at least that old, and it worked fine.

My father was a chemical engineer from back in the day (graduated in the 1940’s). He often did the reverse of what Catie was asking about. Namely, he used Unleaded gas (back when there was leaded) in our Coleman stove and lantern. Except for requiring more regular cleaning, this seemed to work fine. Thus, I agree with Doug, that putting a small amount of white gas in a large car tank is probably a good way to safely and environmentally dispose of unwanted white gas.
Don in Danville

first, I’d have to agree it’s probably good forever. only if it smells like turpentine then I’d question it. personally I’ve had many occasions to find a way to dispose of old gasoline from a generator, chipper, chain saw or stored gas can. I’d never risk fouling my car since the way better alternative is to use it up in some low demanding application like my inexpensive lawn mower. filter it with a coffee filter and funnel if necessary. put it in the mower or edger or brush clearer. try to use it up, but if you can’t, return leftover back to a can. lacking a personal gas mower, maybe you can give it to a gardener who would surely use it up quickly.

I fill in at a hazardous waste disposal program. It is not uncommon for people to bring in gas a year old and ask for the container back. You would be surprised at the stuff we get, unused propane cylinders, vials of mercury, car batteries, tons of latex paint, polyurethane varnish, water seal etc. by the gallon. Even vinegar and windshield washer fluid, fertilizer and pesticides, and every color and type of spray paint. We have to pay to dispose of the stuff but keep thinking the ultimate recycle would be to let people take it if they want it.

Our family went camping every summer from 1951 through into the 70’s, and we always used unleaded gasoline from the gas station for our Coleman stove and lantern. Had to seek out a service station that carried unleaded (Amoco meets with my recollection), but this was what we used regularly for years for the Coleman pump-style stove and lantern. Never used a can of “Coleman” fuel.

The white gas conversation ignored the very low octane rating of the Coleman fuel. Refineries rearrange the low octane, straight chain, hydrocarbon molecules to higher octane, branched molecules and aromatic ones to make them suitable for motor fuel. Years ago, when I earned my degrees, chemistry was more descriptive. The straight seven carbon chain hydrocarbon (n-heptane) was defined as zero octane. 22,4 trimethyl pentane (isooctane) was defined as 100 octane. Knock engines were run on blends to define anti-knock ratings. The aromatic toluene (methylbenzene) has an octane rating of 120. I believe Coleman fuel would be mostly straight chain hydrocarbons (as Skelly C which I used in the lab) and have an octane rating so low that you wouldn’t dare put in a partly full auto fuel tank. You would risk blowing holes in pistons.

I have used white gas in my 1964 Chevy II many years ago. It was an emergency situation, but it worked fine. The gas tank was empty, and I had to drive about 5 miles to get to a service station. Of course, the Chevy II had a carburetor; I’m not sure it would work with fuel injectors.

White gas is Coleman fuel and is much like unleaded gas. Many white gas camp stoves can
burn unleaded auto gas in a pinch. Coleman fuel in high dilution (a gallon in 15 gal of
gasoline) will do a car no harm. The option is to add some Stabile to the fuel to prevent
varnish build-up, just as you would storing a lawnmower gas can over the winter. White gas camp stoves have a jet much like a classic carburetor and varnish will clog them. I a have liquid Coleman stove and an Optimus hiker stove. The fuel apparently lasts years just in the can without treatment.

Katie and the Coleman stove fuel

Hello you Morons:
Your automotive advice is (usually) great,
your relationship advice better, but you are
city boys and know nothing of living in the
great outdoors, except when your car breaks
down somewhere along Charles River Drive.

Coleman fuel, “white gas,” is naptha, and
can be stored for years without damaging a
stove. It has no additives like automotive
gasoline that can become sticky, clogging
carburetor jets and injector nozzles. Also,
the orifice that the vaporized fuel is
passed through is much larger than a fuel
injector. I have been using white gas in
coleman stoves and lanterns for 50 years.
Coleman now makes “dual fuel” stoves that
can use either white gas or unleaded

Katie’s remark that her Coleman lantern uses
propane is also true. I have newer Coleman
camp lanterns that burn propane from a
canister, and an old lantern like yours that
burns white gas. They are two different
types of lamps, but both use mantels to
produce light from the vaporized fuel.

Keeping the lights on for you, I remain an
avid listener and laugher. (Or is
it “Laffer”, as in the supply theory of
economics that Reagan tried to jam into our
Ted Schmidt
Stuart, Florida

I got a very personal tour of the old Coleman plant at 2nd and St Francis Streets in Wichita Kansas in 1979. I saw where the lanterns, stoves and coolers were made. I even met some of the folks who made them. The old gentleman giving the tour answered all of my questions, one of which was what fuels can be used. He answered that ANY gasoline would work just fine, but the “company line” was to use Coleman fuel. I had always used regualar leaded gas in my stove, because that’s what was available, until unleaded regular became available. I guess I didn’t do any harm. I still have the stove, bought with mom’s S&H Green stamps in 1962. It still works. I doubt that there is any appreciable difference between my old stove, and the “multi fuel” ones labled as such today.

White Gas

Re: your latest foo pah…
I have had personal experience, twice…
…with using Coleman fuel for…gasoline.>
I managed to run two of my vintage vehicles
out of gas in my salad days. >

1.: A '54 Pontiac Chieftain Straight 8.
(with the lightup Indian on the hood.)>

2.: A 1965 Chev. pickup, with a shortblock
rebuild that I did myself in the backyard in
April in Suburban Chicago.

The upshot was this…The stuff worked just
fine, except that the lack of anti-knock
stuff had the engine(s) sounding like it ran
on whole walnuts. I didn’t trash anything
except the empty Coleman cans.

As long as I didn’t stick my feet in the
carboretor, locomotion was created.

George H.

Seems like quite a few listeners know about Coleman fuel.
I dont believe anyone mentioned that some time back Coleman stoves and lanterns were made to use pressurized gas bottles instead of the liquid white gas.

Propane? What does that have to do with the discussion? Yeah, they make stoves that use propane canisters, and ones that use butane/propane mixture canisters. You can still buy Coleman stoves that use liquid fuel, and Coleman still sells liquid fuel. I have an MSR backpacking stove that I burn Coleman white gas in. (It will also burn gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, I’ve burned military JP8 jet fuel in it, etc.) It works best with white gas though.

Your comment seems to suggest that they SWITCHED to pressurized bottles and stopped with liquid fuel; that is not the case at all.

I worked for a major petroleum company for years(and years). I sold tank cars of our unleaded gasoline to the Coleman Company in Kansas. They were one of our better accounts.
The gasoline came out of the same pipeline and refinery and was the same identical product that we sold at our gas stations. It was the cheapest thing they could buy—obviously.
Coleman probably filtered it before they put it into their pretty red cans.
T.J. Tibbs

Like I said…