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Coleman fuel added to her tank

A girl called in to ask if it would be OK to put some remaining OLD Coleman camp stove fuel into her (now nearly antique) car’s gas tank. (Answer: Basically, why bother?)

It reminded me of a time I got to speak to an executive of the Coleman company. He told me that there was no reason at all to buy Coleman fuel, which is naphtha. About the only reason to buy their naphtha is that it has a much longer shelf life. Modern unleaded fuel is just as good, not nearly as expensive, and readily available right down the street (as long as the local electricity is working). It’s all I’ve used in my Coleman lantern and stove in the last 35 years. He said even leaded gas could be used in their products with no detriment. Of course that’s a moot point since leaded gas is no longer available.

The caller also stated that Coleman lanterns run on bottled propane. True, you can buy a propane fired lantern, (or stove) but the gasoline ones are still available. They just require pumping.

Thanks, I never knew it was OK to use gasoline in Coleman lanterns & stoves.

Coleman does now make some “Dual Fuel” appliances that are advertised to work with gasoline. But apparently even their old products that were not advertised as “dual fuel” could safely use gasoline, as you have proved in 35 years of use. So I wonder what specific engineering changes they made in order to advertise them as “dual fuel.” They do mention “modified valving.”

http://www.coleman.com/chooseafuel/

learned something new. Good to know when you are thinking about camping.

I’ve done a lot backpacking. My experience is Coleman fuel burns cleaner than unleaded gasoline. Even in the “dual fuel” stoves, you’ll be cleaning the stove more often with unleaded fuel.

Also the unleaded would go bad faster I bet. Lots of Colman stuff sits around for years between uses. Bad for unleaded gas.

Well, this is one time I believe Tom and Ray got it right, but for the wrong reason. They recommended not adding Coleman fuel to her gas tank. I agree with their suggestion of “what’s the point?”. Adding an old $10 can of fuel to a $20K machine? However, doing it won’t cause damage to the engine, providing it is diluted by a much larger quantity of gas. The components that make up Coleman fuel are already in your gasoline blend, in abundance.

I’m a professional engineer who specialized in gasoline blending for many years. My blending software runs on the Honeywell control system platform for Shell, Sun Oil (Sunoco), PetroCanada, FINA and Chevron. When I blend, I use a variety of compounds to achieve the properties we’re looking for to make spec, namely Research Octane, Motor Octane and Reid Vapour Pressure (RVP). We will use both heavy and light Naphtha (essentially a mixture of quality hydrocarbons) in the blend, along with Reformates (compounds from catalytic cracking), Alkylates, Butanes, Cyclohexanes, Pentanes, etc.

Coleman fuel is light naphtha, essentially a mixture of cyclohexanes, nonanes, octanes, heptanes, and pentanes (with the nasty carcinogen Benzene removed). In some individual blends, light naphtha can constitute a major component of the blend. Hence adding a gallon of Coleman fuel to an almost full gas tank in your car will not likely cause any damage, since the components in Coleman fuel are already in your tank to start with.

Caution should be exercised though. If you try to run on Coleman fuel alone, the octane rating would be so low (approx 60 vs 85-91) you’d experience hard knocking and perhaps the engine wouldn’t run at all, since the blend may not be volatile enough to ignite properly (especially for winter gas, where we add more butane to have it evaporate better by raising its RVP).

My 2 cents…

@Impaaked, thanks for your post. Please stick around. We often get questions about gasoline here (winter vs summer blend, ethanol effect on MPG, gas quality, etc). Would be good to have answers from a pro!

Wiki says
"Though Coleman fuel has an octane rating of 50 to 55 and a flammability similar to gasoline, it has none of the additives found in modern gasoline and cannot be used as a substitute for gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel in modern engines.[citation needed] Its high combustion temperature and lack of octane boosting additives like tetraethyllead will destroy engine valves[citation needed], and its low octane rating would produce knocking.[citation needed] However, it is quite popular as a fuel for model engines, where the low octane rating is not a problem, additives are unwanted, and the clean burning, low odor and longer shelf life are considered advantages."


@Impaaked‌ Is it really a waste of money to use mid grade versus low grade, I do it for unsubstantiated superstition that the better I treat my car the better it will treat me.

“He said even leaded gas could be used in their products with no detriment.”

@MG: Would you actually eat food cooked with leaded gas?

From my experience (of renting a top duplex and being too darn poor to turn the gas on…just let the heat rise), gasoline will clog up the gas generator on a Coleman stove more quickly…assuming it’s not a dedicated “dual fuel” model. You can either run white gas, buy a new, dual-fuel gas generator, or resign yourself to cleaning out the gas gen every 40 hours or so.

I was a little surprised by this interaction on the show last weekend: not that the caller wasn’t sure what to do, but that two geezers older than me didn’t know there was a difference between white gas and Coleman fuel. Ray clearly didn’t spend enough time in the woods as a boy scout!

As noted in some of the other comments, Coleman fuel is a lower quality (energy wise) compound than gasoline. It was fine for the old lanterns which only had to put out enough light so you didn’t trip over the skunk by your tent and to give the mosquitos a target beside your neck. It was not so great to cook on ( ask anyone who has had to boil water on the old Coleman stoves).

White gas burned hotter for a simple reason–it is gasoline. It is gasoline without the antiknock additives, the original unleaded gas. I have no idea when folks caught on that cooking with leaded gas had problems, or if oil companies just took some untreated gas aside to sell for cooking before the lead was added, but that is what “white” gas is. It was usually priced higher than regular, a not surprising trick by oil companies–do less to the product and charge more.

If she doesn’t have much she could pour it into her tank if so inclined, it just won’t have any of the additives the stuff from the pump has.

Hey folks…I think the caller’s point got lost in the discussion about liquid (at room temp) Coleman fuel (aka “white gas”) and the “newer” PROPANE cylinders that screw on to the “newer” Coleman products. I have both in the basement…fortunately no hurricanes in Palo Alto!

On a previous thread about Coleman fuel, forum member @Impaaked gave this description of the makeup of white gas, which I found useful since I didn’t know what white gas was. He said he is a professional gasoline blender. I’ll post it here again in case anyone missed the earlier thread.

These are his words in quotes:

“Coleman fuel is light naphtha, essentially a mixture of cyclohexanes, nonanes, octanes, heptanes, and pentanes (with the nasty carcinogen Benzene removed). In some individual blends, light naphtha can constitute a major component of the blend. Hence adding a gallon of Coleman fuel to an almost full gas tank in your car will not likely cause any damage, since the components in Coleman fuel are already in your tank to start with.’”

“Caution should be exercised though. If you try to run on Coleman fuel alone, the octane rating would be so low (approx 60 vs 85-91) you’d experience hard knocking and perhaps the engine wouldn’t run at all, since the blend may not be volatile enough to ignite properly (especially for winter gas, where we add more butane to have it evaporate better by raising its RVP).”

Oops , I didn’t see the thread below already posted on this topic. Maybe the forum moderator can move these comments down to that thread.

Not making a recommendation as there might be safety issues I’m not aware of, but I frequently use a Coleman gas stove to pasteurize my garden compost, which if you’ve ever done it, you know is something best done outside. I started with a gallon of camp stove fuel, but when that ran out I switched to unleaded 87 octane gasoline. I haven’t noticed any difference between the two.

On the show Katie had a Coleman stove that uses “white gas", and there seemed some confusion over exactly what white gas is.

In the 1960’s and before, there was a gas station in most every town that sold white gas. You could buy it at the hardware store too, as “camp stove fuel”, but it was considerably less expensive to buy it at the gas station. White gas is indeed a type of gasoline, but it is not the same product as gasoline for the car. If you tried using the gasoline for the car in the camp stove, you’d quickly discover why it was important to use white gas. Gasoline for the car, because of the lead additive used pre-70’s, would quickly foul the camp stove and you’d have nothing but cold dinners on the next camp-out.

Katie and Ray also discussed propane vs. white gas fueled lanterns, and there seemed to be some confusion about this topic too. After Katie said the propane lanterns used a pressurized fuel supply, Ray seemed to think they were talking about the same thing. They are actually different technology. The white gas fueled lanterns are pressurized in the sense you have to pump them up; but the propane fueled lanterns are pressurized in the sense that the fuel supply is a gas, propane, that comes in a heavy cylinder. There’s no pumping involved.