How to Safely Use, Store & Discard Camping Fuels

Two blue chemical containers with warning signs. We all love spending time outdoors, and camping is one of the best ways to do so safely. Camping has the ability to bring different groups together. It makes for a great night or day, and can also teach you some valuable skills and lessons about nature. There are tons of different fuels you can use for your stove (unless you’re using a camping wood stove or rocket stove, which only needs wood to burn) and knowing some information about each one will help you determine the best fuel for your camping trip.

Types of Fuel

Some fuels are meant for daily use in homes and business, while other fuels are specifically designed to be used in camping settings. Here are a few different types of fuel and some benefits and drawbacks of each.

Gasoline

Gasoline is easy to acquire and use. You can purchase gasoline at a gas station on your way to the campground, plus you do not need any burners to use it. You can use gasoline without special equipment on a fire or grill in small and measured amounts. With this being said, gasoline can be very dangerous for these same reasons. In most cases, things like propane and butane need to be used with burners, which help regulate the amount of fuel being used. You can buy camping stove gasoline in containers, which is safer than using gasoline straight out of a gasoline can.

Kerosene

Kerosene is generally used in camp stoves and is most often sold in bottles. You put the kerosene in a measured amount in the stove and use it. You can also use kerosene in lamps and camping lanterns, which is incredibly useful. There are some issues to consider with kerosene though: if you are using a kerosene lamp in an enclosed space, you must carefully ventilate to make sure there is no chance of asphyxiation, as kerosene creates carbon monoxide as it burns while consuming oxygen.

Propane

Propane is another great camping fuel. It comes in compressed cylinders, which can be screwed into camping lanterns, propane camping stoves, and other camping burners meant to use bottled propane. This is a great option if you want a clean gas or does not put off fumes when it burns. Propane works well with colder temperatures than other fuels as it does have a lower boiling point; therefore, it does not need to be as hot when you are using it. Propane can also be kept outside as it is not going to change with the ups and downs of the outdoor temperature.

Butane

Butane is great for a range of users and for a wide range of reasons. For starters, butane does not need to be kept in really high pressure canisters; it can be kept in a very small canister and still provide a relatively good amount of fuel. This fuel does not need to be refrigerated and burns very clean and with minimal fumes. It is very safe and great for those who want a clean and easy-to-use fuel that won’t cause a great deal of issue with any application. This fuel also works with many gas stoves and you can use it with many other camping items as well. This fuel does have a very high boiling point however, so it might not work well in very cold conditions.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is another option, however not the safest. You must use natural gas in liquid form. Propane instead comes in a pressurized tank, so it is going to be safer than natural gas. Natural gas is cheap and you can fill tanks at some gas stations. Natural gas does not burn as hot as other gases.

Alcohol

There are a few different types of alcohol used to fuel an alcohol stove. These include denatured alcohol, grain alcohol, and methanol. However, they are not as powerful as other types of stoves and can be easily affected by wind.

Handling Precautions

A splash of fuel. Each type of gas has different precautions when it comes to handling, and knowing how to safely and effectively use your camping fuel is going to make a big difference in your overall success. Here are some tips when it comes to the handling precautions for your camping fuel.

Gasoline Handling Precautions

Gasoline is a very common and accessible fuel. You should always make sure you are not inhaling the fumes of your gasoline, as well as storing it away from any heat or fire sources in approved containers. Always make sure the container is clean and free of dirt and debris before you fill it. It is important to note that you do not want to store gasoline in direct sunlight or leave it in a closed vehicle. You also need to clean your hands if you get gasoline on your hands, and even change clothing if you get gasoline on them.

Kerosene Handling Precautions

When handling kerosene, you should make sure you are not breathing in the fumes. Clean your skin off thoroughly if you get kerosene on your skin. If you ingest any kerosene, you should contact poison control immediately as consuming kerosene can be fatal. When handling kerosene, you should only put it in clean and approved containers. You also want to be sure not to spill kerosene.

Propane Handling Precautions

Propane needs to be stored and transported in a pressurized container. The cylinder must be upright and never stored in a hot or closed car. Your cylinders should be in great shape and should not have dents or bumps that might compromise the overall structure and integrity of the cylinder. When using propane, you want to make sure the canister is properly attached to the stove so you can be sure there is no issue and you are not going to need to worry about leaking. Propane can cause noxious fumes, which might make you feel light-headed or nauseous, or even sick.

Butane Handling Precautions

With butane, you are going to have the same issues you might have with propane, as both are in pressurized canisters. You need to make sure your canister does not have any cracks or other issues. When transporting, you need to make sure you are keeping your canisters upright, not leaving them in sealed or hot cars, and you are taking the time to make sure your canisters are not damaged in any way. You also need to make sure your connection is good before you turn your stove on to make sure it is correctly hooked up.

Natural Gas Handling Precautions

When using natural gas, you want to be sure your cylinders are upright and not bumping into one another, and there is no damage to the cylinder. Again, making sure your connection is secure is a must as it can mean that gas is leaking out into your campsite if your connection is not good.

Where to Buy Different Camp Fuels

Camping supply stores, hardware stores, garden centers and more are all great places to buy your camping fuels. You can also purchase fuels at some grocery stores, at some sporting goods stores, and at different department stores as well. You can also purchase fuel online in some states, but your state may have specific regulations on fuel and on shipping it.

How to Safely Store Different Fuels

Closed containers storing a chemical. There are a few different ways to store fuel to make sure it is safe. These storage tips will help you keep your fuel in perfect working order and make sure they are safe as well.

Gasoline Storage

Gasoline should not be stored for long periods of time because it can be flammable and dangerous. You should store your gasoline in vented cans approved for gas storage so they do not build up pressure. You should make sure you keep it away from flames in a well-vented area and away from kids and pets who may get near it.

Kerosene Storage

When storing kerosene, you should make sure it’s stored away from heat sources, pets, kids, and direct heat. If you have liquid kerosene not placed inside a pre-measured canister, you want to make sure it is stored in an approved container.

Propane Storage

Propane does not have to be stored in a special way. It’s best to keep your propane indoors or at least inside a shed or building during the winter to protect the canister from damage. You should make sure your canister is upright, away from other canisters if you have them, and there is nothing on the canister.

Butane Storage

Butane is best stored indoors. You want to bring any butane canisters you have indoors during extreme heat and extreme cold to be sure it is safe and the changes in temperature are not going to affect it. Canisters should be stored upright and without anything on or close to them.

Natural Gas Storage

For natural gas, you want to store your canisters upright and make sure they are not being touched by other things. They should be secured so that they will not tip over. You also want to inspect your canisters to make sure they are damage-free.

How to Dispose of Used Fuel Canisters

Making sure you know proper disposal measures is a must. The first step is to make sure they are fully empty. With some canisters like propane and kerosene, you can refill them, which is great for your wallet and great for the environment as well. With smaller canisters like butane or camp stove canisters, you can always recycle them.

These canisters are made of metal, which are great for recycling. You can puncture the canister to let those recycling know they are empty and therefore easy and safe to handle. You can take these canisters to your local recycling plant or you can find someone who recycles these canisters. For the most part, you can recycle camp stove canisters if they have been punctured and they are empty. However, depending on where you live, there may be specific recycling measures that you need to take.

You can find out more about the specific recycling for your area by looking online or contacting your local recycling center. If you are dumping it, be sure to avoid water ways. You might want to dump it into sand as well.

Conclusion

Blue and green chemical containers. Camping is great and the right camp fuel can make a huge difference in how much fun you have camping. Just like choosing a camping stove, these fuels are useful and easy to use if you take the time and research to choose the right fuel for you. Whether you’re choosing fuel for your tent stove, camping oven, or another type of camping stove, these are just a few of the most common camping fuels, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.