Is Camp Fuel the Same as Lighter Fluid?

Person holding a lighter

Camping out is a fun family or individual activity for all ages. Depending on your survival skills you might be able to use and repurpose some materials for another use, but only if you have the knowledge and experience.

Imagine that your favorite lighter just ran out of fuel, you have some camping fuel and are thinking of being practical. But, is camp fuel the same as lighter fluid? Will you be able to use it?

Deciding to use camp fuel for a lighter (or the other way around) can be tricky. Depending on the market there are some similarities between camp fuel and liquid fluid, but there are some things to be taken into consideration. Before making any decisions, it is important to get informed about the types of fuel that exist, as some have a wider application than others. 

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Know What Is the Safest Fuel Option

Information portals are full of contraindication information. Some say it is safe and it is the same, some say it’s not, some say you will blow up trying to use it, etc. When dealing with combustibles (being capable of catching fire) safety should always come first.

For starters, the safest thing to do is to go by the manufacturer’s recommendation, whether you need a refill on your lighter or other gadgets. It does not mean other brands of fluids are more economical or less safe. You cannot know unless you have the ratio specifications labeled on the bottle, and know some basic chemistry.

If you have some new brand do the research online, or call the company. In addition to that, make a safe environment and make a few practical experiments by trying them out.

Deciding on what is the best camping fuel can sometimes be a challenge. You use it to cook, and maybe boil some river water if you run short on bottled water. Camping fuel is usually packaged in a canister, but some people have a preference for liquid fuels.

Canister Fuel

This type of fuel is contained in a canister and is full of pressurized gases. Because of that pressure, you can fuel fire easily. The majority of canister fuels are a mixture of isobutane and propane, or butane and propane.

Canister fuel is great for short trips as it is easier to use. When you screw on a cooktop, you have a ready-made platform for the stove. On the other hand, the simple fact that you have to bring the entire packaging can sometimes be a problem. No one likes extra wait when hiking to their favorite camping grounds up in the mountains.

Liquid gas is cheaper, so opting for liquid gas is not an additional expense. However, it creates more waste and is not operable in cold weather. It loses pressure as the temperature drops. This means you won’t be able to use it when camping and hiking in cold weather.

Of course, if you have one already somewhere at hand, don’t let it go to waste. But if you decide you are buying, it is better to look for an isobutane mix. On campsites use your jacket as an isolator before using the canister, to warm up the gas.

Liquid Fuel

Using liquid fuel and a camping stove may seem tricky until you get used to it.

With liquid fuel, you can transport the fuel in smaller packages, and then pressurize the canisters using the included pump.

Transportation-wise, liquid fuel is the way to go if your camping is an adventure, and you have a ton of gear to carry with you. Besides, the cold temperature won’t change the performance of the fuel because you can always add some more pressure to the canister.

Beginners should avoid doing this alone because priming a liquid-fuel stove can create fireballs. The stoves themselves are not easy to pack because of the fuel lines.

This means that if you are new to the game, or you want to experience the great outdoors to its fullest extent, consider skipping the stove at all. Having a fuel supply can be helpful, but the cooking apparatus may not be a necessity.

Types of Liquid Fuel

Keep in mind that there are different types of fuel, and some can have a wider application than others. Here is a short review of liquid fuel types by D. Sanders, a category director for combustion.

  • White gas is the best and cleanest burning fuel, readily available in outdoor stores, but tricky to find abroad or in rural areas.
  • Kerosene is well refined and has good packaging, bat can sometimes be hard to find.
  • Diesel is a thick mas, hard to light. It also has a distinct motor oil smell, but first aid can be obtained if there is any transportation around you.
  • Automotive gas is easier to light up than diesel, but should not be used in stoves because of the additive residue it has after burning. (Having a camping stove is more a problem than a convenience, continue thinking about that.)

Coleman Camp Fuel

According to the previous review on types of gas, it is clear that white gas has the best characteristics, and it is the safest to use because of its pure composition. Many campers decide to go with Coleman Fuel, also known as petroleum naphtha, light hydrotreated petroleum distillates, Amsol 10, Kensol 10, and petroleum benzene.

It is a liquid fuel, clear and colorless. It has a similar odor to rubber cement. In addition to this, it vapors heavier than air and may collect near the ground or in depressions with a vapor density of 3.0 (while air is only 1.0).

Coleman camp fuel can be used as lighter fluid

For more information on its specific packaging, consult this fact sheet.

Are There Any Substitutes for Coleman Fuel?

Using substitutes for a specific fuel is not just for camping. People who go abroad sometimes cannot find Coleman fuel because of politics, transport, or a competitive market. People who have experience in using altering fluids claim that Ronsonol (aka Zippo lighter fluid) has the same structure as Coleman fuel. It has a wider market and is easier to buy all over the world.

Can Coleman Fuel be Substituted by Zippo Lighter Gas?

Using lighter fluid to run engines may (or may not) seem like such a great idea. Here is why.

Coleman and lighter fluids are both a type of naphtha. But naphtha includes a wide range of hydrocarbons. When looking for a substitute fuel for a specific usage remember to compare the MSDS for the flashpoint.

In the mentioned case, the flashpoint for Colemans’ fuel is lesser -18 C, while Ronsonol is listed at 5, implying that the vapor composition is much lower. Because of this, using lighter fluid for a stove may be worth a try.

Learning more about the specific composition of each type of fuel is a good idea if your idea of camping includes a wood shack, and some fuel-operated machinery, such as chainsaws or any type of motor.

But for low-key, compact getaway camping there are a few simper tricks you can use, and gathering some wood or char cloth for a fire, and having a lighter around just might do the trick.

Refilling a Reusable Lighter

A reusable lighter is a great tool for people who enjoy tobacco, cigarettes, or Cuban cigars. Tourists and travelers should also have one always at hand if they are camping or require fire for whatever reason.

But what happens if your lighter gets empty and you don’t know how to fill it?

Start by checking the manufacturer and the substance it works on. In most cases, you will find a benzine type. High-end brands will sell gas cylinders that go through 3 levels of refinement and won’t destroy the small parts of cylinder components. Using fuel, however, does take skill and full attention.

How to Fill a Lighter With Canned Gas?

First of all, you need a butane bottle. It will contain 5-6 adapters, among which you will find the one you can fill your lighter with. But before pouring it into the lighter, make sure all the gas is used up.

  1. The vent must be pressed with a match, pencil, or any other sharp point to release oxygen residue. The gadget should be cooler at room temperature for safety measures.
  2. Regulate the flame. You can transfer its position to a minimum height. Chose the required vent, align and flip the bottle with the compartment to transfer the fuel.
  3. Carefully hold the vent and start filling your lighter for 5 seconds. After doing that, the bottle shouldn’t be used for 5 minutes so the pressure would regulate, and the porose stick is soaked in fuel.

Refiling a Lighter Using Liquid Fuel

  1. Before filling the core you need to remove the body from its frame. Turn your lighter downwards and look for the filling entry.
  2. Pour in the liquid fuel you have at hand, but make sure it doesn’t leak over. If it does, remove it immediately.
  3. After filling, lock back the entry chamber, and then put the body in the case.

Keep in mind that you need to keep any objects away from fire sources or flammable materials. Liquid fluid can burn momentarily if you pour it on any indoor furniture. It just takes a little spark.

Take all safety measures, and if you ever experience reasonable fear of creating a potential fire hazard be sure to contact your local fire department for further instructions on what you should do.

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