I’ve been on camping trips where I’ve run out of propane and all I’ve had were a couple of butane canisters from my other stoves or devices. Or sometimes friends of camping neighbors have some spare butane but no propane to spare.
When this happens, I can hook up a butane canister to my propane stove and you could do the same. But it does take some special precautions before doing so.
You can use butane or isobutane instead of propane but you will need an adapter to connect your fuel canister to the appliance. Butane canisters need a bayonet to POL adapter while isobutane canisters need a Lindal valve to POL adapter.
If your appliance runs on both fuels (i.e. is multi fuel) you won’t need an adapter and can use it as you normally do.
Running out of propane can be very frustrating but with a little effort and expense you can successfully use butane or isobutane instead.
Being able to adapt and use all types of fuel is also extremely helpful as in some areas it can be difficult to find propane canisters but it might be easier to find butane or isobutane canisters.
Being able to adapt from propane to butane or isobutane can also help you save on weight if that's a priority.
How To Run a Propane Appliance on Butane or Isobutane
Propane, butane and isobutane are efficient gases for barbecues, camping appliances and more and share many similar properties.
If you’ve used all of them, you’ll notice that they work in similar ways and are all fuel efficient. However, they burn and vaporize at different temperatures.
The YouTube video below explains more about butane, isobutane and propane and how they vaporize into a gas:
If you have a multi-fuel stove (like this model from Amazon) that can accept butane, isobutane or propane canisters, then you'll know that the fuel is interchangeable in this device and you you won’t even need an adapter.
Since your appliance can handle various fuel types, you won’t have to worry about damage or flame size.
But this also tells us that butane and propane are very similar in the way they burn and are interchangeable across some stoves, lanterns and other devices.
There is also this great article where the person uses all 3 fuel types (butane, isobutane and propane) successfully on the same stove. It's worth a read.
NOTE: Whenever using butane or isobutane on a propane device you do so at your own risk. HuntingWaterfalls.com accepts no responsibility for any harm or damages incurred. Refer to your products safety information sheet to learn what fuels are suitable.
Get The Right Adapter – IMPORTANT!
If your stove is designed to run on propane only, you’ll need an appropriate adapter (or adapters) to use butane or isobutane with it.
You need an adapter because the different fuel canisters and tanks have unique connection fittings and threads:
- Large propane tanks (that range from 5lb all the way up to 100lb) have acme fittings with a POL connection inside or more recently the LCC 27 fitting.
- Small 1lb propane tanks (like this compact Coleman propane canister) have 20 inch propane fittings.
- Butane canisters have bayonet fittings.
- Isobutane canisters use Lindal fittings.
NOTE: The most common adapter on Amazon or elsewhere goes from propane (female) > lindal valve (male). This adapter will help you use propane instead of isobutane but it will NOT help you go the other way around (so you can use butane on propane devices).
What adapters your buy is extremely important. The guide below will show you exactly what you need to get so you can use a butane can on a propane device.
First Buy: Butane > Isopropane Adapter
(which can then be combined for use on propane devices)
There are no adapters that go directly from bayonet butane cans to propane devices. But there are adapters that go from bayonet butane cans to lindal valve isobutane devices.
This can then be combined with the lindal valve > propane adapter mentioned below to use butane on propane devices.
So your adapters will go like this:
Connects the first adapter to:
With these 2 adapters working in unison you can now go directly from bayonet butane cans to Propane.
It can be difficult to find the right adapter for bayonet butane to isobutane. You can either purchase just the adapter itself or you can get the adapter in a refill kit (also from Amazon).
I tend to recommend this butane (bayonet) to isobutane (lindal valve) adapter from Amazon as it provides a stand that allows you to attach stoves and have it be stable for cooking. But if you want to save some money then this simple bayonet to lindal valve adapter works great and is a bit cheaper.
This adapter converts a bayonet butane canister to for lindal valve (isobutane) devices.
Butane (female) > isobutane (male)
NOTE: Does not work the other way around.
Converts a butane canister for use with isobutane lightweight camp stoves. Sand folds out for stable cooking.
Female Butane (Bayonet) > Male Isobutane Lindal Valve (EN417)
The YouTube video below explains more about the interchangeability of butane, isobutane and propane and the various adapters you can buy:
Get An Extension Tube For More Versatility
I also suggest you get yourself an extension hose as this will make it much more convenient to connect your butane can into any propane device without the can being stuck on an odd angle.
This extend hose/pipe can connect a screw-on type EN417 Lindal Valve gas fuel cartridge(isobutane gas fuel canister) to a camping gas device (burner, stove, lantern, etc..) with EN417 Lindal Valve.
This extend camping gas hose/pipe can keep your gas fuel canister farther away from gas device, which is more convenient and safe to use.
Then Buy: Isobutane > Propane Adapter
Whether you're trying to convert from isobutane directly to a propane device or from a pure butane canister to a propane device you'll need the lindal valve (female) > propane adapter (male).
This is because you have to first go from bayonet > lindal valve and then go from lindal valve > propane.
Be careful buying this one as if you just search for this valve you'll likely get the adapter that goes from propane > isobutane (which is the wrong way round for our purposes). This one is great for using propane on isobutane devices, but won't help with using butane on propane devices.
You want to make sure the adapter screws into the isobutane canister (lindal valve) and that the top of it looks like the screws on the top on a coleman 1 lb disposable propane canister.
So you want the female version of the lindal valve and the male version of the propane valve. Below is a link to the correct converter on Amazon.
NOTE: You can also just use this valve to use the isobutane canisters on propane devices.
This adapter converts a lindal valve (isobutane canister) for a propane gas device (burner, stove, lantern etc).
Lindal valve (male) > Propane (female)
NOTE: Does not work the other way around.
How To Use Isobutane on a Propane Appliance
Isobutane canisters use a Lindal fitting and, like butane canisters, you’ll need a suitable adapter. I was able to find this lindal valve (female) > propane (male) adapter on Amazon which is what you need.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Screw on your adapter to your isobutane canister.
2. Attach the canister to your propane appliance and use it as normal but monitoring the flame or heat output.
How To Use Butane on a Propane Appliance
NOTE: There are NO adapters that go straight from bayonet (butane) > propane. They don't exist as far as I'm aware.
1. First connect the 2 adapters together at the lindal valve section. Once the 2 adapters are connected it should make a bayonet > propane (male) adapter.
2. Remove the lid from your butane canister and screw on your adapter.
3. Attach it to your appliance where you would normally connect a propane cylinder.
4. Since propane burns hotter than butane, you may need to adjust the flame higher so your appliance works efficiently.
Dangers of Using Butane or Isobutane Instead or Propane
Butane and propane exert differing amounts of pressure on their canister walls, which is why propane tanks have thicker walls than butane canisters.
Butane canisters exert less pressure that propane canisters and propane works down to a lower temperature when compared to butane.
This means in some devices the butane may not exert enough pressure for the device to work. This is unlikely though.
The more likely scenario is that in extremely cold weather (sub freezing) your butane may fail to vaporize and therefore it won't work. In lower temperatures propane is ideal.
Whichever gas you ultimately use, you should always use the appliance outside or in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Before using another fuel type on your appliance, check your user manual to see if the manufacturer recommends it – if not, your warranty may fall away.
Since gases like butane, isobutane and propane are stored in pressurized canisters, I always recommend being careful when using them, operating them according to user instructions and never to use them near an open flame.
The article above is an adapter guide only and I cannot be held responsible for damage to property, injuries or fatalities resulting from using butane or isobutane in a propane appliance.