Some of my camping appliances run on propane while others work on white gas (or Coleman fuel, which is the same as whitel gas).
When planning for a recent camping trip, I researched whether or not I could use white gas instead of propane and leave my fuel tank at home. Turns out it's not so simple.
You can’t use white gas instead of propane unless you convert your appliance to a white gas one, which can be just as costly (or even more so) than buying a new Coleman/liquid fuel appliance.
Currently, there are no converters or adaptors that you could attach to a white gas fuel tank and connect to your propane appliance. If you don’t have propane, you can use butane or isobutane instead of propane on your appliance if you have a suitable adaptor.
This makes sense. White gas or other liquid fuels like unleaded gas have a much higher vaporization temperature compared to propane and thus a generator is needed to heat the fuel to convert it into a gas.
Propane vaporizes directly from the fuel canister and thus propane devices don't feature the generator that white gas needs to properly vaporize.
It's not as simple as an adaptor that makes a white gas tank fit onto a propane device, you'd need to rework the entire device for use with liquid fuel.
However, going the other way from white gas to propane is much easier as you can get adaptors that simply remove or bipass the generator. This means you can burn propane on a white gas stove or other device (same with butane instead of white gas), but unfortunately it's difficult and not worth the effort to do it the other way around.
It is POSSIBLE to convert a propane stove to run on white gas. It just isn't really worth the time, effort and cost as you'd need to make a permanent customized conversion and you can't just buy an adapter.
If you have an appliance that runs on propane, it’s a good idea to understand what alternative fuel types you can use with it so you’re never in a situation where you can’t use it.
Why You Can’t Use White Gas Instead of Propane
You can’t use white gas instead of propane because there are currently no suitable adaptors or converters to connect your white gas fuel tank to your propane appliance.
Interestingly, you can do it the other way around and use propane instead of white gas by attaching a converter to your propane tank and inserting it where your generator normally goes.
The YouTube video below shows how someone effortlessly uses a converter so he can use propane on his white gas Coleman stove:
However, this only works for the older suitcase-style Coleman stoves and not the smaller dual fuel single burner stoves due to their construction.
If you were to convert your propane stove to a white gas model, it would be a permanent fix and you wouldn’t easily be able to revert back.
The conversion involves removing the stove’s grill and all its burner components and then replacing them with white gas parts. This would involve buying a working white gas stove so you could use the parts or investing in a white gas burner assembly.
If you really want to use white gas and propane interchangeably, you’d need to invest in a multi-fuel stove like the MSR WhisperLite that works with isobutane, propane, kerosene and white gas.
This hybrid fuel stove generates top-notch performance with canister fuel, white gas, kerosene and unleaded gasoline.
With a new Coleman dual fuel stove costing just shy of $100 and considering you could pick up a used suitcase style white gas stove at a yard sale for a few dollars, it may be cheaper and much less of a hassle to buy a new stove. Plus, you can also use unleaded gas with it.
Propane Stove Fuel Alternatives
If you have a propane appliance, you could use butane and isobutane as a fuel alternative as long as you have a suitable adaptor.
You need to make sure you get the right adapter which is why I've created a full guide on using butane/isobutane on propane appliances.
Butane canisters have bayonet fittings, isobutane uses Lindal connectors and propane tanks have acme fittings. This means that if you want to use a butane canister on your propane appliance, you’ll need a bayonet>Lindal adaptor and a Lindal>propane adaptor.
To use isobutane on your propane appliance, you will need a Lindal valve>propane adaptor.
These converters are compact and convenient for camping and you simply attach them to your fuel canister and connect them as you normally would to your appliance.