The Differences Between Coleman Fuel and Unleaded Gas

If you have a dual-fuel Coleman stove, you probably know that you can use Coleman fuel, white gas or unleaded gas with it. There are also some other Coleman fuel alternatives as well but these are less common.

Since unleaded gas is cheaper than Coleman fuel, it can be tempting to use that instead but it’s good to understand the differences before going ahead. 

The difference between Coleman gas and unleaded gas lies in their active ingredients. Coleman fuel contains petroleum naphtha, while unleaded gas contains hydrocarbons, naththalene, parrafin and alkene.

Coleman fuel has excellent fuel efficiency with camping stoves and doesn't leave much residue which can clog the generator. Unleaded gas isn’t as fuel efficient and leaves behind more residue meaning the generator requires more frequent cleaning. 

Unleaded gas is more widely available than Coleman fuel and also less expensive. However, Coleman fuel isn't too expensive and is generally recommend for liquid fuel stoves and lanterns. 

If you use unleaded gasoline to boil a pot of water on your liquid fuel camping stove, it will take approximately 53% longer and you’ll use around 47% more fuel when compared to Coleman Fuel or white gas. 

Before using unleaded gas with your Coleman stove, consider factors like fuel efficiency, residues/clogging, price and availability.

Coleman Gas and Unleaded Gas: The Differences Explained 

The table below explains the key differences between Coleman fuel and unleaded gas: 

Coleman Fuel / White GasUnleaded Gas
Active IngredientsPetroleum naphtha Aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons
Naphthalene
Paraffin
Alkene
Fuel Efficiency with Camping StovesExcellentGood
PriceRelatively inexpensiveVery inexpensive
Alcohol, Additives and Octane LevelNo alcohol or additives
Very low octane level
Contains additives and 10% ethanol
Octane level depends on variety
AvailabilityWide (if you also consider generic white gas)Extremely widely available
Shelf Life6 months once opened
7+ years if unopened
3 to 6 months

Active Ingredients 

Coleman fuel’s only active ingredient is petroleum naphtha, while unleaded gas has the following: 

  • Aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons
  • Naphthalene
  • Paraffin
  • Alkene

Unleaded gas also contains additives, which leave carbon deposits on the camping stove, generator and fuel lines. Not cleaning your stove after use can result in clogged fuel lines and a clogged generator. 

Coleman fuel leaves very few deposits after use and, if you buy it in the US, it will also contain anti-corrosive agents and stabilizers to further protect your stove from clogging.

Coleman fuel also contains rust inhibitors to help protect your gear from rusting but high quality white gases such as Crown White Gas Camp Fuel also contains rust inhibitors.

Crown White Gas Camp Fuel (1 Gallon)
$7.64

Crown White Gas Camp Fuel is specially blended for outdoor use of portable gasoline camping applications including gas stoves and lanterns. Manufactured with an added rust inhibitor for rust and corrosion protection. Crown White Gas Camp Fuel is carefully checked to maintain the highest level of quality for a cleaner burn and longer life.

See Latest Price at Walmart
05/19/2024 01:19 am GMT

Fuel Efficiency with Camping Stoves

Because Coleman fuel was specially designed to work with Coleman camping stoves, it’s highly fuel efficient and can cook your food faster. This guide explains how fuel efficient Coleman gas is and how much you need for various applications.

DeviceAmount of Coleman Fuel NeededHow Long Fuel Lasts Per TankHow Long Fuel Lasts Per Gallon
Coleman Premium Dual Fuel Lantern on High1.25 pints / 0.6 L5.25 hours33.6 hours (1.4 days)
Coleman Premium Dual Fuel Lantern on Low1.25 pints / 0.6 L13.5 hours86.4 hours (3.6 days)
Coleman Powerhouse Dual Fuel Lantern on High2.5 pints / 1.2 L5 hours16 hours
Coleman Powerhouse Dual Fuel Lantern on Low2.5 pints / 1.2 L20 hours64 hours (2.6 days)
Coleman Compact Dual Fuel Stove on High1.1 pints / 0.5 L2 hours14.5 hours
Coleman Compact Dual Fuel Stove on Low 1.1 pints / 0.5 L4 hours29 hours
Coleman 2-burner Stove on High2.5 pints / 1.2 L2 hours6.4 hours
Coleman 2-burner Stove on Low2.5 pints / 1.2 L4 hours12.8 hours

If you use unleaded gasoline to boil a pot of water on your camping stove, it will take approximately 53% longer and you’ll use around 47% more fuel when compared to Coleman Fuel. 

The YouTube video below demonstrates this and experiments with various fuel types to boil water on a Coleman stove: 

Price and Availability

If you’re on a tight budget, using unleaded gas instead of Coleman fuel on your stove will save you a lot of money even though you’ll use more unleaded fuel than Coleman gas. 

As at May 2023, the average price for unleaded gasoline per gallon was $3.58.

In contrast, buying a 1 gallon bottle of Coleman Fuel will set you back $14.47, which is approximately 4 times more expensive.

Coleman Camp Fuel (1 Gallon)
$14.47

Also called white gas or camping fuel, you can't beat Coleman Fuel for camping. Coleman Fuel is very refined, and burns hotter and cleaner than other liquid fuels.

See Latest Price at Walmart
05/20/2024 01:04 am GMT

Even considering using 47% more fuel when using unleaded gas compared to Coleman fuel – unleaded gas still works out to be approximately 2.5-3 times cheaper than Coleman Fuel for use in stoves.

Unleaded gas is also much more widely available and you can get it from any gas station. Coleman fuel is typically only available online or at outdoor stores. 

Alcohol and Octane Level

Coleman fuel’s octane level is very low and this helps to prevent carbon deposits from accumulating in the fuel line and on the generator. 

If you want to use unleaded gasoline with your camping stove, choose gas with the lowest possible octane level to prevent clogging and the help it to burn cleaner. 

This generally works out to the be the cheaper unleaded gas anyway which is good from a cost standpoint.

Shelf Life 

Coleman fuel has a longer shelf life than unleaded gas. However, once you open the container, you should use it within 6 months because it starts degrading and becoming thicker the more it’s exposed to oxygen in the air.