Is Coleman Fuel The Same As White Gas? [Which to Buy]

When I go camping, I always bring my camping stove. Lately, I’ve found that Coleman fuel has become quite expensive and on my last trip I also ran out. 

A friend told me that I could use generic white gas instead. It turns out that it’s a great substitute for Coleman Fuel for several reasons…plus it can save you a good amount of money

Coleman fuel is basically the same as white gas. Both have the active ingredient, petroleum naphtha and other chemicals including octane, cyclohexane, pentane and heptane.

US-made Coleman fuel also has stabilizers and anti-corrosive agents to extend the shelf life once opened and protect your stove against damage. However, generic white gas is typically cheaper than Coleman fuel making it a great alternative fuel source for Coleman stoves and lanterns.

Basically, the main difference is that Coleman fuel has the anti-corrosive agents and stabilizers that white fuel may not have. But both are the same fuel, will burn great in your Coleman stove or lantern and you can use both with confidence.

Before using a Coleman fuel alternative like generic white gas, it’s important to ensure that it’s effective, safe and won’t corrode your stove. 

Coleman Fuel vs White Gas: What’s The Difference?

Below is a useful table explaining the differences and similarities between Coleman fuel and white gas: 

Coleman FuelWhite Gas
PerformanceCooks food efficiently
Burns at high temperatures
Produces very little smoke and sooty residue
Cooks food efficiently
Burns at high temperatures
Produces very little smoke and sooty residue
Shelf Life5-7 years (maybe longer)5-7 years (maybe longer)
Cost More expensive than generic white gas (with a few exceptions)Typically cheaper than Coleman fuel
IngredientsActive ingredient: petroleum naphthaActive ingredient: petroleum naphtha
Stabilizers and Anti-Corrosive AgentsUS-made Coleman fuel has anti-corrosive agents and stabilizersDoesn’t typically have anti-corrosive agents and stabilizers 
AvailabilityColeman represents only 1 brand and isn’t as widely available as generic white gasMany brands and more widely available

Performance

Both Coleman fuel and generic white gas have high hydrocarbon levels which allows them to produce very little smoke and leave almost no sooty residue in and on your stove. 

They’re both highly flammable and burn at high temperatures, cooking your food efficiently. 

Shelf Life

Once you open a jug of white gas or Coleman fuel, you should ideally use it within 6 months because petroleum naphtha starts degrading and becomes less effective and thick when it’s exposed to air. 

However, if you're storing the gas in it's original container or in the fuel tank of your Coleman burner then air exposure is minimized and it can last a lot longer.

There are a lot of stories of people using Coleman fuel 10+ years after opening it and they didn't seem to have any issues. The same is true for white gas, you just need to make sure you store it properly.

Since US-made Coleman contains stabilizers, it remains fresher for longer and extends the shelf life of the gas so you can store it with more confidence. But really, both types of fuel should be fine to store long term without huge issues.

Cost

Generic white gas is typically cheaper than Coleman fuel. 

For example, if you buy 1 gallon of Crown White Gas from Walmart, it will set you back $7.64. The same quantity of Coleman Fuel (also from Walmart) costs almost double at $14.47.

Prices will change over time but you can see the current prices by clicking the links below:

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
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
05/24/2024 12:30 am GMT

However, if you opt for a premium quality white gas (like MSR Super Fuel White Gas from Amazon) it can be more expensive than Coleman Fuel. 

This is because MSR Super Fuel is 100% pure and designed for even cleaner burning and superior performance. 

MSR Super Fuel White Gas for Liquid Fuel Stoves (1 Quart)

Designed to improve stove performance, with fewer cleanings and less maintenance. Made in the USA

Buy Now at Amazon

Ingredients

The active ingredient in Coleman fuel and generic white gas is petroleum naphtha. Both also contain the following: 

  • Octane
  • Cyclohexane
  • Nonane
  • Pentane
  • Heptane

Unlike kerosene or unleaded gas, Coleman fuel and white gas both don’t have certain additives and won’t leave a sooty residue in your fuel line and stove parts.

This means that you have to do less maintenance and DIY on your stove. 

Stabilizers and Anti-Corrosive Agents

US-made Coleman fuel contains stabilizers and anti-corrosive agents that some brands of generic white gas don't have. However, some brands of white gas do have similar stabilizers and anti-corrosive agents (they have to compete with Coleman after all).

The stabilizers help keep the fuel fresh, stable and maintain its performance once you open the can. Plus the anti-corrosive agents ensure it doesn’t damage your stove’s fuel reservoir or other parts. 

Because generic white gas and Coleman fuel don’t have some of additives present in unleaded gas (which can corrode the stove parts when you burn the fuel and clog them up), the difference the anti-corrosive agents make is negligible. 

However, if you usually leave fuel in your stove for extended periods, using Coleman fuel may protect it from damage more effectively and years-old fuel may burn cleaner if you choose Coleman fuel over other brands.

In some regions like Europe, fuel is strictly regulated and Coleman fuel from these countries doesn’t have stabilizers or anti-corrosive agents or isn't widely available.

For example, in Australia the main brand of white gas is called “Shellite” and sells for around $46 AUD per gallon (around $30 USD per gallon).

Coleman camp fuel is very difficult to come by (if you can find it at all) so an alternative white gas is your only option and it works just fine.

Availability

Generic white gas and Coleman fuel are widely available for purchase at outdoor and big box stores and online.

Since Coleman fuel only represents one brand, there are more generic white gas brands such as: 

  • MSR 
  • Crown Fuels
  • Klean Strip
  • Valet Chemicals 

Different countries will also stock different brands of white gas and they will all work great in your camp stoves, burners or lanterns.

If you’re camping and run out of Coleman gas, generic white gas is the ideal alternative.

However, if you’re in a remote area and don’t have access to either, you can use kerosene or unleaded fuel (but both will produce a lot of smoke and leave residue in your stove).