My Coleman Propane Stove is one of my most trusted items on camping trips because I can use it even when it’s very cold and propane is very fuel efficient. I go between it or my butane stove depending on the trip I have planned.
Occasionally you might notice your Coleman propane stove (or other brands) not lighting and there can be various reasons why this is.
Your Coleman propane stove likely isn’t lighting because you’ve run out of propane, some of the parts are clogged or the ignitor is dirty.
Other reasons include a damaged regulator, a badly connected hose or you’re using the stove in a very windy area.
If your Coleman propane stove isn’t lighting, you should isolate the problem first and then use some troubleshooting tips.
1. You’ve Run Out of Propane
We've all been there before and tried to light our stove with an empty bottle of propane.
An empty propane tank is a common reason your stove won’t light (I know because I’ve been there a few times).
Given how heavy the 1 lb propane tanks are even when empty it can be tricky to tell how much propane you have left (if any).
Here’s how to check how much propane you have left in your tank (or if it’s empty):
- Weigh the tank with a propane scale. These scales are compact and accurate, and very handy when camping.
- Use an inline propane gauge. This method works better for larger propane tanks and gives you an accurate reading at a single glance but there is one that works for for 1 lb canisters to which I find really useful.
Check the pressure of propane tanks from 1 lb all the way up to 20 lbs. Can also be used to refill propane tanks
- Use some boiling water. If you don’t have a scale or gauge with you, the boiling water method can give you a general idea of how much propane is in your tank.
Position the tank upright, pour a cup of boiling water down the side and use your hand to feel where it starts getting cold – this is where your propane level is.
Otherwise, lift the propane tank up and if it feels much lighter than usual, it’s likely empty.
|BTU Rating for 10% Fuel||Refrigerator||Water Heater||Furnace||Space Heater||Stove|
|1lb Tank||2,159.4||1.4 Hours||0.9 Hours||10-12 min||10-12 min||10-12 min|
|5lb Tank||10,797||7.2 Hours||4.5 Hours||22 min||45 min||35 min|
|20lb Tank||43,188||28.8 Hours (1.2 Days)||18 Hours||2 Hours||2 Hours||2 Hours|
|30lb Tank||64,782||42.7 Hours (1.7 Days)||27.5 Hours (1.2 Days)||2.2 Hours||4.3 Hours||3.6 Hours|
|40lb Tank||86,376||57.6 Hours (2.4 Days)||36 Hours (1.5 Days)||4 Hours||4 Hours||4 Hours|
2. The Igniter Is Dirty or Wet
A dirty or rusty igniter can prevent the propane from flowing properly and not lighting as it should. If you haven’t cleaned the igniter in a while, chances are it’s clogged or dirty.
This is easily solved by wiping it down with a dry cloth to remove the loose dirt and then cleaning it more thoroughly with a soapy cloth. Then wipe it with a dry rag to remove any excess moisture before using the stove.
If your ignitor is wet, give it a quick dry and try and light the stove again.
If you suspect that the igniter is the problem and fixing it doesn't seem to be working you can simply light your propane stove with a lighter or a match instead.
3. Some of the Parts Are Clogged or Dirty
Over time carbon deposits, grease and dirt can accumulate in and on your stove causing the propane flow to be interrupted.
According to Coleman’s official website, you should clean your stove regularly with warm water and dish soap to get rid of carbon deposits, grease and dirt. To clean your stove, remove the burners by unscrewing them and then clean them and the other stove parts before letting them dry completely.
If I'm honest with you I rarely if ever clean my stove other than giving the surface a wipe down. If I have issues with it lighting that's when I'll put in the effort to get in there and give it a good clean.
The YouTube video below demonstrates how to clean a dirty and dusty Coleman stove so it can work effectively again:
4. You Have a Propane Leak
I’ve used Coleman propane stoves for years and rarely have issues with them but they can occasionally have propane leaks. This can interrupt the propane flow to the stove and make igiting it difficult.
Thankfully, it’s easy to check for a propane leak. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Fill a cup with warm water and place a few drops of dishwashing (or any other) soap in it.
2. Open your propane tank’s valve and turn your stove’s burners on.
3. Dip your fingers or an old rag in the soapy water and place some at regular intervals between the propane tank and the stove’s burners.
4. If you notice any hissing, bubbling or a propane smell at any point, that is likely where you have a propane leak.
5. If you smell propane, close the tank valve and turn the stove off as propane is highly flammable.
You can fix a propane leak by ensuring that the tank, regulator and fuel hose are all tightly secured. If this still doesn’t work, the part closest to where you observed the leak will likely need to be replaced.
5. The Regulator Is Damaged
If you know your propane tank is full and your stove clean and unclogged, the regulator might be damaged. The regulator is the circular part with a metal hose attached to it that connects the stove to the fuel tank.
If the regulator looks broken or cracked, you’ll need to replace it. You can buy a replacement regulator online or at a camping store.
6. The Hose Isn’t Connected to the Tank Properly
Another common reason propane stoves don’t light is that the hose isn’t connected to the tank securely, which prevents the propane from reaching the stove.
You can check this by turning your stove and the propane tank valve off. Then unscrew the propane fuel hose from the stove and connect it again, making sure to connect it securely.
7. You’re Using The Stove In a Very Windy Area
If you’re using your stove in very windy conditions, it may be blowing out the flame before it has a chance to get bigger. In this case, I recommend using the windshields on the side of your stove.
If your stove doesn’t have a windshield, you can buy one online like this portable and affordable 10 plate folding stove windscreen from Amazon or at a camping store or make your own one as the video below demonstrates:
Folding stove windscreen that is large enough to be used for both gas knapsack stoves and wood-burning stoves. Can be installed in a variety of different ways to offer wind protection plus bottom vents allow airflow circulation.
Of course, you might not be able to order or make one if you’re camping but I find that using everyday things (like cooler boxes or bags) around my campsite makes a good windshield. You could also station people around the stove to shield it from the wind.