How To Run a Coleman Stove on Kerosene [Step-by-Step]

White gas or Coleman gas is the best and recommended fuel to use with a Coleman stove but you can also use other less expensive fuel, like unleaded gas or even kerosene.

Kerosene is more difficult to use with Coleman stoves, but with the right techniques it can burn quite well.

If you want to use kerosene with your camping stove, you might wonder if you can use it in the same way as white or Coleman gas or if there are special steps to take. 

To run a Coleman stove on kerosene, you should make sure you’re using it in a well-ventilated area as it can burn dirty and produce a lot of smoke, especially. 

Pour kerosene into the tank, wind some 12 gauge bare copper wire around the generator and preheat the generator with priming paste or alcohol if you have a suitcase style stove (this is optional). Light the stove, use it and clean it afterwards if needed.

Kerosene works well with Coleman stoves and cooks food well. However, you should follow the correct steps to ensure optimal cooking conditions and use. 

Benefits of Using Kerosene

While white gas or Coleman gas works well it can be quite expensive and Kerosene is a good Coleman fuel substitute for a number of reasons.

Firstly it extremely affordable and widely available. White gas can sometimes be hard to come by or can be expensive if you're using a lot of it but kerosene is generally a fair bit cheaper and it's also very easy to source all around the country.

Kerosene is used in a variety of camping appliances such as lanterns so being able to use one type of fuel for multiple different things can be extremely convenient.

Also, kerosene is a less explosive fuel, making it safer to take with you.

Will Kerosene Damage Your Coleman Stove?

The downside of using kerosene in your Coleman stove is that it can take more heat to get it to turn from a liquid into a vapor so getting your stove working efficiently can be more of a challenge.

Also kerosene is most likely to clog up your generator over time when compared to white gas – which burns cleaner and will leave less residue.

You can clean out your generator or replace them without issue when they become too clogged from the kerosene, but if you wish to avoid this process then kerosene probably isn't the fuel for you.

However, kerosene won't “damage” or break your Coleman stove. You can use kerosene without issue or fear of damaging your stove, you just may need to clean it more often.

Watch The Video Tutorial on How To Run A Coleman Stove on Kerosene

1. Place the Stove in a Well-Ventilated Area

Kerosene doesn’t burn as cleanly as white or Coleman gas (which are essentially the same thing) due to the petroleum hydrocarbons and will produce a lot of dark smoke until it gets up to temperature and starts to turn into a vapor.

You should therefore use it outside or in a well-ventilated area. You should always use your Coleman stove outside in a well ventilated area anyway, but with kerosene even more-so.

Also remember that lower quality kerosene tends to produce more smoke so use a good quality product if you can. 

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Kerosene only takes slightly longer than Coleman or white gas to cook food or boil water but cooks faster than rubbing alcohol or low octane gasoline, which you can also use in Coleman stoves if you were considering using another available Coleman stove fuel alternative). 

This interesting YouTube video demonstrates the effectiveness of each fuel type: 

2. Pour Kerosene into the Fuel Tank

Source: JIUJITSU2000

Pour kerosene into the fuel tank using a funnel and as you’d normally do with white or Coleman gas. 

3. Wind 12 Gauge Bare Copper Wire Around the Generator (To Add Thermal Mass)

Source: JIUJITSU2000

If you have a suitcase style Coleman stove and want to save your kerosene, it may be worth preheating the generator beforehand.

This provides it with more thermal mass for retaining the heat more effectively so you don’t have to use too much kerosene. 

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However, if you have a smaller Coleman stove (like the Dual Fuel), there’s no need to preheat.  

To help with preheating the generator and adding thermal mass, you can wind some 12 gauge bare copper wire around it.

This wire should be around the section where the generator is above the burner when in the stove. 

Here’s how to do it: 

1. Grab a length of electrical wire.

2. Strip the protective casing off with some pliers. 

3. Locate the bare copper wire strand and cut some off. 

4. Wind it several times around the generator. 

4. Preheat the Stove’s Generator with Priming Paste or Alcohol

If you have a larger suitcase style Coleman stove, you may find it difficult to light using kerosene. Preheating your generator with liquid kerosene alone is possible, but not as effective as using a priming paste.

To give it a better flash point and encourage the kerosene to vaporize faster, cover the section of copper wire wrapped generator with priming paste, denatured or isopropyl alcohol. 

Isoproyl alcohol is a great choice because it’s inexpensive and you can use it for first aid or sterilizing surfaces. You can pick up a bottle of isopropyl alcohol from Amazon or any drug or grocery store. 

If you’re in a fix, you can use antibacterial hand gel as it contains alcohol.  

This step is also optional but should speed up the cooking process and help you use less kerosene with a suitcase style stove. 

5. Light Your Coleman Stove

Now you can light your Coleman stove as you normally would. It usually takes around 5 minutes or so for the generator to heat up enough to vaporize the kerosene, so you need to be patient.

If you’ve already preheated the generator with copper wire and alcohol or priming paste, it should produce a flame quickly (you’ll notice that kerosene produces a strong blue flame). 

Once lit, you can use your Coleman stove to cook as you usually do with white or Coleman gas. 

You'll get really good flame control with kerosene and can produce a large flame or take it down to a small simmer.

6. Clean Your Coleman Stove

Since kerosene doesn’t burn as cleanly as white gas, you’ll probably notice it’s dirtier with more sooty deposits after use. 

It will also leave deposits in the stove’s fuel lines, which you can clean with carburetor fluid to prevent clogging with continuous use.