How To Use Denatured Alcohol In a Coleman Lantern

I have a camping lantern that runs off methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) and a Coleman one that uses white gas. But can you skip the white gas altogether and just use denatured alcohol in your Coleman lantern designed for white gas?

You can use denatured alcohol in a Coleman lantern but it won’t be as effective as white gas/Coleman fuel or unleaded gas because Coleman lanterns are designed to work with these fuels. 

Denatured alcohol has a higher flashpoint than white gas and you’ll need to preheat your lantern’s generator before use. It’s also hygroscopic and attracts water so you’ll need to drain the fuel reservoir after use to prevent rust. 

If you’re in a bind, you’ve run out of Coleman fuel or unleaded gas and all you have is denatured alcohol, it’s a good idea to understand how it works before using it in your lantern. 

Can You Use Denatured Alcohol In a Coleman Lantern?

You can use denatured alcohol in a Coleman lantern but because Coleman fuel has more energy, you will go through more. It’s also more expensive than Coleman fuel/white gas so it’s worth using that if you can get to a store. 

For example, a 1 gallon bottle of denatured alcohol from Walmart is around $38 while the same quantity of Coleman fuel from Walmart costs only around $15. Less than half the price for a more energy dense fuel source.

Coleman Camp Fuel (1 Gallon)

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
12/07/2023 12:13 am GMT

Denatured alcohol is also hygroscopic and readily absorbs moisture from the surrounding air. This means that if you leave it in your Coleman lantern for an extended period or use it regularly, it may cause the internal parts to rust. 

A Coleman lantern’s combustion chamber is also designed to optimize the burning of white or unleaded gas, making denatured alcohol (or methylated spirits) less fuel efficient.  

How To Use Denatured Alcohol In a Coleman Lantern

I wouldn’t recommend using denatured alcohol in a Coleman lantern due to its poor fuel efficiency. When I’ve run out of white gas in the past, I’ve funneled a bit of gasoline from my car and used that and it worked well. 

However, if denatured alcohol is all you have to use in your Coleman lantern, here’s what you need to do: 

1. Fill your Coleman lantern’s fuel reservoir with denatured alcohol. This is the same process as if you were using white or unleaded gas. 

2. Preheat your lantern’s generator. Denatured alcohol takes longer to produce a flame than Coleman fuel or white gas and preheating the generator helps speed things up. 

This is because it has a higher flash point: white gas’s flash point is 24.8℉ while denatured alcohol’s is 44℉. 

Higher flash point so you’ll need to preheat the generator with a lighter for about 30 seconds 

3. Light the lantern as normal and monitor the fuel level. If you’re planning on using your lantern the entire evening, check the fuel level regularly to make sure you don’t run out. 

4. Empty the fuel reservoir after use to prevent corrosion because denatured alcohol typically contains between 60% and 90% ethanol, a known hygroscopic substance that attracts water. 

Alternatives To Denatured Alcohol for Coleman Lanterns

Coleman fuel (or generic white gas, which is the same substance) or unleaded gasoline is first prize for fueling your Coleman lantern. 

However, as with Coleman stoves, if you don’t have access to those, here are some fuel alternatives to consider aside from denatured alcohol: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol. Many people have isopropyl alcohol in their medicine cabinets or first aid kits and it’s typically cheaper than denatured alcohol. 
  • Kerosene. This is another less expensive fuel to denatured alcohol. However, it produces a lot of smelly smoke and leaves a lot of black residue that makes cleaning up more tedious. 

This fuel is widely available, you can buy an entire gallon of kerosene from Walmart for less than $12 and you can use it for your other camping appliances, such as your Coleman stove.

Crown 1-K Kerosene (1 Gallon)

Crown Kerosene is a fuel grade 1-K Kerosene ideally suited for all outdoor kerosene fueled appliances including kerosene-burning heaters, lanterns and stoves. Crown K-1 Kerosene is a reliable and long-lasting fuel grade kerosene.

See Latest Price at Walmart
12/07/2023 12:12 am GMT

Kerosene also contains hydrocarbons, which produce carbon monoxide when burned so you should use it in a very well-ventilated space or outdoors. 

  • Mineral spirits. Like denatured alcohol, mineral spirits contain high levels of ethanol and is highly flammable. 

If you’re using your Coleman lantern at home, there’s a good chance you have some mineral spirits in your garage from your last painting job as it’s great at removing paint. 

Here is a YouTube video showing how someone uses mineral spirits in a Coleman lantern: