How To Use Denatured Alcohol in a Coleman Stove

I’m never without my dual fuel Coleman stove on camping trips but I’ve occasionally run out of white gas or Coleman fuel. Since I have a camping lantern that runs off denatured alcohol, I’ve used that instead of white gas and noted the results. 

You can use denatured alcohol in a Coleman stove. However, it’s more expensive than white gas, not as fuel efficient and produces an inconsistent flame and stove heat. 

Denatured alcohol is also hygroscopic and attracts water molecules so you should empty the fuel reservoir completely after use to prevent rust. 

If you want to use denatured alcohol in your Coleman stove, it’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons and how effective it works to cook your food. 

How Effective Is Denatured Alcohol In a Coleman Stove?

Denatured alcohol isn’t  effective in a Coleman stove because the dual fuel stove’s combustion chamber is designed to work with white gas (Coleman fuel) or unleaded gas. 

It therefore won’t ignite efficiently and it can be difficult to produce a consistent flame. 

White gas has much more energy than denatured alcohol, meaning you’ll need a much larger quantity of denatured alcohol than white gas to achieve the same result. 

The YouTube video below demonstrates someone trying (and almost failing) to use denatured alcohol in a Coleman stove. Although the denatured alcohol produced a flame, it showed that you need a lot of fuel and patience to cook your food with it: 

The smaller single-burner dual fuel Coleman stoves seem to have more success burning alternative fuel sources like isopropyl alcohol or kerosene when compared to the larger 2-burner stoves.

The video below shows the time it took to boil 1 cup of water using different fuel sources in a Coleman stove. It also shows the total fuel consumption and you can see that alcohol needs to use a lot more fuel to get the water boiling when compared to white gas.

Time To Boil 1 Liter (32 oz) of Water

Fuel TypeTime To Boil 1 L (32 oz) of WaterTotal Fuel Used
Rubbing Alcohol 97%10:1341 mL
Low Octane Gasoline6:2622 mL
Kerosene4:2818 mL
Coleman Premium Blent Fuel
(White Gas)
4:1215 mL

If you have isopropyl alcohol lying around, I would use that instead. It has a slightly lower flash point (53℉) than denatured alcohol (57℉), meaning it’s quicker to ignite. 

Isopropyl and denatured alcohol are similar but denatured has several additives that can leave residue on your stove after use. Isopropyl alcohol doesn’t have additives and burns cleaner. 

Benefits of Using Denatured Alcohol In a Coleman Stove

Here are the benefits of using denatured alcohol in a Coleman stove: 

  • It doesn’t produce carbon monoxide when burning so you don’t have to worry as much about ventilation. 
  • Denatured alcohol doesn’t go bad. Ethanol can last indefinitely and if you have an unopened and old bottle, its ingredients will still be active. This is unlike white gas which has a shelf life of 5 to 7 years unopened. Once opened, denatured alcohol gradually evaporates. 
  • Denatured alcohol has multiple uses. While white gas is only mainly used as a fuel source denatured alcohol can be used as a fuel source, cleaning product and solvent and has a variety of other uses too.

Disadvantages of Using Denatured Alcohol in a Coleman Stove

  • Denatured alcohol contains additves, which can leave residue in your stove. In contrast, isopropyl alcohol doesn’t have additives and you could use that instead if you want fuss-free cleaning afterward. 
  • Denatured alcohol can corrode your stove. Ethanol (of which denatured alcohol has 60% to 90%) is hygroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs water from the surrounding air, which can accumulate inside the stove and lead to corrosion. 

In contrast, white gas doesn’t contain any alcohol and you can safely leave it in the fuel reservoir without worrying about corrosion. 

  • It isn’t fuel effective. To produce enough heat to boil a pot of water, you’d need much more denatured alcohol and time than white gas. 
  • Denatured alcohol is more expensive. White gas or Coleman fuel is slightly less expensive than denatured alcohol so it makes sense to use it. 
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
07/18/2024 12:16 am GMT

Isopropyl alcohol is the cheapest of all if you buy it in the right quantities and you can also use it for first aid and disinfecting surfaces. 

How To Use Denatured Alcohol in a Coleman Stove

Here’s how to use denatured alcohol in a Coleman stove: 

1. Pour the denatured alcohol into the fuel reservoir as you normally would with white or unleaded gas. 

2. Use the wind shield. Since it’s not designed to work with Coleman stoves and has a high flash point, you may have trouble igniting the stove and keeping a stable flame. Using the wind shield can increase your chances of a better flame. 

3. Use the stove as normal but remember it will take longer to cook your food or heat your beverage. 

4. Empty the fuel reservoir once you’ve finished using the stove. This prevents water accumulation which can lead to rust. 

5. Clean the stove to get rid of any residue that could clog the fuel line or generator. 

Alternatives To Denatured Alcohol for Coleman Stoves

If you don’t have white gas, Coleman fuel or unleaded gas for your Coleman stove and don’t want to use denatured alcohol, here are some alternative fuel options for Coleman stoves

  • Isopropyl alcohol. Like denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol isn’t as fuel efficient as white gas but will work in a fix, and is cheaper. You can use it as you would denatured alcohol but there will be less soot to clean up.
  • Kerosene. However, this has a high boiling point and you’ll need to preheat the generator with priming paste before using the stove. 
  • Diesel. Technically, diesel works in a Coleman stove but it creates a lot of dark smoke and leaves a lot of residue, so I only recommend using it if you really have to. 

This in-depth guide shows you how to use diesel with a Coleman stove.