Stove fuels

Discussion forum for the United Kingdom ZS chapter

Moderator: ZS Chapter Volunteers

Post Reply
User avatar
sheddi
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 3428
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:33 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead
Location: Hampshire, England

Stove fuels

Post by sheddi » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:04 am

This thread discusses the pros and cons of various commercial backpacking stove fuels.

I'm going to post this here, since it's a fairly UK-centric view of things. Having said that, I've not found anything quite equivalent to this in the main part of the forum, so feel free to link to it if you think it helps. I'm going to start off with gas canisters, where there's a small number of distinct families of canister.

I should probably mention here that it's not unknown for speakers of British English to call disposable gas containers "cartridges" rather than "canisters". Indeed that's my personal preference. However, ZS seems to favour "canister" and so that's what I've tried to use here. If I occasionally lapse into "cartridge" I trust you'll forgive me.

Gas canisters
For most people in the UK, when they think of a backpacking stove they think of a single-burner stove running form a canister of LPG (butane, propane, or a blend of the two). 30 years ago the choice was simple, but that's grown until I reckon there's six different types of canister on the market at the moment, all with their own pros and cons. Here goes with a discussion of the types, in rough chronological order of their introduction to the UK market.

Comments on price and availability are based on my local area at time of writing.

CampinGaz "C" series and compatible canisters
Typified by the CampinGaz C206, this single-use metal canister contains 190g of butane. Almost anywhere that sells gas canisters will sell these. Butane-propane blend canisters are available and have become more common in recent years.
Pictured are the current CG C206 and a Coleman compatible version.
Image Image

Pros:
+ Ubiquitous. Available from outdoor shops, hardware stores, and some garden centres and petrol stations.
+ Compatible canisters available.
+ Cheap. Typical price £1.50 for 190g of gas, but I've seen them recently at 99p.
+ Light. The canister itself is as minimal as you can get, it doesn't even have a valve.
+ Versatile. Stoves, lanterns and blowlamps are all available that use this canister. I've also seen (and own) an adapter that turns one of these into an EN417 threaded canister (see below).

Cons:
- The unvalved canister is pierced by the appliance, which contains the valve and seal. Once you've fitted the canister to the appliance, you can't remove it until it's exhausted.
- Removing a part-filled canister results in you being deluged with LPG.
- Only one size of canister available.
- Considered obsolescent, so the range of new appliances available is small.

CampinGaz "R" series
CampinGaz's other "original" series is the R9xx range of refillable butane cylinders (the R is often dropped from the name, eg. the R901 is called the 901). I've never seen anyone backpacking with one, although the 901 is probably small enough if you really felt the need.
Image

Pros:
+ Refillable.
+ Rugged.
+ Versatile. You can run stoves, lamps, heaters, ovens, fridges ...

Cons:
- Very heavy. The smallest, the 901, holds 454g of butane and weighs more than twice that.
- Very expensive. A 901 canister costs £17, and the refill is £15.
- Not particularly widespread. They're common for boats and caravans, but you'll struggle to find them in outdoor stores. (This isn't true in France, where they're available all over the place).

I'm not planning to write anything else on the 9xx unless my readers demand it!

I would be surprised to find a ZSer using either of these canister families for anything other than a bug-in, or as part of a "Bugging Out like it's 1966" historical re-enactment.

Next instalment: the EN417 threaded canisters and CampinGaz's response, the CV series.
Last edited by sheddi on Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
Behave!


Member
ZSC:010 - UK Chapter
My EDC / GHB (needs updating)
Foundation licence holder - Mike-Six-mumble-mumble-mumble.

User avatar
sheddi
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 3428
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:33 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead
Location: Hampshire, England

Re: Stove fuels

Post by sheddi » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:57 am

So, for a long time backpackers had a poor choice when it came to gas canisters; the light, single-use C206 or the heavy, reuseable R901. During the 1970s, though, that all changed.

EN417 threaded canisters
IIRC a British company called Taymar introduced a range of blowlamps that ran on a butane canister with a threaded, valved connection, derived from the valved canisters used for butane lighter refills. This could be removed from the appliance even when it was still full, a novel idea at the time, and its application to camping stoves wasn't a big step. (Taymar later spawned EpiGas, which may be more familiar as a stove brand, and both were assimilated into Coleman in or around 1993. While we're on the topic, some former EpiGas employees then set up GoGas, who became GoSystem.) This threaded connector was later standardised, in the interests of European harmonisation, as one of the connection options in the pan-European standard EN417.

Notably, CG never adopted this standard ...

Pictured are Coleman canisters in 220g and 445g sizes, plus a Taymar blowlamp canister with compatible threads. The pictures aren't to scale; the 445g Coleman canister is the same diameter as the 220g one, but twice as tall.
Image Image Image

Pros:
+ Ubiquitous. Even more widespread than the C206 canisters.
+ "Standard". Probably 80% of all backpacking gas stoves sold in the UK use these canisters.
+ Generic, in that there are many manufacturers of compatible canisters.
+ Reasonably priced. You can buy a 220g canister for £3, or a 440g one for £5. Blowlamp canisters can be cheaper still.
+ Many sizes available, from 50g to 450g.
+ Versatile. Stoves, lanterns and blowlamps are all available that use this canister.

Cons:
- Lack of standardisation! Canisters may contain anything from straight butane through to 70/30 butane/propane, depending on brand.
- Narrow "blowlamp" canisters are less suitable for canister-top stoves like the Pocket Rocket, but are fine with hose-connected stoves.
- It has been reported that not all threaded valves are created equal, and some are poorly formed (and don't fit well as a result). I've never had this problem but YMMV.

CampinGaz "CV" series canisters
I mentioned above that CampinGaz have not adopted the EN417 threaded connector. Instead, they have their own, incompatible system (although inter-system adaptors are occasionally available) known variously as "Twister", "Easy Clic", "CV" or most recently "CV Plus". (I've yet to find any differences between the generations, other than the "CV Plus" canisters having green plastic caps rather than blue ones.)

Why did CG need their own system? Well, I have three theories. From least to most cynical these are:
1. CG technical wanted a simpler system that did away with screw threads.
2. CG marketing wanted a system they owned, so they could keep tight control on the appliances and supply of canisters.
3. The EN417 threaded connection was dreamed up by the British, and CG are French ...

Pictured are the 230g CV270, the 240g CV300, and the 450g CV470 (in "plus" guise, hence the green plastic caps).
Image Image Image

Pros:
+ Quality. Every CV canister is made by CG, to the same standard and with decent QA/QC.
+ Performance. Every CV cartridge is filled with a 80/20 butane/propane mix.
+ Good range of sizes, from 50g to 450g. All bar the smallest are fat enough that a canister-top stove is a reasonable proposition.

Cons:
- Smaller (albeit unified) dealer network than EN417 canisters.
- Not cheap, with a CV270 costing about £4 (although I picked up 4 for £10 on special offer last year). Cheaper in France ...
- Only CG make appliances, and their product range sometimes seems, er, curious!

And anyone would think that we had enough choice with that. But no, some marketing genius decided there was room in the market for yet another canister system, and they'll be covered by my next item.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
Behave!


Member
ZSC:010 - UK Chapter
My EDC / GHB (needs updating)
Foundation licence holder - Mike-Six-mumble-mumble-mumble.

User avatar
sheddi
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 3428
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:33 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead
Location: Hampshire, England

Re: Stove fuels

Post by sheddi » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:07 am

So we've covered the most common backpacking canisters, and you would hope that that would be the end of it. Oh no, we're barely halfway - and that's not counting the obsolete ones!

CampinGaz CP250 and compatible canisters.
I'm less sure where this one came from; if it's a CampinGaz original then it's proved remarkably popular with the aftermarket, and if it's not their original then I'm surprised that they're the only recognisable brand in the UK.

The canister itself comes in a single size, containing 240g of gas (or thereabouts), usually straight butane. I've read that mixed gas fills are available, but don't recall seeing any. The canister itself has a bayonet-style fitting, where is pushes into place then locks with a quarter-turn.

As far as I'm aware, the only appliances available for use with these canisters are suitcase-stye tabletop stoves, where the canister fits inside the stove. I've heard it said that these are popular in some Eastern restaurants where the food is cooked at your table and I can see that they could be useful for car camping, but I'm not convinced that they're the best bet for backpacking (or bugging out on foot).

Here's a picture of the CG canister, of their "Camp Bistro" stove (the clones are more-or-less identical), and of an adapter to let you use these canisters with EN417 appliances. (I've never seen an adapter in a bricks-and-mortar store, but they're available patchily on eBay.)
Image Image
Image

Pros:
+ Cheap, typically £2 or less per 250g canister (although CG-branded ones are more expensive).

Cons:
- Only one size of canister available, although it's a sensible one.
- Only one size of stove available, and it's a bit on the large side.
- Only stoves available, no lanterns etc.
- Canisters availability is patchy, more common in kitchenware stores than camping ones.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
Behave!


Member
ZSC:010 - UK Chapter
My EDC / GHB (needs updating)
Foundation licence holder - Mike-Six-mumble-mumble-mumble.

User avatar
sheddi
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 3428
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:33 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead
Location: Hampshire, England

Re: Stove fuels

Post by sheddi » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:45 pm

Meanwhile, as you might expect, the US ignored the rest of the world and went its own way.

Coleman propane canisters
From the early part of the 20th Century Coleman was making petrol lamps and stoves, and (following a short-lived foray in the 50s) introduced a propane-fired stove in the late 60s, with a canister to go with it. These are exotic visitors to the UK, making a brief appearance in the mid-90s before disappearing again after a couple of years. Following a visit to Millets and a quick Google it seems they're back, although how long for this time is anybody's guess.

The Coleman propane canister comes in one size, holding 465g of propane. Propane has a much higher vapour pressure than butane, the result of which is that the canister is thicker and heavier than the equivalent butane or butane-propane blend canister. Available appliances include stoves, lanterns and heaters.

Here's a picture of one, so you know what I'm talking about.
Image

Pros:
+ Excellent cold-weather performance. Propane boils at -42C, unlike butane which boils at -1C, so you're unlikely to have trouble with cold weather in the UK.
+ Reasonable range of appliances available.
+ Reasonably priced; at £5 for a 465g canister, it's no more expensive than the EN417 threaded butane canisters.

Cons:
- Heavy. All that steel weighs more than the equivalent butane canister.
- Only one size, so no "small" backpacking canisters available.
- Doubts over the continued availability of fuel. (If you'd bought a Coleman propane stove on clearance in 1994, you'd have had to wait 15 years to buy another canister of gas.)

That's the end of the line for gas canisters you might reasonably want to use for utility purposes, unless some others come to me. The next few canisters to be covered will be uncommon, endangered or extinct ...
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
Behave!


Member
ZSC:010 - UK Chapter
My EDC / GHB (needs updating)
Foundation licence holder - Mike-Six-mumble-mumble-mumble.

Zortel
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:38 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Zombieland, 28 Days Later, Junk, Shawn of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Stove fuels

Post by Zortel » Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:40 pm

This is a really good collection of posts, thanks! Currently we've got some of the old CampinGaz equipment, a stove and a lantern with a can on each and a can spare. Looking into switching them over for something else now if we can't get new cannisters.

A+ Information.

User avatar
sheddi
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 3428
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:33 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead
Location: Hampshire, England

Re: Stove fuels

Post by sheddi » Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:10 pm

Zortel wrote:This is a really good collection of posts, thanks! Currently we've got some of the old CampinGaz equipment, a stove and a lantern with a can on each and a can spare. Looking into switching them over for something else now if we can't get new cannisters.

A+ Information.
Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it!

Everything pictured so far is still available in mainstream shops, in the UK at least. Later posts will cover the stuff that's of interest to collectors and stove geeks, but not really practical for day-to-day use.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
Behave!


Member
ZSC:010 - UK Chapter
My EDC / GHB (needs updating)
Foundation licence holder - Mike-Six-mumble-mumble-mumble.

User avatar
hague720
* *
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:44 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: Dawn O the Dead
Contact:

Re: Stove fuels

Post by hague720 » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:38 am

Nice post Shedders...... :D

I am looking forward to your prose on multi-fuels and the best "bang for ya buck" so to speak,,

Im currently using a Geosystems Omnifuel and would like your take on the others


Nice one friend

H
OPEN CHANNEL D MR SOLO...

http://s562.photobucket.com/albums/ss64/thomas720/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Zortel
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:38 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Zombieland, 28 Days Later, Junk, Shawn of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Stove fuels

Post by Zortel » Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:38 pm

Speaking of the old CampinGaz canisters, I've found some of the 290gm Butane cannisters online from a camping site for £1.50 each. Link is as follows: http://www.family-camping-supplies.co.u ... t=71&i=347" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Picking a number up for our gas light and stove, the models actually shown beneath it.

ais4122
* * * * *
Posts: 1016
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:38 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Location: New York

Re: Stove fuels

Post by ais4122 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:05 pm

Being on the other side of the pond, I use Coleman propane, its plentiful and probably the most common and #1 used camp fuel source in America. But I just bought a milsurp Swedish stove which uses alcohol for fuel. It took a couple minutes searching you tube to find out what sort of alcohol to use in it. It takes denatured alcohol, similiar to paint thinner. I've only tested it, havent used it yet for food prep but it should be interesting to see how long the fuel can last. Coleman propane bottles usually claim 8hrs of burn time.
Aim small, Miss small
Image

http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=30558" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
ForgeCorvus
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 1518
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:59 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Quite liked 'Dead Set'
'28 Days Later'
and think that 'Shaun of the Dead' is a great poke at the whole Z-flick thing
Location: Darkest Norfolk

Re: Stove fuels

Post by ForgeCorvus » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:37 pm

Image
One of these is it?

Or one of these
Image

Both are pretty bomb-proof and (as they have no moving parts) reliable

Over here we use Methylated Spirits (meths), I'm not sure if its the same stuff

I personally use Surgical Spirit (Rubbing alcohol ? ) as I hate the smell of burning meths

You should be able to use any kind of alcohol (even over-proof rotgut if you're desperate)

I don't know if you've got any instructions with it, but don't do as one guy I know of did, he tried to top-up the fuel when it was still hot.....bad move, but at least it wasn't lit at the time
I'm English, our Government doesn't trust us to have real guns........or decent pocket knives for that matter
Good job theres no such thing as a Trebuchet licence :D

Image

Winner, PMBoB
LowKey wrote:INCH bags are to lifeboats what BOBs are to life vests.

ais4122
* * * * *
Posts: 1016
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:38 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later
Location: New York

Re: Stove fuels

Post by ais4122 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:42 am

There is a great thread on the swedish stove in Bug out Gear. Rubbing alcohol, from what I've read is not good only because its requires warmer temps to easily ignite. Using rubbing alcohol in the winter could be difficult to light.
Aim small, Miss small
Image

http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=30558" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
ForgeCorvus
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 1518
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:59 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Quite liked 'Dead Set'
'28 Days Later'
and think that 'Shaun of the Dead' is a great poke at the whole Z-flick thing
Location: Darkest Norfolk

Re: Stove fuels

Post by ForgeCorvus » Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:03 pm

Any kind of alcohol is a little tricky in low temperatures, but over here we don't tend to get that cold
Gas canisters also don't like the cold much either


ais, Have you got a link to that thread?
Otherwise I'll have to unlimber the seach-engine.....and I'm idle :D
I'm English, our Government doesn't trust us to have real guns........or decent pocket knives for that matter
Good job theres no such thing as a Trebuchet licence :D

Image

Winner, PMBoB
LowKey wrote:INCH bags are to lifeboats what BOBs are to life vests.

Post Reply

Return to “INACTIVE - ZSC:010”