Camper On A Budget: 3 Cheap Coleman Fuel Substitutes To Save Money

Fire – it is considered to be one of man’s greatest discoveries, fueling the path of our evolution. Over time, man has engineered this substance to his will, creating tools to quickly ignite a flame and fuel to keep it going.

Spending time camping outdoors has once again become a popular activity for people to get away from daily life, so many companies have come up with tools and products to help campers.

A highly used outdoor product is Coleman Fuel, which is used for camping stoves and lanterns. But what is it, and are there Coleman fuel substitute?

Today, we’re going to look at some alternatives that you can use other than Coleman Fuel when you need to keep a fire going while camping – because that stuff isn’t cheap!

What Is Coleman Fuel?

Coleman Fuel was developed in the early 1950’s as motor fuel for small lawnmowers, outboard motors, and as an industrial cleaning agent.

It is a petroleum naphtha product derived from natural gas or distilled oil, coal tar, or peat, and has other chemicals mixed into it such as cyclohexane, nonane, octane, heptane, and pentane.

The fuel has a refined purity and high heat output so it ignites easily and doesn’t give off any black smoke or toxic fumes the way that regular gas or kerosene does, which is why it has become a go-to choice for campers.

Coleman fuel isn’t cheap, however, so people have tried to look for more cost-efficient substitutes to use on their camping lanterns and stoves. Here are some alternatives you can try that are more price-friendly than Coleman Fuel.

Substitute #1: Naphtha/white Gas

If your stove or lantern runs on Coleman Fuel, it should also run on white gas.

Naphtha or white gas is the generic name of Coleman Fuel and a few other types of fuel, such as pure gasoline. You can purchase naphtha/white gas from hardware stores or through Amazon.

TIP: Buy white gas in the smallest container available because once it is opened, it will start to degrade. Using degraded fuel can cause your appliances to clog.

White gas is either made from natural gas, or distilled from oil, coal, tar, or peat (which is partially decayed vegetation). This type of gas burns cleaner than the other options, and is the easiest to use because it puts out a high level of heat.

White gas doesn’t have as many additives compared to other alternatives like kerosene,so less clogging will happen in your appliances’ fuel line, allowing your appliances to last longer.

In addition, when white gas burns, it doesn’t give off black smoke or toxic fumes because it burns clean.

White gas is best used within a few months once it is opened and can be stored for around two years. On the other hand, an unopened container of white gas can be stored for up to five to seven years.

Substitute #2: Unleaded Gasoline

Unleaded gasoline performs very similarly to Coleman Fuel and you can use it on lanterns and stoves that run on liquid fuel.

It costs about $2.15 per gallon compared to Coleman Fuel, which costs around $91 per gallon on Amazon, making it a more economical choice. It is also very easy to find since it is available pretty much wherever you are.

The problem with unleaded gas is that when it burns, it creates a buildup of varnish that will most likely clog the tubes of your generator over prolonged use.

This means that you’ll have to clean your appliances often, or replace them sooner than you would hope for.

Sometimes, burning unleaded gasoline also creates black smoke and foul smelling fumes because it doesn’t burn as clean as white gas.

Substitute #3: Kerosene

Another inexpensive and easy to find fuel substitute you can use is kerosene, which is a mixture of petroleum hydrocarbons distilled through high temperature. Sometimes, it is also referred to as paraffin oil.

However, kerosene is dirty compared to naphtha and unleaded gasoline; it smells really bad, and is a bit more difficult to ignite. Just like unleaded gasoline, it can clog up your appliances since it burns dirty.

Using kerosene as an alternative requires a little bit more preparation as well. This is because it has a high flash point, which is a fancy way of saying that the temperature needs to be a lot higher before it becomes a flammable vapor.

The kerosene must pass through some form of preheated generator tube in order for it to ignite and be used in your lanterns or stoves.

To preheat the generator, you need to create a cup that can fit your lantern, then you have to burn raw fuel underneath it. Another option is to convert your lantern so it can run on kerosene.

But why go through all this trouble just to use kerosene instead of Coleman Fuel? Well, Coleman Fuel costs $21 on Amazon for a 32-ounce can. But with $20, you can get 128 ounces of kerosene, so your savings are huge.


Finding Coleman Fuel substitute aren’t that difficult because these three substitutes are basically available anywhere. You can find them in any of your local hardware stores or purchase them through Amazon.

While each substitute has its own characteristics (both positive and negative), the take back from all of this is that you get to save significant amounts of money – which is something I’m pretty sure we all want to do.

Just remember that before looking at the alternatives for your outdoor appliances, check the user manual first because it may have a warning there that tells you what type of fuel you can and can’t use, so just be careful.

If you enjoyed this list, feel free to share it with your friends. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. And as always, have a great adventure!

Rita Myers

I’m Rita Myers, and camping is one of my utmost passions. Growing up near the base of a mountain, hiking and camping have been in my system since I was just a little girl. My love for camping and hiking stayed with me well into adulthood. Now, as a mother of two boys and a wife, I keep my passion alive by bringing my family outdoors. Of course, my family isn’t always up to it, so I write these articles and tips in the hope that you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors like I do!

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