QuietStove.com

Friday, April 6, 2012

How Much White Gas Do I Need?

How much white gas should you bring on your trip?  That's actually going to depend a lot on your style of cooking, your stove, the conditions, etc, but let's take a look and see what we can come up with.

The white gas stove I've used the most is my MSR Whisperlite.  I'll be using my experience with my Whisperlite to generate the numbers that follow.
My MSR Whisperlite
A word about style:  On most of my backpacking trips, I keep cooking fairly simple.  Most of the time, I'm boiling water for re-hydrating foods and making hot drinks.  I almost always have tea in the morning and cocoa in the evening.  I normally boil at least two cups and more typically three cups per boil.  Simmering for the most part is kept to a minimum, but I do simmer sometimes to re-hydrate things at higher altitudes.  I don't typically have a hot lunch, but I almost always have a hot breakfast and supper.

Over time, I've noticed that I use something on the order of 1.5 fl oz (44ml) of white gas on a solo trip per day.  For two people, I find my usage is something on the order of 2.25 fl oz (67ml) per day.  If I'm melting snow, I figure on roughly doubling those amounts.  These amounts include fuel used for priming.  These amounts are the amounts I expect to use.  Particularly in winter, you should plan for the unexpected.  I typically bring an extra day or two's worth of fuel on winter trips.

So what does that equate to in terms of fuel bottles?  There are a lot of different sized fuel bottles out there.  I'll list some common sizes, and you can hopefully adjust from there.

A note on fuel bottles:  MSR, Sigg, Primus, Optimus, Snow Peak, and Brunton fuel bottles all have the same threads and are generally interchangeable.  However, you should always test your particular stove with the particular fuel bottle you intend to use before your trip.  My Primus pump fits in my MSR fuel bottle, but the opposite is not true:  My MSR pump does not fit in my Primus bottle.  The threads on the Primus bottle are compatible, but the threads start down too low in the neck of the bottle for my MSR pump to engage.

Most manufacturers recommend that you use only their fuel bottles with their stove.  That's fine, and you can't go wrong with that, but that recommendation is more about legal liability than it is about the technical requirements of running a stove.  Generally, any fuel bottle designed by a reputable stove company for use with a pump should be fine, provided that it has compatible threads.
An Optimus Nova stove in use with an MSR fuel bottle.  Works just fine.
I would not use "no name" fuel bottles or drink bottles as a fuel bottle for a pressure stove.  Note: Coleman and Soto fuel bottles have proprietary threads and are not interchangeable with any other brands.

Now, fuel bottles:  I'm going to list MSR's bottle simply because that's what I have a lot of.  MSR has three bottles:
10 fl oz "working" capacity, 11 fl oz total capacity (300ml, 325ml)
20 fl oz working capacity, 22 fl oz total capacity (600ml, 650ml)
30 fl oz working capacity, 33 fl oz total capacity (900ml, 975ml)

Note that there is a "working" capacity and a total capacity.  Why two different capacities?  Well, when you run a pressure stove, you need some air space in the bottle for it to work right.  MSR always marks their bottles with a fill line.  Do not fill past the fill line.  The capacity up to the fill line is the working capacity.  The capacity up to the physical top of the bottle is the total capacity.  For running a stove, use the working capacity.  For storage and transport, you can fill the bottle to the total capacity.

Examples (assuming 1.5 fl oz/47ml per day)
10 fl oz (~300ml) = 6.5 days
20 fl oz (~600ml) = 13 days
30 fl oz (~900ml) = 20 days

For almost all of the trips that I've done, a 20 fl oz/600ml bottle has been plenty.
A 20 fl oz/600ml MSR bottle in use with an MSR XGK II stove
The only time I've really wanted a 30 fl oz/900ml bottle was when I was doing a lot of snow melting.  At home, I use 30 fl oz/900ml bottles for storage.  If I were going to buy just one bottle, I'd probably buy a 20 fl oz/600ml sized bottle.  For short trips, I'd carry a bottle with a lot of empty space in it.  for longer trips, I would fill the bottle.  If all you take is short or weekend trips, you might consider a 10 fl oz/300ml size.  If I did a lot of winter  trips, or wanted bottles for storage, the 30 fl oz/900ml size make a lot of sense.

Now, these are my numbers.  The only way you're going to know how much fuel you're going to use is to get out there and do some trips.  These numbers are somewhat conservative by design, but you might want to carry a little extra fuel until you get it dialed in.  Be aware that in windy and cold conditions, your fuel usage may go up.  Hopefully these numbers will give you some rough idea of how much fuel you might want to bring along.

I thank you for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,

HJ

6 comments:

  1. Outstanding post HJ. Thank you. Blake

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome, and I'm glad it's useful to you.

      HJ

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  2. Hey man,

    Nice article. I was especially interested about using different manufacturers' fuel bottles. I was wondering if you have any experience with the Trangia bottles? If so, you might want to anwser my question on the outdoors stackexchange website.

    http://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/1520/are-trangia-and-msr-fuel-bottles-inter-changeable

    Thanks,
    Al

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  3. Al,

    I believe the threads are generally compatible, BUT that's not the issue. Trangia bottles are not metal (they're a plastic like material, perhaps floridated HDPE). Trangia bottles are NOT built to handle pressure and could be very dangerous if used with a pressurized white gas stove (such as a Whisperlite, Nova, Omnifuel, etc).

    On the other hand MSR bottles are aluminum. Aluminum can be corroded by alcohol. I've read reports of aluminum bottles being "eaten" by alcohol.

    In short, I would not interchange the two brands.

    HJ

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  4. Trangia sells a multifuel stove adapted to the trangia 25 stove set.
    It's a modified primus multifuel. It comes with a aluminum fuel bottle.
    I think there is a good reason for this.
    /John in Umea, Sweden.

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  5. John,

    Thank you for pointing out that Trangia sells a different fuel bottle, an aluminum fuel bottle, with its Trangia multifuel set up. I would definitely NOT use a regular Trangia fuel bottle for white gas on a pressure stove.

    HJ

    ReplyDelete