Different camping lighting requires different camping fuel. While this sounds an obvious statement, it can be surprising how many new campers buy their camping lamps, camp stove or heaters without any thought as to what makes them operate. Often the camping appliance will come fueled or with a refill canister, so for a first time buyer it’s understandable to “miss” the importance about the on-going camping fuel requirement.
While the power source of the battery lantern is obvious, some camping lamps require a camping fuel to operate. Such camping fuel may be in gas, liquid or solid form, and may be used not just for your lighting requirements but also for other camping appliances.
Some forms of camping fuel may be:
- Butane, where the gas is compressed to a liquid and sold in canisters of various sizes (usually sold in blue containers). These butane canisters are great because they basically plug-in and are ready for instant use, however the replacement canisters may be hard to find in some areas. Also butanedoesn’t burn well in very cold conditions.
- Propane, like butane is an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) but it freezes at lower temperatures so it tends to be a better fuel to use in winter (usually sold in red containers). Propane burns bright, clean and again is a plug-in-and-go solution. As with butane refills, they can be hard to find in some areas.
- White gas or Coleman fuel is readily available from specialized stores such as camping shops, however in some more remote places it may be hard to find. It burns bright and clean and is relatively inexpensive. If spilled it can ignite easily but it does evaporate quickly.
- Unleaded gasoline can be used in lanterns designed and manufactured to burn either unleaded gasoline or Coleman fuel (known as dual fuel lanterns) – unleaded gasoline (yes, the same stuff that goes in your car) is very easily obtained, but can burn dirty and cause a carbon build-up. This camping fuel will give off a gasoline smell when burning, and it is also easily ignited if spilled and can be unsafe for that reason. However a duel fuel lantern can give you flexibility in regard to what camping fuel is available when you most need it.
- Kerosene (sometimes known as paraffin) is a readily available and inexpensive camping fuel. It provides good light, but can burn dirty and cause a soot build-up. It also produces an odor when burnt and is best suited to outdoor use.
As you can see there are many types of camping fuel, suited to many types of camping lighting. There are disadvantages and advantages to all types and this is where asking the right questions before you purchase a camping lamp can save headaches later on. It is also worth noting that gas and liquid fueled lamps either use a flammable camping fuel or operate with a naked flame, so it is always advisable NOT to use them for inside a tent environment.