Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
The Effect of Cold on Gas Canisters
Display Avatars Sort By:
Frank Oslick
(franko1946) - F
gas stoves on 10/28/2010 23:33:34 MDT Print View

"Interesting to note that "back in the day", high altitude Himalayan expeditions favored the old Gaz 206 Bluet stoves. These worked fine in this situation because in spite of the cold (well below freezing) the MUCH increased altitude (lower atmospheric pressure) effectively increased the pressure inside the cannister to the point where the butane would still effectively vaporize."

Also interesting how many people think that gas stove performance goes down as altitude increases. Since higher altitude usually means lower temperature the stoves often do not perform as well, but it is because of the temperature, not the altitude. Some "experts" have even tested gas stoves at higher altitudes & then published the "results".

Scott Bailey
(Smbailey) - F
Re: The Effect of Cold on Gas Canisters on 10/29/2010 00:00:24 MDT Print View

Users of different gas cylinders (GAZ, MSR, Snow Peak, etc.) should be aware that due to varying ratios of isobutane/propane can have increased BTU output and burn hotter than the oiriginal vendors gas.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: coleman propane vs white gas on 10/29/2010 15:24:35 MDT Print View

Hi Gaute

> It seems to me white gas would give me about the same total system
> weigth and more fuel as a bonus?

Several reasons why I would stick with LPG:
1) Propane contains more energy than white gas
2) Propane is considerably more efficient than white gas once you allow for priming and operational factors - almost twice as efficient in the field in fact (my records from many years).
3) Propane is Much easier to use in the field.
4) Lighting a propane stove in a small tent in a storm is stress-free compared to priming and lighting a typical white gas stove.

Re the last item: the MSR instructions for the XGK stove explicitly state that priming the stove requires a 'fireball'. Thank you!

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: The Effect of Cold on Gas Canisters on 10/29/2010 15:29:03 MDT Print View

Hi Scott

> Users of different gas cylinders (GAZ, MSR, Snow Peak, etc.) should be aware
> that due to varying ratios of isobutane/propane can have increased BTU output
> and burn hotter than the original vendors gas.

I looked at this, and found that the energy differences for typical variations in canister composition were pretty small in practice. That does not worry me.

What can change between the three gases is the flame velocity, and that makes 100% iso-butane canisters a bit tricky on some non-MSR stoves. Iso-butane seems to have a lower flame velocity and if you turn the stove up hard the flames can lift off and blow out sometimes. Shouldn't happen with a 'large' burner.

Cheers

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: white gas on 10/29/2010 15:43:50 MDT Print View

"Re the last item: the MSR instructions for the XGK stove explicitly state that priming the stove requires a 'fireball'."

That's partially true. On a high expedition, three of us were using a new XGK, and due to weather, we had to cook inside the tent vestibule. At the beginning, I had to light it each time with a pretty good flare, and I was so paranoid about burning the tent down that I had a lot of aluminum foil deployed to catch the flare. But then after a few days, I was more practiced about igniting it efficiently without so much flare, and after one week, it was nothing at all. We got so efficient that by the end of the expedition, maybe 11 days, our three-man team had used the same amount of white gas as the best two-man team with the same stove.

--B.G.--

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: coleman propane vs white gas on 10/29/2010 15:44:40 MDT Print View

There are situations in which white gas might make more sense or be quite practical. I've camped plenty in 0*F and colder temps, but never needed to cook in my tent.

Regarding "once you allow for priming and operational factors," I've noted that in the past those cited operational factors included letting the stove run between meal courses or some such thing. That's simply not fuel efficient or necessary in my experience. Priming uses remarkably little fuel.

I'm beginning the process of comparing several sub-11oz WG stoves along with remote-canister gas for those interested in winter stoves. Unfortunately, some of the stoves won't be available until winter so it will be awhile before I have more data & info...

Elisa Umpierre
(eliump) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Where's the Summary or Conclusion section? on 10/29/2010 21:02:43 MDT Print View

LOL, I scrolled to the end of the article looking for the same three sentences.

Gaute Lote
(glote) - MLife

Locale: Norway
priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 10/30/2010 06:28:36 MDT Print View

I've tested boiling a liter of water om my Msr Dragonfly in "perfect conditions" (in my living room...) and the fuel consumption was 16 g of white gas. Note that I used the 2,1 l Primus Etapower pot with heat exchanger.

My canister stoves use about 10-12 g of fuel to boil a liter of water in the same pot.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 10/30/2010 12:47:45 MDT Print View

After using MSR stoves for over thirty years, I would say that they are really good for boiling 1-4 quarts of water at a time.

I refer to the plate-roarer type of stoves, and not so much the quieter types.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 10/31/2010 00:00:40 MDT Print View

Hi Gaute

> 16 g white gas to boil 1 L
> 10-12 g canister to boil 1 L
Yep, that's about the ratio I find too. Canister stoves and fuel are far more weight-efficient.

Cheers

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 10/31/2010 00:33:42 MDT Print View

Roger, have you compared the cost of fuel for each liter of water boiled?

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 10/31/2010 01:47:07 MDT Print View

> have you compared the cost of fuel for each liter of water boiled?

It is far less than the cost of the rest of my gear, and far less than the cost of the fuel required to get to the trackhead, far less than the cost of the food eaten on a trip, and (over quite a long period) less even than the cost of a liquid-fuel stove. That will do me.

Ymmv
Cheers

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 10/31/2010 02:11:48 MDT Print View

Many backpackers are cooking for only one or two mouths.

I've spent years leading and cooking for groups of 8, 10, or even 12 backpackers, so for those trips I like the relative economy of a white gas stove or two. This is especially true in the winter when more fuel is expended than in summer.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 11/01/2010 03:42:59 MDT Print View

Hi Bob

> cooking for groups of 8, 10, or even 12 backpackers
That's a hard life :-) Turns a hobby into a job.

Your situation is a bit outside my experience. Have you considered the weight economics of using a larger LPG cylinder and a larger stove, given the weight savings with the fuel? Just curious.

Cheers

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 11/01/2010 04:10:14 MDT Print View

When you write "LPG," I think Propane.

I think the cost economics won over weight economics. In the traditional backpacking world, and among the group leaders, white gas is the winner. As soon as I left that traditional world and made the zigzag turn into the ultralightweight world, the fuels of choice became butane blend, alcohol, or Esbit.

Propane has never been a good choice except for "car camping" where the weight of the heavy canister is not a factor.

When on a big mountain expedition, our group of fourteen was divided up into tent teams of 2 or 3 people, and every team was using white gas. Plus, nearly every other expedition on the mountain was using white gas. I don't know. Maybe it is an altitude thing.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 11/01/2010 14:50:15 MDT Print View

Hi Bob

Cost factor for commercial groups understood.

> nearly every other expedition on the mountain was using white gas.
Ha - you should what it is like in Nepal. One poor unfortunate porter gets to carry the keg of kerosene for the whole trip. Because they are too skint to afford decent reliable metal cans, they use cheap plastic containers which ALWAYS leak. Often the caps disintegrate. Poor guy.

Cheers

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 11/01/2010 15:13:34 MDT Print View

They were not commercial trips. They were shared-cost group trips for an outdoor club.

As for Nepal. Yes. Been there, done that, read the book, saw the movie.

On my first trek there in 1983, we had about 25-30 porters at the start of the trek. One poor guy carried the large kerosene container. You sure did not want to light a cigarette around him. However, back then, they were still allowed to burn some local firewood. By my 1997 trek there, firewood was not allowed to be burned because there was very little left.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 11/03/2010 21:22:53 MDT Print View

Hi Bob

> By my 1997 trek there, firewood was not allowed to be burned because there was very little left.
Yeah, I could see that coming all right.

They make their own kero stoves in the markets in Kathmandu: not so backward in technology.

Cheers

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: priming a white gas stove and fuel consumption on 11/08/2010 08:37:00 MST Print View

A friend of mine from the northeast made me a canister coozy this weekend for using canister stoves in the cold. He said that he used it all winter up north without issues. I was curious as to why I had never heard about this method before and why it isn't more common?

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
canister coozy (was Re:...) on 11/08/2010 10:28:02 MST Print View

>A friend of mine from the northeast made me a canister coozy this weekend for using canister stoves in the cold. He said that he used it all winter up north without issues. I was curious as to why I had never heard about this method before and why it isn't more common?


YMMV, but the problem is that a coozy is just insulation. If you start with a warm canister and very cold air, then it will help preserve the original heat. But as you use the canister, it's going to cool down (PV~T). If you use sufficient gas, the canister temp will drop enough to cause problems, and the coozy doesn't help in this case (and works against you if ambient air temp is now warmer than the canister). Thus the recommendation to use a water bath (or packed-snow bath) to ensure the canister temp remains at or above 0C (32F).