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Lighting a White Gas Stove

Posted Sep 27 2010 9:08am
"Hey Jim, can you get some water boiling while I go collect some wood for the campfire?"

"Sure Sarah, but I forgot my stove - do you mind if I borrow yours?'

"Yeah no problem, it's in the little black bag at the front of my tent"

As Jim walks over to Sarah's tent, he wonders why a stove would be in a bag. Every stove he has ever used just fits in the pot it comes in. He normally just takes out the fuel canister inside the pot, screws it onto the base of the stove, turns on the gas and presses a button. Voila! Canister, stove, pot - all in one!

He opens up the bag to reveal some weird spider like contraption and a bright red fuel bottle with some pump attachment on it. He unscrews the pump to see what is in the bottle and immediately he hears the hissing noise of depressurization. He's kind of afraid it's going to blow up if he even looks at it too hard. This weird stove just seems way out of his league and he puts it away, awaiting Sarah's return in defeat.


Okay I know that was a horrible story, but it could happen. I have certainly had a similar situation with friends. You would think that someone you have been camping and climbing with for the past two years would be able to light a stove, and yet all they have ever used is a stove similar to the Jetboil or Reactor . They are afraid of the white gas stove, think priming is dangerous, and are too afraid to try it.

There are situations however, where using a white gas stove is clearly the better option, and if you are going to call yourself a user of the backcountry I highly suggest you learn this useful skill. Personally I find it frustrating to watch people use canister stoves while car camping because it just seems like a waste. Isobutane canisters just create more garbage and I don't feel like they should be used while car camping when white gas is the way cheaper and just as good option.

I made a quick, albeit amateur, tutorial video on how to light a white gas stove. Certainly there are nuances in the way that I light my stove, and I encourage you to comment on things you do differently.

-Andrew Yasso, Program Coordinator
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