Coleman Fuel will last a long time, but not forever.
Typically speaking, Coleman Propane Cylinders can be stored indefinitely in a cool, dry, dark place like a garage or basement. You can safely store the trademarked white gas called Coleman Fuel for five to seven years if it is sealed or two to three years after you have opened it.
If you use fuel that has gone bad, you’ll probably wreck your stove by clogging it with some pretty nasty gunk. To avoid a very messy clean-up and a night without a hot meal, it’s best to use your gas before it expires.
This article gives you some tips so that you can tell when your Coleman Fuel has gone bad. I’ll also suggest some cheaper alternatives if you want to save a few bucks on your camping fuel.
Coleman Fuel Versus Coleman Propane Cylinders
First, I want to make sure you understand the difference between Coleman Fuel and Coleman Propane Cylinders.
With the propane cylinders, you just screw your stove or camping lantern right onto them. They are easy to use and convenient, though they are on the expensive side compared to white gas.
Coleman Fuel is a trademarked brand of white gas. You buy this type in a metal container and pour it directly into your white gas stove or lantern.
Typically, you need to use a built-in pump to create pressure, which will eventually force the gas through the fuel line so that you can use your kit.
Propane Cylinders Expiration
If you look after them properly, propane cylinders will probably never go bad. You can store them indefinitely in your garage so long as you keep them cool and dry.
But remember, these are disposable cylinders. You shouldn’t attempt to refill a fuel canister designed for one-time use. It’s just not worth the risk!
Coleman Fuel Expiration
You need to use an opened container of Coleman Fuel within two to three years. You also need to keep it in dry and dark conditions, like in a garage or attic, or it could go bad sooner.
If your gas changes in smell, becomes darker, or has rust floating on it, I would not use it anymore.
Coleman Fuel Versus White Gas
Coleman Fuel is a branded white gas, which is a mixture of different fuel types used for camping stoves.
You can buy unbranded white gas much more cheaply, but Coleman gas tends to last longer due to stabilizers and additives.
Is the price hike worth it? It’s hard to say.
I use propane cylinders rather than white gas. If I did use white gas, I probably wouldn’t spend the extra money on the Coleman version. But I’m not a qualified gas engineer, so I’m happy to be corrected in the comments if someone knows better.
Making Coleman Fuel Last Longer
I’ve seen people online suggesting mixing old Coleman Fuel and fresher white gas at specific ratios or adding stabilizers to their fuel. Honestly, I think that’s overcomplicating things.
You can get Coleman Fuel for about $12 a gallon, and unbranded white gas is a fraction of that price. So even if you buy the premium product, you’re looking at a maximum of $4 a year if you don’t use it all up in time.
Honestly, the cheaper fuel burns almost exactly the same, and both of them are safe for your appliances. Despite the subtle differences, you’d probably be okay with the cheapest option.
Instead of taking risks getting inventive with white gas, try to be sensible with how much you buy. In that case, you’ll have a good three years to use it up before it goes bad. (And if you aren’t going to use it all in time, you can always give it to a friend who loves camping and tell them when it needs to be used by.)
What if you find a rusty old bottle in the garage and you can’t remember when you bought it?
Just dispose of it responsibly. For the sake of a few dollars, it’s not worth being stuck without cooking facilities when you need them.
How do I know if my Coleman Fuel is bad?
If you’re unsure about whether your Coleman Fuel is okay to use, you can pour some into a glass and compare it to the gas from a fresher canister. If it looks and smells the same, you should be fine. If it looks darker and smells weird, it’s probably not good to use.
Can you refill Coleman Gas bottles?
Coleman Propane Gas Cylinders are disposable, and you shouldn’t attempt to refill them. As tempting as it is to do your bit for the planet, this is one area where you need to be careful. Forcing the valves on flammable gas cylinders is a recipe for a nasty injury.
How can I dispose of Coleman Fuel?
Regulations are different depending on where you live. Your safest bet is to take things like Coleman Fuel and Gas Cylinders to a recycling center or waste facility, where they can be dealt with appropriately.
Putting these substances in the regular trash can be dangerous, causing accidental fires during the crushing process, even if the bottle seems empty. Don’t forget to burn off excess gas before you hand them over.
Can I recycle my Coleman Gas canister at home?
You shouldn’t put any gas canister or fuel bottles in household recycling, but you can sometimes recycle them at a center.
Can I use Coleman Fuel with my Jet Boil or MSR?
You will have to choose a gas canister that matches your stove type because some of them screw into place, while others lock with push and click.
Coleman Fuel can technically go bad, but not for years. So long as you aren’t buying it in vast quantities, you don’t have to worry about it going off before you can use it.
The good news is that you can tell if the gas has gone off by sight and smell, so you should be able to identify a dodgy bottle before you’ve trashed your stove.
I really wouldn’t bother trying to mix bad and good fuel because you’re more likely to waste perfectly good gas than bring your old stuff back to life.
I hope you found this article helpful, and I wish you many happy camping adventures!
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Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.