A BUYER'S GUIDE TO MULTI-FUEL STOVES

A buyer’s guide to multi-fuel stoves

10. November 2016
The robust and flexible Optimus - Hiker - multifuel stove

The robust and flexible Optimus – Hiker – multifuel stove

Feeling adventurous? All sorts of exciting destinations from Scandinavia to Patagonia are on the to-do list and you need a new stove. But, which one should you go for? Well, it should work everywhere, no matter how far away you are from civilization.

Pure gas stoves are out of the question because you won’t get the gas canisters you need all over the world.

If you haven’t got a fixed destination and you want to have a reliable stove at all times, then you’ll be better off with a white gas or multi-fuel stove. White gas stoves can burn petroleum distillates like white gas or or paraffin (kerosene). This is an enormous advantage, as these fuels are available almost worldwide.

However, if you also want to have the option of using unleaded petrol as a fuel, then we recommend buying a multi-fuel stove.

How they work

Burns gasoline, diesel and kerosen - the Optimus Nova

Burns gasoline, diesel and kerosen – the Optimus Nova

White gas stoves usually have a separate bottle into which the fuel can be filled. A small pump builds up pressure in the bottle in order to transport the liquid fuel through the fuel line to the burner. Before reaching the burner, the fuel is fed into a generator or generator loop where the fuel is converted from liquid into gas. The newly formed gas is then channelled through a nozzle and atomised. Above this nozzle is a small baffle, where the gas is swirled, and finally burned in a swirling motion. This is how the typical snarl of gas stoves are made, which could wake up the entire camp in the morning, depending on the stove.

Those who find the roar to be too loud in the morning should have a look at the PRIMUS Omnilite TI. This stove can be equipped with a silencer to reduce the noise.

 Always close the fuel bottles tightly

Always close the fuel bottles tightly

To start the whole burning process, the stove must be preheated. One way to do this is to open the valve of your fuel bottle and allow a bit of the fuel out into the priming pan at the bottom of the stove. Then light it so that your stove will heat up. When the flame begins to slowly extinguish, slowly turn the stove knob on. Then you should be ready to cook. If, however, you didn’t preheat the stove long enough and the flame goes out, you should always wait until the stove is completely cooled down before repeating, otherwise you run the risk of unpleasant flare-ups.

If you are afraid of gas flare ups during preheating, you can also use priming paste or ESBIT cubes. These burn controlled, without flare ups and preheat the stove nicely.

In order for you to use different types of fuel, you need to change the nozzle according to your chosen stove type. These are always included and can easily be changed with appropriate tools. However, there are now stoves available like the Optimus Polaris, for which a nozzle change is no longer needed.

Why a multi-fuel stove?

Multifuel stoves work even in extreme temperatures

Multifuel stoves work even in extreme temperatures

The advantage of these stoves is quite obvious: they burn almost every liquid fuel. They have proven to be effective for decades – even Amundsen used a PRIMUS stove when he made his way to the South Pole. The stoves are robust and can take quite the beating. The Primus Omnifuel or the MSR XGK have been tried and tested on countless expeditions on every continent and in all sorts of weather. They are in constant development and highly reliable.

Liquid fuels are available anywhere where cars, planes or boats are. However, we recommend using white gas if and when available. If you use, diesel, for example, you’ll notice how dirty it is and how much soot it produces. This means that the stove and its components as well as used pots and pans are sometimes left with a massive build-up of soot. So, you’ll definitely need to clean your equipment from time to time. The same goes for the nozzles.

Furthermore, multi-fuel stoves like the PRIMUS Omnifuel or the OPTIMUS Polaris can also be operated using normal gas canisters without any problems. This makes them extremely versatile!

What should you keep in mind before and during your trip?

Before heading off, make sure you practice using your gas stove in order to avoid any unwanted surprises. If you are not careful during preheating, it can lead to flare ups. After all, none of us would ever want to burn up our tent catches in a snowstorm at -30 °C , and this has even been known to happen to the most experienced adventurers.

 The popular Primus Omni Fuel in action. Foto by D. Erixon/Primus

The popular Primus Omni Fuel in action. Foto by D. Erixon/Primus

You should always carry a service kit with you and should practice repairing and doing maintenance on your stove before you set out. Make sure you know how to replace a defective seal, change the fuel and free the stove of soot, etc.

And, most important of all: obsessively make sure that your fuel bottle is properly closed. Fuel leaks are not fun and can end up ruining the whole trip if all your gear smells like diesel or paraffin.

When purchasing a white gas or multi-fuel stove, you should make sure that it has a stable stand. It should be practical, intuitive to use and you should be able to do maintenance on it without having to have a master’s degree in engineering. Those of you who use heat exchanger pots should make sure they are compatible with the stove.

Travelling with fuel

Something that requires special consideration is air travel with gas stoves. As hazardous materials such as petrol or paraffin are prohibited on airplanes, you should never travel with a filled fuel bottle in your luggage. It is also recommended that you thoroughly clean the stove, including the fuel bottle, before the flight. Otherwise, you may just find a little note in your luggage instead of the stove, stating that your stove has been removed for safety reasons. You can clean your fuel bottle by using a certain carbonated soft drink…

Conclusion

White gas and multi-fuel

White gas and multi-fuel

If you keep all these things in mind, using a multi-fuel stove is neither dangerous nor very complicated. But, it’s always a good idea to follow the user’s manual and practice using the stove. Then you will be perfectly prepared for all sorts of trips all over the world.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask our customer service. Ronald , our expert on white gas and multi-fuel stoves, is available on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. He can be reached by phone +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or by email.

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