Skip to content

What Can I Do With Old Coleman Fuel?

What Can I Do With Old Coleman Fuel?

I’ve purchased a lot of Coleman Camping Fuel over the last 30 years. That’s led to a shelf in my garage filled with half filled bottles of Coleman fuel of questionable quality. Some of them are old rusty bottles from my old Boy Scout days so they have to be at least 20 years old. Camping fuel isn’t cheap so I don’t want to get rid of them, but they clog up my camping stove so they never get used. What can I do with old Coleman Fuel?

Unopened bottles of Coleman Fuel have a long shelf life of 15-20 years, but once you open up the bottles it needs to be used within 3-4 years. There’s a certain point where old camping fuel starts clogging up your fuel lines, but don’t get rid of the bottles yet. Mixing old Coleman fuel with fresh fuel will bring it back to life or you can mix it with gasoline using it in any gas powered machine.

There’s never a point where you should get rid of an old bottle of Coleman Fuel. It doesn’t matter how old the camping fuel is, you can always bring it back to life or find an alternative use for the fuel. In the rest of this post I’ll explain how to bring your old Coleman fuel back to life, find alternative uses for it, and extend the life of your fuel before putting it in long term storage.

What Can I Do With Old Coleman Fuel?

I highly doubt you’ll have any issues with an unopened bottle of Coleman Fuel. I’ve had 20 year old Coleman Fuel bottles that perform just like the day I bought it. The only time you may run into problems is if you’ve opened up a bottle and set it into storage. Fuel stabilizers start to break down after 3-4 years and leave gunked up debris in the tank.

Don’t worry! This isn’t a big issue. You should never get rid of old camping fuel. It doesn’t matter how old the fuel is, you can always bring it back to life or find alternative ways to use it. Here’s what I do with old Coleman camping fuel now that I know better. I’ll give you a brief description and then go into further detail below.

  • Refresh The Fuel: You can refresh your old camping fuel by mixing it with a newly opened bottle of fuel. Mix it at 4 parts new Coleman fuel to 1 part of the old fuel. The diluted mixture will be clean enough to avoid the fuel line clogging issues and work like brand new camping fuel. Shake it up a bit to mix everything together and it’s just like having fresh camping fuel.
  • Mix It With Regular Gas: Coleman fuel (aka white gas) is basically just highly refined gasoline without all the additives to improve engine performance. It’s cleaner than regular gas and burns like a high octane fuel, but it won’t cause any problem in gas powered engines. Top off your gas cans with camp fuel or pour it directly into your fuel tank. Just make sure there’s some gas in the tank so it won’t burn hotter than regular fuel.
  • Use It As Charcoal Lighter Fluid: Charcoal lighter fluid is a poorly refined version of kerosene and it has a similar fuel profile to camping fuel. Try using your old Coleman fuel as a replacement for lighter fluid. You’ll be surprised how well it works.

The above methods are great ways to use up old camping fuel, but there is an easy way to extend the shelf life of fuel. All you need to do is add a gasoline fuel stabilizer to prevent degradation. Coleman fuel has a 3-4 year shelf life after it’s opened, but fuel stabilizers can extend that for 2 more years.

I recommend using Stabil fuel stabilizer like you would use in any vehicle before putting it into storage. Mix a half ounce of Stabil with a gallon of Coleman fuel once it’s close to going bad. That should buy you a few years of additional shelf life.

How Do I Know If Coleman Fuels Gone Bad? What Happens If I Use Expired Coleman Fuel?

Coleman fuel is just name brand version of white gas which is a highly refined clean burning fuel source. It’s by far the cleanest fuel source for liquid fuel stoves and will rarely clog up your fuel line when fresh. The fuel lines will eventually clog up, but you shouldn’t have to clean them more than once per season.

As Coleman fuel ages you’ll start running into clogging issues. Opening up a bottle of camping fuel oxygenizes the container. The oxygen starts eating away at the fuel stabilizers breaking them down until they separate from the fuel. You can slow down the degradation with a gasoline fuel stabilizer (I recommend Stabil), but it will eventually cause clogging issues.

You will still be able to use your camping stove, but it will perform like you’re using a dirty fuel (diesel or kerosene). Camping stoves aren’t like gas powered engines. They have a simple design and if the fuel can get through the fuel lines it will light.

That’s great for stove performance, but it can be hard to tell if your fuels bad. If you’re cleaning the fuel lines more than once per camping season you probably have a fuel issue. It’s time to buy new camping fuel or refresh the fuel using the method I describe in the next section.

How To Refresh Old Coleman Fuel

Does Coleman Camp Fuel Go Bad?

You don’t need to get rid of old Coleman fuel that’s past it’s prime. Rejuvenate the old camping fuel by mixing it with a new bottle of fuel. Topping off a bottle of camping fuel will dilute the mixture making it perform like new fuel. You shouldn’t notice a drop in performance and it should fix clogging issues.

Take your old bottle of Coleman fuel and mix it at a 4:1 ratio with new fuel. Once you use a little bit of your new bottle you can make a diluted mixture with 4 parts of fresh fuel with 1 part old fuel. That will give you 99% of the performance of fresh fuel without clogging issues. Just make sure you use a fuel stabilizer this time or you’ll run into the same problem a few years down the road.

It doesn’t even need to be mixed with name brand Coleman Camping Fuel. Every brand of camping fuel is basically the same so you can mix it with any new bottle of white gas camping fuel. Go with whichever brand is the cheapest.

Mix Old Camping Fuel With Gasoline

Mix old camping fuel with gasoline

Camping fuel is very similar to regular unleaded gasoline that you get at the gas station. It burns at a slightly higher temperature so you don’t want to use it instead of gas, but it can be mixed into gasoline.

Top off your gas cans with old Coleman fuel to be used in any gas powered engine. Make sure there’s a decent amount of fuel in the gas can to dilute the mixture. Running straight white gas in an engine can cause overheating and performance issues.

You can pour the old fuel directly into your car or lawn mowers fuel tank if you want. There shouldn’t be any problems as long as there’s a few gallons of gas in the tank. Just don’t overdo it!

Using Coleman Fuel As Charcoal Lighter Fluid

Use Coleman fuel like lighter fluid

Camping fuel is a lot cheaper than charcoal lighter fluid and it works exactly the same. Use it just like you’re using regular lighter fluid. Pour a little bit of Coleman fuel on the charcoal and light it up with one of those long multipurpose BBQ lighters.

White gas is easy to light and clean burning so you shouldn’t have any problems. It won’t add a funky taste to your food and it shouldn’t give off an unpleasant smell while your cooking dinner. You’ll be surprised how well it works!

Can I Start A Campfire With Coleman Fuel?

There are a lot of people that use their old camping fuel to start campfires, but that’s not a good idea. Starting a fire with Coleman fuel is just like using gasoline. It explodes into explodes into a fireball and can be extremely dangerous.

If you choose to ignore my warnings and use camp fuel on your fire anyway, you need to take some safety precautions. Treat it just like building a fire with gasoline. Never use fuel on an already lit fire! You can use it to light the fire, but stay far away when lighting it up. The gas vapors are flammable so all it takes is an ember to light up a can of Coleman fuel.