Butane vs Propane Camp Stove: Which Is Better?

Butane vs Propane Camp Stove
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Butane and propane, both combustibles and derived from petroleum, are often and commonly used as cooking fuels especially in portable stoves for camping. In this article, we will take a look at the similarities and differences of butane vs propane camp stoves. We will also find out how reliable they can be when used in stoves!

If you are a fan of outdoor activities such as camping, backpacking, trekking, and hiking, then you must have an inkling of how crucial cooking food outside the comfort of your well-equipped kitchen is. Your choice of a camp stove can be a matter of personal preference, but it will not hurt to get to know your other options. Knowing how a butane camp stove differs from a propane-fueled one might come in handy for your next camping or backpacking trip.

Butane vs Propane Camp Stove: Differences and Similarities

While making a campfire may seem easy and convenient, it is not always advisable, practical, or even legal. This is why camp stoves have become popular. Tell us, isn’t the thought of compressed fuels being portable already convinces you that it is a great idea to bring a camp stove when you go for a hike? Aside from the fact they can cook food more efficiently, they are also easier to use. But, choosing the right stove for you depends on a couple of factors such as your destination, travel itinerary, group size, and outdoor activity type.

Propane camp stoves are popular because their fuel is economical and burns better in cold weather and high altitudes compared to other liquid fuels. Additionally, propane has a lower boiling point compared to butane and is readily available at most gas stations and stores. Propane camp stoves are also dependable, sturdy, and can last most of a lifetime.

Butane camp stoves are popular because they have lightweight canisters and burners since butane is compressed at a lower pressure compared to propane. However, the biggest drawback of butane is that it does not work below freezing point and not burn well at high altitudes. Hence, butane camp stoves are not suited or designed to operate reliably in extreme weather conditions.

Most long-distance campers or backpackers prefer butane camp stoves over propane camp stoves because the former is lightweight and convenient to carry. They are also easier to use and are more compact. Butane camp stove is also affordable. Unfortunately, the fuel—butane—is not readily available in stores and gas stations, and if they were, you might have to buy in packs which is costly.

Butane and Propane: A Closer Look

We have established that both butane and propane were derived from petroleum. With that said, there are often and commonly used as cooking fuels especially in portable stoves for camping.

  • Cooking Capacity

By volume, it has been said that butane has approximately 12% more energy than propane. This means you will be able to cook longer with a liter of butane than with a liter of propane.

  • Heat Output

There is identical heat output for both, contrary to the notion that propane burns hotter than butane. They both deliver the same British thermal units (BTUs) which make neither of the flames hotter. This also means that one will not be able to cook food or boil water faster than the other.

  • Connectors

It is easier and more convenient to connect butane camp stoves to fuel containers because they have clip-style connectors compared to screw-type connectors on propane containers.

  • Boiling Point

Propane boils at -43 degrees Fahrenheit while a standard butane boils at 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Did you know that fuels for cooking must be in a gaseous state before you can use them with a stove? This means that butane will not work well if you are cooking in cold or freezing weather because it will stay in its liquid state. You will need to warm the container before you can use it in cold weather.

  • Hybrid Fuels

Many modern portable and camping stoves work with either butane or propane. However, there are also those that use butane and propane hybrid fuels. In a test done with this hybrid fuel, it was found out that propane burns off sooner than butane. Butane then finishes the job of cooking your food until the container is empty.

The Verdict

After a thorough discussion about butane vs propane camp stoves, have you already decided on which one is a better choice to bring on your next camping trip?

Well, if your destination is not that far and weight and space will not be an issue, then a propane camp stove will give you more flexibility. Plus, its fuel is easy to find and cheap. A propane camp stove should also be your choice if you will go to a place with cold weather since butane is not reliable to work in extreme weather conditions.

A butane camp stove, however, is lightweight and more convenient to carry, which are also important factors to consider if you will go on long-distance trips. Unfortunately, its fuel is not readily available, and you may even need to buy in packs in case they are available, which will be more expensive. But if you are with a large group, then this is a better option since it will allow you to cook longer compared to when you are using propane fuel.

Overall, we can say that they both have their winning attributes and drawbacks. All you have to do is to consider all the factors beforehand such as the costs, your destination and how you will get there, and the number of people you have to cook for so you can choose the camping stove that will suit your needs.

Planning and preparing for your trip and considering the factors mentioned above will allow you to enjoy your camping experience, not just the scenic views but most importantly, the food. Imagine not having to worry about your food preparation. Isn’t that great? After all, what good is a camping trip without food?

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