Fuel Cannister swapping

1:51 p.m. on December 30, 2002 (EST)
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Chris Sanford had posted a question regarding swapping of fuel cannisters, to which I posted a reply, just before the site went down. This appears to be one of the small number of posts that did not get recovered. So here is what I remember of the answer I posted.

The short answer is that you can use any of the cannisters that fit the coupling of your stove. The specific stove that Chris asked about, IIRC, was the SnowPeak. This stove takes the "industry-standard threaded fitting". Other manufacturers making cartridges with this coupling include MSR, Markill (imported to this country by VauDe), Primus, Coleman (one of 4 or 5 different fitting systems made or imported by Coleman), and a few others, including some generic ones from SE Asia. These all have some mixture of butane with some small amount of isobutane and propane. There may be a few cartridges with only pure butane, but almost all have added propane and/or isobutane to help with the cold weather problem. MSR has a pure isobutane cartridge. All of these will work in any of the stoves having the standard threaded coupling at temperatures above 40 or 50F. Butane's vaporization temperature is around freezing, so pure butane's performance falls rapidly at cold temperatures and is unusable below freezing unless you use one of several methods of heating the cartridge. Isobutane has a vaporization temperature of 14F, so works much colder. Propane has a vaporization temperature of about -47F, so pure propane would work at just about any temperature. However, pure propane requires a much stronger container (hence much heavier) to hold enough gas to do much cooking or heating. Mixtures with propane work better than pure butane, but still have cold weather problems.

Camping Gaz (also called Bleuet, owned by Coleman) has a similar coupling on its 270 and 470 series cartridges, but unthreaded. Stoves using the threaded coupling will not mate with the Gaz cartridges, with the exception of the MSR Superfly. Gaz 100, 200, and 206 series cartridges are puncture-type and only can be used with Gaz stoves of the same series and some SE Asian copies. However, Markill makes an adapter for the 200 and 206 cartridges (and Asian versions of those) which attaches to the standard threaded coupling.

Coleman also makes the Maxx series cartridges (for their "X" stoves, like the Xtreme and Xpedition). These have a special coupling to accomodate their interesting internal design. The internal fuel pickup of the Maxx cartridges swivels to stay in the liquid butane in the cartridge, which allows these stoves to be used at much lower temperatures than you might expect for butane mixes. I have seen them used at 5F, and have been told of usage at 0F.

10:56 a.m. on January 3, 2003 (EST)


MSR has a pure isobutane cartridge.

The MSR IsoPro canisters aren't pure Isobutane. They contain an 80% "isobutane" and 20% propane mix according to the MSR web site. The problem with "isobutane" (the Primus canisters also contain isobutane but less of it than the MSR containers) is that there's no way for us to know how much of the gas in the canister is _really_ isobutane (as opposed to n-butane, the difference is in the molecules, straight for n-butane and branched for isobutane) since the gas that is sold wholesale under the trade name "isobutane" could be anything from 51% and up of true isobutane. The rest of it could be common n-butane, or propane or a mix of the two.

And it seems like MSR aren't willing to stand by their claims that it's 80% _isobutane_ since the declaration of contents on the canisters in Europe simply says "butane/propane mixture", no mention of isobutane and no percentages.

May 23, 2018
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