primus stove fuel?

5:25 p.m. on January 2, 2013 (EST)
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A friend has a  a primus stove and doesn't know if he should use alcohol or kerosine? Anyone know?

6:49 p.m. on January 2, 2013 (EST)
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Which Primus? It could be anything from a modern stove to a 100 year old stove. The old school Primus stoves usually burned kerosene or possibly white gas (Coleman fuel, not auto gas), but Primus also made some that burn only alcohol. The ones I saw in NZ burned kerosene. Check on, the go-to site for stove collectors to figure out what model it is, if it's not readily apparent on the stove and what fuel it uses.

The Primus stoves I have seen burned kerosene and alcohol will not only not burn properly in them, but the may eat the rubber washers and cause the stove to leak. I have burned methylated spirits (denatured alcohol)in an MSR XGK, for example, but that was strictly off label, so I don't recommend it unless you have nothing else.

Here's a thread on why you don't burn alcohol in a SVEA 123 (similar design to a Primus)-

Here's some pictures of an alcohol Primus-

9:39 p.m. on January 2, 2013 (EST)
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Primus has made alcohol, white gas, and kerosene liquid fuel and butane and propane compressed gas stoves in the over 100 years they have been existence, since Franz Lindqvist invented the original Primus stove in 1892. So you will have to specify which model. The company started as an independent company, but over the years has been a part of Optimus (when Optimus acquired Svea as well as Primus) and Sevaert bought the rights more recently.

It would really help if you would post a photo of the stove as seen from several angles.

Tom is correct that, while people have successfully burned alcohol in Primus and other stoves designed for white gas and/or kerosene, it is not a good idea. Damage to the rubber gaskets and corrosion, as Tom mentioned, can be caused by running alcohol through these stoves. I seriously doubt that it is one of the alcohol stoves that Primus made - the burner is so much different that there really is no mistaking it.

If your friend's stove is not one of those Primus models designed for compressed gas, then it is most likely a white gas stove. The propane versions were 2 or more burners, somewhat like the Coleman 2-burner propane stoves, so no mistaking those. The kerosene versions are generally larger, and all those have pumps. Some of the white gas versions, like the 71L that I have, are "self-pressurizing", like the very similar-appearing Svea 123.

10:58 a.m. on January 3, 2013 (EST)
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Listen to Tom and Bill.  There are cases of people using the unintended fuel in Svea and Primus stoves causing explosioins.  A friend had that happen in ID Sawtooths and was eventually evacuated by helicopter to a hospital.

3:39 p.m. on January 3, 2013 (EST)
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I was able to burn denatured alcohol in my XGK because it is a pressurized stove and a very different design from most Primus stoves or the SVEA 123 (which I also have). I only did it a couple of times when I couldn't find white gas. As I said, not a good idea and MSR says don't do it.

11:56 a.m. on January 26, 2013 (EST)
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Hi All,

I have been trying to find a more specific thread to post this in, but they all seem to be "closed and not accepting new replies".... 

I have recently bought a Primus Omnifuel and have been trying to get this to run on kerosene.  I feel I may have been better off just setting fire to a load of boxes of matches and cooking on that instead....

As someone who is well acquainted with Tilley lamps and kerosene powered blowlamps, I am well accustomed to the principle of priming / preheating, but for the life of me, despite lots of trial and error, I cannot get the Omnifuel to stably and reliably burn kero.

When preheating using kero, even a very long preheat (resulting in lots of yellow flame and soot whilst the preheat fuel burns) barely results in getting the stove to light with kero vapour.  When it does, it will blow out if left at anything other than a very small flame, and that small flame soon flutters and blows out.

Switching to a gas canister (with associated jet change) shows that the stove itself works, and can produce a roaring flame akin to a jet plane on take off when it wants to.

Back on the kero (and the appropriate jet), take off is far from being achieved.  Things I have tried to try and see what might be wrong include;

  • An extra long preheat using methylated spirits so that the stove is roasting hot, before lighting the kero - This works better, and you can briefly get a bit of a roaring kero flame, until it too flutters and blows out.  At this point, the fuel emanating from the jet is very much in vapour and not liquid form.  It will relight with a match, but will not sustain the flame without the match being present - Take the match away, out goes the flame.  Unlike when the stove is only preheated on kero, the fuel is remaining vapourised.  When preheated on kero, when it flames out, we are down to liquid fuel being emitted from the jet when trying to relight.  Of course, this then just results in a yellow, sooty liquid kero flame, just above the jet.
  • Mixing some white gas with the kero (90% kero, 10% white gas) so see if that will improve the vapourisation of the fuel.
  • Every permutation under the sun of different bottle pressures, valve positions

In all cases, the outcomes are the same - The longer the time since preheating, the sooner the flame will flutter and blow out.  Also, the less likely you can open the wire simmering valve any more, or you will cause the flame to blow out.

Its like the flame is not providing any heat to the fuel tube before it exits the jet, and as the preheat heat dies away, the burner cools down and less and less vaporisation occurs.  With all the heat (for what its worth) happening an inch or 2 above the jet, and the fuel pipe coming in from below jet level, its hard to see how the flame can keep the burner hot - Unlike a Tilley lamp where the fuel passes up the vaporisation tube which is surrounded by the mantle and the burner, and a burner which sits above the flame, so is maintained hot.

Next try might be to try and run it on white gas only (again with the appropriate jet) but I was really hoping to be able to run it on 100% kero.  So far, this has been very elusive...

Any suggestions as to how to overcome this?  I just about think no further preheating can be possible, as I am already going well out spec as per the instructions by damned nearly torching the stove for 5 minutes first to get it up to heat.  At best, that yields about 2 minutes of "proper" burn time on kero, before it all goes to cock again.


4:49 p.m. on January 26, 2013 (EST)
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You could have just started a new thread once your membership was active, but nevermind.

Not sure what the problem is. Bill probably knows. I have a Nova which is a similar stove, but I've never tried burning kero in it. Maybe it's the fuel, contamination perhaps.

Are you trying to use it in cold weather? If so, take it apart and look to see if there is a small fuel filter in the line. If so, take it out. It looks (at least mine does) like a small white piece of foam. On mine the filter was at the stove end of the fuel line. I used the tool that came with it to take it apart. My stove quit working burning white gas and the filter was the problem-the filter had apparently frozen probably due to moisture in the line, but worked fine once I took out the filter. On yours, with kero, maybe the filter is just clogged up.

I just looked at the manual online on the Optimus website-there are two filters. One is at the end of the pickup tube of the pump and the other at the end of the fuel line, like I said above. I'm betting one or both of them is the problam.

When I was in NZ, some of the huts had stoves in them and I think those were buring kero, but it was a long time ago.They had the big Primus stoves and Tilley lamps if I recall correctly. They were very reliable and seemed to be maintenance free, which I'm sure is why they were there.

9:58 p.m. on January 26, 2013 (EST)
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Sorry, have come from a background of trying not to start new threads with what are I am sure, FAQ's!  Have searched and searched and cant find any advice other than "more preheat"

Fuel should be good.  Is the same kero my heating runs on day in day out without complaint.  And is only a few months old.   Its also the same fuel that the Tilley runs on, again without batting an eyelid.

Not cold weather either.  All this is happening inside the house, at the back door (door open for ventilation).  Ambient temperature at the point of test is probably 10 - 15 degrees C.

The stove is brand new, so would doubt a filter problem - But can try - I bought a service kit with it.  Would be disappointed though if filters were needing changed before even boiling the first kettle!

3:07 a.m. on January 27, 2013 (EST)
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Ok, I'm out of ideas. Pull both filters and see what happens. Next step is contact Optimus and ask them or talk to whomever you got it from. BTW, where are you?

10:11 a.m. on January 27, 2013 (EST)
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Tried it on white gas this afternoon (37 jet) and that seems to work fine, although at the bottom end of the "roar scale" it too has a tendency to flutter and blow out.  I guess thats the lower limit of what it will run at.

So, trying the kerosene again - This time of fresh fuel, and back on the 28 jet. Again, I may as well cook on matches.  Without preheating on spirit, its very hard to get it to burn properly for any length of time - And then, again, as soon as you try to turn it up, even a little, it blows out.  Again, with spirit preheating for about 5 minutes, it will burn "properly" for a minute or 2 at a lowish flame, then progressively dies down, flutters, and flames out.  Trying to turn it up usually causes it to blow out as well, unless you are fast enough on the vale to rein it in a bit and catch it before blowing it out.

I am struggling to see how the vaporising works on this stove (although it must do before others have success in getting them to run on kero or even diesel).  With the absence of a generator / vaporiser tube that is up near the flame (like on the MSR stoves for example), I cannot see how the fuel gets vaporised, once the nozzle assembly cools down from the preheat.  Its apparant that there is not enough heat conducting or radiating downwards from the flame to vaporise the fuel before it gets to the nozzle.

The only other thing I can try is different sized jets, other than that recommended by Primus to see if that helps, or increasing the mix of white gas in kero. 

And contacting the supplier too I guess! Thanks for suggestions, even though I am still drawing a blank!

10:32 a.m. on January 27, 2013 (EST)
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I very strongly second what Tom is saying about the filters. Have you tried removing them yet? I also have the Optimus stove and the filters are notorious for being problematic, almost everyone removes them and just filters their fuel before it goes in the bottle, usually through a coffee filter. The problems your explaining sound just like a fuel delivery problem and it takes absolutely nothing to clog these tiny little filters, you may have clogged it the very first time you opened the fuel line.

11:37 a.m. on January 27, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for the suggestions - Much appreciated.  In frustration, I have ended up taking the thing to bits, and putting it back together.  Not sure what I have done, or what might have been up, but it feels "different" as to how the burner sits in the "cup".  It seemed very solid, before, and now seems slightly flexible.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, something has changed as a result of its stripdown and rebuild, and 2 times out of 3, I have now got it to burn 100% kero!  Enjoying a cup of coffee made on it as we speak.  The filters are still in, and short of stripping and rebuilding, I have not really done anything that I am aware of.  But now when lighting up, its right to a roaring blue flame that you can turn up as high as you want, without it snuffing itself out.   The only thing I cant achieve yet is getting to light up by priming with kerosene only - It just doesn't get hot enough, despite enough flames, smoke and soot being generated to almost attract the attention of the local fire brigade.  Priming it with spirit however works, and seems to get it hotter with a lot less drama.  I just need to se if I can find out now if there are any bits of it that might not take too kindly to spirit flame for a few minutes.

Not sure if some of the trouble arises from using "standard" kerosene, i.e. 28 sec heating oil, and not lamp grade "pink" paraffin   But if the stove can use diesel (35 sec) then that should not be a problem.

Anyway, with the aid of spirit, we can now get it lit, so an awful lot closer to satisfaction than before.  When it cools down, I'll maybe strip it down again to see if I can get a better understanding of what I have done to it, and watch out for what could stop it behaving in the future.

Many thanks for the suggestions - Will watch those filters, and maybe even remove them.

9:04 p.m. on January 27, 2013 (EST)
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It's possible there was some kind of obstruction in the fuel line, hard to say from a distance. One thing to take would be a small squeeze bottle of meths to prime it. It is possible that kero just doesn't burn hot enough to get the stove at operating temperature when using it for priming fuel. The burner probably feels different because once you pull it off, the tabs are bent out slightly and don't fit quite as tight as they do when factory mounted.

10:55 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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Kiwi, I am just wondering if you have to high a tank level... I am not really sure what your stove looks like, but the Svea 123's can have a over filled gas tank and will run like that no matter what you do until the tank is more like 2/3rds full.

I pre heat these sveas too with sterno in the alloy pot that comes with said stove.

That was a sharp lesson a few weeks ago as i had forgotten and was fiddling with one of my 3, having problems just like you with naptha gas.

I almost ripped the stove down, but then I recalled stoves with self contained tanks need air space.

Also if the K-1 has red dye, the all knowing tax agents have added more red dye... That red dye is glazing my aladdin lamps wicks like mad.... I have to clean these wicks each 3 rd day now, and I run 3 to 4 for light and heat all winter. Red dye was bad before and I needed to de glaze wicks about each 14 days, which was working compared to clear K-1.

Now it's almost of no use this blasted red dye, and the lamps run a bit more dirty as well Thanks EPA, for nothing.....

June 18, 2018
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