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There’s a special “winter” gas mix available for gas stoves. How is it different from the usual propane/butane mix and why does it work better in low temperatures? (Does it work better in lower temperatures? :-)

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

While there seem to be a few different mixtures, key to them all is a lower vapourisation temperature requirement and lower viscosity so they are easier to ignite.

In cold weather, normal fuel may not flow will or may not be able to light as it won't vapourise.

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Different gasses have different boiling points. Under boiling point the gas is liquid and don't have enough pressure to come out from the canister (if used in upright).

The boiling points of usual gasses used in (camping) gas stoves are:

  • Propane: −42.25 to −42.04 °C
  • Butane: −1 to 1 °C
  • Iso-butane: −13 to −9 °C

source Wikipedia: Propane, butane and isobutane.

The propane is the best gas to use in cold winter as it will stay gas in really cold temperatures.

However, the vapor pressure of propane is really high (see Wikipedia) compared to for example butane (see Wikipedia) which means 100% propane needs heavy steel canister to hold the gas adding more weight for backpaking. Making a solution of, for example 70% butane and 30% propane, will allow for more light weight aluminium canister and decrease the boiling point to be suitable for colder weather.

See also:

  1. http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_GasStoves.htm
  2. http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Mixtures.htm
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