There exist a plethora of different camping fuels, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your cooking equipment (mainly the used stove/burner) and the environmental conditions it is generally quite important to know which fuel to buy and use.

This is made a lot harder by the many different names that are used all over the world for the same fuel types - and aggravated by the fact that some of the translations actually do use the same terms, but to describe entirely different fuel types.1

What are the different names for the most common camping fuel types in:

  • English (US, UK, CAN)
  • German
  • French
  • Spanish
  • ... ?

The goal is to provide a list of translations that allows prospective campers to look up which terms to use in the area they're planning to go to ensure they'll actually get the right fuel.

1: E.g. German knows the term 'Petrol' but it means something completely different than petrol in US or UK English - and if you were to try to burn Petrol in your petrol stove, you would have a bad timeTM (and vice versa)...


Below a list of common camping fuels and their translated names.

Please do leave a comment and/or edit this answer if you think there are errors or if you can fill the gaps or provide more information.

Note that some of the listed substances are not frequently used as fuel, but I think listing them can be useful to avoid misunderstandings.

White Gas (US English)

  • UK English: White Gas AKA Coleman fuel
  • CAN English: Naphtha
  • German: Reinbenzin / Rohbenzin
  • Austraila/New Zealand : White Spirit.

(Chemical Name Naphtha, 5-6 Carbon Atoms, Boiling point 30°C-90°C)

Propane/Butane/Isobutane Gas (universal)

  • Propane/Butane/Isobutane are chemical compounds and as such the terms are more or less universally used in the same sense.

(Butane - 4 Carbon Atoms, Boiling point 0°C, (isoButane −11.7 °C ) Propane - 3 carbon, Boiling point -40°C)

Note that isobutane/propane mixtures are the most common fuel type for canister stoves (e.g., Jetboil stoves, MSR Pocket Rocket, Optimus Crux, Snow Peak GigaPower, ...). Most of these manufacturers also produce their own branded canisters (e.g., Jetboil's JetPower, MSR's IsoPro, Optimus's Energy Fuel, ...), which are generally interchangeable up to 1) form factor/sizing and 2) slight variations in the ratio of isobutane/propane. Some are even produced in the same factory and just branded differently. The two common outliers are Campingaz, which uses a clamping connection as opposed to the threaded connection of MSR/Jetboil/Optimus, and Coleman Propane Fuel (16oz green bottle) which has a much larger thread.

--> In short, if it looks like it will attach to your canister stove and lists isobutane/propane as the contents, it should work.

Kerosene (US English)

  • UK English: Paraffin
  • German: Petroleum / Petrol / Lampenöl (lit. 'lamp oil')
  • India: Kerosene
  • Russia: Керосин

(10 - 16 Carbon atoms, boiling point 150-275°C )

Rarely used as cooking camping fuel. Most often used as fuel for lamps, e.g. in vintage oil lanterns and other similar devices.

Gasoline/Gas (US English)

  • UK English: Petrol
  • German: Benzin
  • India: Petrol
  • Russia: Бензин

(4-14 Carbon Atoms, Boiling point 85 °C )

What is still put in most cars. Comes in a rather wide variety of octane-content, leaded / unleaded and some variants come with oil-additives (for two-stroke engines). --> Take note of what your stove can handle.

(Denatured) Alcohol/Ethanol (US English)

  • UK English: Meths / Methylated spirit(s)
  • German: Brennspiritus
  • French: alcool à brûler
  • Swedish: Rödsprit
  • Norwegian: Rødsprit
  • Icelandic: Raudsprit
  • Portuguese: álcool de queimar / álcool desnaturado / álcool 95%
  • Dutch: spiritus
  • India: spirit / alcohol
  • Russia: спирт (rare according to this page)

(Mostly Ethanol ( C2H5OH ) with poisonous additives )

Generally burns with a barely visible, blue flame. Used as fuel for the traditional Trangia stoves, and also for most DIY soda can stoves.

Methanol (US/Can English)

  • Methyl alcohol
  • Russia: метиловый спирт, метанол

Mineral Spirits, Stoddard solvent (US/CAN English)

  • UK English: White spirit
  • AU/NZ English: Mineral turpentine
  • German: Terpentinersatz / Testbenzin
  • Russia: Уайт-спирит

( So-called turpentine substitute. Petroleum distillate, 7-12 carbon atoms )

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