I have an MSR whisperlite international stove. Can I mix fuels when both require the same jet?

Background: When backpacking I often just carry one fuel bottle, filled with white gas. On my last trip I was running low on fuel and wanted to stock up. The only fuel I was able to get was unleaded gasoline. I didn't want to waste the white gas I had left, and wasn't sure if I could just fill up the bottle with the gasoline, mixing the fuels. Has anyone experienced or heard of adverse effects mixing fuels?

3 Answers 3


Not all fuels mix well. However, in the case of white gas and unleaded gasoline, one is basically a (much) cleaner version of the other, so you're not mixing so much as diluting the white gas with its inferior (for cooking) sibling.

Still, you would get better performance out of the remaining white gas if you don't mix it with the unleaded. There's really nothing stopping you from carrying the gasoline in a lightweight bottle (say, a plastic water bottle, or an old nalgene. Just be sure to mark it very well and dispose of it responsibly afterward to make sure nobody drinks from it) and filling it into the stove fuel bottle after you've used up the clean white gas.

Another issue with using fuels other than white gas in the whisperlite is that they burn dirtier. There is more carbon buildup in the stove, and you will likely have to service it or unclog it sooner with more usage of less clean fuels. So make sure you have the tools and the know-how for disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling your stove in the field (obviously, you should only disassemble the parts that are clogged in the field, and then do the complete service at home when you return from your trip.)

Now, the caveat emptor with burning gasoline in your camp stove is that this gasoline isn't really designed for cooking and heating, but is intended primarily for automotive purposes. As such, it has many additives and dyes in it that are toxic and or dirty, and you should make sure to minimize skin contact and inhalation of fumes as much as possible. More importantly, wash your hands with soap after handling the stove and gasoline, and ESPECIALLY BEFORE HANDLING FOOD!

Then again, the above precautions should be taken with regular white gas as well... So yeah.

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    I'm reading that white-gas / "Coleman Fuel" is actually Naphtha, which is similar to, but different from unleaded gasoline (beyond just the additives). Both, however, use the same jet on the Whisperlite International. +1 for just use the white gas till it's gone then switch to gasoline.
    – Lost
    Jan 8, 2013 at 4:32
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    Don't try to store gas in a plastic bottle. Gas can dissolve some plastic. Jan 24, 2013 at 21:05
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    @sixtyfootersdude that is true. Recycling code 1 plastic (pop bottles) generally work well. The same is true for hot fluids, by the way, so if you're filling up a bottle with hot water from a stove... Make sure it's made of the kind of material that doesn't leach stuff into water at boiling temperatures.
    – Nisan.H
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:19
  • I'm curious to find out which of the most commonly available fuels don't "mix well" and in what respect?
    – RogerB
    Aug 8, 2014 at 15:49

I have successfully used mixtures of gasoline, diesel and kerosine in various portions and had no problems that couldn't be solved by swapping to the other jet. Use the suck it and see approach works fine without getting technical.

If availability is an issue and it comes to hot dinner or raw dinner are you really going to be that picky which fuel you use, I mean that is why you bought a multi-fuel stove right?

On the additive issue, most automotive fuels will have these wherever you are so don't use your stove in an enclosed space. All hydrocarbon fuels will consume oxygen and generate carbon monoxide/dioxide so this is just good practice anyway.


The issue here isn't about mixing fuels since white gas basically is gasoline. The difference is that commonly available "gasoline" as used in cars for example, contains a lot of additives. These can leave residue and deposits, cause corrosion, and make the combustion products more toxic. This is the point of "white gas". It's gasoline without all the stuff in it commonly added, and in some cases mandated, for transportation use.

If it were OK to use common gasoline in camp stoves, there would be no point to using white gas or "Coleman fuel" as it is sometimes called here in the US. Look at the owner's manual of your stove carefully. I suspect it warns against using ordinary "unleaded gasoline" intended for cars.

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    The Whisperlite Internataional and Universal versions can burn unleaded gasoline just fine. It's not recommended because it's dirtier, causes more carbon buildup that can clog up the stove, and often has automotive additives that are toxic through both skin contact and breathing.
    – Nisan.H
    Jan 7, 2013 at 4:23
  • @Nisan: It seems like you are just repeating what I said. What point are you trying to make? Jan 7, 2013 at 13:10
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    +1 for concerns about additives, -1 for not bothering to see that MSR's website for the stove specifically says it burns unleaded auto fuel. The point of the whisperlite international and similar stoves is that while white gas is better burning, it's not available everywhere in the world, while automotive fuels are available pretty much wherever there are people. Jan 7, 2013 at 16:09
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    OlinLathrop the point I was making was that that stove is perfectly capable of burning regular unleaded gasoline, by design, as @whatsisname pointed out. The second part of my comment, which did repeat much of your answer, is intended to explain why white gas is preferable even though the stove can work with unleaded gasoline just fine. I apologize for any confusion.
    – Nisan.H
    Jan 7, 2013 at 22:18
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    @OlinLathrop: because your line "If it were OK to use common gasoline in camp stoves", implies that it is not OK, which is inaccurate. Jan 10, 2013 at 4:29

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