Butane Vs Isobutane Vs Propane – Which Is Better?

When it comes to camping, there are a few different fuel types that you can look at. Fuel is a very important source for lighting your stove or fuelling some of your small devices. But which is the best out of butane, isobutane or propane?

The short answer is: It depends on what you need from your fuel. There are many factors that will determine this and we’ll go over them below.

You’ll need to look at how long some of these fuel sources will last, how long they will burn for, how clean they are, and how easily they will become contaminated. All of these factors will determine the type of fuel that you will need for your camping trip or home barbecue setup.

Butane Vs Isobutane Vs Propane – Which Is Better

The Different Fuel Types – A Breakdown


Propane is a gas that has been used in homes since the early 1900s. The gas was first made by compressing natural gas into liquid form. This liquid form of propane could then be stored in tanks and used as needed.

It’s one of the most common fuels used today because of its ease of use and reliability. It burns cleaner than other fuels, so when it does get dirty, it tends to stay clean longer.

However, if the tank leaks, it can cause an explosion. If you have a leaky tank, make sure to call a professional immediately.

This is sold in canisters that generally come in either smaller 1 lb canisters or larger canisters that are around 20 lbs.


Isobutane is another popular fuel for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s also known as “natural” gas and is a mixture of methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6).

This mixture makes up about 90% of all-natural gas found underground. In fact, it’s the second-most abundant gas after helium.

This particular fuel has a lot of uses and is often used in cooking stoves, grills, lanterns, torches and even car engines. It’s extremely versatile and easy to work with.

One thing to note though is that isobutane can be hazardous to breathe in high concentrations. You should always wear proper safety equipment when using this fuel.


Butane is a flammable gas that is commonly used in household appliances such as hair dryers, paint sprayers, kerosene heaters and more.

This fuel is great for camping trips because it’s safe to use around children and pets. It’s also much easier to transport than propane or isobutane.

However, butane is not recommended for cooking stoves. It’s too volatile and can explode if mixed with oxygen.

If you’re looking for a safer alternative to butane, try using propane instead.

White Gas

White gas is a mix of propane and air. This type of fuel is commonly used for welding and cutting metals. White gas is also used in some commercial kitchens.

These are sold in containers that measure about 1 quart and they can be bought in most hardware stores.

How Long Do These Fuels Last?

All three of these fuels are very reliable and can be used for years without any problems. However, there are things that can affect their lifespan. Some of the major ones include:

  • Storage conditions
  • Oxygen content
  • Age of the container
  • Use

The storage conditions play a big role in how long these fuels will last. For example, storing them in direct sunlight will shorten their lifetime.

Also, if you store them outside, they may freeze and crack over time. So keep them away from extreme temperatures and don’t leave them out overnight.

Another factor that affects how long these fuels will remain useful is the amount of oxygen present in the atmosphere. Oxygen oxidizes the chemicals within the fuel, causing them to break down faster.

So if your tanks are exposed to air, they’ll degrade quicker. To avoid this, seal your tanks tightly and make sure that you never let them sit idle for extended periods of time.

Lastly, age plays a huge part in how long these fuels last. The older the container gets, the less likely it is to hold pressure.

So if you find yourself running low on one of these fuels, it might be best to replace it before it breaks completely.

How Available Is Each Fuel?

Propane is available everywhere. If you have a local gas station, you should be able to buy it easily.

Isobutane is only available in certain parts of the country. But if you live near an oil refinery, you can usually get it delivered directly to your home.

You can usually find Isobutane at your local store, although if you live in a mountainous area or you are camping, then you might have to find a gas station to buy it.

Butane is widely available throughout the US. Most people who need this fuel will be able to purchase it in bulk at their local grocery store.

Of all three, then butane might be the hardest fuel source to acquire. This is because most stoves do not run on pure butane, so there is not so much of a demand for it.

When it comes to white gas, it’s pretty easy to obtain. You can typically find it at many hardware stores. And since it’s made up of both propane and air, you can even find it at places like Costco.

How Compatible Is The Fuel With Your Stove?

How Compatible Is The Fuel With Your Stove

Each of these fuels has its own unique qualities. They each work with different types of stoves.

We would say that most types of stoves run on propane, which is widely available. However, we know that there are other types of stoves that use white gas.

If you are using a backpacking stove, then it is more than likely that you’ll be using white gas or propane.

If you are running a stove on butane, then you might run into some issues. As mentioned above, it is much harder to find butane in stores, so you might have to do a bit of hunting around.

How Much Does Each Fuel Cost?

As you can imagine, the cost of these fuels varies greatly depending on where you live. In general, propane costs about $0.30 per gallon.

The price of these fuels also depends on what type of fuel you want. For example, propane is generally cheaper when purchased in large quantities.

This is because you don’t have to pay as much per unit of volume. So if you’re buying a tank of propane, you will probably end up paying less than if you were purchasing a single bottle.

The cheapest type of fuel is white gas. It is sold by weight instead of volume. So you will pay more per pound than you would if you were buying a gallon of propane.

Isobutane tends to be the most expensive fuel. Because it is a mixture of propane and air, it is very hard to measure exactly how much you have.

So you will often end up paying more per ounce than you would if you had bought a gallon of propane or white gas.

So if you plan to make multiple trips to the store, it might be better to just stock up on a few gallons of propane. Then you won’t have to worry about having enough fuel for every trip.

How Well Does Each Fuel Burn?

The efficiency at which your fuel burns all depends on the type of stove that you are using.

For example, most stoves that burn white gas tend to be quite efficient. That means they will heat up quickly and produce lots of energy.

If you are using a camp stove, then it is going to take longer to heat up. If you are cooking something hot, then you may not notice any difference between the two.

However, if you are boiling water, then you will see a big difference. A camp stove will boil water faster than a white gas stove.

What About Safety?

While propane is considered safer than white gas, it does still carry risks.

One risk is that it could explode. If you are storing it outside, then this is unlikely to happen. But if you are storing it inside, then you should keep an eye out for leaks.

How Well Does Your Fuel Tolerate The Cold?

Isobutane and propane generally do not do well in cold weather and burn very inefficiently. They both require a lot of heating before they become useful.

Propane tanks freeze easily, so you need to protect them from freezing temperatures. You can either put them in a garage or basement, or you can buy a special propane heater.

Isobutane doesn’t freeze, but it does get very cold. So you will need to use extra care when transporting it.

You can usually transport it safely in the trunk of your car. However, if you are planning to leave it there overnight, then you should wrap it in blankets or bubble wrap.

Propane generally does better in colder temperatures than butane and isobutane.

However, if you really want a fuel that will stand the cold temperatures, then we would definitely recommend white gas. This is because this gas is liquid, and the boiling temperature is much lower.

How Easy Are These Fuels To Store?

When it comes to storage, you’ll want to think about the size of your fuels.

White gas is relatively easy to store. All you need to do is keep it away from moisture and oxygen, as this contains moisture that will cause your white gas to rust.

Butane and isobutane are generally considered very easy to store. They are sold in smaller canisters, so you can put them away in your garage without them taking up too much space.

Propane can be sold in larger canisters, but it’s also heavier. It’s best to keep it stored somewhere where it won’t move around.

You can put isobutane canisters in your backpack but you’ll need to be careful with how you pack them.

You can also put propane canisters in your suitcase. Just be sure to keep them away from anything flammable.

Which Is More Efficient?

The main advantage of white gas over other types of fuel is its efficiency.

This means that it will give off less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In fact, it is one of the cleanest burning fuels available.

It also burns cleaner than propane, as it has more additives that cause pollution.

If you have a small amount of fuel left after doing some camping, then you might consider buying another canister.

Our Final Say

We’ve looked at all three of these fuels: butane, isobutane and propane. We’ve compared their pros and cons, and we’ve found that white gas is by far the most efficient.

It’s also the safest. As it’s made up of only hydrogen and oxygen, it cannot explode like other gases.

So if you’re looking for something that is safe and efficient, then we’d strongly suggest using white gas, although propane comes a close second because of its availability and efficiency.

About the author

Jesse Blaine

Jesse is the owner of LeesAdventureSports.com, contributes to a lot of the material, and directs day-to-day operations. He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and loves the outdoors. He’s an avid skier, hiker, kiteboarder, and adventure sports explorer. Jesse has also traveled the world and lived in five different countries. He speaks several languages and loves communicating with people

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