How To Store White Gas Safely

You know how great white gas (also called naphtha, or camp fuel) is when it comes to cooking, but how do you store it? Will it explode? What can you do to make sure it stays secure and usable?

To store white gas safely, you’ll need to make sure it’s in the original container, a sealed, clean paint can or a plastic hazardous goods container. Additionally, keep it located in a dry, cool area away from excess heat, sparks, children and pets as well as oxidizing chemicals.

Each tip offered here comes from research into exactly why certain containers work or don’t. Keep reading and you’ll see exactly why some storage conditions should be avoided while others can help you to stay safe. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be set to store your white fuel in a way that will best allow you to enjoy time spent cooking in the outdoors.

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The Best Containers/Cans For Storing White Gas Safely

Often, white gas is used to ensure you get all the light you need to see and heat you need to cook delicious meals out in the wilderness. This may come as a surprise because so many people opt to use propane for cooking. If you’re looking for a solid alternative to propane, it can’t hurt to compare white gas and propane at our article here.

Should you decide that white gas is the way you want to go, you’re going to need how to store it correctly! Continue on to the best containers to store your white gas in.

Original Containers

Often, the containers that are already being used for these kinds of fuels are designed for safety. White gas and similar fuels of other brands, like Coleman Fuel are often transported within these containers. Most of the time that means you can rely on them to contain your white gas for quite a while.

Just keep in mind that this may not apply as well if the container has been opened. Make sure that you do some research on the specific brand of white fuel you are using to ensure the safety of the original container.

Another bonus to using the container the fuel came in is that it’s already going to be labeled. If you are storing any hazardous chemical for a long time, it’s definitely in your best interest for it to be labelled properly. On top of that, it’s usually sealed. As a result, the unused fuel can last quite a bit longer. So if you’re looking for white fuel to store for the future, or for emergencies.

Paint Cans

There are many campers who choose to store their white gas in paint cans. The first thing to note here is that if you’re going to use paint cans for this purpose, they need to be brand new and clean. It’s best not to attempt to use older cans that have held paint or other substances and have been cleaned out.

A benefit of paint cans is that they can be sealed quite nicely. Furthermore, they are able to hold quite a bit of fuel. This makes them a suitable choice when you’re looking for something that will work well for longer camping trips. The nifty handle and sturdy design will keep the fuel from spilling. Label it right away with the correct information. Make sure to include the name, date that it was stored in the can and any other notes that can help to keep you safe.

Hazardous Goods Containers

Most plastic containers aren’t going to be strong enough for storing white gas. This substance can be corrosive, so you’ll want to be extremely careful with it. If plastic is typically your storage material of choice, you’ll need to go the extra mile to get plastic containers that will be able to handle containing white gas.

Instead of a typical plastic container, seek out plastic containers that are designed for handling hazardous goods. These containers are specially made to be able to handle more intense goods than leftovers. If you don’t want to end up with a potentially dangerous (or at least irritating) mess, then put in the extra effort to get containers for hazardous goods. You can typically find these stores that exclusively sell plastics.

Keeping Your White Gas Safe

Regardless of which container you’re planning to store your white gas in, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. These tips can help to keep you and your white gas safe:

  • Keep the container sealed as tightly as possible. This will help to avoid spills and other issues.
  • If you aren’t storing the white gas in the original container, make sure to label it so that you can easily tell what it is and when it’s likely to expire.
  • For backpacking, single liter amounts of white gas or Coleman Fuel are a great choice. Don’t try to use regular plastic bottles to store your gas in.

The Worst Containers To Store White Gas In

The following are containers you’ll want to avoid when you’re looking for something to keep your white gas in. There are a number of reasons why these containers are bad ideas for this fuel. Keep in mind that this doesn’t make them bad containers for other substances. White gas can just be a bit too corrosive for them.


Although glass may appear to be more durable than most plastic choices, it’s still not ideal for storing white gas in. This is largely because glass can be easily broken under the right circumstances. In a backpack or trunk that is filled with other heavy objects, you may end up with a stinky, irritating, not to mention extremely dangerous mess of both fuel and broken glass.

Avoiding glass for this purpose is going to save you a whole lot of headaches.

Water Bottles

The thin plastic you’ll find in water or soda bottles just isn’t enough for storing a corrosive fuel. It’s unlikely to be long before you have a mess, and let’s hope it’s not one that is on your hands. Considering the irritating qualities that white fuel can have, it’s best to store it somewhere it won’t get onto skin, in eyes or swallowed.

Yet another reason to avoid using bottles that are typically used for drinks is that it becomes more possible for the fuel to be consumed. Children or other unaware people may mistake the container for something that is safe for them to drink.

Gas Cans

There are plenty of cases in which gas cans work perfectly fine for storage. Standard gas that isn’t going to move often or liquids that aren’t problematic when they leak a small amount. However, it’s not the best idea to use these containers for storing white gas.

Due to the tendency to leak, you really don’t want to pack along a gas can full of white fuel in your car camping trip. At the very least, you could end up with unwanted fumes in your vehicle. Too many of those fumes without enough ventilation can become a hazard to the health of anyone in the car.

Where To Store White Gas

When you just want to keep your white gas stored away, it’s wise to know where exactly to keep it. After all, it is a hazardous substance that shouldn’t be touched, swallowed or even inhaled without the right ventilation.

Once you get your white gas into an ideal container, keep it in a place that is dry and mild in temperature. High heats can be a problem, so the area should be cool. You’ll also want to make sure it’s out of places where children or pets can get into or spill the container.

Part of this means making sure the container is hard to open. While it may be less convenient for you when you need to open it, this is going to make sure your white gas is stored safely the rest of the time.

Where To Avoid Storing White Gas

To begin with, you don’t want white gas to be anywhere that it can end up on anyone’s skin, in their eyes or mouths. Keep it off wobbly shelves, and ensure that no one can get into the container who doesn’t understand how to use the substance safely.

On top of that, keep it away from areas that contain oxidizing agents, excess heat or the ability to create sparks. These substances are just going to increase the chances of a problem. Some of those problems could result in a fire, which is something many of us would prefer to avoid in our homes.

Does White Gas Go Bad?

White Gas can go bad in a sense, because like gasoline, white gas absorbs water over time as well as other minerals making white gas burn less efficiently (less heat), and with more byproducts (more smoke). Using really old and water-saturated white gas can damage your camp stove.

Generally speaking, white gas can last somewhere around a year if you’ve already gotten into the container. The same is true for Coleman Fuel. If you have an open container, it’s best to try to use it up within a couple of months.

On the other hand, containers that haven’t been opened can last quite a bit longer. For standard varieties of white gas, a lifespan of about 2 years is about what you can expect. However, if your preference is Coleman Fuel, you can get up to 7 years of storage time from an unopened container. To learn more directly from Coleman about storing their fuel safely, take a look at their Safety Data Sheet.

Keep in mind that any brand may have a different shelf life, so you’ll want to look into whichever specific brand you choose to use. You may also find that other kinds of fuel can have different storage needs, shelf lives and more. Check out our article here for all you need to know on just about every camping stove fuel out there.

What Happens if You Improperly Store White Gas?

In the worst scenario, white gas is highly combustible, and if you store your white gas in a hot environment or one prone to sparks, then you could end up with a fire.

If you store your gas in a cool safe location but you do not put it in a sealed container, the white gas will absorb water over time, which will cause your white gas to produce soot when burned. Although not the end of the world, your gas will be much less efficient, and can gum up your liquid fuel stove.


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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