Paraffin vs Petrol

August 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

It's pretty apparent that I prefer the classic stoves over the more modern ones!  That doesn't mean that I don't own a few of the more recent stoves though!  However, an important consideration for me is which fuel.

Simply put, pressure stoves can use paraffin or petrol (and some meths too but we'll ignore that for now!)

This is a small paraffin stove - the Primus 96.  It's a one - two man stove but with a lot of power for its small size!

Primus 96 paraffin camp stove This is a stove I will happily use indoors (safely) which I have done on many occasions - it's perfect for brewing coffee on in the perculator which can't be used on a modern electric hob...

This is a small petrol stove - the Optimus 80.  It's a one man stove only - the tin underneath is a combined tin AND pot holder so that gives you an idea of the size of pots that can be used with it (hint, not very large!).  The SVEA 123 in my previous post also runs on petrol but one can use larger pots on it!

Optimus 8- petrol stove Funnily enough, I don't use this indoors...  Interestingly, it is safe enough to use indoors if nothing goes wrong and it doesn't overheat.  If it does overheat, there is a safety valve.  If that opens, pressure is released from the stove body along with a cloud of petrol vapour.  I shouldn't need to explain why this could be very bad - especially indoors!  (Remember that the stove would still be lit at the time of the pressure release and that petrol vapour is highly flammable).

So why does the Optimus 80 have an automatic pressure relief valve and the Primus 96 not?  Simply, the Optimus 80 self pressurizes, there is no pump to pressurize the fuel as due to the volativity of petrol it isn't needed (unless you're in the arctic!).

With the Primus 96, the flame is easily controllable by manually opening the pressure relief valve (vent) to reduce flame and pumping with the built in pump to increase the flame - the paraffin vapour released doesn't catch fire!

Now there are Coleman stoves out there that are much safer than the venerable Optimus 80 (and being bigger are much more useful!) however, the issue of the low vapour point of petrol still remains an issue.  Interestingly, our dual fuel Coleman (dual feather) runs hotter on paraffin (using the paraffin "generator") than on petrol (using the petrol "generator") so a comparable paraffin stove cooks quicker than a petrol one...

To be completely fair, there is one advantage that the petrol stoves have over paraffin stoves (especially the older ones with no quick light function) and that is that the same fuel can be used to prime the stove whereas with paraffin stoves you need to either have flammable alcohol gel or some meths handy.

As paraffin is so much safer (especially when things go wrong) it is a fuel I am much more comfortable using, more so since others that are less familiar with this sort of technology use my stoves too!

CUTE!!!


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