The Do’s and Don’ts of Storing Camp Stove Fuel

When you’re getting your gear together for your next overlanding or camping trip, camp stove fuel is going to be a must. Without fuel for your camp kitchen, all those delicious treats that you love making on your camp stove won’t be a part of your trip. However, fuel is one of those things that needs to be treated the right way.

How do you safely store camp fuel? Camp stove fuel should be stored in a dark, cool (but not cold) place that is away from children or animals. When storing your fuel, make a point of inspecting the canister to ensure that it is still in good condition.

how to store camp stove fuel

Knowing how to safely store camping stove fuel is a must. Poorly stored fuel can become a threat to everyone’s safety—including your own. Thankfully, it is not too hard to learn the do’s and don’ts of fuel storage. Just keep reading to learn more!

How Do You Properly Store Camp Fuel?

The easiest way to answer this is very carefully. When storing camp fuel, always make sure that it is stored in the right temperature and that the container that you have is not punctured, scuffed, dented, or otherwise tampered with. 

Of course, there is more to camp stove fuel storage than just keeping it cool. Almost every factor related to your fuel’s storage can impact your fuel’s lifespan and the safety of people around you. Let’s talk through the full details.

What Temperature Should You Store Your Camping Fuel At?

The best temperature for camping fuel is what you would feel in a regular room—anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees is fine. However, the actual details of your fuel storage will vary depending on the fuel type. Here is what you need to know:

  • Most fuels are best stored between 32- and 123-degrees Fahrenheit. Butane should never be stored below freezing temperatures. If you are going somewhere a little cold, opt for propane or kerosene instead.
  • Propane and kerosene should never be stored in temperatures higher than 100 degrees. It’s best to avoid even getting these fuels in sunlight because they are so prone to an explosion in high temperatures. 
  • Regardless of the time frame, sunlight is not your friend. You should never store camping fuel like butane in direct sunlight for any amount of time. Sunlight can heat up the canister, which can lead to an untamed fire.
  • Storing camp fuels near electrical outlets or equipment is not a good idea. There have been cases where the heat from working electric equipment triggered problems in camping fuel. It is rare, but it does happen. 
  • Avoid bringing gaseous camping fuels to areas where there will be extreme cold. Gas fuels have a hard time burning in the cold, especially butane. Cold drops the pressure in gaseous fuel, which in turn, makes the fuel difficult to ignite. Liquid can ignite faster in cold weather, which can make a huge difference in your safety.

How Can You Keep Your Camping Stove Fuel Away from Pets and Kids?

If you have kids and pets, keeping them away from fuel is straightforward. If you have kids, just lock the camping fuel away in a cabinet in a shed or garage for long-term use. If you have pets, this method works well too.

When you are out camping, keeping the fuel out of their reach can be trickier. It’s best to store it in your tent if you cannot keep in the (lockable) trunk of your SUV or Jeep. Teaching your kids the importance of handling fuel canisters safely can also help.

Does Camping Stove Fuel Expire?

Many diehard campers have spotted old cans of stove fuel in the back of their attics and didn’t know what to do with them. If you found an old canister of camping fuel, there’s some good news. If you have a canister of butane-mix gas that has not been opened yet, it’s still good. 

Butane-mix gas does not go bad. The same can be said of propane. White gas has an indefinite shelf life, but with a condition. Once it’s opened, white gas will go bad in a couple of years. The “official” recommendation is to throw away camping fuel that’s older than seven years.

Are There Any Camping Stove Fuels That Do Go Bad?

There are only two types of fuels used in camping that are known to go bad in a short period of time: gasoline and kerosene. Gas loses its combustibility within three to six months. Kerosene is a lot better since it can last for up to 10 years before it loses its potency. 

How to Tell If Your Canister Has Gone Bad

Let’s say that you found a canister of camp stove fuel, but you aren’t sure whether it’s usable. It’s a problem that many people who keep camping supplies face regularly. So, how can you tell if you should toss it? Here is what to look for:

  • If you notice excessive rust on your fuel, toss it. A little light rust probably will not turn a canister into a fire hazard. However, if there’s noticeable rusting happening, the overall structural integrity of the canister could be compromised. Rust eats away at regular metal, you know.
  • You notice signs of use. While this is not an issue with butane or propane tanks, it is an issue with tanks of white gas. White gas tanks that have been opened go bad after about two years. 
  • There are a lot of dings and dents in the canister. At first glance, this doesn’t seem to be an issue. However, it is. Gas is pressurized in those canisters.  When there have been too many dings and dents in the canister, a little heat can make the gas expand. This, in turn, can cause your canister to explode.
  • The canister has never been used but feels lighter. Uh oh! This is a sign that you might have a gas leak on your hands. If the canister feels noticeably lighter, it’s better to play it safe. Some campers who worry about leaks go so far as to weigh the canisters they have every six months and write down their weights with a Sharpie to keep an eye on any leaks.
  • You feel air escaping from your canister. Should this happen, it is time to dispose of the canister immediately. You are probably handling a canister that just sprung a leak!

What Happens If I Use Expired Fuel?

Using fuel that’s gone bad is a rare occurrence, but it can still happen. If you decide to use gas that’s gone bad, you might end up getting your camping stove clogged up. You might also notice a weaker flame or even struggle to keep the flame lit with most fuels, but it will still work.

If you are worried about having a fire that’s not lit due to long-term storage of fuel, don’t try to store gas. Gasoline that’s expired will oxidize, which in turn makes it almost impossible to light. This is the only fuel that has this problem.

The consensus when it comes to using expired fuel is that it won’t pose a safety problem. However, it might not be good for your camping stove…if it can even get lit, anyway. 

How to Store Camp Fuel

This all depends on what you are trying to do and what resources you have available to you. Here is what you need to know:

  • During camping trips, it’s often best to just keep your camping fuel in your RV or the trunk of your car during seasons where temperatures are not too high. If you have a scorching day, storing it in your tent, in the shade, is a better option. 
  • Long term storage should be done with canisters upright, indoors, in a temperature-controlled area away from light. This is the best way to maximize your fuel’s lifespan and reduce the amount of damage canisters take. Canisters should always be stored away from other items, if possible. 
  • Throw away any camp fuel that is being stored in a dented, rusted, or otherwise damaged container. A damaged container can lead to fuel leaks or other disasters during cooking. Don’t risk it!
  • Never store camp fuel in an area where pets or small children can get to it. This is a good way to have a canister harm someone (or something) you care about. Many campers prefer to store camp fuel in attics or garages for this reason.
  • When in doubt, read the labels on your camp stove fuel. Every modern fuel canister is required to come with instructions for safe storage. Labels include information on maximum and minimum storage temperatures, how to use them safely, and where to store them.
  • Use common sense. This seems like such a minor thing, but it isn’t. A surprising amount of fires could be prevented if people just used their brains a little more often. For example, you should not store fuel near a campfire.

What Is the Best Camp Fuel for Long Term Storage?

Both butane and propane are known for being reliable camping stove fuels in terms of storage. The same can also be said for good ol’ white gas. The fuels that do not tend to fare well are gasoline and kerosene since they are difficult to store. 

Is Gasoline an Easy to Store Camp Stove Fuel?

Nope, not at all. In fact, most camping experts are beginning to shy away from using gasoline at all because of how many problems it can cause. 

Though there are situations where you can light a camp stove using gas or petrol, most people don’t consider it to be a camp stove fuel by name. Gas usually can only be stored in a gas canister—much like the ones you use to load up your car when it runs out of fuel in the middle of the road.

Gasoline should not be stored long-term and should also never be stored indoors due to the fumes it can release. Campers should avoid getting gasoline-powered stoves because you have to haul gas buckets to your campsite to make them work—and that’s not safe.  

How to Store Camp Stove Fuel on The Go

Storing your fuel during camping sessions or when you are at home can be easy. After all, you will be keeping those canisters stationary during your time at each site. When you are traveling, keeping your fuel safe can be a little harder. 

Storing Fuel While Traveling by Vehicle Or RV

Since most traveling times take a maximum of two days by vehicle, the good news is that storing them in the trunk is usually a fine way to go. Just make sure that you’re not bringing your fuels on streets or roads that ban their transport.

Here are some good tips to know for vehicle storage:

  • Do not store your fuel in sunlight, even when you’re traveling. It might seem like a nonissue to keep canisters in the backseat, but you can never be too careful. This is especially true with butane. One long pit stop is all you need to make problems happen.
  • Try to keep them around items that will prevent them from jostling around. Securing them to something, or even just packing them near your tent or toilet paper can help.
  • Plan your itinerary beforehand. Certain roads, like I-95 near the George Washington Bridge, have warnings against any form of fuel transport without special licensure. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if you are worried about legality.
  • Always keep your fuel in the right canisters. Using the wrong container can make your fuel unsafe and cause leaks that can contribute to serious fire dangers.
  • If your RV has a special fuel storage area, use that area! Some RVs now come with a specialized section to safely store fuel while on the go. It’s best to use it if you have it.

Storing Camping Fuel While Traveling by Plane

If you are traveling by plane, you are out of luck. You’re not going to be able to get the camping fuel on a plane. The TSA and national flight safety laws would never allow it to happen since it is such a liability. 

Campers who are traveling to their destination via plane are better off just going to a local camping store at their destination and buying the fuel there. Trying to haul fuel through a plane trip is not worth the hassle!

Storing Camp Stove Fuel in High Altitudes

Want to backpack a mountain? If so, make sure to choose the right type of fuel. Liquid camp stove fuels and gel camp stove fuels tend to be the safest bet when it comes to storage and transport in high altitudes. 

High altitudes will only condense gas and make fuel harder to light in a stove. This means that storing camp fuel in a high-altitude campground will not be a danger, but it could just make things difficult in terms of cooking.

How Should You Dispose of a Bad Stove Canister? 

The best way to get rid of a bad stove canister is to empty it of all the fuel, then contact your local fire department or a nearby gas station to get more information on how to dispose of it safely. 

Though proper disposal procedures can change from place to place, certain rules remain across the board. These include:

  • Do not throw canisters away in the garbage. This can be a health and safety risk for garbage collectors.
  • Release all fuel in the canister before you toss them. This will help prevent fires. Letting the canister leak out into an open area or running the canister from a stove until the flame dies can work. If you aren’t sure which method to use, ask a professional for help. Check out this YouTube video for some additional info on getting rid of canisters.
  • Do not light matches near the canisters. It’s common sense, but it’s good to remember. 
  • Follow the disposal instructions you get to the letter. You can never be too safe. If you are still unsure after calling your fire department, look at the canister’s label for proper handling advice.


Storing your camp stove fuel isn’t exactly the simplest thing in the world. Though, there are some good rules of thumb you can use to make the process easier. The general rule is that you should try to store your fuel in the dark, at room temperature, upright, and away from other canisters. 

With safe storage practices, it’s possible to keep most camping fuels usable for years and years. The only thing that can really cause a fuel canister to “expire” is a faulty canister due to rust, denting, or other misuse. Should you find a faulty canister, dispose of the fuel. It’s just that simple.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.