What was the old version of white gas? (in the US)

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by esarratt, May 9, 2021.

  1. esarratt

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    I have a 1960s US military stove. It calls for white gas.

    I am curious, what was white gas in that era?

    Is it the same as ethanol free 93 octane now?

    I read a website that said white gas is additive free unleaded gasoline.

    Is ethanol free fuel in the US additive free?

    I know that Coleman fuel is commonly referred to as white gas. Is this actually the 1960's version of white gas?
     
  2. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Some gas stations used to have white gas years ago. BP was said to be the last. No longer true, as far as I know.
     
  3. hiddenhider

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    White gas doesn’t have any of the additives in it that you would find in gasoline. It is basically pure naphtha, sold as camp fuel.

    Burning gasoline in these stoves tends to clog up the works with the additives, not to mention that there is sufficient in there that I wouldn’t want near my food or cup of tea.
     
  4. OMC

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    Briefly.
    Re your "I have a 1960s US military stove. It calls for white gas."
    This is a topic imo you want to be more specific.

    I may be wrong but I thought the M1950? (US pocket stove of the 60s) called for gasoline?

    White gas was a consistent type fuel sold at the pump late 30s, & 40s.
    Amid the 50s the market evolved 2 ways
    "white gas" etc became more rare (at the pump) each year. Relates to marine fuel btw.
    and
    a more pure consistent fuel / white gas began selling in gallon and quart tins.

    In the 60s it was harder to find at the pump and fuel type was less consistent.
    carry on
     
  5. cottage hill bill

    cottage hill bill Subscriber

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    Originally gasoline had no additives. In 1923 in the US tetraethyllead (TEL) was added as an anti-knock agent. Gas with this additive started being called ethyl gas and non-additive white-gas. White gas was still sold at the pumps into the 1960s, though by then you had to search for it. It certainly wasn't at every gas station. In the 1970s TEL was banned and other additives used instead. All unleaded fuel contains those additives. Ethanol is unleaded gas plus alcohol. Neither IMO is suitable for GPAs. Many GPAs will run on unleaded gas (sometimes referred to on GPA forums as regular unleaded gas (RUG)) but as stated above it will shorten generator life and put stuff you don't want in your food.
     
  6. esarratt

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    Thank you all for the information. I had not considered fuel additives clogging up the stove.

    I'm guessing the stove is 1962. The original directions which came with it say:

    Technical Manual No. 10-7310-203-12

    Operator and Organizational Maintenance Manual
    STOVE, GASOLINE, 2-BURNER, WHITE OR LEADED GASOLINE,
    WITH HINGED WINDSHIELD AND CARRYING CASE
    FEDERAL STOCK NUMBER 7310-963-8736

    HEADQUARTERS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
    OCTOBER 1962

    My stove looks identical to the US Army 523 stoves people have posted pictures of, but the only marking on my stove is US A.P.C.

    I got the stove from a retired army veteran off of CL. He said this was his personal stove when he was in Vietnam. He said it hadn't been run in 50 years. I still haven't fired it up.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
  7. Jim Lukowski United States

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    By the 60's at least, Amoco gas was called white gas and certainly did contain additives to boost octane, but they used aromatics rather than tetra-ethyl lead. The lead is what gave gasoline that brownish tint, whereas Amoco's gas was water clear, hence being called white gas.

    It's not ideal to run gasoline in a lantern or stove due to all of the nasty gasoline additives. I never used it in a stove to cook because I didn't want any of those chemicals in my food. I did however run lanterns for a year on gasoline. One, because I wanted to, and two, because I rebuilt my own generators, so a plugged up generator was no problem. At the time, I documented my results with the different lanterns I was using, but the most startling was that the summer blend of gasoline (at least in my area) with its additional additives to slow the evaporation rate burned the cleanest.

    If the octane is higher than say 50-55, it's got additives to raise the octane. Contrary to popular belief, the higher the octane, the slower the burn. I don't think this difference is noticeable to the naked eye, but it certainly is to an engine.

    Edit: I'm only referencing gasoline in the US. I don't know about additives in other countries or their history. White gas now only references straight naphtha, such as Coleman fuel.
     
  8. Fettler United States

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    I think it's too easy to slip over the line into silliness on this. Many people around the world can't obtain Coleman fuel (naptha) and use automotive gasoline without issue. Testing has shown it takes a very long time to cause generator trouble, and chemicals in the food aren't a cause for concern. The tetraethyl lead most definitely was, but that's been gone 40 years for automotive use.

    The last gallon of Coleman fuel I bought was 17 bucks + tax, so the trends being what they are, the likelihood is, more people will start asking questions, they will want to use it in lieu of the special bespoke gluten-free "stove fuel". I can't really blame them.
     
  9. geeves

    geeves New Zealand Subscriber

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    Just to pollute the waters a little more. I have a Radius 42 that I was given which only ever got used on pump gasoline from the day it was new. As far as I can tell its never been apart and it runs like new still. Some of that gasoline would of been leaded.
    Doesnt USA have 87 octane? In the absence of anything else I would use that but not first choice
     
  10. esarratt

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    Yes. We have 87, 90 & 93 each w/ethanol added. We also have 90 and 93 ethanol free, but you have to hunt for it.
     
  11. Jaime Massang

    Jaime Massang Australia Subscriber

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    "White gas" appears to be the American term for pure petroleum (or petrol) when crude oil is first cracked i.e. sans any additives.
    Additives such as lead and sulphur were to decrease the tendency to detonate in the combustion chamber ( indicated by the research octane number or RON). Obviously detonation is not a problem in pressure stoves but the additives may even be of benefit as it encourages a "longer leaner" burn. As the flame of a stove is also exposed to the atmosphere there is pretty much complete combustion and any additives would also be burnt off. Gasoline-ethanol blends may also have an added benefit of the alcohol collecting any water in the stove tank.
     
  12. Paul B

    Paul B Subscriber

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    Thanks Jim for remembering Amoco premium. Many gallons were burnt in my Dads Coleman stove, lantern and heater. We kept a dedicated gas can for it. Dad would grouse about it's high price which was probably 15¢ higher than regular making it 59¢ a gallon. But it is true the equipment ran close to flawlessly on it.
     
  13. cottage hill bill

    cottage hill bill Subscriber

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    @esarratt Your stove is a M1942 two-burner. There was also a M1942 single burner. Coleman called it the model 523 but that name only applies to Coleman stoves. The U.S. Army used that stove from 1942 into the 1980s and over the years there were contracts let to multiple manufacturers to produce the stoves. Coleman had the contract for a few years, AGM made some. APC and State Metal Products (SMP) also held the contract at different times. There were probably others that I can't recall.
     
  14. esarratt

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    Thanks!
     
  15. Alcoholic Australia

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    It gets more complicated. The USA uses AKI (Anti Knock Index) while us Aussies use RON (Research Octane Number). Roughly speaking, 87AKI in the USA is equivalent to 91RON here in Oztralia. Other countries use other indexes too - see: Octane rating - Wikipedia

    The additives used to achieve the required octane rating differ across various markets too and even within the same market due to seasonal temperature variations. Some of them may actually improve combustion. I've spoken to a number of travellers in Australia who have just used our 91RON unleaded in Coleman stoves for years without issue. It may be that our additive mix has fewer of the problematic chemicals as we don't have to manage much in the way of cold weather or altitude by comparison. Or it could just be a limited sample size. Others swear by just throwing a clogged generator on the camp fire... that works for me when the spark arresters on my two stroke engines get clogged up.

    Fuel with Tetraethyl Lead will eventually block a generator though - for the same reason that it used to foul spark plugs, lubricate valves and poison catalytic converters - the sticky lead mix resulting from combustion condenses on cooler surfaces in short order - like someone's lungs for example...

    For the cost of shellite (our Australian white gas) for cooking use, I just use that - even if it is three times the price of kerosene. Fewer chemicals to handle and it smells better too... but I find myself gravitating to alcohol stoves these days. It's the serenity...
     
  16. Alcoholic Australia

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    By the way, for an Australian, calling any liquid fuel "gas" is very difficult to understand. I pity those of us on this forum for whom English is a second language - it's hard enough already!
     
  17. ArchMc

    ArchMc SotM Winner Subscriber

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    The additives are to allow for a "longer, leaner burn" in high compression engines (basically any car produced since the 1930s). This is to eliminate dieseling -- the fuel igniting from compression before the spark plug fires -- leading to backfires.

    A camp stove or lantern is not a high compression device (no matter how many times you pump it), and those additives do not combust completely in a low compression environment. So they will foul the generator. Sure, some people never have a problem. But unless you enjoy rebuilding generators, or searching for hard to find parts, it's a lot easier to just use the correct fuel, which is white gas. There are cheaper white gas alternatives to Coleman Fuel, which work just fine. Yes, they're still more expensive than pump gas, but how much of it are you really burning?

    ....Arch
     
  18. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    Anomalous in a way, of course, but not hard to understand: it's just short for gasoline.
     
  19. Jaime Massang

    Jaime Massang Australia Subscriber

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    Reminds me that the Malay word for water is 'air' ( pronounced, "ai-yeer") and an 'inflammatory' substance is one that actually burns (and quite well).
     
  20. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    "Inflammable" does mean "flammable"; from 'inflame'-
    to set on fire.

    But at least in the US decades ago it was replaced 'officially' by 'flammable', on gasoline trucks and in other industrial contexts because evidently folks would often interpret it to mean 'non-flammable'...