What Is White Gas?

White gas is the generic name for Coleman fuel or naphtha. It is a flammable gas commonly used as camp-stove and lantern fuel due to its refined purity and high heat output. White gas can also refer to pure gasoline or undyed gasoline.

Coleman fuel was originally developed in the early 1950s and used as small-motor fuel for lawnmowers and outboard motors and as an industrial cleaning agent. Its popularity as a motor fuel declined in the late 1950s with the advent of more effective fuel technologies. It has, however, remained the preferred camping-stove fuel choice.

It is a petroleum product that can be made from natural gas or distilled from oil, coal tar or peat with other chemicals mixed in, including cyclohexane, nonane, octane, heptane and pentane. It is almost as flammable as gasoline. Aside from the variety commonly known as Coleman fuel, various other forms of naphtha exist, including coal-tar naphtha, shale naphtha and petroleum naphtha. All these are volatile, highly flammable liquid-hydrocarbon mixtures.

The name naphtha was first used to refer to volatile petroleum issuing from the ground in the Baku district of Azerbaijan and Iran. Ancient alchemists used the word naphtha to refer to various liquids of low boiling point.