Butane vs Propane Stoves – Differences Explained & Compared

Researched & Written by Craig

Are you choosing between a butane and propane stove for your camping trip? Then check out this article. It’ll help you decide!

Here are the differences between a butane and propane stove:

Butane StovePropane Stove
Doesn’t work well in cold temperatures and high altitudes
Has light gas canisters
Gas not as readily available
Cheaper
Works well in cold temperatures and high altitudes
Has heavy gas canisters
Gas more readily available
More expensive

So, you’re planning a camping trip. Are you going climbing or camping locally? Will you be traveling by foot or mostly in the car? What will the weather be like where you’re going?

If you’re wondering which type of stove will be the right choice for you, then read on!

Butane vs Propane Stoves – Differences Explained & Compared

Let’s be honest – these two options aren’t night and day. They’re simply different ways of powering a gas stove – typically for camping.

However, making the right choice can help take plenty of stress out of your camping trip.

To help, I’ve dug into some research and compared Butane & Propane Stoves on the most important categories. Let’s tackle them 1 by 1.

How Well Do They Work in Different Environments?

Butane and propane stoves react differently to challenging environments.

The last thing you need is to lug around a stove and fuel halfway up a mountain.. only to find that the fuel doesn’t work well at that altitude. And if you’re far away from civilization I guess there’s no calling for a pizza delivery.

So what can you do to avoid tucking into cold beans and granola bars for dinner while camping? Here are some of the differences between butane and propane stoves. The comparison will help you match your fuel to the kind of environment you will experience.

Butane StovePropane Stove
– Butane freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit
– The burner does not work very well in cold temperatures
– The burner does not work very well at high altitudes
– Propane will continue to work at temperatures as adverse as -43 degrees Fahrenheit
– The burner will continue to work at high altitudes
Tent in cold climate
Propane stoves can cope better at extreme temperatures

Are you camping at high altitudes or in very cold temperatures? Then you should choose a propane stove over a butane stove. These work well at extreme temperatures.

Or, do you like me, prefer camping in the summer a couple of paces away from the car? Then a butane stove will also do the trick.

Which Is Heavier?

Butane and propane stove canisters are also different in weight. There’s nothing that will suck the fun out of camping faster than hauling a backpack that weighs a ton of bricks.

Do you plan to do a lot of walking when you go camping? Or will you arrive at the destination by car, unload and stay put? Your camping plans may greatly affect your choice of stove. Here are the differences between them.

Butane StovePropane Stove
– Their burners and canisters are light-weight
– The camp stoves are lighter in weight and more portable
– Their burners and canisters are heavier
– The camp stoves are heavier in weight and less portable

Are you planning a camping trip with a lot of walking involved? Then you’ll be best off with a butane stove. These are lighter and will be easier for you to carry.

But what if your camping trip doesn’t involve moving your camp from location to location? Then you can choose from either a butane or a propane stove.

Couple hiking and camping
If you’re doing a lot of walking, a light butane stove is ideal to carry

How Readily Available Are They?

Have you ever bought an expensive piece of equipment that you couldn’t get spare parts for? All is well and good until something goes wrong and you’re forced to travel to Timbuktu to find a replacement piece.

Not being able to get a hold of the things you need for camping is also a pain. So, how readily available are butane and propane? Take a look.

Butane StovePropane Stove
– Butane is not as readily available
– Butane is often sold in large packs rather than individual cans.
– Propane is easy to find in most stores and gas stations

A propane stove is the most convenient of the two. This is because it is easy to find propane in more stores.

But, if you don’t mind a bit of a scavenger hunt and a bulk buy, a butane stove may be the one for you. Just make sure you calculate how much fuel you will need for the trip and check your fuel levels before you leave. When you plan your trip, ensure that you have a refill station nearby.

How Affordable Are They?

We’d all love to be out in the open every weekend breathing in that fresh pine air. But unfortunately, camping trips take some planning and do not come around as often as we’d like. That’s why you’re no doubt keen to buy a hard-wearing but economically priced stove.

So how pricey are butane and propane stoves? Let’s find out.

Butane StovePropane Stove
– Butane gas is more expensive
– Butane is often sold in large packs rather than individual cans. This can be pricey.
– Individual burners start at $15
– Stoves with one burner start at $20 and go up to $250
– Propane gas is cheap
– Individual burners start at $15
– Stoves with one burner start at $30 and go up to $150
– Stoves with two burners start at $50 and go up to $250
– Stoves with three burners start at $110

As you can see, butane stoves are cheaper than propane stoves. But you could argue that with a propane stove, you will be getting more for your money.

Why do I say that? Because there are a wide variety of propane stoves that are available with two or even three burners. These stoves are sold at a similar price to butane stoves with just one burner. Propane is also cheaper to buy than butane.

How Easy Are They to Use?

Another thing to consider when camping is how easy your equipment is to use. The efficiency of your equipment will make your camping trip one to remember. And hopefully, not for the wrong reasons!

Here is what you should know about butane and propane stoves and how easy they are to use.

Butane StovesPropane Stoves
– Most butane stoves come with only one burner– Propane stoves can come with more than one burner. Some stoves come with one, two, three, and more burners.

If you are looking for ease when cooking, a propane stove is your best option. That’s because propane stoves can come with many burners. The extra burners make cooking easier and give you more meal variety. Who fancies a three-course meal in the forest?

Safety

One of our biggest concerns when camping is often safety. And when there are canisters of gas involved, you want to know that you are carrying the best option with you. So which are safer? Butane or propane stoves?

Butane StovePropane Stove
– Butane gas is non-toxic
– Butane gas is a clean-burning fuel
– Butane gas doesn’t have any long-term negative effects on the environment
– Propane gas is non-toxic
– Propane gas is a clean-burning fuel
– Propane gas doesn’t have any long-term negative effects on the environment

As you can see, both butane and propane gases are what we would call “safe gases”. They are equally safe.

But, of course, as with any gas canister, the appropriate precautions should be taken. This includes but is not limited to the following advice:

  1. Always cook with the stove placed on a flat surface
  2. Check the stove periodically for damage to the hose or a blockage in the burners
  3. Keep the stove away from other burnable material and combustibles
  4. Never modify the camp stove
  5. Always use the stove in a properly ventilated place outdoors

Conclusion

Should you buy a butane or a propane stove? That is a tricky question.

That’s because the decision depends on so many factors. These include how you camp, where you camp, and how much you are willing to spend. It also comes down to how easy it is for you to get hold of certain fuel types and how many burners you like to cook on.

I hope this article has helped you to determine what you are looking for in a camp stove. Once you know exactly what you expect, it will be easier for you to choose one over the other.

If this article has helped you, then why not check out some of our other articles and free guides? You could even sign up to our email list!

Have a great day!

-Craig