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Allowed to use liquid fuel ??

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  • Allowed to use liquid fuel ??

    A camp that I recently went to had a "No Liquid Fuels - Propane Only" rule....

    Is this a camp rule (High Fire Risk area)?? or is this a BSA rule ?

    Are Scouts allowed to use liquid fuel stoves and lanterns? or only propane ?

  • #2
    Originally posted by WestCoastScouter View Post
    A camp that I recently went to had a "No Liquid Fuels - Propane Only" rule.... Is this a camp rule (High Fire Risk area)?? or is this a BSA rule ? Are Scouts allowed to use liquid fuel stoves and lanterns? or only propane ?
    Liquid fuel (white gas) is allowed and sold at Philmont. My guess it each Council camp, state or National park will have their own rules. To my knowledge BSA has specifically stated certain stoves and fuel types are not allowed, such as alcohol-based stoves.

    Here's a link to the only policy I have seen:


    • #3

      From the Guide to Safe Scouting:

      The online version of the Guide to Safe Scouting is updated quarterly.
      Go to

      VI. Chemical Fuels and Equipment

      This policy directs Boy Scouts of America members how to safely store, handle, and use chemical fuels and equipment. Safety and environmental awareness concerns have persuaded many campers to move away from traditional outdoor campfires in favor of chemical-fueled equipment used for cooking, heating, and lighting. Be aware that chemical fuels and equipment create very different hazards than traditional wood, charcoal, and other solid fuels; this policy defines how to address those hazards.

      Before any chemical fuels or chemical-fueled equipment is used, an adult knowledgeable about chemical fuels and equipment, including regulatory requirements, should resolve any hazards not specifically addressed within this policy.

      Chemical fuels—Liquid, gaseous, or gelled fuels.

      Approved chemical-fueled equipment—Commercially manufactured equipment, including stoves, grills, burners, heaters, and lanterns that are designed to be used with chemical fuels.

      Prohibited chemical-fueled equipment—Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.

      Recommended chemical fuels— White gas (Coleman fuel); kerosene; liquefied petroleum gas fuels, including propane, butane, and isobutane; vegetable oil fuels; biodiesel fuel; and commercially prepared gelled-alcohol fuel in original containers.

      Chemical fuels not recommended— Unleaded gasoline; liquid alcohol fuels, including isopropyl alcohol, denatured ethyl alcohol, and ethanol; and other flammable chemicals that are not in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions for chemical-fueled equipment.

      Storing, Handling, and Using Chemical Fuels and Equipment
      An adult knowledgeable about chemical fuels and equipment should always supervise youths involved in the storage, handling, and use of chemical fuels and equipment.

      Operate and maintain chemical-fueled equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in facilities or areas only where and when permitted.

      Using liquid fuels for starting any type of fire—including lighting damp wood, charcoal, and ceremonial campfires or displays—is prohibited.

      No flames in tents. This includes burning any solid, liquid, gel, or gas fuel—including tents or teepees that feature or support stoves or fires; and any chemical-fueled equipment or catalytic heaters.

      Store chemical fuels in their original containers or in containers designed for immediate use. Securely store any spare fuel away from sources of ignition, buildings, and tents.

      During transport and storage, properly secure chemical fuel containers in an upright, vertical position.

      So... there is nothing in the Guide to Safe Scouting that says liquid fuels are not permitted. Most people think of white gas when they think of liquid fuels. Our troop uses propane and I can think of few reasons that liquid fuels would be a better choice. Sure, if you have a high adventure patrol and they're going to Philmont, maybe something like an MSR stove would make sense. However... I'll recount a brief story that happened to me a few weeks ago. I've been using liquid fuel stoves since I was a Scout. I've got literally decades of experience in camping and using these stoves. We were working as a troop on some 1st & 2nd class rank requirements and were going over the stoves. In keeping with the "adult should supervise" part, I was right there. I broke out the MSR stove and showed the boys how it worked. They were all to get familiar with it. The MSR stove requires that you pressurize the pump/container and prime the stove by allowing a little bit of liquid fuel to pool under the burner. You light it and it heats the stove and then you open the fuel line and off you go. I've done it hundreds of times. Uhhh... this time was different. I (not a boy, but me) bumped against the stove and the liquid fuel (white gas) that was pooled under the burner spilled on the table that we were using to demonstrate the stoves. Of course it was on fire and before I knew it, within seconds, half the table top was aflame. Oh $(#*$#%!!. Yeah, I know, what the heck were we doing this inside for? It was in a big rustic lodge where we were all doing cabin camping. All sorts of things went through my mind - none of them good. I got the stove outside and other leaders quickly extinguished the fire. I would have never, ever, in a million years thought this could have happened. I did a bunch of things wrong - doing this in the lodge, bumping the stove, etc. It could have ended badly. I know you're probably thinking, well, no kidding - don't do stuff like that indoors. Prepare your area. That could never happen to me. I got complacent and had visions of a really horrible outcome. So... while the BSA doesn't have specific rules against liquid fuel, carefully consider when you really need it and when you can use propane. We're in Illinois and propane works 99.9% of the time. I'll personally never use liquid fuel with Scouts again.

      And, btw, perhaps the camp had a specific rule for reasons just like the one I describe above. Believe me, I feel pretty stupid. And was stupid. I share this story as an example of how bad things could have turned.


      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        Did on of the Scouts cut a corner off your Chit ?

      • koolaidman
        koolaidman commented
        Editing a comment
        It was in my youth. Post scouts. Decided to slice a pear while it was still on the tree.
        With a sheath knife.
        Maybe if proper banning were in place while I was a scout it wouldn't have happened? (tongue firmly in cheek).

      • danbrew
        danbrew commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
        Did on of the Scouts cut a corner off your Chit ?
        lol. no kidding. i lost a lot of "face" with this one but used it as an example of how quickly things can go wrong... it definitely took my "i know everything" down a notch and reminded me that accidents do happen.