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Eco-Friendly Hiking Stoves

Hmmm, I wonder if all those half empty canisters are a fire hazard?

That bushbash around Dumbano Creek was Epic! But thanks to my trusty ultra-lightweight gas stove at least cooking was a breeze. As usual I bought yet another full gas canister for the trip as I wasn't sure if the half used canister in my stove draw would last the trip, so once it's over I can add the almost empty canister to my ever growing almost-empty-gas-canister collection. The problem is that I'm now running out of space in my stove draw, so what do I now do with all my almost empty gas canisters that can't be refilled?

Canister stoves are by far the most popular stove purchased as they are light, convenient to use and good value for money. However sometimes not much thought is given to what happens "after" the trip.

Disposal of gas canisters is a real hassle as you shouldn't put them in your garbage bin or recycling bin as they are a fire hazard. The best way to dispose of gas canisters is to drop them off at your local waste disposal station or community run recycling centre. Planet Ark has a handy search facility for your closest recycling centre plus there are a number of community run recycling stations such as this one which is the closest to our Chatswood store.

You can of course completely empty and puncture the gas canister and then it is safe to place in your recycle bin. The Jetboil CrunchIt is a safe way of emptying and puncturing your canisters but DIY solutions are fraught with danger as all you need is one small spark …

MSR WhisperLite - Still going strong after 20 years

If you're after a reusable eco-friendly stove, without the waste and hassle of canister disposal then liquid fuel and alcohol stoves are just the ticket as the fuel bottles are reusable for a lifetime.

Liquid fuel and alcohol stoves also allow you to use the exact amount of fuel required for your trip which does take a bit of trial and error to work out your usage but once you've got that sorted you can measure out the fuel required to the drop! You can also purchase a range of different sized fuel bottles to suit your needs and once your trip is over, all your fuel bottle needs is a little top-up.

Typical fuel usage for two people per day is:

  • 30g butane, propane or isobutane

  • 50g Kero or Shellite

  • 120g Metho

Plus fuel costs are a lot less – your typical 375g gas canister is $15 whilst Shellite is around $9 per litre, so not only are liquid fuels eco-friendly they're also wallet-friendly!

Also keep in mind that liquid fuel stoves like the MSR WhisperLite offer superior performance in sub-zero temperatures and on extended trips of 10 days or longer liquid fuel stoves are on par or better than gas canister stoves in terms of overall stove, fuel and canister weight.

Eco-Friendly Stove Options

There are basically two types of liquid fuel and alcohol stoves, liquid fuel stoves such as the MSR WhisperLite and Optimus Nova are pressurised stoves that typically burn kerosene and shellite although you can use dirtier fuels such as diesel if that is all that is available. As these stoves are pressurised they have the advantage that they can be used at any temperature or altitude. These stoves typically have a high heat output but some models do suffer from limited flame control and are not well suited to simmering.

Alcohol stoves such as the well-known Trangia stoves have quite a following amongst bushwalkers and backcountry skiers. They burn methylated spirits and are very easy to set up and use but do have the disadvantage that they require about twice the amount of fuel in comparison to the pressurised liquid fuel stoves, plus they are not well suited to freezing temperatures as metho will not ignite.

In the table below is a generic quick comparison of liquid fuel and alcohol stoves against gas canister stoves, noting that there is a massive range of stove types in each of these categories - so don’t take it as gospel, it’s just an indication.

Eco-Friendly Weight Ease of use Cold Weather Altitude
Pressurised Liquid Fuel Stoves ***** *** *** ***** ****
Alcohol Stoves ***** ** **** ** **
Gas Canister Stoves ** **** ***** *** *****


Hopefully this article has provided you with an insight on how to be more environmentally friendly with your stove usage. But does this mean that I automatically reach for an eco-friendly stove on my trips? Well, no. If I'm planning on going light-weight and covering a lot of distance in a day, which I often do, then a light gas canister stove (followed by a trip to the community recycler) is a clear winner, on the other hand if I'm going on a long trip or X-C Skiing, then my MSR WhisperLite is my stove of choice.


By: Adrian Kladnig

Adrian is an avid climber, canyoner and bush-walker who is a bit of gear-freak and loves his stove collection.