White gas, white spirit, disán, bencina, what a hell!

Already before our trip, when looking around for which is the best fuel to use with our camping stove, we got quite confused. The reason being that the name used for the same fuel is even more varied than the different electrical plugs and necessary adapters for each country.

Fortunately, our Optimus Polaris Optifuel stove works with most of the petroleum based fuels. However, there are some fuel types cleaner than others, which can reduce the maintenance work of our stove.

Even though there are some lists of international fuel names likes here or here or here, once in place we could not easily find them.

Our understanding is that the best thing for our stove is “white gas” and then comes the “kerosene”. There is also “white spirit” which is something similar to “kerosene” (could not really find the scientific difference). To help others, here how we manage on our trip to find the best possible fuel:

Portugal: bought benzina at AKI shop, that come in a 0.5 liter metal container for about 3€. Later we found also on plastic bottles in other big do-it shops (Leroy Merlin, Maxmat, BricoDepôt, …). This is “white gas”.

Brazil: also found benzina at one big ferragem in Porto Alegre, called “Ferragem Gerhardt”. It was a metal container of 1 litre. As our fuel bottle is for 0.59 l, we transported the remaining in a small soda bottle, with brown scotch around the opening, to insure no drinking. This is “white gas”.

Uruguay: in any ANCAP gas station and some supermarkets you find disán, which comes in 0.5 or 1 litre bottles. By the smell and cleanliness it seems “white gas”.

Argentina: very difficult to find someone to know what bencina blanca is. We could see queroseno in any ferreteria. Miguel found in a camping shop in Buenos Aires (“Camping Center”, Esmeralda 945) but the smell was different. It worked fine, leaving a small amount of soot.  We think it was not “white gas” but rather “white spirit”.

Chile: it was easy to find bencina blanca in a ferreteria. It come in a small 0.5 litre bottle for 900 pesos (1.30€). By the smell it seemed again the same thing we got in Argentina, leaving some soot.

Spain: we could not find bencina and people in big do-it shops, ferreteria or cleaning ware would not know what it is. We end up buying aguarrás símil which is “white spirit” (written in some brands’ bottles). It is cheap and can be found in any supermarket.

Note: On our first part of the trip, in France and Spain, we used gas cartridges. Because they are not always easy to find (with screw) except in big cities and also not easy to know when is about to end, we stopped using it. We found out that using “white gas” fuel is much easier and stronger. It works also fine when there is wind.

One thought on “White gas, white spirit, disán, bencina, what a hell!

  1. In Chile, Aguarraz (White spirit) and Bencina blanca (White gas), have a not so subtle difference in their smells. Bencina blanca has a bland, soft odor, instead aguarraz has a pungent, more irritating odor than the bencina blanca (similar to the smell of oil based paints). If you have both solvents near your nose the difference is quite evident, if you don’t one can confuse both as there appearance is very similar. Another product used in camping is alcohol de quemar (methylated spirits) although, as far as I know, only to heat up the sock of a paraffin / kerosene lamp, before pumping the kerosene. I don’t know if it could be used in exchange for white gas.

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