Sea Kayaking and Kayak Fishing: The White Gas Stove (Coleman, MSR, Etc.) Priming Cup

How to light a white gas stove.

Hi sea kayakers and kayak fishing enthusiasts. Adam Bolonsky here, and welcome to another installment of the fence post navigation series – your online audio resource for sea kayaking tips tools and pointers useful to sea kayakers and kayak fishermen around the world.

Today’s topic: how to control the temperature of a white gas fuel-burning camp stove.

First time you spark up and use a white gas camp stove on a sea kayaking or kayak fishing trip, be prepared for a few moments of pretty dramatic pyrotechnics.

The pyrotechnics are due to the white gas fuel burning stove’s need to preheat its fuel jets before burning. Once the fuel jet’s preheated sufficiently, its heat, transferred down the copper tube, turns the pressurized white gas fuel into a vaporized fuel.

Preheating the fuel to turn liquid fuel into a gas vapor can be a disconcerting exercise for first time white gas stove user: as warming the priming jet requires a flame that, if it doesn’t set the interior of your tent on fire, will surley singe your eyebrows if you lean in to close as the fuel warms up in the warming cup.

Enter the priming cop. The priming cup is a small and dainty, saucer-shaped metal cup at the bottom of the stove’s innards.

Its sole purpose is to hold a quarter teaspoon of white gas in place so you can burn it. For those of you old enough to remember the Great Lakes during the late 60’s and early 1970’s, lighting the cup should remind you of seeing the lakes burn.

First step: pump the fuel bottle eight to 10 or 20 times to pressurize the fuel canister. Then, with either a flashlight or headlamp focused downward to give you a clear, unobstructed view of the primer cop, open the valve on the fuel bottle. You’ll hear a distinct the distinct whine of pressurized white gas running from the fuel bottle, down the fuel line, and into the priming cop.

Keep a close eye on the priming cup; allow just enough fuel to flow from the fuel bottle to fill the priming cup if not to the brim then close to it.

Next, check to make sure that no one with long hair is leaning in close to the stove, nor anyone whose eyebrows rival Andy Rooney’s.

Break out the matches, or trusty lighter, and light the fuel in the primer cup. A white and yellow, ragged flame will immediately leap up.

Notice that the flames brings the fuel in the cup to a boil, gradually increasing in size and height until it engulfs the entire stove.

Once the fuel in the priming cop has burned off and the flame extinguishes itself, the stove, cup, and fuel line or hot enough to atomize liquid fuel.

Now you light the stove itself. Open the fuel cock. What had been a burbling hiss of wet fuel will now sound like the hiss of gas.Listen carefully and you’ll notice that was once the sound of a dribbling squirt is now a hiss. This is the sound of fuel atomizing into a gas as soon as it escapes from the stove burner.

Apply a match to the burner and, proof! you have a tiny, compact blue and very noisy flame generating heat in the burner.

A couple of tips to remember. If after you’ve heated the burner and fuel jet with fuel you get a yellow or white flame which flickers, dances and jumps, the fuel jet hasn’t been heated hot enough. You are burning liquid fuel rather thanl atomized gas.

You’ll need to close the fuel bottle spigot, wait several minutes while the stove cools to the touch, and begin the process all over again.

Well that’s it for today’s installment of the fencepost navigation series, your online resource for tips tools and pointers useful to sea kayakers and kayak fishing enthusiasts around the world. I’m Adam Bolonsky, your host, on the web at Thanks for stopping by. And until next time, see you ’round.

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