Propane or Butane for Camping Gas?

Summer is fast approaching and that means more chance to get into the great outdoors for a long weekend or family holiday. Many camping and caravanning heaters and cookers are gas-powered, but if you're confused about what type of gas you should choose, our guide will help.

Firstly, these are the main types of gas

Propane gas is a by-product of the petroleum refining process and always comes in red cylinders.

Butane gas is a hydrocarbon gas and is highly flammable. Butane always comes in blue cylinders.

Propane gas

Propane gas is lighter than butane, which means that the bottles are smaller, easier to lift and manoeuvre and take up less storage space. Propane gas burns hotter than butane, because of its higher calorific value. Therefore, your heater will be warmer and your cooker will cook your food more quickly. Propane is also generally cheaper to buy than butane.

Another consideration to bear in mind if you enjoy year-round camping is that propane gas will burn just as efficiently in very low external temperatures, keeping your caravan or tent cosy in even the coldest of weather conditions.

Butane gas

In comparison, there are a number of things to bear in mind about butane gas. Butane is less toxic and burns cleaner than propane, making it a preferred choice for the environmentally conscious camper. However, if you like camping or caravanning during the colder months of the year, butane might not be the best choice of fuel, as it will not burn at temperatures less than about 20C.


It’s important to note that any form of gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if used in a confined space with a faulty appliance. Always have a carbon monoxide alarm in your caravan or tent and makes sure that your gas-powered appliances are serviced annually by a qualified contractor.

Which is best?

When considering whether to choose butane or propane to fuel your camping accessories, the preferred option would appear to be propane. Propane is cheaper, easier and lighter to transport. It is also less bulky and space-consuming to store and it is suitable for use all year round, making it perfect for those who enjoy winter camping.

For more advice on which type of gas to choose to fuel your camping appliances, have a chat with the helpful experts at London Gases today.