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
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
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
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,
During transport and storage, properly secure chemical
fuel containers in an upright, vertical position.
Why is this important?
In a review of internal and external burn incidents brought to our attention over several years, some trends were observed. These trends are a direct result of activities that are not a part of the BSA program and are inconsistent with the Policy on the Storage, Handling, and Use of Chemical Fuels and Equipment. Please don't put participants at risk by doing similar activities.
Serious and even fatal burns have been the result of the following: using diesel, kerosene, white gas, gasoline, alcohol, or charcoal lighter fluid as accelerants to start fires; use of black powder, pyrodex, or mixed chemicals as fire starters or displays; adding chemicals or alcohol-based products to fires for display purposes; using chemicals such as acetone in ceremonies; and creating or using homemade devices.