Where To Buy Butane (Canisters, Torches, and Refills)
If you’re going camping, you probably have a lot of equipment that you need to stock up on. One of the more important ones is butane. Butane is one of the most common cooking fuels used in camping, as well as a good fuel for specialty lighters. The hard part, of course, is finding a place that sells butane. Where do you even get this stuff?
Butane, being a somewhat popular fuel for small use, can be found in the following types of stores:
- Hardware Stores
- Big Box Stores
- Grocery Stores
- Cigar Stores
- Auto Repair Shops
- Gas Stations
- Online Venues
Getting your hands on butane shouldn’t ever be that difficult. This guide will help you shorten your search and get a better idea of how much you should be spending on this camping classic.
Where Can You Buy Butane?
Though you almost never see it in a checkout line, butane is incredibly common to find. You don’t need to look too far for it, but for this article, we’re going to make sure things are as easy as possible to find.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, butane can be found in virtually every single hardware store in the world. This is primarily because butane is used in a wide variety of different tools, including butane torches. Hardware stores will usually have it in a special section for fuels, usually right next to the propane tanks.
If you are at a Home Depot or Lowe’s, you might also see butane tanks in the grilling or barbecue aisle. Considering how common it is to see campers use it, a torch as a way to light charcoal, it totally makes sense. Hardware stores sell butane pretty cheaply.
Big Box Stores
Among many campers, it’s common to hear about people who pack everything up except for a few key items like hot dogs or blankets. When they realize that they are missing a couple of items, they usually pull off the highway and seek out a Wal-Mart or Target. This is a really smart move, especially if you are low on butane.
In these massive stores, you can usually find butane in one of two places: the camping goods section (natch!) or the hardware section. Wal-Mart is known for selling butane at a particularly low price, so stock up if you need to. You won’t regret it, nor will your butane stove.
This is a little bit more unusual in terms of butane vending locations, but it still is a pretty viable place to check. Most Walgreens pharmacies have a small stockpile of butane canisters, though they are not too large compared to the bottles you could get in hardware stores or places like Wal-Mart.
In terms of price point, the price you’ll pay at pharmacies tends to be a little higher per measurement unit. However, the size that you’re getting isn’t going to be large enough for it to burn a serious hole in your pocket.
If you ever checked a Shoprite, Kroger, or Fairway during the summer, you already know that most grocery stores take pride in acting as “BBQ headquarters” during the summer months. Considering their love of the ‘que, it is understandable why it’s totally reasonable to expect your local grocer to keep butane in stock.
Even if it’s not the middle of July, you should be able to rely on your grocery store to carry the butane that you want. It’s considered to be a basic food staple, and it’s often seen in the same aisle as tin foil or food prep goods. Grocery stores tend to sell it affordably, though it’s not in larger quantities.
This might take most people for a surprise, but you’ll never see a cigar shop that doesn’t carry butane fuel in one form or another. The reason why deals with the traditional way to smoke cigars. It’s said that using a match to light a cigar will cause the flavor of the cigar to fade or otherwise get tainted by the burning of the matches.
Cigar aficionados know that butane burns clean, which is why it’s the preferred method of lighting a cigar. So, if you need butane and a cigar torch, this is the place to get both. Of course, cigar shops tend to price butane at a premium level, and the torches get pretty pricey too. (Statement torches are a thing.)
Auto Repair Shops
Auto repair shops don’t just carry gear for cars. Once in a while, they will carry items that are considered to be “daily utility” items. This can include rekeying kits, first aid kits, and yes, butane fuel and torches. Most AutoZones will carry it, though Pep Boys and Sears Auto might not.
If you’re not sure whether your local auto shop has butane, it’s smart to call ahead or order it for pickup from their online store. This is the best way to guarantee that you’re not wasting a trip.
Since butane is a fuel, it should be no surprise that you might be able to find it at a gas station. While gas stations don’t always have butane, they still are fairly reliable purveyors of the fuel in most situations. Most of the time, it will be in the convenience store attached to the gas station, possibly behind the counter or near the auto repair aisle of the store.
With that said, convenience store pricing will increase the price of your butane. Moreover, if you live in California, you might not be able to legally buy butane at your local gas station.
It’s common to hear people believing that you can’t order fuels online. While this once was the case, it’s no longer the reality of the situation. You can get butane fuel online if you want to, and in some cases, the price will be comparable to what you might find in a store. So, it’s not always a bad idea.
However, there is still a chance that you might see an upcharge in the price. Moreover, the shipping price associated with moving fuel can be higher than what you want to pay. Since you can probably find butane somewhere near you right now, this is an option that almost never makes sense.
How Much Does Butane Cost?
Butane is one of those fuels that most people won’t need gallons of, and the way that it’s sold typically reflects that. You will see canisters and smaller amounts on the market. How much you can expect to pay will depend on how much you’re buying. Small, handheld butane canisters will only cost around $2 to $7 a pop.
If you want to get a camping-sized butane canister, then you should expect to pay between $12 to $35. Larger canisters, like the ones that are typically used in a multi-range butane stove, will cost more. Smaller ones will stick to the lower echelon.
How Much Does A Butane Canister Last?
If you are going camping, stocking up on fuel makes a lot of sense. To figure out if you have enough butane for your camping trip, you will have to do a little math. Every eight ounces of butane fuel will last up to three to four hours on a low flame burning stove. If you want to kick your heat up a notch, that number dwindles down to a two to three-hour window.
Thankfully, most people don’t take very long to cook their food while camping. If you are the type to flip burgers for 15 minutes and then chow down, a single eight-ounce canister will be enough for a two-day trip. However, most people should consider taking at least one other canister. After all, no one likes to be stuck without fuel while they camp.
Is butane the same thing as lighter fluid?
It can be, and in most cases, it is. Butane is the fuel that is used in gas-powered lighters, like the ones used in cigar torches. However, lighter future can also refer to naptha (used in wick lighters) and charcoal lighting fluid. If it’s the charcoal fluid, you might recognize this as the stuff you pour on charcoal to ease ignition.When shopping for butane, it’s best to be specific about it being butane. Saying “lighter fluid” could lead to a misunderstanding that could potentially wreck your camping gear, or even lead to explosive results.
Is butane toxic to people?
If you are hoping to eat butane or drink it, then yes, it absolutely is toxic. Butane, like most other fuels, should never be ingested under any circumstances. If you are talking about butane fumes, then the news is a little different. While it still could potentially cause cancer, it won’t start hurting you as quickly as say, gasoline.Butane fumes are far less toxic than most other fuel fumes are. Since they are low on the danger levels, most casual use will not lead to any ill effects. However, this doesn’t mean that you should huff butane fumes. Butane abuse can lead to cardiac, neurological, and respiratory illnesses.
Can you fuel a Zippo lighter using butane?
While butane torches are regularly used as smoking supplies, you should not attempt to fuel a Zippo lighter using a canister of butane. Contrary to what new lighter owners might believe, Zippo lighters do not use butane as their fuel. You will need to go to a smoke shop and get lighter fluid that is appropriate for a Zippo. (Don’t worry, the sales guy will be able to point you in the right direction.)
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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