Running MSR Reactor on straight propane?


Original Post
Trevor. · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 741

I've been thinking about buying This Adapter that allows me to use green Coleman propane canisters in place of an IsoPro canister on my MSR Reactor.
I'm a little concerned that it might damage the burner, or flare up in a massive fireball, so I figured I'd see if anyone else has tried it, or knows of a good reason not to try it out. Otherwise I'll guinea pig it and let you guys know how it goes.

Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 136

Seriously? Ha, I was going through the same exact thought process just this weekend. I hope to see your results! =)

Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 8

The regulator will still be the same, so that shouldn't cause a problem. As long as the gaskets are good it will not leak. Propane is propane, it is white gas that MSR refines a tiny bit more than Coleman white gas, so it burns a little cleaner.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865

There's nothing to be concerned about. The fuels are VERY similar chemically. (There is propane in the IsoPro)

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 392

I have that exact same adapter and use it with a pocket rocket knockoff. No problems at all.

Also have this

https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Disposable-Regulator-Accessory-Cylinders/dp/B019CND6J2/ref=pd_sim_468_21?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B019CND6J2&pd_rd_r=8007FVY5V3GFZEQ4ZM8Q&pd_rd_w=ouXZw&pd_rd_wg=MWc1d&psc=1&refRID=8007FVY5V3GFZEQ4ZM8Q

and have been known to refill the 1 lb green bottles

SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

Trevor, in case you weren't aware you can also refill your isobutane canisters very easily as well with super cheap large cans of butane. In the reverse they don't have propane mixed in but work well on pure butane.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865
SRB25 wrote:Trevor, in case you weren't aware you can also refill your isobutane canisters very easily as well with super cheap large cans of butane. In the reverse they don't have propane mixed in but work well on pure butane.
The propane is in the mix so you still get adequate gas output at <32 F temp. Pure butane isn't a good choice for cold weather.
Trevor. · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 741
SRB25 wrote:Trevor, in case you weren't aware you can also refill your isobutane canisters very easily as well with super cheap large cans of butane. In the reverse they don't have propane mixed in but work well on pure butane.
Butane doesn't vaporize at all in cold weather, hence my desire to run a full propane blend. I initially looked into refilling the IsoPro cans with straight propane, but it looks like that's a recipe for a potential explosion since propane has a higher vapor pressure than those cans are designed for.

My primary concern with switching to straight propane has to do with the reactor's catalytic burner flaring up. As it is, my reactor likes to flare up and burn weird when it's cold enough that the isobutane won't vaporize, leaving it running on straight propane.
Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 129

Interesting. Let us know how it works out. I wondered if the extra weight of a propane canister would be an issue, but it turns out it's not much more than a butane canister (750g vs 660g for a canister with 450g/16oz of fuel).

You do know there's a difference between isobutane and regular n-butane, right? Isobutane works much better than n-butane in cold weather because it vaporizes at 11F versus 31F for n-butane. (That's at sea level; they both vaporize at lower temperatures at higher elevations). MSR, JetBoil and SnowPeak canisters are propane/isobutane blends. Primus, Coleman and Optimus are mostly propane/n-butane.

When we were on Mt Logan up in the Yukon we used an MSR Reactor with JetBoil propane/isobutane fuel and didn't have any problems. We used a few tricks in very cold weather, such as keeping the canister in a sleeping bag overnight and standing it in a shallow bowl of lukewarm water when in use.

Here's a useful article on gas stoves and cold weather: adventuresinstoving.blogspo...

Trevor. · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 741

Yeah I'm aware of the differences between iso and n-butane. I'm well versed in the various tricks one can use to keep fuel warm, and would really like to avoid using them when I'm not on a weight sensitive mission. Think cold weather car camping or a winter base camp.

Nitrous Stone · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 10

if this works i may try it with my windburner. Id love to hear the results

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

Make sure you get it for youtube.

s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,038

If weight is no issue why not take a nice multi burner for the tailgate?
I think you'll be fine running propane with that stove. Keep us posted.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Trevor. · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 741
dan danniel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

hello

congratulations, I had been expecting someone to lead such testing for quite a while !

well, did you also try this with the Windburner ?

thanks, you made my day anyway !

PS : now we all know we can use the Reactor down to - 43°F thanks to proprane

Everest, K2, Antartic are within reach !!!

Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 129
dan danniel wrote:Everest, K2, Antartic are within reach !!!
Actually it's quite common to use isobutane on Everest and K2. Isobutane vaporizes at much lower temperatures at those elevations than at sea level (-30°F at 26,000'). Here's a picture of some of the garbage that people leave at South Col. Quite a few isobutane canisters there.
Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 8,393
Trevor. wrote:[...] I tested the stove by using a half full 1lb Coleman Propane bottle(roughly 40F) The test was done outdoors(25F, 2500ft elevation, no wind), and took 1:45 to bring 1L of cold water to a boil. [...]
MSR specifies 3 to 3.5 minutes for a liter, not bad.
dan danniel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
Martin le Roux wrote: Actually it's quite common to use isobutane on Everest and K2. Isobutane vaporizes at much lower temperatures at those elevations than at sea level (-30°F at 26,000'). Here's a picture of some of the garbage that people leave at South Col. Quite a few isobutane canisters there.
In summer -30°F at 26000, it's ok but in winter temperatures can go down to -60°F
at that height, it should work at -60°F according to this chart
altitude vs temperature
dan danniel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
Trevor. wrote:It works! I wound up going with the G-Works adapter because it seemed higher quality. The adapter seems very well made, screwed onto both the stove and Propane tank smoothly without leaking excess gas, and didn't seem to leak at all. I tested the stove by using a half full 1lb Coleman Propane bottle(roughly 40F) The test was done outdoors(25F, 2500ft elevation, no wind), and took 1:45 to bring 1L of cold water to a boil. Initially, the stove took a while to start burning correctly within the burner disc, and even once warmed up, it was burning somewhat unevenly, but that may be due to my Reactor being super old and beat up. It seems like it has a bit less flame control than with a stock canister, with the valve being mostly on/off. I'll use it in the real world a few times and post updates.
well I could see 2 majors issues with those propane canister, used with the Reactor

1/the power
2/the weight

1/ if propane's (boiling time) outperforms traditional isobutane canisters, that means it delivers more power (BTU ?), can this stove handle such power ? Contrary to the Windburner which can be reset in the field (at least one time before sending it back to MSR Aftersales), the Reactor will put itself in security mode in case of overheating and will be useless... sounds not great !

2/Does the weight of the propane canister on the stove allow secure hanging ?
the only link between the stove and the caniser is the small screwed G works adapter, right ?
if the weight pressure of the canister is too high by hanging it, the screw thread of the G works, might very well be abraded !

my 2 cents
dan danniel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

here is the whole study, this might be risky, so please read on :

https://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.fr/2017/01/the-g-works-adapter-100-propane-for.html#links

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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