Travelling with Stoves and Fuel Bottles on Planes

Airports… gotta love ’em.

Getting gear through airports is annoying... but it has to be done!

Although I’ve never had any difficulties; people all over the world travelling with empty stoves and fuel bottles have faced problems when flying with their camping gear. Some airlines and airports are quite happy to let you take your fuel-using gear travel with you, however many others will give you a hard time or flat out refuse to let you travel with those items. You cannot bring any flammable liquids, including gasoline, in either your carry-on or checked luggage, so make sure your bottles and stove are definitely empty!

It is ridiculous that airports go through this process because – without ranting too much – once emptied, fuel bottles and stoves pose no risk of explosion. But to keep airports and airlines happy, let’s just do everything we can to make sure our stoves are on the plane with us!

Please do not take fuel canisters for canister-stoves on planes! There is a low chance these will make the flight, so post them to your destination or purchase them locally!

With this information in mind, here are some tips to get your gear on the plane with less fuss:

Wash your stove and fuel bottle as thoroughly as possible with washing detergent or soapy water

Make sure all of the black residue is removed from your stove before you fly

Giving stoves and fuel bottles a good clean is recommended by all airlines as well as the Department of Homeland Security in the US so that no vapours or residue are left.

Fill your bottle with coca cola or vinegar

Fill your bottle with coke to get rid of fuel smells

I’ve heard of people leaving coca-cola or vinegar in their bottle for 24 hours to ensure that there is no trace of fuel.

Cover your fuel bottle with stickers or tape

To create less of a fuss with your fuel bottle, I’ve heard of people covering their bottles with stickers or gaffe tape so that it appears more like a water bottle than a fuel bottle.

Remove the lid from your fuel bottle

Make sure the lid to your fuel container is removed and duct-taped to your fuel bottle, or packed separately somewhere else in your luggage. This makes it obvious to the customs officials that the bottle is cleaned, emptied and aired out. You can take it a step further with a note attached that states, “Fuel cap removed to demonstrate that this bottle is empty of fuel, has been cleaned and aired, and is absent of fuel vapors” if you wish.

Keep your cool

If customs questions your stove, keep your cool

If someone is giving you a hard time about travelling with your stove or fuel bottle, make sure that you remain calm. Letting loose is not going to get you anywhere. Avoid the temptation to be argumentative, and remember that the airport officials are doing their best to ensure that all passengers are safe.

Arrive at the airport early

If you do get pulled up for travelling with a stove, this can take some time to work out. Get to the airport as early as possible to make sure that everything (including you) gets on the plane!

  1. Most people I’ve met touring do use an alcohol stove. The issue is more the fact that airports are tightening up regulations, and anything associated with stoves and fuel bottles is subject to greater scrutiny. The above tips make the travelling process smoother.

  2. I would be careful with cola. You surely don’t want to have any sugar left in your bottle the next time you fill it with fuel.

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