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Nifty: Refill & transfer fuel between canisters with G-works Gas Saver

Most of my complaints about upright, remote, and integrated canister stoves like the Kovea Supalite, MSR Windpro, and Jetboil Flash relate to the fuel canisters, not to the stoves, which are generally excellent: powerful, user-friendly, durable, lightweight, etc.

In particular, the canisters are:

  • Heavy, in consideration of the amount of fuel they contain;
  • Expensive, relative to other fuels like alcohol and white gas; and,
  • Not refillable partially or completely, which forces backpackers to carry more fuel than they need, and which results in having at home a box of partially used canisters too depleted for a full trip.

Or so I thought.

How to refill & transfer stove fuel between gas canisters

Thanks to some readers on Facebook — notably Michael Chervonnyi, Chris Ozolins, and “Nitro Joe” Buettner — yesterday I learned of a product that eliminates one of these downsides and lessens another. I bought one this morning before my wife had even left for work. This may be old news to those who more regularly peruse the forums, but for most readers I suspect it’s a bit of a revelation.

With a G-Works Gas Saver R1 or G-Works Gas Saver Plus, which cost $26 and $39 on Amazon, respectively, stove fuel can be transferred between EN417 gas canisters, which is the worldwide standard and which are made by MSR, Snow Peak, Jetboil, and others. The benefits:

  • Consolidate fuel from partially used canisters into a single canister; and,
  • Refill a canister with “just enough” fuel for a trip, as can be done with alcohol or liquid fuel.

Also, with an additional $10 adapter from CISNO, transfer butane — which is much less expensive — into the fuel canisters. Hikin’ Jim, who has shared excellent directions on his Adventures in Stoving website, calculates that his cost to refill a 110-gram/3.9-oz canister costs just $0.63, versus the $5 retail cost.

A warning

For good reason, canister manufacturers do not sell adapters for transferring fuel between canisters, and it probably has little to do with profit. Simply put, it can be dangerous. The gas is highly flammable and the canisters are highly pressurized.

In this post I am pointing out that you can transfer fuel, but not necessarily that you should. I will again link to Adventures in Stoving, where Hikin’ Jim has discussed the dangers and has outlined a safety-first procedure for transferring fuel.

Moreover, I cannot personally attest to the performance of this product. I purchased one this morning, and eventually will report back about it.

Company details

G-Works Outdoor Solutions is a Korean company. Their website is worth a look even if you don’t understand Korean — stove geeks will, well, geek out over their product line. G-Works appears related to Peakway. If you have not heard of them either, you are not alone.

Gas Saver R1 versus Gas Saver Plus

The Gas Saver R1 is more basic than the Gas Saver Plus, hence its lower price. The Plus features an air release valve so that no air — just gas — is transferred into the canister. With the R1, the small amount of air trapped between the canister valves gets transferred into the canister along with the fuel.

I’m uncertain if this is a meaningful benefit, even after reading the manufacturer’s explanations (which are in poor English). At a minimum, the absence of air in the adapter will marginally increase the available space for fuel.

If the air burns off along with the gas, it may have a small effect on combustion. But if the air accumulates with each refill, in theory the canister could become occupied by a notable amount of air over many, many refills. However, you’d probably dispose of the canister before this point, because you’d feel that you got your money’s worth from it or because the canister threads were damaged.

Do you refill and transfer fuel between canisters? What’s been your experience?


Disclosure. This website is supported mostly through affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors, at no cost to the reader. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

17 Responses to Nifty: Refill & transfer fuel between canisters with G-works Gas Saver

  1. Douche P. November 1, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    I use a different adapter for transferring gas, but the one you have above looks like it would be less of a pain. For my adapter I have to sit there and hold it, but it looks like with the one you have you can set adn forget (referring to the gas-saver). It works great and does save $ in the long run.
    I also have the $10 adapter you have on here and another LPG adapter. However, I thought that the $10 adapter you have here is only so you can use butane canisters with a stove? Does it also transfer gas into another canister?
    People in earthquake zones should know that if you have all adaptors, you can use all fuel types in an emergency which is part of the reason I got them.

    • Andrew Skurka November 1, 2016 at 9:33 am #

      Yes, with this one you can set-it-and-forget-it. However, you need to do something to create pressure differentials between the canisters. For example, put into your freezer the canister into which the fuel will transfer, in order to cool it down; and keep the other canister warm, so that there is more pressure in the canister. You can also use ice packs to speed up the process.

      Shoot, you are right about the $10 adapter. I was thinking that you could connect the Gas Saver to it, but it doesn’t look as if the construction will allow that. I know there is an adapter so you can transfer butane. I’ll hunt it down and update the text, thanks.

    • Andrew Skurka November 1, 2016 at 9:52 am #

      Okay, found the right adapter: http://amzn.to/2f6jsux. You’ll only use the piece that pierces the butane valve, with the two leg supports. The threaded male piece on the opposite side will screw into the G-Works adapters, and then transferring can begin.

  2. Robin November 1, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    Well if someone would make an ultralight titanium fuel canister….and we could get isobutane in bulk…

  3. Eitan November 1, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    Very cool/ potentially useful tool. I will be excited to see your review on this system after testing it out. I hate bringing 2 – 1/4 full canisters for a 1-2 night trip!

  4. Shawn P. November 1, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    Here is the butane adapter that is made by G-works and attaches directly to the Gas Saver R1 and Plus: goo.gl/ED0e6Y

    • Andrew Skurka November 1, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

      That is the same one I had originally linked to, but I don’t think it will work to transfer butane fuel into a standard canister via the Gas Saver R1 or Plus. While the threaded male piece on the linked adapter could screw into the female pieces on the R1 or Plus, the metal housing will prevent the adapter from getting deep enough.

      That adapter can be used to burn butane on a canister stove, however. You may want an extension cable, because butane bottles are tall and skinny.

      • Shawn P.. November 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

        In the description of the Gas Saver Plus it specifically says that “If combine with butane adapter (8809451970021), Can shift Bottle Type gas to screw Gas Cartridge.” The picture also implies that it could work, but you’ve done a lot more research than I have and I trust you’re expertise. I ordered the Gas Saver Plus using your link. The air control valve was worth it to me as I don’t want to run the risk of air accumulation with each refill. I’m very excited about this! Although I do love my cadillac system, this would be nice when I’m backpacking in the fall/winter or when I’m with multiple people.

        • Andrew Skurka November 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

          When I receive the R1, I’ll take a look at this again to see if it would actually fit. The pictures may be deceptive.

          I’ve done enough research on this to make me dangerous. I’ve also been getting feedback through all sets of channels today. I think we’re all learning together. Ultimately some first-hand experience will answer a lot of these questions and resolve some of this uncertainty.

        • Andrew Skurka November 1, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

          PS Thanks for using my Amazon link. I appreciate your support of a half-day of research and labor, and barbs from my wife this morning wondering why I was already on my computer before she’d even left.

          • J Heavy November 9, 2016 at 10:34 pm #

            I’m in Canada. Is there any way for you to set up amazon.ca affiliate links (instead of .com)? Probably inconsequential, but thought I’d ask.

          • Andrew Skurka November 10, 2016 at 6:57 am #

            I hadn’t looked into it before. Apparently I need to reapply to the Amazon.ca program, and links to .com do not translate over to .ca. Not sure how many Canadian readers I have out there, and whether they want to support this website in that way. Thanks for asking, will keep you posted.

  5. rbiser November 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    I use the R1 and a different adapter for the Asian grocery store butane cans. It has worked great. Put ice water in a bowl with the receiving canister partially submerged set it and come back every 10-ish minutes to jiggle the assembly and get the flow going again.

  6. Bill November 1, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

    The fuel in the canister is present as both a liquid and a vapor. If you would push more vapor into the canister, it would condense to liquid. The pressure inside the canister is the vapor pressure of the fuel. Air is considered a noncondensible vapor and will cause the pressure in the canister to rise above the vapor pressure. Since air is noncondensible, it will be the first to come out of the canister, if it is not inverted. Long story short, if there is air in your canister, it will come out first and be replaced by fuel vapor. When you go to refill the canister, there shouldn’t be any air left. If the canister is used inverted, the liquid fuel will come out and the air will remain.

    For me, the greatest benefit of refilling canisters is the ability to fill small canisters from large ones. If I’m going on a two day trip, there is no need to carry a week’s worth of fuel. The cost of the small canisters is almost as much as the large canisters, but with much less fuel. Being able to top off my small canisters would keep me from having a collection of partially full small canisters.

    I’m used to seeing blends of Isobutane and butane as winter fuel. Now I’m starting to see blends of propane and butane. I’ve always been concerned that the blends will vaporize the most volatile fuel first and leave the least volatile behind, when the fuel is used as a vapor. Since propane boils at -44 F and butane boils at 33 F, I would expect the fuel to be almost pure propane, when used at temperatures below freezing. When the canister is inverted, the fuel will be delivered as a liquid, so no dilution would occur. This favors the off canister stoves for winter use. I suspect that the reasons for using propane is lower cost. I was under the impression that the canisters were not strong enough for use with propane and that was why isobutane was used. That must have changed. I don’t have any empty canisters to weigh, so I don’t know if the propane mix canisters are heavier. I don’t intend to refill canisters with anything other than the original fuel mix or butane, so it shouldn’t be a major safety issue.

    • Hikin Jim November 16, 2016 at 1:59 am #

      Bill,

      Just about all backpacking canisters have at least some propane, typically 15 to 30 percent, depending on the brand. They typically don’t go higher than that because the vapor pressure would exceed the safety margin of the standard backpacking canisters.

      The best winter fuel is a propane-isobutane mix. “Plain” butane is the absolute last fuel you want in a winter mix. Right now in the US the best available winter fuel is Olicamp brand “Rocket Fuel” which is 25% propane and 75% isobutane (approximately. These aren’t laboratory grade mixes).

      You’re right to worry about the propane burning off first although it doesn’t exactly work that way. The propane and isobutane co-mingle in their liquid form. Propane does vaporize at a faster rate, but it “carries” some isobutane with it. Having the propane there means that more of the isobutane (or butane if you have a brand with just regular butane) will burn at a given temperature than otherwise would.

      And indeed that is why liquid feed, drawing fuel off the bottom of the canister works better for winter stove use. The fuel blend remains constant.

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