It is a well-documented fact that purchasing items produced locally reduces the overall impact on the environment. Denatured alcohol is typically manufactured locally. In the US, HEET is made in Chicago, IL and S-L-X is made in Memphis, TN. A vast majority of gas canisters are manufactured overseas. MSR & Jetboil canisters are manufactured in Korea, GigaPower – Japan and Coleman – China. Think globally, source locally, it’s better for the environment.
When using butane/propane, people usually start their trip with a full gas canister. After a couple of backpacking trips, you are left with a bunch of partial canisters. Most people will not take these partially fill canisters with them on the next trip due to the uncertainty of how much fuel is left over. What do you do with residual fuel? Recycling and refilling of gas canisters are great ideas that hasn’t really been adopted yet. The most common way of disposing left over fuel is to burn off or vent it straight into the atmosphere. This seems wrong to us.
The advantage of using alcohol is that you only need to bring as much fuel as you plan on using. Whatever is left over can be refilled for the next trip. If you have to dispose of the fuel, start off by using HEET. The leftover fuel can be poured into a car’s gas tank as HEET was designed to get rid of residual water in your gas tank!
Finally, there is the issue of solid waste. Manufactures have increased gas canister performance by combining various gasses. This has caused the pressures inside the canisters to increase thereby requiring a more robust container. A four ounce gas canister needs a strong container and this container alone can weighs up to four ounces! This is not a consumer friendly product. With alcohol, the fuel bottle is re-usable and should never need to be replaced.