Make sure you know how to use your stove. Discovering your stove is difficult to prime should not happen while shivering and hungry on the trail. Use your stove at home in a more controlled environment. Become familiar with its quirks. Some stoves ship with protective coatings or a thin layer of oil to protect them in shipping and transit. By running your stove prior to entering the field, you can burn off these residues. The place to find out your stove does not work is not on the trail.
Use the ideal fuel. If your stove uses multiple fuels and the manufacturer recommends one type over the other, always use the preferred fuel. Using alternative fuels can clog your burner. Use the wrong fuel and you can ruin your stove.
Check your fuel and double check. Murphy’s Laws of Camping dictates that full fuel containers become mysteriously empty on the trail. Make sure to double check that your containers are full before hitting the trail. If your fuel has a funny odor, debris, or sludge at the bottom of it, assume it has been contaminated, dispose of it properly and get fresh fuel.
Do not store your stove with your fuel, especially liquid fuels. When you are done with your trip make sure to remove all the fuel canisters from your gear. Leaking fuel canisters can ruin your pack and other nylon materials and will also give you a false sense of security that you have, “full bottles,” in your pack (see above).
Do not take full fuel bottles on a plane or train, and declare them when on a ferry. Taking full fuel canisters on an aircraft or train without declaring them is illegal and can get you in a lot of trouble. If you are going on a ferry, make sure to declare that you have full fuel canisters so if storing procedures needs to be made, the proper precautions are taken. If you plan to take empty, but used fuel canisters on an airplane, clean them out until all of the fuel smell is gone. Ultimately the gate agent and/or airport security may not allow you to carry any fuel canisters on an aircraft.
Don’t smoke around your stove. I know this really shouldn’t go without saying. All of these fuels are volatile stuff. Smoking around your stove, especially when you are trying to light it is only asking for trouble.
Get a repair kit, and become familiar with how to use if for your stove. Make sure to clean your stove after each adventure. A properly cared for stove can literally give decades of service to you. Never operate a broken stove as this is only asking for trouble or even serious injury.
Dispose of your empty fuel canisters properly. Don’t leave empty fuel canisters behind. Do not put them in a fire and do not bury them. Even the slopes of Mount Everest are covered in the litter of spent oxygen and fuel bottles to the point that serious restrictions are under consideration. If there is a recycling program available, then try and recycle your bottles, if not dispose of them properly and per the instructions on the bottle. Remember Leave No Trace ethics, pack it in, pack it out.