White gas, exemplified by Coleman Camp Fuel, is a common naphtha-based fuel used in many lanterns and torches
The word naphtha is from Latin and Ancient Greek (νάφθα), derived from Middle Persian naft ("wet", "naphtha"), the latter meaning of which was an assimilation from the Akkadian napṭu (see Semitic relatives such as Arabic نَفْط nafṭ ("petroleum"), Syriac ܢܰܦܬܳܐ naftā, and Hebrew נֵפְט neft). In Ancient Greek, it was used to refer to any sort of petroleum or pitch.
In the Song of the Three Children the Greek word νάφθα designates one of the materials used to stoke the fiery furnace. The translation of Charles Brenton renders this as "rosin".
The book of II Maccabees tells how a "thick water" was put on a sacrifice at the time of Nehemiah and when the sun shone it caught fire. It adds that "those around Nehemiah termed this 'Nephthar', which means Purification, but it is called Nephthaei by the many [literally hoi polloi]."
It enters the word napalm, a contraction of the "na" of naphthenic acid and "palm" of palmitic acid, originally made from a mixture of naphthenic acid combined with aluminium and magnesium salts of palmitic acid. Naphtha is the root of the word naphthalene, and can also be recognised in the word phthalate, and the paint colour phthalo blue.
In older usage, "naphtha" simply meant crude oil, but this usage is now obsolete in English. It was also used for mineral spirits (also known as "Stoddard Solvent"), originally the main active ingredient in Fels Naptha laundry soap. The Ukrainian and Belarusian word нафта (nafta), Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian "nafta", the Russian word нефть (neft') and the Persian naft (نفت) mean "crude oil". Also, in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, nafta (нафта in Cyrillic) is colloquially used to indicate diesel fuel and crude oil. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, nafta was historically used for both diesel fuel and crude oil, but its use for crude oil is now obsolete and it generally indicates diesel fuel. In Bulgarian, nafta means diesel fuel, while neft, as well as petrol (петрол in Cyrillic), means crude oil. In Nafta is also used in everyday parlance in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to refer to gasoline/petrol. In Poland, the word nafta means kerosene,, as in lampa naftowa "paraffin lamp"; crude oil and (colloquially) diesel fuel are called ropa "pus". In Flemish, the word naft is used colloquially for gasoline.
There is a hypothesis that the word is connected with the name of the Indo-Iranian god Apam Napat, which occurs in Vedic and in Avestic; the name means "grandson of (the) waters", and the Vedas describes him as emerging from water golden and shining "with bright rays", perhaps inspired by a burning seepage of natural gas.