canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

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neil d
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canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by neil d » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:10 pm

I seem to recall reading on another forum that your typical canister stove (Giga, Jetboil, PR, etc.) will use fuel more efficiently if you set the flame lower rather than full-blast. Any idea if this is true? I suppose I could conduct my own bench tests to confirm...but I don't want to waste fuel. :D








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paul
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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by paul » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:26 pm

Absolutely for most stoves. Jetboil is a little different because the max setting on them is closer to mid-range on most stoves - you just can't turn them up as high, so the most efficient setting on a Jetboil is closer to the max than with most.
Big caveat here is conditions. In colder or especially in windy conditions, you will need to run hotter due to more heat loss to the surrounding environment. I for one never run my canister stove at full blast.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by bobby49 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:53 pm

These suggestions are good, but there are more variables. Aluminum cook pots work better for cooking food. Titanium cook pots tend to have hot spots, so they are better for boiling water. That's because of differences in thermal conductivity. Hot spots are kind of irrelevant if you only boil water, and the hot spots tend to show up more if you have the flame cranked up high.

Also, on some stoves, if you get the flame cranked up high, then a lot of heat reflects off the cook pot and starts to heat up the fuel canister. This is especially true if you are using too much of a windscreen. I avoid this problem by using a half windscreen that only blocks wind on the windward direction, but it allows some heat to escape on the downwind direction.

I never run my little stove at full blast. The thing weighs only 9/10ths of one ounce. I'm afraid something might happen.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by neil d » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:49 pm

Good comments, thanks...lately I've been using the Jetboil almost exclusively for rehydrating and 'cooking' food. This is one of the newer 'regulated' burners, not the flamethrower. I had noticed that the 'high' on that stove is not as extreme as on the Giga and PR...seems like it is pretty well optimized for use with the heat exchanger, so one does not get the 'flame up the side of the pot' effect.

Rehydrating my home-brew dehydrated meals means I need to use a very low flame to avoid scorching the food. I cooked three meals (for two) this way last weekend and it felt like I hardly made a dent in the fuel quantity. Also got many full boils for coffee, tea, and cleanup. Seems like this stove really sips the fuel at the lower setting.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by bobby49 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:02 pm

My butane burner usage has gotten very simple. I carry one 550ml titanium cup for water boiling. I carry one 600ml polypropylene bowl for eating. I pour all of the dry food powders and granules together into the bowl, and then I boil a sufficient volume of water. The boiling water is poured over the food, and then I cover it with insulated clothing while the food rehydrates in the bowl. When it begins to cool down, it is consumed quickly.

I never have any cook pots to be scrubbed.

Over the last week, I was out for five days over Shepherd Pass and Mount Whitney. I started with two butane canisters that each hold around 4 ounces of butane. When I finished, I had used less than one canister. No heat exchangers or other extra weight.

Incidentally, my evening meal each day was a mixture of instant rice, instant quinoa, instant split pea soup, salt, and a bit of olive oil. Hot coffee or tea is nice, but there is no nutritional value. Instead, I drank hot Ensure or hot milk powder or Carnation Breakfast Essentials.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:27 pm

Bobby- did you take the liquid bottles of Ensure, or does is come in powder? If so how does it compare to protein powder, not nutritionally, but ease of use- how well does it dissolve and mix?

A friend who is very mechanically inclined told me that the stove burner needs to warm up before it effectively burns, so best to turn it on low for a minute and then turn it up for more heat.

May be my imagination but I swear the water heats better when I put some pressure on the lid (a round cozy in top so I do not burn my fingers). Sometimes I put a rock on top of the cozy.

When below freezing, I have slept with the fuel can, but not sure that makes much difference since it quickly cools by the time you screw on the stove and light it.

Most of the fuel is used to heat the water to a boil, it takes very little to maintain a simmer. So the initial temperature of the water makes a big difference in the fuel used to heat it to a boil. I sun-heat my evening water. Morning is more of a problem. Again, maybe my imagination, but if it is around freezing in the morning, I think water taken deeper out of a lake is warmer than water left in a Platypus out overnight.

It is a bit warmer inside the tent, so putting the Platypus inside may be good, somewhere it remains standing up. I have done winter camping where we had to sleep with our water - never liked that because of fear of leakage. The other winter trick is to heat water for a night time hot water bottle and then sleep with it. Also have had to sleep with my camera so it would work in the morning.

I have never been sold on heat exchangers- the extra weight is not made up with less fuel unless you are out a long time.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by bobby49 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:46 pm

Liquid Ensure would be terribly impractical. I carry a cup or so of Ensure powder, and sometimes I mix in some ordinary non-fat milk powder, or instant coffee, or something else depending on my mood. Ensure powder can be easily mixed with hot or cold water.

When I boil water in my 550ml titanium cup, it needs a lid. One of the lighter materials around is thin sheet carbon fiber. I put a tiny silicone handle on that, and the lid is sized for that specific cup.

For fuel, you can get pure butane, and it has cold weather performance problems. Or, you can get isobutane blend, and it works down to colder temperatures.

This may sound strange to non-winter campers. If you want to keep your water bottle from freezing, then dig a hole in the snow, put the water bottle in, and then cover it over with insulation.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by bobby49 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:14 pm

By the way, Ensure powder comes in vanilla or chocolate flavor. When I get bored with that, I also have some extra strawberry flavoring powder. I need to add Malted Milk next time.

As we all know, the human body doesn't store protein effectively, so we need to get reasonable doses of protein spread out all day long. So, for breakfast I will use Ensure or else plain milk powder. For lunch I will eat a stick of string cheese. In the evening I will eat rice and beans.

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by John Harper » Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:28 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:27 pm
May be my imagination but I swear the water heats better when I put some pressure on the lid (a round cozy in top so I do not burn my fingers). Sometimes I put a rock on top of the cozy.
I wondered about that, too. If the lid was sealed (allowing increased pressure), you would slightly increase the boiling point of the water, but since we're talking a vented lid (or cozy), I don't think it makes any difference in time to boil. I just got back from almost a month backpacking, camping, and fishing. Used my JB a lot for morning coffee, etc. I realized putting the lid on was pretty much useless, except to channel some steam as an indicator of boil.

John

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Re: canister stoves: better efficiency with lower flame?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:07 pm

My experience from cooking at home is that putting on a lid DOES make a big difference, but pressing down on the lid may not. The lid is more important if you really cook. You can simmer with a lid on very low heat. I also use the lid to pre warm my titanium cup and the cozies.

If I put the flame up too high, it spreads out from the center of the pot and I think some heat is wasted by shooting out sideways, not warming the bottom of the pot. I think this is a "three bears" answer- not too high, not too low, but just right.

Bobby, I have to laugh at our protein supplements; you are using Ensure which is for older people, I am using NIDO which is fortified whole milk for toddlers. Since I fall in the former category, I should probably switch.

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