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Alcohol Stoves

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Alcohol Stoves

Postby hundy » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:47 am

I have always used white gas stoves for years, for over 20 and
counting. I took some clinics and I am trying to lighten my load. I
made some Alcohol Stoves. I did a a-lot of research on how to make
them. I have one I am happy with.
I just read some posts on a Hiking webpage, about difficulties with
Alcohol at altitude and with Cold/Cool temps. I never really looked
into using Alcohol as a fuel.
I am scheduled to do the JMT from Bishop Pass to Mammouth on Sept 7th.
Any advice on using Alcohol as a fuel, how will it work at those temps
and elevation.
Any imput and/or feed back would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You

Jay Strine



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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby copeg » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:28 am

I've been using a Cat can alcohol stove for over four years now. They definitely have advantages, but also have a few minor disadvantages. Of course, alcohol stoves take a bit longer to boil water than other types of stoves, and they are also a little bit more difficult to cook on (although I've cooked things like pancakes and fish on them easily). I've never really had much problems with high altitude, but with cold I have. If the temps drop near or below freezing it gets a tad difficult to boil water with one 'round'. However, I can get it to boil for the second round. Of course, its always hard to judge what temps are going to be for you on that stretch, but should you decide to bring it (if it were me at that time of year I'd bring mine) I'd recommend a) make sure your pot stand is at optimal height (~1.5-2") b) ALWAYS use a windscreen c) bring a little extra fuel just in case and d) bring a pot cozy (pot cozies are always nice, and if you need to run the stove twice, place the warmed water from the first round into the cozy while your stove cools for a bit before loading and lighting again).
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby rightstar76 » Wed Aug 20, 2008 2:50 pm

What do you store the alcohol in? I was at REI and I can't find a small fuel container. So I'm thinking about carrying it in a plastic container.
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby hundy » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:43 pm

As of now the Alcohol is still in the large metal container it came in. I am still experminting at home. I do plan on putting the Alcohol is a plastic container if the stove works out. I have seen others use the plastic containers.

Jay
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby copeg » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:48 pm

I've always used either a leftover soda bottle or a leftover gatorade bottle - much lighter than any metal fuel container (I think I've been using the same 7-up bottle for the last 3 years). Because I carry my water in similar bottles, I wrap duct tape around the bottle both as a warning sign, and just in case I need some duct tape
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby Hetchy » Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:16 am

Hi, I have been using a mini Trangia for a while now. some things I discovered:
Insulating the stove base from cold ground helps the stove reach maximum output faster=less fuel used to reach boil (about 7 minutes for 2 cups water compared to 11 minutes with cold fuel and stove)
If water spills (condesation from pot) anywhere on the stove while it is running it can act like an evaporative cooler also degrading the performance.
The Denatured alcohol can be cut with 10% water to prevent sooting (at least in the Trangia)but does not improve the economy significantly.
I place the fueled but UNLIT stove on my bare thigh in cold weather before using. This preheats the aluminum base reducing priming time(a lot!). This way I don't have to heat the whole fuel storage container and the cold aluminum on you leg sure wakes you up in the AM!
Add the pasta to the pot while the water is heating and shutting down 3 minutes into the boil works fine for supermarket spaghetti. I then drain off the excess water and make ovaltine(with powderedmilk) out of it.. tastier than it sounds. The extra starch makes it taste a bit like the sherpa tea. I Put the remaing noodles into my plastic bowl and mix in the powdered sauce or dried veggies and let stand.
Obviously this ain't the only way to do things but I can get by with 4 ounces of alcohol a day at 9600 feet cooking both oats in the am and spaghetti at night 1600 calories worth including the 4 cups of ovaltine. The remaining calories are no-cook items. This is not a brag.. just illustrating fuel saving tips.
As far as storage, I found the superlight Platypus clear plastic 1 liter bag to be ideal and has no problems with the alcohol. At four ounces a day it holds just under 8 days of fuel. I must add I have not put the fuel line antifreeze known as heet into this bag yet.. just Denatured alcohol.
It is also worth mentioning that the Trangia has a cap (simmerring) that when shut can be droped on the burn extinguishing it instantly and also a screw cap to save fuel so I don't have to burn it all the way out.
I am sure you could improvise something similar for your homemade stove. I found this practice saves a lot of fuel and can extend my "range". (for 1 liter of Alky +2 cooked meals a day=8days). I don't mind a little chewyness in the pasta, and the quick oat/sugar/powdermilk mix only needs hot water and time to rehydrate to palatability.
Of all the things I mentioned I think preheating the stove in cold weather(and insulationg from the ground is the single most important factor at least for my Alky stove.
Hope this is helpful, Cheers.
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby freestone » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:21 pm

Hetchy, thank you for sharing your information on heating the alcohol before using. I am a huge Trangia fan and use the Mini as well as the 25 and 27 series. The 27 is my favorite because of the foolproof windscreen design. The wind can really increase boil time and fuel consumption in Alcohol setups so a good windscreen is a must. The 27 is heavy, but they are a joy to use, so I try to skimp elsewhere. I carry my fuel in a plastic flask shaped container with a flip top lid so I can squirt the fuel into the burner to avoid spillage. On longer trips, I will also carry a one liter water bottle filled with alcohol then add to the squirt bottle as required. If you are into gourmet cooking for large groups, then the 25 series is the way to go. You can even order the kit with a cutting board pasta strainer combo!
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby frediver » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:27 pm

Can someone tell me about HEET, what can I expect from it, will I need more fuel, sooting etc. I have always used alcohol but when I went to the paint store today the price had really gone up, near $7.00 qt. now. When I compared the price to HEET, HEET works out to $4.50 qt.

Thanks,
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:33 am

HEET doesn't leave residue when burning. It's very poisonous, tho, so don't let it get on your skin. I've used soda bottles with plumbers' tape in the threads, or those plastic flip top bottles you get at REI, for fuel. Denatured alcohol burns about the same as HEET and both can be stored in plastic. Alcohols with increased water content, like isopropyl, will leave residue and burn less well.

I've had no trouble with subfreezing temps or altitude. Those are things people like to say to convince you of things they think they know. Fortunately, I started using alcohol stoves before I started reading in forums. Put the alcohol in your pocket and use a stove with a wick to address decreased performance in cold - you can make a Supercat or any other stove a wick stove by epoxy-ing a few wraps of wicking around the circumference of it.

If I could find a picture of my mini atomic at 10,000 feet in November I'd post it. I woke to ice on the lake and icicles in the stream, and boiled water for breakfast.
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby vandman » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:55 am

I have a mini Trangia and love it. I use roof flashing as a windscreen and hardware cloth for a pot stand. It all fits into my snow peak 1.5 kit. I use a plastic Burnett's Vodka bottle for the fuel(with a skull and crossbones warning). I've been experimenting with it a lot this past year and I've been very impressed with its reliability. It is now my primary stove, instead of my msr pocket rocket. My boil times are around 6 minutes for 2 cups. I always add ramen or oatmeal or grits to the pot with the cold water, so it's ready when the water boils. I rarely use the simmer ring, but I cooked some pop corn using the simmer with great success. Because this stove has a tight screw top you can carry it with fuel, so you can put it in your pocket to warm up without spillage. Plus if you every want to play some backcountry hockey the Trangia would be the perfect puck and it's so tough, it would work just fine.
trangia fuel.jpg
trangia hardware cloth.jpg
trangia lite.jpg
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby frediver » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:44 am

I was thinking of just using the bottle the HEET came in for storage, I would expect that to be leak-proof ?
What is the consensus concerning HEET Vs. Alcohol ?
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Re: Alcohol Stoves

Postby hikin_jim » Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:02 pm

frediver wrote:I was thinking of just using the bottle the HEET came in for storage, I would expect that to be leak-proof ?
What is the consensus concerning HEET Vs. Alcohol ?
HEET (in the yellow bottle) is alcohol, methyl alcohol, aka methanol. It works pretty well, and is actually supposed to work better in cold weather than the "other" stove alcohol, ethyl alcohol, aka ethanol (the kind of alcohol people drink when it is food grade). The HEET that isn't so great is HEET in the red bottle. HEET in the red bottle is isopropyl alcohol (ispropanol). HEET in the red bottle is a big, smoky mess. Not good.

I've got a lot of information on alcohol as a stove fuel on my blog if you're interested.

There shouldn't be any problem with keeping HEET in the yellow bottle, and some people really like the HEET bottle because its long neck makes pouring easier. "Flip top" bottles seem to be the bottle of choice with alcohol for a lot of folks. I've had very good luck with my "flip top" bottles.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving
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