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Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

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Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby hikin_jim » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:09 pm

Sure, you can run your alcohol stove on methanol. That's what comes in a yellow bottle of HEET. I mean it's cheap and available and all -- but it doesn't have as much heat content as ethanol. In other words, you have to carry more methanol just to do the same amount of cooking.
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OK, so I can get more heat from ethanol than methanol, great, but alcohols with high ethanol content tend to be more expensive. Just how much weight can I save? In other words, Is Ethanol Worth It?

Join me on today's Adventure in Stoving as we "do the numbers" on ethanol.

HJ
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Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving



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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:24 pm

Can I ask how many here use alcohol stoves? And do you consider yourself UL?

Just asking.. I like the discussion about the stoves, and potential use, but If I'm not seeing it, then.. (you fill this part in)
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby hikin_jim » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:39 pm

rlown wrote:Can I ask how many here use alcohol stoves? And do you consider yourself UL?

Just asking.. I like the discussion about the stoves, and potential use, but If I'm not seeing it, then.. (you fill this part in)
Unfortunately, there's not that much traffic on the HST gear forum. Shame, actually since it's really a nice forum.

So, is your thinking that most people are using canister gas stoves?

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby vandman » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:36 pm

I used to be canister stove freak. First a GAZ bluet i bought in Paris. It was perfect for traveling around Europe and did well in the Sierra, but it was stolen. The GAZ replacement I bought was a plastic piece of crap; it took forever for just one cup of water to boil. I almost threw into a wild river one night as I froze my ass off waiting for boil, but I hiked it out and junked it. Then the MSR pocket rocket-- GAZ on steroids. Beautiful stove. I loved it until it sputtered on a freezing cold morning in the Ionian Basin. I still have it, but have never liked the idea of hiking in a bunch of canisters and then hiking out the empties and adding them to the landfill. So now I've been using alcohol stoves, and will never go back, they are cheap, the fuel(Klean strip green) is easy to find and better for the environment. I find that if you understand how they work and protect the flame from the wind, just as you would a canister stove, they perform very well. I have tested them in snowy, windy conditions and they perform as well if not more reliable than the pocket rocket. I know there are a lot of alcohol stove naysayers out there, but I don't care----I love my tricked out mini Tranga. I haven't used HEET, not sure how green it is, but find just regular hardware denatured works very well.
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby markskor » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:57 pm

Tried more than a few stoves over the years -
MSR Simmer-lite - Thought it sort of sucked. (After a large fireball, left it in Tuolumne. It was gone in 10 minutes - sucker!)
Then a MSR XG - Still have it somewhere - a great "group" stove or for winter use -
Hank Roberts canister - thought it was great, way back then - discontinued but lite - hard to find canisters.
SVEA for a while - dependable but leaky and messy.
Made a few different alcohol/ethanol models, bought a few more on eBay - Gave them a good try but just not my type of camping stove. I like to cook.

Now, as a solo mostly and a devoted fisherman, usually rely on the MSR Windpro - canister. Best stove found so far for instant gratification, simmering ability, stability, and enough juice to fry fish.
I can see the benefits of alcohol for short 2 - 3 day trips where fishing is not part of the equation (and you are moving fast), but (as I do not move fast anymore) prefer the Windpro as it gets me through my typical 8 - 10 day Sierra adventures with 1 1/2 canisters.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby Hobbes » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:20 pm

rlown wrote:Can I ask how many here use alcohol stoves?


It should be 100%. Unless you're planning on "cooking", as opposed to simply boiling water, there really isn't any substitute. The weight, convenience (+1 to simple Home Depot denatured alcohol) and **safety** can't be beat.

I mean, the burner itself weighs under 1 oz and is about the size of a shot glass. Being able to use any old leftover disposable water bottle as a fuel container is a big advantage over pressurized gas.
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby rlown » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:23 pm

i admit, I'm on the cooking side of the house. I'll stick with the weight. i'm a white gas guy.. my two fuel containers have been reused endlessly. One since '76 and the other since '82.

I know this is off the topic, but I also know a few here who are canister fans. And, they don't know what to do with the 1/4 leftovers they come out with. I've seen a closet full of questionable canisters, so..
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby freestone » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:30 am

I use alcohol stoves with the hardware vintage as well. I have them dialed in for maximum efficiency and reliability, and they are fun to use so they will remain in my kit for now.

I am open to UL ideas and that has really lightened the load over the years, but some of it I find rather flimsy or drafty, so I continue to embrace my Hilleberg tent and WM Versalite bag philosophy instead of the Cuben tarp and down quilt mantra for now.
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby vandman » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:26 pm

rlown wrote:i admit, I'm on the cooking side of the house. I'll stick with the weight. i'm a white gas guy.. my two fuel containers have been reused endlessly. One since '76 and the other since '82.

I know this is off the topic, but I also know a few here who are canister fans. And, they don't know what to do with the 1/4 leftovers they come out with. I've seen a closet full of questionable canisters, so..


I'm not really an UL hiker. My Sierra trips are usually 12-14 days. My pack last trip weighed 65 pounds, because I carry a lot of camera gear and way too much food. I've been making an effort lately to lighten my load. This year I'm shooting for 50 pounds. The Trangia and its fuel will probably weigh as much as the MSR pocket rocket, but I won't have to carry the empty canisters out, and the Trangia is just easier to use. I love to cook simple flavorful meals, which might call for a simmer, then a boil, and a steep. The Trangia has a simmer ring, which makes this possible. You could cook a trout easily.

Out here in the hotels and hostels in the small towns along the Appalachian Trail, hikers leave 1/4 and 1/2 empty canisters and other redundant gear for those who might want to use them. Might be a good idea for the Sierras--a free box of extra food, fuel and gear.
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby freestone » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:10 am

Out here in the hotels and hostels in the small towns along the Appalachian Trail, hikers leave 1/4 and 1/2 empty canisters and other redundant gear for those who might want to use them. Might be a good idea for the Sierras--a free box of extra food, fuel and gear.


Everyone is going to see this one differently, especially in the Sierra. I see it as people leaving their stuff in bear boxes because they no longer want to carry it. It would be nice if a back-country ranger could comment on this. I suspect cleaning out bear boxes is not their favorite thing to be doing. Any sharing to be on a handshake, not leaving it in a box thinking it might come in handy for someone else.
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Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby jimqpublic » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:28 am

Stoves...
I've used a few. Some were pathetically weak in cool or breezy weather (Bluet I'm talking to you) Some were powerful but finicky and potentially dangerous (MSR XGK)

For quick, easy, elegant I love my Jetboil. The canister stays attached to the stove which fits snugly in the pot. It doesn't need a windscreen unless the wind is very strong. It takes less than 30 seconds to pull from my pack, assemble, fill with water, and light. Two cups of water comes to a boil in under 3 minutes in warm weather and no more than double that with ice cold water and freezing temperatures. A single small 110 gram fuel can got me a week of solo use boiling 5 cups of water and steam baking a muffin every day.

On the other hand I don't have personal experience with alcohol stoves. Maybe a new hobby.

I will state one thing without reservation. Every stove used outdoors needs a windscreen. Either integrated or separate.
Jim
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Re: Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

Postby fishmonger » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:21 pm

Jim and his Jetboil

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Jim and my Jetboil :D

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