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Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Aluminum wood stove? on 11/30/2007 15:36:12 MST Print View

I'm getting turned on to wood stoves after looking at all the good press that the BB Ultra and Ti-Tri Caldera are getting, but rather than shell out $100+ for these sports car stoves I'd definitely rather start out making my own, possibly following one of the many designs available online.

As mentioned in the post just previous to this, I'm really really interested in reducing my pack volume, so the interlocking plate designs (like Nimblewill Nomad's or the Littlbug) are really appealing because they disassemble and take up virtually no pack space.

Well I really would've liked to make these out of titanium, but my searching online has shown me so far that Ti sheets, even really thin, are absurdly expensive.

So now I'm considering something cheaper. I know that many of these existing design have been made out of steel, but I'm wondering if I can get away with using aluminum for the sake of saving weight.

But I don't know much of anything about metallurgy, nor common temperatures of campfires. Can anyone tell me for certain whether an effective ultralight wood-burning stove can be made out of aluminum?

I know there are many different Al alloys, and I suspect some of them offer better heat resistance than others. Maybe I just need to find the right grade?

Help me out, thanks!

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Aluminum wood stove? on 11/30/2007 17:14:07 MST Print View

The resistance of aluminum to burning is generally proportional to its thickness. What happens is, the outer layer, if thick enough, conducts heat away from a hot spot to keep a concentrated heat source from burning through. Stove design has a lot to do with whether you can get away with aluminum. Off hand, I can't think of a wood stove design that will not have hot spots. I have burned up several in attempts to use aluminum flashing. If you use aluminum sheet heavier than flashing, not only is it hard to work with, but after a certain point, you might as well use steel.

Before you knock yourself out making a fancy wood-burning stove, consider a couple of things. First, can you use it where you camp? Many state and national parks prohibit any gathering of any plant material - that means fire wood - even blow-downs and forest litter. Second, if you can legally use a wood stove, you might try it out on a short trip or two. You may decide you don't like the smoke and sooty mess.

If you decide to experiment with a simple, inexpensive, easy-to-make and effective wood stove to see if you like it, my favorite is very simple: a 28 ounce tomato can with holes punched around the bottom with a church key and enlarged a little, and a triangle of three interlocking 1/16 aluminum bars made from 1.5 inch X 1/16 inch bar stock as a pot support. Home Depot, Lowe's and most other hardware stores have this stuff at about $5 for 3 or 4 feet. If you want to get fancy, a support screen, 1/2 inch off the bottom, made of stainless hardware cloth might improve ventillation a little, but it is probably not worth the trouble. This rig fits in a half liter pot and weighs 5 ounces.

If you want an even easier construction job to see if a wood stove is for you, make the pot support by cutting 1.5 inches off another can and squashing it into a triangle that will sit on top of the burning can. Notch the bottom to fit the rim of the can to make it sit securely. Making this rig will take a grand total of 10 minutes, at the most. It might not pack as neatly as the interlocking aluminum bars, but it will do for a try-out.

Edited by vickrhines on 11/30/2007 17:20:54 MST.