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Alcohol Stove damage
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Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Alcohol Stove damage on 07/04/2008 14:39:10 MDT Print View

I have recently returned from a short trip on the AT and in every shelter the picnic tables are potted with deep large burn marks. I asked my hiking partner about the marks and she responded that they were from alcohol stoves being used on the tables. I couldn't belive it! I use an antigravity gear set up and have never left any kind of damage to any surface I have used my stove on. She was right, however, that night we were joined by more hikers and one of them used an alcohol stove that was virtually a ball of fire while in use. It left a scar almost 8" across when he was done. I have read virtually nothing about this (although the AT is nice enough to supply tables in most of the shelters) this would seem to be a very serious problem. I would be interested to hear what others have encountered and if it is just people not knowing how to use their equipment. I uploaded a picture to show the damage.
alcohol burns

Edited by cgulley on 07/04/2008 14:43:09 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Alcohol Stove damage on 07/04/2008 18:05:59 MDT Print View

I have gotten my alcohol stove (TinMan Pepsi can version) to burn downward when the wind screen was too close so it got too hot. I have made some of those marks, but caught it too late. Sorry.

I now use the Caldera Cone and haven't had that problem.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Alcohol Stove damage on 07/05/2008 23:50:14 MDT Print View

Yikes! Better watch it out there. The powers that be will ban their use and we will be set back. Educate! And be careful please.

Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Alcohol stove damage on 07/06/2008 05:55:57 MDT Print View

That was my worry as well, although it would be virtually impossible to enforce. In most places the only "official" person any hiker sees is the ridge runner for that section. I had asked my friend about even posting a sign reading "no stoves on the tables" but even that is virtually impossible. The best way to get the word out is forums like this and others, maybe something on white blaze.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Alcohol stove damage on 07/07/2008 14:03:11 MDT Print View

I've heard that the State of Washington considers alcohol stoves to be "open fires" and bans them during periods of high fire danger.

Jim Walke
(jaywalke3) - F
stove rings on 07/07/2008 15:23:55 MDT Print View

Those marks have appeared as long as there are backpacking stoves. They may be made by alkies now, but they used to be made by people over-priming their Whisperlites.

Unfortunately, you can't out-legislate stupid. The people who need a sign wouldn't pay any attention to it.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
wow on 07/10/2008 11:55:17 MDT Print View

I use either the Caldera Cone (AGG version) or the WhiteBox stove and have never had an issue like the one shown in the picture. That said, I use a piece of heavy grade foil under the WhiteBox stove (it came with the stove) and we don't have picnic tables to use a stove on where we hike either. Sometimes we find a cut stump or a nice rock though.

It's good to know and thanks for posting a photo showing the damage.

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Alcohol Stove Damage on 07/10/2008 12:11:48 MDT Print View

Smaller stoves, like the red bull can stoves, have caused the same problem for me in the past, but my Whitebox has never caused that type of problem.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Never Say Never, But... on 07/10/2008 14:20:19 MDT Print View

I don't ever remember leaving burn marks on camp tables. I use a non-pressurized top burner that matches well the small diameter of my FireLite 550.

I'm not sure -- but are marks like that caused by pressurized side-burning "jet" stoves? I've never quite understood the race for "fastest boil time" -- which serves little practical purpose IMHO and can actually waste fuel esp. when paired with narrower pots.

Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Never Say Never, But... on 07/10/2008 14:36:25 MDT Print View

Its up to all of us to politely point out to those we see on the trail cooking their dinners on top of a ball of flame to be more careful about where they cook and that cooking is part of LNT ethic as well.

(Conductor) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Alcohol Stove damage on 07/10/2008 17:04:30 MDT Print View

At first I blackened some pine needles. Now I put down a square of aluminum foil. Problem solved. It works on tables too.

russ kinder
(rusty075) - F
Stove Damage on 07/11/2008 00:27:14 MDT Print View

In my experience/observation it's not so much a matter of the specific type of stove, be it sideburner, minibull, WBS, etc, being used that results in the damage, as much as it is sloppiness during the fueling of the stove. Most of the "fireballs" that I've seen were caused by overfilling priming pans, or missing them altogether when pouring the fuel in, or in a little river of fuel dribbling down the side of those little cough syrup cups some people use to measure their fuel. In the bright sunlight, or the dim twilight, people don't notice that they've spilled fuel until they light the match and "Poof!" With a windscreen wrapped around and a pot on top sometimes its hard to even tell that there's combustion going on on the outside of the stove.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Alcohol Stove damage on 07/11/2008 05:01:04 MDT Print View

It may be in part to the windscreen being too tight on the stove, messing up the thermodynamics of the burn of the stove. Additionally, if some stoves were home-made it could also be from poor construction.

Then again, the filling process can lead to some issues. This is why it is important to fill the stove away from the table, and allow any spills to "flash off" (evaporate) before lighting the stove.

I use a wick-fed stove (MBD), and don't see this problem with my gear.

Dave Weston

Locale: NW
Re: Re: Alcohol stove damage on 08/28/2008 13:51:04 MDT Print View

In Washington and Oregon I have seen the signs state no open fires and then they say that stoves are ok.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
No excuse on 09/03/2008 15:13:01 MDT Print View

I saw one on the floor of the upstairs level of the Ed Garvey shelter on the AT. Disgusting!

Anybody who does this needs to refocus on their attention to detail. Anybody who does this twice needs a new hobby.

Anything that cooks is hot enough to burn the table if some sort of shield or spacing isn't used.