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Penny Alcohol Stove
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David Stott
(Hikerdaddy) - F

Locale: Smokey Mountians
Penny Alcohol Stove on 02/05/2009 14:09:43 MST Print View

I have made lots of pepsi can stoves and never had a bit of trouble. But I threw together a penny stove and can get it to light. All of the alcohol burns out of the top pan and the jets never light. Any advise you have would be appriciated.


Scott Littlefield
(sclittlefield) - F

Locale: Northern Woods of Maine
Priming Pan on 02/05/2009 15:04:45 MST Print View

Sounds like it's not priming properly (unless your jets are just way too small).

Try using a priming pan under the stove.

David Stott
(Hikerdaddy) - F

Locale: Smokey Mountians
Penny Alcohol Stove on 02/05/2009 16:05:13 MST Print View

I didnt follow any certain instructions. What size should the holes be?

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Penny Alcohol Stove on 02/06/2009 06:27:49 MST Print View

These stoves will often not light the jets or "bloom" if you just light alcohol in the top pan, especially in cooler weather. They are easy to get going though. There are several routes you can take. One method is to glue a few turns of fiberglass wick around the outside with a high temperature epoxy such as JB Weld. Squirt some alcohol on the wick, light it and you'll be in business in about 20 seconds. Another method is to use a small dish made from heavy aluminum foil under the stove. Yet another way is to always set your stove up on a non-flammable surface and just squirt some alcohol on it and light it. Judging by the number burns I've seen on table tops and shelter floors, I would say many hikers lack the discipline or cognitive skills to always find a spot that won't burn so I recommend one of the first two or go back to an open center column stove such as your Pepsi can stove.

boba fett
(hiflyer) - F
few videos here on 02/06/2009 20:24:14 MST Print View

I made a simple priming pan which gets it going!

As well, if you have a lighter, heat up the side of the stove and it gets it popping

Penny Stoves rock

Edited by hiflyer on 02/06/2009 20:24:48 MST.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: few videos here on 02/08/2009 16:21:50 MST Print View

What did you replace the hardware cloth pot stand with and where did you get it?

Matthew Sensintaffar
(msensintaffar) - F

Locale: Talladega National Forest
bloom on 02/18/2009 08:56:17 MST Print View

Most of the time if the penny does not bloom is because the seal around the burner is somehow compromised. This can be for a variety of reasons but most of the time I find this happens when I push the burner in to the fuel cup unevenly. I would definitely follow Bill Waite's method of building the stove.

The only deviation I make from his instructions is using another Heineken can for the top cap/base, making it just slightly shorter than the burner.

Make sure and use top cap as a base as this is what insulates the stove from whatever it is sitting on. Bill recommends drilling a hole in it but I think this steers away from on of the better features of the stove. You actually want it to seal so that you heat that cushion of air underneath.
I have yet to have to use a priming pan for any of mine that I have built to this spec but I am in the south where temps rarely get very cold.

Hope this helps

Cesar Cuellar
(cesarcuellar00) - F
Re: Penny Alcohol Stove on 09/20/2009 19:36:55 MDT Print View

Hi...i'm having a very difficult time getting my penny stove to burn efficiently. I can't get it to burn more than 15mins fully loaded with a simmer ring, pot and wind shield! I'm using a regular pop can for the burner, Heineken can for the cup, also made the priming pan. Burner has 6 jets, no crimps but with 12 1/16inch holes. I sealed any potential gaps between the cup and burner with JB welding mix. I'm using the yellow Heet for fuel. I'm very frustrated... i've made at least 5 of these things and get no results. Apparently other people get 40-50 minutes worth of burn with a simmer ring and pot. I would appreciate any helpful advice... i really want to use a alcohol stove on my trips. Thanks a bunch...

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Alcohol stove on 09/20/2009 20:11:29 MDT Print View

I did a lot of experimentation with alcohol stoves before I switched to wood. The pressurized jet stoves look like a "real" conventional gas burner, but the bottom of a soda can stuffed with fiberglass insulation works about as well and is much easier to light. The fact that a certain cantankerous and boundless pontificator up in Maine has gone in roughly the same direction confirms my conclusion that a container with a wick will work best for most people.

Rather than try to make it simmer, I just made a second stove, also stuffed with fiberglass, and added a top that had a half inch hole in it. It burned at a perfect simmer rate. I don't remember the exact run times, but I think it was a lot longer than 15 minutes. More like half an hour I think.

You could probably make a drop on cover that would make the first stove simmer, but these stoves are so light it wasn't worth the bother. Simmer version shown here:simmer stove you can use a penny throttle the flame back even further, or snuff it altogether.

Edited by herman666 on 09/21/2009 20:50:52 MDT.

Cesar Cuellar
(cesarcuellar00) - F
penny stove on 09/23/2009 14:41:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tip Keith... I got it to simmer for almost 30 mins with a taller simmer ring. But simmer mode wont boil water. I want to make spegetti on the trip... suppose i could do it if i soaked the pasta in water before and after the fuel runs out. To much time and hassel though. I'm beginning to think these alcohol stove aren't really meant to cook with, simply boil water for freeze dried foods. Are you pretty happy with your wood stove? I'd apprciate the webpage for instruction for one. Thanks again for the response.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: penny stove on 09/23/2009 15:02:05 MDT Print View

"I'm beginning to think these alcohol stove aren't really meant to cook with..."

Perhaps not, but there Are alcohol stove which do very well. PackaFeather and the Caldera Cones to name two.

I don't see your comment as a blanket indictment, but want to be sure that other "quick readers" don't get the wrong idea.

Edited by greg23 on 09/23/2009 19:19:52 MDT.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: penny stove on 09/23/2009 17:53:48 MDT Print View

"I got it to simmer for almost 30 mins with a taller simmer ring. But simmer mode wont boil water. I want to make spegetti on the trip."

I'm not sure how many people you're cooking for, but unless it's a large group, you spaghetti shouldn't be out of the question. Bring the water to boil with your stove going full blast. Then use a simmer setting or separate simmer burner as I suggested. It will keep the water at or very close to boiling and will cook your meal while saving fuel.

bj bretzke
(lilorphanbilly) - F

Locale: Montana, MT (Stealth Mode)
RE: Penny Stoves on 09/23/2009 19:12:20 MDT Print View

"I'm beginning to think these penny Stoves aren't really made to cook with..."
I have used a whisper-light and Coleman apex for most of my adult life. I began using the penny stoves a couple years back and love them. As for cooking spaghetti there are two options. You can use multiple stoves and switch out the empty or simply wait a couple minutes and refill. Turbo the wonderdog and I enjoy pasta and meat sauce our first night out on almost every trip. Hint: Use angel hair pasta instead of regular spaghetti. I can usually get the pasta cooked and reheat the sauce on 2 ozs of fuel. A lot of it just depends on your expectations and acceptable cooking times.

Hike hard, hike often.


Edited by lilorphanbilly on 09/23/2009 19:14:00 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Penny Alcohol Stove on 07/12/2010 11:08:12 MDT Print View

"But I threw together a penny stove and can get it to light. All of the alcohol burns out of the top pan and the jets never light. Any advise you have would be appriciated."

The original designer's instructions for building the stove work best:

The stove should be lit and primed with the pan sitting on the stand over it. The pan being there helps the stove to warm up faster.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: penny stove on 07/14/2010 10:02:50 MDT Print View

"I'm beginning to think these alcohol stove aren't really meant to cook with, simply boil water for freeze dried foods."

That is actually true for a lot of alcohol stoves, but not all of them.

There are a few alcohol stoves out there that have actual flame control, including the aforementioned FeatherFire stoves, and Zelph has been experimenting with a simmer sleeve for some of his stoves lately as well. It's a little finicky, but it works. I'd check his out -- there's a section on his site about stove design as well, btw.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
penny stove simmering on 07/14/2010 12:52:49 MDT Print View

The original Penny stove instructions include a simmer ring which apparently works well:

Penny Stove Instructions

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: Penny Alcohol Stove on 07/14/2010 14:05:49 MDT Print View

I've found with this design that you have to cover the central hole with penny AND the outer ring with the small holes with alcohol in order for it to prime reliably. Also, it tends to be somewhat sensitive to the alcohol temp, heat up your fuel bottle in your jacket if it's cold before measuring out into the stove.

The simmer ring is a bit tricky as its purpose is to reduce the amount of heat going down to the liquid alcohol to vaporize it. You may have to experiment a little to get the level of heat vs length of burn tradeoff for your conditions...

Leon Pantenburg
(Survivalsense) - F
penny stoves on 07/21/2010 12:49:51 MDT Print View

You have to consider what the stove is expected to do. I have a collection of expensive backpacking stoves that don't work, and they generally quit way back in the wilderness. Years ago, I decided all I need a backpacking stove to do is heat or boil water.

If you want to cook something else, like frying fish, the best bet is to take two pop can stoves and switch off.

simon hackett
(minimalgear) - F

Locale: UK
what about a pot cosy? on 07/22/2010 04:22:51 MDT Print View

the other alternative is to use a pot cosy- they're super easy to make from an old ccf sleep mat. bring the pasta to the boil, stick it in the cosy, wait 15-20 mins and the pasta is cooked. saves fuel too.

bj bretzke
(lilorphanbilly) - F

Locale: Montana, MT (Stealth Mode)
cooking with alcohol stoves on 07/24/2010 15:42:20 MDT Print View

I have found a more efficient design after making at least 15 or 20 different stoves. I believe this one is called an acorn stove. I use AL hairspray bottles. Unlike the penny stove you utilize the top and bottom so you only need one container. Cut the top and bottom of the container longer than the desired stove volume. Sandwich a piece of AL screen slightly shorter than the circumference of the container between the two pieces with the top piece inverted. The screen acts as a wick between the two layers of AL. Cut the stove to length. Fill the middle reservoir and light.
No priming required and it burns hot. Another plus is the ability to recapture your fuel.You will need a matching potstand and a snuffer.
This has been my primary stove for several months now and as I've already alluded to, I do more than boil water. I still carry my little Red-Bull penny stove for simmering.

Hike Hard. Hike often.


Edited by lilorphanbilly on 07/24/2010 15:51:51 MDT.