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Alcohol Stove Confusion
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Scott McGhee
(sbmcghee) - F

Locale: Midwest
Alcohol Stove Confusion on 02/21/2009 19:38:41 MST Print View

I can't seem to see what people like about alcohol stoves. I've got 3 alcohol stoves...a basic fancy feast, a pepsi can, and a pressurized pepsi can. The pressurized one I purchased from someone just in case I was the faulty link in the chain.

The problem is that every talks about the alcohol stove being efficient and it will boil 2 cups of water. I can't achieve these results even inside using a windscreen and pot stand. The most I've gotten out of it is a total 7 minutes burn time on 1 ounce of Heet and 2 cups of water only get up to about 190 degrees.

Is the whole alcohol stove thing a big conspiracy against the canister manufacturers or am I missing something?

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
stove confusion on 02/21/2009 20:15:17 MST Print View


There's definitely something wrong. Hard to say what though with so little to go on. I've achieved better results than you're reporting with the bottom of a soda can stuffed with fiberglass insulation. I've also used the more conventional pressurized soda can stoves. Typically they generate around 350 watts which will bring a half liter 0f 20C water to a boil in about 8 minutes.

I can't say that I've ever used Heet. In fact, I've used Kleenstrip denatured alcohol exclusively. Not by choice. It's what happens to be available at the hardware store. I think this brand is a half and half mix of methanol and ethanol.

What about ambient temperature? Some (but not all) users report poor performance in cold weather. If you can post photo's of your stoves in operation that might help.

I don't know what temperature your water started at, but as you can see from my numbers, 7 minutes to 190 F isn't out of line. Are you sure you're measuring a full ounce?

Anyway, what I like about alcohol stoves: extremely light. Safe, clean fuel. If you spill it, it goes away by itself leaving little or no residue. That's especially nice if it leaks in your pack.

What I don't like: One of the slower ways to cook. Low energy content of the fuel offsets the lightness advantage. If I'm going for more than a day, I cook on my wood stove and don't worry about running out of fuel.

Edited by herman666 on 02/21/2009 20:22:46 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Alcohol Stove Confusion on 02/21/2009 20:17:39 MST Print View

'HEET' can mean anything. Can you be more precise?


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Alcohol Stove Confusion" on 02/21/2009 20:58:28 MST Print View

I bet it's Iso Heet

Scott McGhee
(sbmcghee) - F

Locale: Midwest
Alcohol Stoves on 02/21/2009 21:11:31 MST Print View

Franco assumes correctly. It's Iso-Heet (the stuff in the yellow bottle that usually goes in your gas tank). Have people been getting better results from denatured alcohol?

For environment specifics, I've been using 2 cups of tap water at about 70 degrees and the stove is being used indoors so temp and wind aren't a factor.

I did, however, change one piece of my equation. Instead of using my pot, I tried a cooking pan that is much wider. I think this has something to do with it. The burners have a much wider area to heat up thus giving the water a larger surface area to receive the heat from the flame.

Once I changed to a bigger pot, I got better results. Just using a fancy feat stove, 1 ounce of Iso-Heet, and 2 cups of room temp water, I got a good boil at 8 minutes.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Alcohol Stove Confusion on 02/21/2009 21:23:00 MST Print View

As I understand it, the "standard" for boil time is to use a lid on the pot, use 2 cups of room temperature 68/70 degree water, get to 205 to 210 degrees (a hard-rolling boil), and use a windscreen (even indoors it helps to concentrate the heat on the pot).

My experience with 2 different stove setups on my kitchen counter (1)Trangia with Clikstand (2) Caldera Cone (.9 liter Evernew) with their standard stove each got me to full boil in 6 to 6.5 minutes with water at 55 degrees to start.

Edited by Beep on 02/21/2009 21:23:35 MST.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Alcohol Stoves on 02/21/2009 23:00:43 MST Print View

Scott, what kind of pot are you using?
Also- Heet in the yellow bottle is 99% Methanol, Iso-Heet comes in the red bottle and is Isopropyl.

It is my understanding (someone correct me if I'm wrong), that Methanol burns hotter then both Denatured and Isoprpoyl.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Alcohol Stoves on 02/21/2009 23:13:57 MST Print View

> It's Iso-Heet (the stuff in the yellow bottle

YUK! ! ! (if isopropanol)

Isopropanol will give you a splitting headache if used for any length of time. It gives off some real toxic nasties. It is a lousy fuel.

Opinions differ as to which of ethanol and methanol are the best. At this stage I will point out that methanol is toxic to humans if drunk, and has a lower energy content. Guess which alcohol I prefer?

In the course of the next few months you all can expect to see a couple of good technical articles on the performance of all three alcohol fuels. Tony B and I have been working hard.


Edited by rcaffin on 02/21/2009 23:15:05 MST.

Andy Bailey
(AndyBailey) - F

Locale: The Great Plains
"Alcohol Stove Confusion" on 02/24/2009 14:16:10 MST Print View


Did you have a lid on the pot? alcohol stoves require the use of a lid...