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Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Which brand of denatured alcohol? Where to get it in US? on 08/18/2011 11:17:43 MDT Print View

Greg is correct. Isopropanol has about a 5% higher heat content than ethanol.

Per Wikipedia:

Heat Content of Alcohols
Fuel              MJ/kg        MJ/L
Methanol       19.930       15.78
Ethanol         28.865       22.77
Isopropanol    30.447       23.93

I stand corrected. Thank you, Greg.

HJ

P.S. Blog article on alcohol updated as well.

Edited by hikin_jim on 08/21/2011 11:01:26 MDT.

Matt Thyer
(mthyer) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Dont worry about brand, get the cheap stuff at the hardware store on 08/18/2011 11:22:16 MDT Print View

Denatured Alcohol is available at most hardware stores and some marine stores (if you live near the coast). I'm not sure I'd worry at all about brand since its pretty much the same thing (at least chemically) where ever you get it in the States. I've never really tried to use denatured alcohol intended to clear water from car fuel lines because there are usually to varieties of addative and burning one results in some pretty nasty smoke (red HEET maybe?). Just can't keep them seperate in my mind, there's no ingrediants list necessary on a car fuel addative like this, and the cost of these products compared to the volume of fuel you get is high.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Dont worry about brand, get the cheap stuff at the hardware store on 08/18/2011 11:29:41 MDT Print View

I'm not sure I'd worry at all about brand since its pretty much the same thing (at least chemically) where ever you get it in the States.
The same thing chemically? I'm not sure that that is true, Matt. For example: Sunnyside denatured is ~85% ethanol. SLX Klean Strip denatured is ~45% ethanol.

Now, given that wind, water temperature, etc. have huge effects (probably greater effects than the fuel) on how fast things are going to boil and how much fuel you're going to use, maybe it's all a wash*, but there are definitely clear differences chemically.

HJ

*I'm not saying it IS all a wash; I'm saying it might be. I haven't done the testing to know how much practical difference each alcohol fuel mix makes.

Christopher Davis
(CDavisJK) - F
SLX on 08/18/2011 13:37:47 MDT Print View

Got my large container of SLX denatured alcohol from Home Depot. Its much cheaper in bulk, considering you can go through it fairly quick.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: SLX on 08/18/2011 13:48:40 MDT Print View

I go through two or three gallons of it per year, so having a convenient source of it one mile from my home is good.

Now I have to get busy and figure out how to recycle that steel container into something else useful.

--B.G.--

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: SLX on 08/21/2011 11:10:24 MDT Print View

Nothing wrong per se with SLX (mostly methanol) as a fuel. Works pretty well.

Two possible considerations:
For someone who is an ounce or gram counter, ethanol has about 25% more heat content by weight than methanol, so you can carry less ethanol for the same result. In other words with low ethanol SLX, you have to carry more to get the same result.

For someone who has to cook in his tent or a shelter due to weather considerations, methanol and denaturing agent fumes are toxic whereas ethanol fumes are not. A low ethanol mix like SLX will be fairly toxic since the majority of its components are toxic.

HJ

Gemma Seymour
(yin-haan) - F

Locale: Grid Square FM29, Sol III (Terra)
Everclear is the best. on 08/22/2011 12:36:12 MDT Print View

I live in NJ, where Everclear 190 Proof is plentiful. Sure, you have to pay the tax on it, but at least it's drinkable. Using Everclear, I never have to worry about toxic contaminants, and you don't really need that much fuel, anyway. I carry an Armor weight Sterling silver Zippo lighter that I use only with Everclear, because the standard types of lighter fuel give me a rash when I put the lighter in my pocket. I just worry sometimes that the fumes coming from my lighter make me smell like a chronic alcohol abuser!

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Everclear is the best. on 08/22/2011 12:55:45 MDT Print View

Hope the cops don't pull you over with that in your pocket. ;)

HJ

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Everclear is the best. on 08/22/2011 12:58:03 MDT Print View

"Hope the cops don't pull you over with that in your pocket. ;)"

I wonder if that would count as an open container violation.

--B.G.--

Gemma Seymour
(yin-haan) - F

Locale: Grid Square FM29, Sol III (Terra)
Re: Re: Re: Everclear is the best. on 08/22/2011 12:59:30 MDT Print View

Doubtful, and I've got a clean driving record. I did think about that, so sometimes, I leave it at home and take a mini Bic.

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: Alcohol on 08/22/2011 13:57:13 MDT Print View

clik on the pic


spirytus

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Alcohol on 08/22/2011 14:23:11 MDT Print View

Wow. 192 proof.

I wouldn't know whether to drink it, burn it, or worship it.

--B.G.--

James Nomura
(Lockon) - F
hmm on 11/14/2011 04:44:15 MST Print View

I made a thread comparing commonly discussed fuels like HEET, Green DA and SLX DA but here's the cliff notes.

Klean Strip appears to add "something" to their product to make them scented, contributing to the smell during combustion. To me it's not really bad at all when used outdoors where there's tons of fresh air but indoors like in a well ventilated kitchen, it almost smells like propane at close range, but much lighter. I'm guessing they did this so you don't accidentally drink it.

HEET (Yellow) seems like the most clean smelling fuel during combustion, I'm guessing that they haven't added any ingredient to add to its scent, since it's use was designed to go into your fuel tank or fuel can. It's nearly all methanol (MSDS shows 99%) and although I keep reading that the only danger is from ingesting it, that's not entirely true. Methanol is readily and quickly absorbed through your skin, much faster and easier than with ethanol making it a very dangerous and toxic choice if you have repeated contact with it. I would advise that you avoid all physical contact with this much methanol than with denatured alcohol blends.

Everyone should technically limit and/or avoid all skin contact with DA or methanol but I theorize that occasional contact with DA is less harmful than with 99% methanol. If you need more info on whatever fuel you intend on using, especially a brand or type you haven't used before, always look at the MSDS to see what's in it before you start using it.

Jim
Honolulu, Hawaii
87 feet above sea level

James Nomura
(Lockon) - F
1 more thing... on 11/14/2011 05:20:47 MST Print View

I forgot to add, my choice is SLX over the Green DA. Green burns with a yellow/orange flame and it does leave sooty black deposits. It does appear to burn hotter as I recorded a faster boiling time than with SLX.

In order to counter Green DA's sootiness, I now blend it with HEET (yellow) to essentially create SLX. A 1:1 ratio should be enough as it burns much cleaner this way.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Yellow Heet on 11/14/2011 06:36:57 MST Print View

I tend to need to buy fuel at my destination and yellow bottle Heet comes in a nice 12 oz. size and is readily available most places I go. It also has a nice long thin neck for easy mess-less pouring. I find the original container fine for carrying it in so no need to fly with fuel bottles. The fact that it is 99% methanol does not worry me, it never touches my skin so I don't consider it a big deal.

I actually bicycle tour way more than I backpack and as a result need to buy fuel frequently and in small quantities on the road. I also fly to almost all of my trip's starting points so buying larger quantities at home is not typically an option for me.

If your needs differ from mine, you may not find Heet as convenient, but it seems like it is far and away the best answer for me.

One tip for using Heet... Don't lose the paper disk in the cap. It tends to fall out and if left out the bottle is likely to leak. As an added precaution, I carry it in an upright position.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: 1 more thing... on 11/14/2011 11:09:57 MST Print View

Green [denatured alcohol] ... does appear to burn hotter as I recorded a faster boiling time than with SLX.
Ah, interesting. I was wondering about that since ethanol has more heat content per gram than methanol.

I wonder if there's another way to decrease the sootiness without adding so much methanol. Have you tried just plain water? The advantage of water is that you can just carry the ethanol and then add the water at your camp site. Maybe a 95/5 ethanol/water mix? or 90/10?

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

James Nomura
(Lockon) - F
Re: Re: 1 more thing... on 11/14/2011 17:08:49 MST Print View

That's a great thought Jim, I think you're on the right track. I haven't tried plain water and not sure as to how much to start with, perhaps I need to pull out my medicine dropper and try it out. My dropper measures down to 1ml and for some reason I think that's too much in a stove so I may try a few drops at first.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Which brand of denatured alcohol? Where to get it in US? on 11/14/2011 18:23:06 MST Print View

James,

I'm very interested in what you find out. I'm basing my (somewhat) educated guess that water will sort things out on the experiences people in other countries have relayed to me. In other countries, there is a particular type of denatured alcohol available called meths (what is meths?) or metho. This particular type of denatured alcohol has a higher ethanol content than the denatured alcohol available in the US. It's a fairly common practice to add a dash of water to reduce the amount of soot produced.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

James Nomura
(Lockon) - F
Which brand of denatured alcohol? Where to get it in US? on 11/14/2011 19:55:27 MST Print View

Jim,

I believe you're right, I'm new to how alcohol and water relates to how it burns in an alc stove but I'm happy that with your's and other guy's suggestions, you guys steered me into the direction to try it out.

=====

Test #1: 20ml Green DA to 1ml of distilled water (5% water mix)

Test Method: Measured 20 ml of fuel in a Pyrex graduated cylinder and used a medicine dropper with 1ml increments to measure out the water. Water was added into the graduated cylinder and swished around to ensure it mixed. The new fuel mixture was poured into the Evernew Ti Stove and lit. An Evernew 600ml Ti pot was placed on top (not to measure boiling times) but rather to check on soot deposits left behind.

Results:

- not much different from using pure Green DA
- yellow/orange flames present during full bloom riding up the sides of the pot
- left behind light sooty deposits on the stove's upper piece but heavier on the underside of the pot
- the deposits would not easily wipe off and needed to be scrubbed off with a "green" pad and detergent

=====

Test #2: 20ml Green DA to 5ml of distilled water (25% water mix)

Test Method: Same as above except with 5ml of distilled water added to the mix.

Results:

- significantly different
- yellow/orange flames significantly reduced, none riding up on the sides of the pot
- purple color flames more abundant where it used to be yellow/orange
- no visible sooty deposits left on the top of the stove stand
- underside of pot had a "rainbow patterned" discoloration and had a definite coating of "something" however it wasn't black sooty carbon. It's like the underside area got darker and it too also had to be lightly scrubbed in order to remove it.

- there were a couple of drops of fuel (or water) left in the stove after flame was out, however this quickly evaporated due to residual heat

*NOTE: When using HEET (yellow) or SLX, the underside of my pot may show very slight "splashes" of discoloration, kind of like water spotting patterned but nothing major.

=====

Test #3: 20ml Green DA to 6.5ml + 1 drop of distilled water to approximate 6.66ml of water (~33% water mix)

Test Method: Same as above except with 6.5ml + 1 drop of distilled water added to the mix.

Results:

- similar to the above but with perhaps 4-5 drops more of leftover unburned "something" (probably water) which also quickly evaporated after flame was out.

- no sooty deposits on the upper stove stand, no visible discoloration
- underside of pot was darkened and slightly discolored with a rainbow-hue with what appears to be 2 hot spots, however with less of a coating than what was present after Test #2. No sooty deposits however.

**NOTE: Most of the dark area under the pot was easily wiped off with just a drop of alcohol and a paper towel. The blue hue remains as I believe that's the titanium changing color from the heat.

=====

Summary:

I'm not concluding anything as I don't believe in conjecture but I have some better ideas now that I might want to follow up on later (like using non-titanium pots) and ty it again using a stainless kettle and see how it might change the results.

Theory #1: Titanium has a tendency to discolor with a blue color once it reaches a certain temperature, and I believe the blue discoloration is a sign that the Green DA is indeed burning hotter. When I used only HEET (yellow), the bottom of my pan would not turn blue anywhere. Using SLX has a tendency to create small spotting of blue in random areas on my pot but leaves no coating and as such I believe it's cleaner for this specific application as it leaves less of a mess to clean up.

Theory #2: Water seems to be an excellent additive to control how Green DA burns, at 5% water mix it doesn't do much however at 25% mix the carbon sooting is eliminated. Whatever post combustion deposits left behind might vary based on the type of stove used and the material of the pot used.

Theory #3: Using Green DA to its full potential to boil water may lie more on the material and design of the pot being heated. For example I used a Japanese kettle to conduct my HEET vs SLX vs Green DA test, however the bottom has a very thick copper plate. From my understanding between copper vs aluminum, copper is a better heat conductor which I've seen in the past (used as a heatsink) where it seems to absorb heat faster than aluminum, however copper appears to want to retain the heat rather than give it away, whereas aluminum appeared to be more resistant at absorbing heat however it was much faster at getting rid of it.

If I used a typical "camp pot" or a pot of simpler design where the bottom was much thinner, I think I would've seen more significant results. Again I'd have to redo these tests and challenge my theories.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Which brand of denatured alcohol? Where to get it in US? on 11/14/2011 20:22:03 MST Print View

James,

VERY interesting results. I'd also be interested to know how burn times and boil times are affected. If you can lengthen the burn and boil times, separate but related times, you might really be on to something. You carry less fuel with the higher ethanol "green" DA, add a little water when you hit your camp site, and then cook. That would be pretty sweet if you could do more with less.

HJ