alcohol stove
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John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
alcohol stove on 08/04/2009 17:57:04 MDT Print View

I decided to try out an alcohol stove for my next hike instead of my esbit. I bought it from trail designs and it says it uses denatured alcohol. I don't know what that means unfortunately. Does that mean I can use rubbing alcohol in it? What about HEET? Everclear?

And if there are multiple kinds I can use, which one can I use for other purposes? (like cleaning a wound or sterilizing a knife or something)

Edited by aristotle_man on 08/04/2009 18:12:17 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: alcohol stove on 08/04/2009 18:01:22 MDT Print View

No rubbing alcohol! Horrid stuff in a stove. Everclear is great if you can get the 95% stuff. The non-isopropyl HEET is fine. You can find denatured alky at any hardware/paint store. Some have more (or less) nasty denature-ers in them. Zenstoves.net has some good info, too...

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: alcohol stove on 08/04/2009 18:09:13 MDT Print View

Check the MSDS for the brand of hardware store alki--it'll give amounts of different types of alki and other adulterants--just google "[brand name] MSDS" and you'll find some site with the info. Conventional wisdom seems to be, the higher percentage of ethanol and lower percentage of methanol, the safer and more effective the fuel. I use Ace brand denatured alcohol--about 95% ethanol (same as Home Depot brand?) IIRC. There's a lot of posts on these forums about alki, and some articles too (prob. in members' section).

John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
everclear on 08/05/2009 09:00:24 MDT Print View

Ok so I tried some everclear in my alcohol stove last night and it was very aggressive. It boiled 2 cups of water in about 3 mins and started to melt a rubber pot holder I have on the rim of my can.

It also left a lot of black soot and may have hurt my caldera cone. Is there another fuel that might be a little cleaner and not quite so hot?

Is there any advantage to burning denatured alcohol over everclear?

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: everclear on 08/05/2009 10:00:07 MDT Print View

>"Is there any advantage to burning denatured alcohol over everclear?"

Well, it's a lot cheaper. And Everclear can't be sold in some states. I've never had any problem with denatured alcohol and soot (but have never heard of a soot problem with Everclear, either).

John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
denatured alcohol on 08/05/2009 10:12:48 MDT Print View

What is the best kind of denatured alcohol to use? I would like something that doesnt leave lots of soot all over my can.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: denatured alcohol on 08/05/2009 10:31:52 MDT Print View

As I said above, I use Ace brand, from an Ace hardware store. Others have good results with SLX brand from Home Depot, which also seems to be 90+% ethanol (there's no HD in my town, so I haven't tried it). Again, I've never had soot problems with my stove (a Mark Jurey-style penny stove), even running with a tight windscreen and incomplete combustion. Here's an article that talks about adding a bit of water to the alcohol to control flame and soot:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/alcohol_fuels_part_two.html

EDIT: Now that I re-read the article, it does mention soot problems with straight ethanol (Everclear) when used in some stoves. Water seems to help. I think the article is available to everyone.

EDIT: Just rechecked the MSDS on Ace brand (which looks like same manufacturer and product as SLX). A little confusing--looks like ethanol is actually 95% of the "denatured alcohol" which is about 50% of the contents. The other 50% is methanol. So Ace/SLX is actually a bit less than 50% ethanol total, with the rest mostly meths.

Edited by DavidDrake on 08/07/2009 17:41:43 MDT.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 10:35:14 MDT Print View

So far as I know in the US, all Everclear is not equal. Some states (like my home state of Minnesota) don't permit the sale of Everclear or may limit the proof or alcohol content to less than 190 proof (95% ethanol).

John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
everclear on 08/05/2009 10:37:26 MDT Print View

Yeah I used 190 proof. It was very powerful. I wonder if they will let me take some small bottles of it on the plane with me.

Edited by aristotle_man on 08/05/2009 10:38:01 MDT.

John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
Re: Re: denatured alcohol on 08/05/2009 10:41:11 MDT Print View

David,

I dont think the article is available to everyone. It says I need a premium membership to read it.

Does it mention how much water I should add to the everclear? Why would that mixture leave less soot? It has to go somewhere right?

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Alcohol stove on 08/05/2009 10:44:32 MDT Print View

I typically use the Ace Hardware brand of denatured alcohol. In my Caldera Cone combination with the stock stove, I've never had any soot of any kind.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Re: denatured alcohol on 08/05/2009 11:05:03 MDT Print View

Sorry--I didn't see the "M" next to the article. The gist was, adding up to 20% water can reduce flaring and soot. I'd try to get away with the least water possible, experimenting until I found a sweet spot. As I understand it, soot is unburned carbon, resulting from too little oxygen to fully consume the fuel. Think about an old-fashioned oil lamp with the wick turned up too high. Turn down the wick (reducing the flame size, which is what adding water to alki does), and there is more oxygen relative to the size of flame to fully combust the fuel, hence no soot.

BTW, I've had a membership for a couple months now, and it's been worth every penny. The premium content is very, very good: solid, science-based testing of gear and techniques; thorough, unbiased reviews of new products; and even discounts on gear through the BPL store.

KYLE PARKER
(swiggydig@gmail.com) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 11:43:28 MDT Print View

I am in the DC area and 190 proof everclear is readily available and fairly cheap. I hate carrying poisons (fuel, bug repellant, etc.) in my pack and prefer everclear due to its' versatility (fuel, antiseptic, painkiller & drink). Don't worry about the soot, it won't hurt your cone or pots and improves boil times.

John Ben
(aristotle_man) - F
Re: everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 13:36:13 MDT Print View

Can I take everclear on a plane with me?

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
general discussion about stove fuels on 08/05/2009 13:59:44 MDT Print View

Have a look at http://zenstoves.net/Fuels.htm

I sometimes carry everclear as some or all of my planned stove fuel, with the idea of also making a nice mixed drink on the last day or two (1:7 everclear to water, add crystal light), but it is expensive, and I too have to go to another state to buy it. Generally just easier to carry denatured alcohol or HEET.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 17:40:05 MDT Print View

"Can I take everclear on a plane with me?"

No. It is a flammable liquid, and they are strictly prohibited.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 17:47:32 MDT Print View

anyone have an educated insight on the safety of fumes from burned everclear? as a 190 proof vodka, im positive the fumes are safer to inhale than either denatured or HEET but there still must be a small risk.. comparitively speaking

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 17:52:47 MDT Print View

"anyone have an educated insight on the safety of fumes from burned everclear?"

If your stove is burning 100% efficiently, the fumes should consist of water and CO2. If it is burning less than 100% efficiently, there will be some CO, probably not enough to worry about.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 19:40:35 MDT Print View

Roger Caffin's article on CO emission by all alcohol stoves calls CO levels "very significant"--the stove in the caldera cone has some of the higher levels of stoves tested.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/stoves_tents_carbon_monoxide_pt_4.html

(Another "members only" article, I'm afraid)

Edited by DavidDrake on 08/05/2009 19:41:36 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: everclear as fuel on 08/05/2009 20:32:28 MDT Print View

"Roger Caffin's article on CO emission by all alcohol stoves calls CO levels "very significant"--the stove in the caldera cone has some of the higher levels of stoves tested."

Thanks for pointing out my mistake, David. This was an important one, for me and everyone else.