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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Fiddling with alcohol stoves on 05/28/2006 22:33:23 MDT Print View

I wanted to try a pot/stove combination and fired up a pop-can stove on my range top. I had a small circle of aluminum with the edges rolled up that I put under the stove to use for a priming pan. I filled the stove and lit it and it warmed up normally. I went ahead and tried the pot I had in mind and the stove was still burning when I took the pot off. I had the whole works in a large pyrex pan. I put another small pot over the stove to snuff the flame and that wasn't a good idea-- there was enough air in there so the stove just overheated and I got a big flare when I took the small pot off to see if it was still burning. It singed the hair on my arm and made me jump, but I thought that was the end of it.

What I didn't notice is when the stove flared up, it blew the remnants of the match I used to light it across the room to a little office area we have in the kichen and the re-ignited match landed on some papers. I went out of the kitchen for a moment and came pack to dump out the hot water and clean up from my trial. I saw smoke in the kitchen, but no flames or source for the smoke. When I turned around and looked in the office alcove, I was greeted with a small stack of papers with flames rising from one edge.

I was able to snuff out the flames with a wet dish towel, but I got the scare of my life. If I hadn't come back into the kitchen right away, the flames would have quickly reached more papers on a shelf above and it would have been WAY too exciting.

So, do your experimenting outside and never try to cover a burning alcohol stove with another container-- douse it with water or just let it burn out.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Fiddling with alcohol stoves on 05/29/2006 03:04:49 MDT Print View

Geez Dale, that was a lot like reading from the first chapter of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman. Glad you didn't burn the house down.

Brought back memories of the time a friend and I (age 8 at the time) who, on the heels of Sputnik, decided we'd invent the next super rocket fuel by mixing available flammable liquids ... and being in the middle of the oil patch, there was no shortage of flammable liquids. That experiment turned into a decent attempt to burn down the city of Port Arthur, Texas. (there *IS* a statute of limitations on that sort of thing, right?)

Edited by jcolten on 05/29/2006 03:08:05 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Fiddling with alcohol stoves on 05/29/2006 12:28:42 MDT Print View

short off-topic post:

>>"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman"

Great book. A must read for any geek. Then, see the movie "Infinity".

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Fiddling with alcohol stoves on 05/29/2006 13:24:32 MDT Print View

Dale,
Sorry to hear someone else has had that kind of excitement. I burned the front of my microwave oven. It was too close to an experimental alcohol stove that went critical.

So I second the motion: Don't experiment with alcohol stoves indoors. The safest thing is to work outside after dark. You can see the alcohol flames better in low light and analyze the burn patterns better. And the insurance will pay off if you screw up.