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Alcohol Stove Troubleshooting
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Friedel Grant
(travellingtwo) - F
Alcohol Stove Troubleshooting on 05/19/2010 23:20:34 MDT Print View

Hi everyone,

I've been trying to make a side burning soda can stove recently and despite several prototypes, I can't get any flame to come out of the jets.

Any idea on the possible causes of my stove issues?


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Alcohol Stove Troubleshooting on 05/20/2010 00:42:29 MDT Print View

Exactly what are you using for fuel?


Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
dearth of information on 05/20/2010 07:53:51 MDT Print View

You don't give us a lot to go on. Do you have access to a digital camera? A photo might be helpful in diagnosing your problem.

If you're using good fuel, (ethanol or methanol) about the only thing I can think it might be is failing to prime. Workable designs all have some means of heating the fuel to get evaporation started. Once the flame is coming out the jets, the stoves are self-heating for the most part.

Some stoves are designed to act as pot stands. They can go out when a cold pot is set on the stove, cooling it to the point where the fuel stops evaporating.

Anyway, if you didn't pre-heat, lighting two or three DROPS of alcohol in a non-flamable dish under the stove should get it started.

If you haven't already, visit for more information on soda can stoves.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Alcohol Stove Troubleshooting on 05/20/2010 08:17:32 MDT Print View

I'm not that good at building things but managed to make a stove. I've found that I need to let the alcohol heat up before flames will come out the holes when I put the pot on top. The colder the weather, the colder the fuel is and the longer it takes for it to heat up. So I hover the pot over it for quite some time, lowering it slowly and bringing it back off if the flames do not come out. On warm days when the fuel is already warm, it isn't quite so fussy.

There may be engineering ways of fixing this issue, but they may add a little weight. Not that it would be much. Having a place on top of the stove to add some fuel to pre-heat the stove is one thing that sort of works. My stove has that. Having another container that the stove sits in with a little burning alcohol in there really works well because it heats the whole stove, not just the top. I used to have a stove like that.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Stove Problems on 05/22/2010 10:10:20 MDT Print View

Which design is it? A Pepsi-style? We really need more info and pictures would help. It could be that the inner wall isn't sealed?

Daniel Gibbons
(gibbonsd1) - F
fix on 06/16/2010 22:40:42 MDT Print View

This may be a little late but I made a Sideburner alcohol stove from the Zen stoves website and had the same problem. They recommended using a pushpin for the jets. I fixed mine by gradually increasing the hole diameter with a drill until the jets would light up on their own.

The idea is that the smaller the holes are, the more efficient the stove is. The bigger the holes, the more reliable.