Forum Index » Food, Hydration, and Nutrition » Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output


Display Avatars Sort By:
Jim Cook
(jim_cook)

Locale: Land of Cotton
Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 04/30/2011 22:37:28 MDT Print View

Debating between an alcohol and wood-burning stove. Which one produces more heat? For the argument, assume the following:

» the alcohol stove covers a fairly wide area of the pot bottom
» the pot is Walmart grease pot
» I know enough about either to operate at peak efficiency (e.g. use of windscreen, fuel choice).

I know the different arguments regarding burn residue* on pots, the convenience of wood as fuel, etc., not looking for digression. Just wondering about heat output. I've seen boil times for both that seem to indicate they are close.

If it makes a difference, the candidates are an MBD carbon felt stove (Bongo or Choke Hazard II) and the Four Dog Bushcooker LT.

* Profanity filter thought the word s-m-u-t was possible profanity. Really?

Edited by jim_cook on 04/30/2011 22:41:54 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 04/30/2011 22:44:05 MDT Print View

Assuming that you had a good supply of good wood, I would bet on the wood stove for boiling speed. For sure it is going to have the hottest temperature.

--B.G.--

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 04/30/2011 22:44:08 MDT Print View

Would you not get variations on wood heat output depending on type of wood used? Hardwoods vs. soft.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 04/30/2011 23:51:02 MDT Print View

"Would you not get variations on wood heat output depending on type of wood used?"

Yes. But mostly it's about airflow. Forced induction makes lots more heat.

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/01/2011 00:12:28 MDT Print View

"Forced induction makes lots more heat."

Sure, but the OP gives the selected woodstove.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/01/2011 05:35:30 MDT Print View

Well, this is a very difficult question. The heating values of woods will vary by species and region.

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wood-combustion-heat-d_372.html will show the more common species of woods...well over a 100% difference between species. Let alone branches and twigs (the usual stove fuel), moisture content, etc... Way to many variables to say that it will consistently burn better than alcohol.

In most places, wood is an easy gather. Alcohol is guaranteed to work. Pouring rain storms, are not the best time for gathering wood. Alcohol is heavy to carry. They will both do the job. Some say to gather stuff as you hike. This doesn't save the carry weight for fuel for the day.

Personally, I don't care for the soot buildup. I spent many years, before I got a camp stove, cooking over an open fire. An alky stove has the aditional benefit of being cleaner. Not that this is a big deal....

Jim Cook
(jim_cook)

Locale: Land of Cotton
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/01/2011 07:58:58 MDT Print View

Thanks y'all, good feedback.

"Would you not get variations on wood heat output depending on type of wood used? Hardwoods vs. soft."

I would expect so. Almost all the places I go have plenty of hardwoods. I choose their fallen limbs for fires when possible: better heat and much less smoke (and therefore soot) than pine. The exception would be pine cones when I need a little burst of heat to stoke it up, get things going again.

Again, let's stay off the soot, weight, simmering, fuel availability and wet weather tangents. I already know and have evaluated the arguments.

Jim Cook
(jim_cook)

Locale: Land of Cotton
Re: Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/01/2011 08:01:17 MDT Print View

An apology: I probably should have posted this in GEAR but the forum tools won't allow me to move it. Sorry.

Tyler Barcelli
(youngster) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/01/2011 23:14:34 MDT Print View

http://zenstoves.net/StoveChoices.htm#Fuels

This has a bunch of information. The chart actually seems to show that alcohol has a higher kcal/gram ratio than wood

Wesley Witt
(weswitt) - M

Locale: Northwest
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/04/2011 10:50:08 MDT Print View

Not sure about where you live, but here in the Cascades and Olympics many of the places do not allow fires. I had a wood stove for a while but found that I rarely used it because I could not.

Jake Palmer
(jakep_82) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/04/2011 13:29:21 MDT Print View

I can't comment on alcohol versus wood, but I can comment on the alcohol stoves you mentioned. I have an old bongo as well as an atomic and mini-atomic from MBD. All are decent stoves, but none are as efficient as the Caldera Cone setup. The bongo I have is smaller than what he currently offers and it's painfully slow to boil water. The new stoves are much faster, but they're also larger, heavier and more expensive. If all you're doing is boiling water I would recommend the atomic or mini-atomic since they're lighter and less expensive. I can boil 2 cups with 18mL of alcohol in about 6-7 minutes with the mini-atomic. You might also look at the BIOS since you have a wide pot.

Edited by jakep_82 on 05/04/2011 13:31:54 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Wood v.s. alky: Best Test on 05/15/2011 14:06:15 MDT Print View

Since I have a CC Sidewinder W/Inferno option I own a stove that burns both alky & wood I may do the test. That's what you need to test the difference because you'd have similar heat conditions. The Sidewinder comes with an alky stove but you have to buy the Inferno woodburning kit as an option.

But the BIG variable, as mentioned above, is the kind of wood you use. Southeastern pine "fatwood", which is heavy with resin, would likely be the hottest. After that hickory or other hardwoods like oak would burn hot (and longer) than softwoods like pine.

I think alky may have a hotter flame (blue instead of yellow) but the Inferno insert with wood gives a wider flame and perhaps more BTUs on the pot bottom.

I may try it with white pine just to see what happens. I also have oak 3/4 round trim I can use in another test. I dunno if the Sidewinder's alky burner is the best one to use but I'd say it is likely quite efficient for that particular stove or they would not have included that exact kind of burner.

Eric Thompson
(er0ck) - F

Locale: PNW
fire vs. stove on 05/16/2011 12:17:26 MDT Print View

this may have been covered before, but when does a "fire" become a stove and vice versa (related to places where fires aren't allowed but one still has to cook)?

eg, how is an alcohol stove not a fire but a wood stove, completely contained is?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Alcohol vs. Wood: Heat Output on 05/16/2011 13:08:05 MDT Print View

If you were carrying the fuel, alcohol is better. Wood fires are hot, but mostly because they are larger than needed and a lot of heat (and fuel) is wasted--- that isn't a concern with "found" fuel. I could see designing a stove that uses wood pellets or the like, but I'm sure alcohol is more efficient.

I have thought about using an Ikea wood stove with BBQ charcoal and wondered how the heat/weight ratio works out. Charcoal can be very hot if the airflow is right. I was thinking more of a mini hibachi setup for overnights rather than multi-day cooking. You might find enough charcoal from established campsite fire rings to pull it off too.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
wood "fires" on 05/18/2011 13:35:43 MDT Print View

Eric,

The problem with all wood-burnig stoves is disposal of the embers afterwards. THAT'S the dangerous part and why even "contained" wood stoves are not permitted in fire ban areas.

Alky & ESBIT fuels can be snuffed or blown out - not so with wood.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: wood "fires" on 05/18/2011 13:56:57 MDT Print View

"Alky & ESBIT fuels can be snuffed or blown out - not so with wood."

A couple of ounces of water or urine solves this problem.

I'm sick of legislation which is curtailing my freedom in an attempt to prevent actions by people who if they are dumb enough not to take care of fire properly, are probably too dumb to pay attention to dumb laws too.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Tsk, Tsk... on 05/20/2011 19:02:01 MDT Print View

Oh, Rog, you say "legislation" like it's a bad thing. That's what keeps my two attorney daughters employed. That's what keeps legions of bureaucrats employed. And how about the millions of law enforcement officers, FBI agents and other bureaus', departments' and commissions' employees collecting paychecks?

Sheesh! Are you some kinda Tea Bagger? :)