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Ted E
(denver_whitest185) - MLife

Locale: CO
how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/16/2012 20:42:50 MST Print View

im thinking about getting the new MSR wisperlite universal, and i was wondering how cold i could use it with a canister in liquid feed mode. this would be for winter camping and car camping, i have a ligher canister stove for summer backpacking.

does anyone have any experience using other canister stoves that have a preheating tube in liquid feed mode in the cold? what temps did they get down to and how well did they work?

Also, does it use fuel faster in liquid feed vs. upright normal feed when the temps are above 35*F (where all different gasses in the isobutane are above their boiling point)

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Economical on 02/16/2012 21:07:46 MST Print View

Any reason to use the stove with canister fuel instead of white gas? WG would be more economical unless you don't want so much and have to store it. Coleman fuel will last a long time. If melting snow, it will take lots of fuel. With little hoop jumping, I've used my Pocket Rocket into the single digits F.
Duane

Ted E
(denver_whitest185) - MLife

Locale: CO
Re: Economical on 02/16/2012 21:33:49 MST Print View

i've used my litemax on winter trips when i have the gas canister soaking in a cold water bath (since the water is above freezing, it keeps the gas above their boiling point). it'll be for boiling stream water, cooking some real food if car camping, and melting snow if stream water isn't available during the winter.

I'm thinking about just getting the whisperlite international, but i thought the universal would be a nice upgrade I've never owned a liquid gas stove before, and maybe i should just stick with a liquid only stove like the international. however i do like the convenience of canister stoves in the morning, they're simple and efficient, just not the cheapest fuel source.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/16/2012 22:24:13 MST Print View

Ted,

It depends a little on the fuel you use (see What's the Best Brand of Gas for Cold Weather?. Assuming you buy something like MSR brand, the textbook answer is 0F/-18C at sea level. Strictly speaking that's fuel temperature not air temperature although with liquid feed canister gas, you don't get quite as much canister chilling while running the stove, so ambient (air) temperature is going to be close.

Of course, the higher in elevation you climb, the lower the atmospheric pressure. As the air pressure drops, so does the boiling point of your fuel, so you can operate your stove at lower fuel temperatures. Generally you can operate a stove with fuel that is about two degrees Fahrenheit colder for every thousand feet in elevation gained. In metric units, that's about one degree Celcius colder for every 300 meters in elevation gained. I've got a good chart on my blog that shows the relationship between elevation and operating temperature if you're interested. See Gas Stoves: How Cold Can I Go?.

The above assume that you're not employing any "tricks" to keep the canister warm. If you can warm the canister, you can run your gas stove in as cold a temperature as you like. I've got some simple "best practices" for using a gas stove in cold weather on my blog. See Cold Weather Tips for Gas Stoves.

If you were to read just one of the three blog posts, that last one is really practical and to the point.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/17/2012 01:53:36 MST Print View

Ted - you are a member so you can also read this BPL article if you have not done so already: The Effect of Cold on Gas Canisters. Although written primarily for canister-top stoves, you can find the lowest temperature for a liquid feed canister stove for various gas mixtures from the point at which the "Threshold Temperature" graphs intersect the y-axis (ie the 100% remaining figure) in the bottom charts (Figure 4 I think). Most gas mixtures will work down to zero*F.

The Whisperlite should not use fuel any faster at warmer temps or when the canister is upright (for the same rate of heating).

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/17/2012 04:11:59 MST Print View

Yeah, read Rogers artical as Stuart said.

What the article omits is that all gas stoves, WG stoves, alcohol stoves, and kero stoves will perform a LOT less than optimal at cold temps. Like an old carburated car, you have to give it a bit more gas to start it when it is cold. . .just an example.

The volitility of the fuel drops for ALL fuels as the temperature drops. Even using hydrogen, there is a bottom line with how cold it can get and have a high enough gas pressure to burn in the device you want it to.

The SVEA is a good example of falling performance with the heat. It takes a while to warm up, soo, it may not perform as well at very cold temps. I have had mine out at 20F below zero and it was very slow to burn, it took about 5minutes to warm up to the point it was producing good heat. At 90F it fires up and burns really well in less than 30sec. This is one of the designs that can get caught by very low temps. A heat reflector makes a HUGE difference in performance.

Anyway, Roger's article does not say that the pressure of the cannister is not real great at 0F. Nor does he say anything about other fuels. Though you can sort of glean that info from his graph. All require some heat feedback or a fuel preheat tube for use at cold temps to generate enough pressure to work well at at say 20F. The canisters drop off noticeably after 50F down to complete failures at about 20F.

Since any WG stove is having fuel fed directly to the vaporization tube by some pressure in the tank, it doesn't really matter which way the canister is positioned. BUT, the MSR canisters all have a fuel feed that is designed to work sideways. Another position, say upright, will only work with a fairly full fuel bottle. Most WG stoves using an external pump/bottle are about the same. For best performance, they need to be laid down, with the fuel feed/uptake tube in the fuel.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/17/2012 09:08:45 MST Print View

>"Even using hydrogen, there is a bottom line with how cold it can get and have a high enough gas pressure to burn in the device you want it to."

Since all 8 planets and all known dwarf planets (including Pluto and much further Eris) are all above hydrogren's boiling point (20°K, -253°C, -423°F), I don't lose sleep over it. Any atmospheric oxygen would freeze into a liquid and then a solid long before hydrogen freezes so that could be concern on the outer planets.

Ted E
(denver_whitest185) - MLife

Locale: CO
thanks guys on 02/17/2012 10:05:38 MST Print View

after reading everything, i think if i just keep using the water bath idea, i'll be able to use my litemax at pretty much any temp. i didn't realize that the MSR canisters would be better than snowpeak canisters in cold temps, so i'll probably switch over to MSR canisters once my snow peak canisters are empty.

so, i guess if i get a white gas stove, i'll get a regular one instead of the whisperlite universal since i don't really need a liquid feed canister stove.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: thanks guys on 02/17/2012 10:25:33 MST Print View

Ted: the water bath approach would great work on anything that has some propane in it and if the water is a bit warm, fine on even n-butane cartridges. It's nice because there's a lot of heat capacity in the water and it's safer to contrive a little thermal feedback from the burner because that water won't change temperature quickly like a canister low on fuel could.

I have to do tricks on the 20-pound "propane" BBQ cylinder below -25F if it gets low. I put "propane" in quotes because the oil refinery doesn't do a perfect separation on fuels and there's some C2 and C4 in addition to mostly C3 propane in there. As it empties, it has less pressure (and I ought to just tag it for summer use and rotate in a fresh one) so getting it warm solves that.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/17/2012 11:56:27 MST Print View

David, thank you for the reality check and bringing us back to earth.



Now I can go back to my secret testing on hydrogen filled backpacking canisters.

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: how cold can you use a liquid feed canister stove? on 02/17/2012 12:14:42 MST Print View

"Now I can go back to my secret testing on hydrogen filled backpacking canisters."

And thus was born the Hindenberg backpacking stove.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: thanks guys on 02/17/2012 14:39:52 MST Print View

after reading everything, i think if i just keep using the water bath idea, i'll be able to use my litemax at pretty much any temp. i didn't realize that the MSR canisters would be better than snowpeak canisters in cold temps, so i'll probably switch over to MSR canisters once my snow peak canisters are empty.

so, i guess if i get a white gas stove, i'll get a regular one instead of the whisperlite universal since i don't really need a liquid feed canister stove.
There won't be much difference between Snow Peak (85/15 mix) and MSR (80/20 mix), but MSR will generally be a little bit better.

The colder you get, the harder it is to keep water liquid and the harder it is to start the stove. My planning number is 20F for upright canister stoves, although they can be made to work down below 11F (below the boiling point of isobutane) if you can keep the canister warm. It just gets harder and harder to keep the canister warm. Recall that the canister will be colder than the surrounding air because as the liquid fuel in the canister vaporizes, chilling results. Such chilling is greatly reduced in liquid feed mode when you invert the canister.

If you're going out and it's going to be really cold, you're better off with an inverted canister stove or a white gas stove. Again, my planning number is 20F. Above 20F, upright canister which is really light. Keep the canister in water, and you're good to go. Below 20F, I switch to inverted canister. Below 0F, I think either something specialized like a Coleman Xtreme or liquid fuel (white gas or kero).

There's my thought process for what it's worth.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Edited by hikin_jim on 02/17/2012 14:42:44 MST.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Hand warmer for canister stove on 02/19/2012 17:03:46 MST Print View

Try one of these. Attach to the canister with some tape.


http://www.rei.com/product/830451/grabber-reusable-hand-warmers-3-pairs?preferredSku=8304510001?cm_mmc&mr:trackingCode=709D93AE-E31D-E111-804A-A8C6AF702B72&mr:referralID=NA

They are also good to have in case of an emergency.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
cold weather use of canister on 02/19/2012 17:47:08 MST Print View

I was on a trip where it was lightly snowing in the morning, and people with half empty canisters had a real hard time boiling water. I shared some water boiled on my Caldera Cone. I'm guessing it was in the high 20s F.