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How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove?
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Sam Baker
(Masredub) - F
How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/09/2012 20:08:34 MDT Print View

I'm a first time alcohol stove user and I am going out on the JMT for 7 nights with a soda can alcohol stove. I will only be cooking at night and maybe a couple of mornings. My main source of food will be meals from, which will need a boil and anywhere up to 20-25 min simmer time. I know this may not be the best choice of food because of the lengthy cook time, but I want to try and go for it. Would 1 quart be enough/too much? Any advice on what amount of alcohol would be good to bring. thanks! Sam

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
Re: How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/09/2012 21:53:59 MDT Print View

I'm curious on how you get your soda can alcohol stove to simmer for 20-25 min? I've got three alcohol stoves (a fancee feest stove from Zelph Stoves, a 12-10 stove from Trail Designs and a homemade cat can stove) none of which will simmer. They are on full blast or off and don't hold near enough alcohol to burn for 20-25 mins. They each will reliably boil up to 2 cups of water for my freezer bag cooking but that's all I do with an alcohol stove.

a b
1 ounce per day on 06/09/2012 22:08:22 MDT Print View

I recommend one ounce per day, assuming you cook one meal per day.
Just boil your 2 cups of water and add em to your meal packet or whatever you have there.
Let it sit, perhaps wrapped in a hat or cozy for ten minutes.
You really wont need to boil anything for twenty minutes straight despite what the instructions say.
If the food is still crunchy after twenty minutes soaked in 2 cups of boiled water then you have the wrong type of food for an alcohol stove setup.
Actually even Idahoans, Knoor Sides, and Oatmeal rehydrate just fine in cold water given the proper amount of time.
Heat speeds the process.
So think of your alky stove as a "process speeder-upper".
It would be ridiculous to have to boil a meal for 20 minutes on alcohol.
Go ahead and boil up 2 cups and add it to one of those meals you have there and let it sit for a while.
It will turn out grand, trust me.
One ounce per day per meal works just fine.
Instead of adding more fuel (more weight!) add more soak time (weight-less).

To elaborate on no cook foods for comparison: Idahoan Instant Potatoes are edible after 5 minutes in 70 degree water.
Instant oatmeal is quite delicious after 10 minutes or less in room temp water.
Noodle based Knoor sides are edible after 20 minutes.
Rice based sides are better soaked for 1 hour or more.
All without heat of any kind.
With your alcohol stove and one ounce of alcohol you can do considerably better than these "no-cook" times.

Edited by Ice-axe on 06/09/2012 22:19:18 MDT.

James Byrnes
(backfeets1) - M

Locale: Midwest.... Missouri
Re: Re: How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/09/2012 22:25:38 MDT Print View

A chimney style alcohol stove with the draft shut down will simmer for 25 + mins.
Look for feather fire stove on you tube.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/09/2012 22:40:00 MDT Print View

On the other hand, if you determine that you really do need to simmer for 20-25 minutes, you may need to burn one dose of fuel and then refuel with a second dose. That will really drive your fuel usage high.

You really need to do some testing at home.


a b
Chimney stove on 06/09/2012 22:43:22 MDT Print View

Thats a cool stove but the main problem with that approach is that you have to simmer the food in a pan rather than simply add water to a ziplock bag.
Cooking food in a pan means cleaning that pan every night.
Adding boiling water to a ziplock and waiting for it to steep the food results in zero cleanup time.
You simply add water to the ziplock and driink the gruel when your meal is done or pack out the ziplock to the trash.
Actually cooking food in a pot on the trail is fine but introduces food smells and messy cleanups to your routine.
Adding boiling water to a plastic bag of food and eating the food from the bag results in zero messy cleanup.
Both approaches are valid.
You just have to decide which works for you.
For a JMT hiker on a first hike I recommend the least hassle which is:

Add boiling water to bag of food.
Stir and Wait.
Eat food.
Pack out the bag.

As opposed to:
Boil water in pan.
Add food.
Simmer food in pan.
Stir and Wait.
Eat food.
Clean out pan.
Still pack out ziplock bag food was in.

A seemingly small difference that amounts to a lot more time and hassle.
Either way works fine, just be aware of the trade off.

Edited by Ice-axe on 06/09/2012 22:47:12 MDT.

Sam Baker
(Masredub) - F
Re: 1 ounce per day on 06/10/2012 08:04:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the feedback guys, Matthew, really good advice and insight. I will be sure to do plenty of testing at home to be sure to get my cook time down. Thanks!

Mark Mendell
(mmendell) - M

Locale: Midwest
"How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove?" on 06/10/2012 09:43:04 MDT Print View

Like Matthew, I plan on 1 oz per day. I use a packafeather alcohol bottle cap and re-capture unused alcohol. I fill my stove completely and snuff it with a diy reflectix snuffer when I'm done. I figure on boiling water in the AM for coffee and water in the evening for dinner, perhaps coffee after. I use a caldera cone and .6 Evernew pot.

I've tried eating out of ziplocks and much prefer eating out of the pot. Matthew and I are eating the same stuff, but once my water boils or comes near boiling, I add food and put my pot in a diy foam cozy. Cleaning the pot takes seconds...I add rocks leaves, whatever, scrub and rinse. No soap, no fuss, and only takes a few seconds.

Each way is certainly valid, and a matter of preference. You'll need to experiment at home to see what works for you.

Jason Cravens

Locale: Cumberland Plateau
1oz on 06/10/2012 10:31:59 MDT Print View

I think like stated above, you average 1 ounce of fuel for each meal. I use a gram weenie pro stove with a heinie pot. The stove will boil 2 cups of water in about 8 minutes with 1 ounce of fuel.

I think after reading the site you listed for your food source, I would add the boiling water to the food and put in a homemade cozy to "simmer" for about ten minutes. After that I would judge the food to make sure everything had re hydrated properly.

Each time I get a new stove, I try to cook about 5 meals at home to get my times and procedure down. This will give you an idea of how much fuel you need for each meal and equally how much to take on your trip.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/10/2012 11:18:28 MDT Print View

I typically account for a little over 1/2oz per boil of 2-cups. I've used a MYOG soda can stove and a Gram Weenie clone with a Heineken pot and both have had issues when the outside temperature is below 40 degrees. I usually have to add a little extra for the stoves to prime and burn properly. Placing your fuel bottle in your pocket in the mornings for a few minutes can help out. I'll have to keep matthew's observations in mind for hydrating foods with unheated water for when I occasionally run out of fuel.

alcohol on 06/10/2012 19:40:53 MDT Print View

Yes, you need to test your stove at home, outside, and figure it out for yourself. Your windscreen and wind conditions are as important as anything. If its breezy at all, I will take a sleeping pad and use as a secondary windshield, makes all the difference in the world. With a poor windscreen your fuel usage can double or more.

The worst thing that can happen is you end up eating cold food. Not that big a deal, some do that anyway.

I usuallyt bring too much alcohol. As much as I like coffee and hot food in the morning, we usually end up just eating poptarts while packing up, and hitting the trail. Last 2 trips we brought back half the alcohol (or more) because didnt do hot breakfast, or didnt do coffee in evening either, etc.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/10/2012 20:10:00 MDT Print View

One point of confusion in these alcohol stove discussions is the definition of an ounce. Some people refer to a fluid ounce of liquid volume, and others refer to an ounce of mass, and there is quite a bit of difference.

Basically, when we have to carry the stuff, we are interested in how heavy the bottle is, and when we are measuring it into an alcohol burner, we are measuring it in milliliters or something.


Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: How much alcohol to bring for soda can stove? on 06/11/2012 03:54:49 MDT Print View

I have a small brasslight stove, which has an adjustable sleeve that allows a lower flame for simmering. I usually guesstimate 1 liquid oz. of fuel per meal, but I use things that are instat and have very low, if any, cook time required.

One suggestion would be to rethink your food. having to cook for 25 minutes is really long and would require several ounces of fuel and to keep recharging/restarting your stove. Look into more instatn options where you just boil water and add it to your food pouch or other items like couscous where you just stir it into boiling water and then take it off and cover it and let it rest for a few minutes.