Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes?
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evan parsons
(freestyleparsons) - F

Locale: Dowtown LA
Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/05/2007 19:28:03 MST Print View

Hi there-

This weekend I took the ol Pocket Puck Alcohol Stove out to the snow up in the Angeles Crest National Forest for my first field run.

It was quite windy so I decided to cook with my stove in the protection of my tent's vestibule. It's a very well ventilated tent (Big Agnes SL3) and even then my eyes began to harshly burn after about 5 minutes. I can only assume that it's because of the fumes produced by the stove, but after reading the carbon monoxide article featured on this site last week, I thought that because of the air flow, I'd be OK.

It was about 37 degrees and the stove was on a metal pot in the snow, everything seemed to work fine other than the fumes. I was using denatured alcohol from Home Depot.

Can anybody shed any light as to what was actually going on with the burning eyes? Has anybody experienced this? Was I maybe using it incorrectly/wrong fuel?

Any imput would be appreciated before I actually cause my body some major damage.

Thanks,
Evan

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/05/2007 20:08:09 MST Print View

Evan,

I, too, have had my eyes burn from fumes from my alcohol stove.

The only times I had it happen, I was too close to it during the burn. That said, my guess is you were in close proximity; and that even though you had ventilation, the wind was coming your way, or at least circulating around under the vestibule.

Keep enough open area, and stay further away during the burn.

toddhiker

John Hopkins
(DrGonzo) - F

Locale: Southeast
It burns when I see on 03/05/2007 20:58:56 MST Print View

From my many failed experiments making stoves, I to have had buring eyes (and lungs). Make sure that it is not somthing burning off the metal that is bothering you. Dont quote me on this, but I think some metals release oxides when they are burned. And if you have homemade stoves the liners in cans and the paint can release fumes too.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Evan, me too re; burning eyes on 03/05/2007 21:41:02 MST Print View

Evan,
I have also had the burning eyes, retching sensations, and really foul smells from burning alcohol and esbit. I continue to use both these fuel sources when I'm out in the open, say stopped by the trail for a cup of coffee. When I'm camping I always use canister stoves. Gigapower, Pocket Rocket, or Jetboil.

Dylan Skola
(phageghost) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/05/2007 22:13:45 MST Print View

Just speculating, but . . . I have noticed that the denaturant used in some denatured alcohol is methylethylketone (MEK), which either by itself or in combustion by-products might be part of the problem.

According to the EPA:
Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to methyl ethyl ketone in humans results in irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat.

Any chemists out there?

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/06/2007 03:09:13 MST Print View

I'm surprised nobody mentioned this yet:

There are many different alcohols: methyl, ethyl and isopropyl to name but a few.

Working with Methyl alcohol can cause blindness!!! A Google search gave me that denatured alcohol consists of 90% Ethyl, 5% Methyl and 5% Isoproyl.

Another google search gives this on methyl [1]:

"Toxic by inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption. May be a reproductive hazard. Ingestion may be fatal. Risk of very serious, irreversible damage if swallowed. Exposure may cause eye, kidney, heart and liver damage. Chronic or substantial acute exposure may cause serious eye damage, including blindness. Irritant. Narcotic. UK exposure limits: long-term 200 ppm, short term 250 ppm."

R11 Highly flammable.
R23 Toxic by inhalation.
R24 Toxic in contact with skin.
R25 Toxic if swallowed.
R39 Danger of very serious irreversible effects. (This one is pretty serious, don't ya think?)

S7 Keep container tightly closed.
S16 Keep away from sources of ignition. (LOL)
S24 Avoid contact with skin.
S36 Wear suitable protective clothing. (Nope your pata 1 shirt is not protective clothing)
S37 Wear suitable gloves. (Nope your gloves are not suitable)
S45 In case of accident or if you feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately. MAYBE THAT'S GOOD ADVICE TO DO RIGHT NOW! (show the label whenever possible.)

Searching for denatured alcohol gave me [2]:

"EYES: Irritant. Redness and itching may result from exposure to vapors or liquid. (And while cooking you produce a lot of alcohol vapours)

EYES: Rinse with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Get professional medical assistance. (Yet another good advise)

EYE PROTECTION:
Safety glasses are considered minimum (!) protection. Goggles or face shield may be necessary depending on quantity of material and conditions of use."

Another Google find a bit lower down on the first page [3]:

R11 See above
R20 Harmful by inhalation.
R21 Harmful in contact with skin.
R22 Harmful if swallowed.
R36 Causes severe burns.
R37 Irritating to respiratory system.
R38 Irritating to skin.
R40 Limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect.

S7 See above
S16 See above
S24 See above
S25 Avoid contact with eyes. (Hmmmm good idea)
S36 See above
S37 See above
S39 Wear eye / face protection. (Hmmm good idea)
S45 See above

So I'm pretty sure that the vapours you're producing because you're burning alcohol cause your eyes to hurt. CALL YOUR DOCTOR TODAY! Just in case. Working with alcohol in a lab you have to work in an exhaust booth!

Now you shouldn't worry or stop using alcohol. The tiny exposure you get from cooking on alcohol every now and again won't do you much harm, but next time do not use it inside the tent anymore. Apparently the ventilation isn't enough.

Call your doctor! Just in case.

Eins

[1] http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/ME/methyl_alcohol.html
[2] http://www.cise.columbia.edu/clean/msds/ethanol.pdf
[3] http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/ET/ethyl_alcohol.html

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/06/2007 03:24:07 MST Print View

Now that I'm on the subject and just in case you're now concidering the use of Esbit (Hexamine; Aminoform; HMTA; Methenamine; Urotropin) instead of alcohol some more info [4]:

"2) Harmful by ingestion. Irritating to eyes and Respiratory system. May Irritate skin.

Exposure will make the air polluted by fishlike smell

On inhalation: Remove from exposure, rest and keep warm.
In servere cases, obtain medical attention.

On eye contact: Irrigate thoroughly with water for at least 10 minutes. If discomfort persists , Obtain Medical Attention.

Wear appropriate personal protective equipment

Respiratory Protection: Dust respirator
Hand Protection: plastic or rubber gloves
Eye Protection: Goggles or face shield
Skin and Body Protection: Plastic apron,sleeves,boots-if handing large quantities.

Irritating to eyes,skin and respiratory system.

Long term contact with Hexamine is harmful to health.

Risk Phases:
R11 Highly flammable
R19 May form explosive peroxides
R36/37 Irritating to eyes and respiratory system
Safety Phases :
S16 Keep away from sources of ignition - No smoking
S33 Take precautionary measures against static discharges"

Eins

[4] http://www.ccp.com.tw/msds.nsf/0/BF341159B43FC7FB48256A8B00355E43?OpenDocument

evan parsons
(freestyleparsons) - F

Locale: Dowtown LA
Re: Re: Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/06/2007 13:03:51 MST Print View

Thanks everybody for the advice,

It looks like alcohol may not be a dreamy as I had imagined, since sometimes I have to cook in a tent (extreme cold or rain).

And thanks Eins for such a comprehesive response.

Evan

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Re: Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/06/2007 15:39:09 MST Print View

Don't get paranoid about either Esbit or alcohol. The health warnings are vastly exaggerated. Just cook outside - as you should do with any stove -- and don't eat Esbit or drink denatured alky. If you think it is safe to cook in a tent with any stove, think again. The only reasonably safe shelter for cooking is a tarp - which has plenty of ventillation and from which you can escape in any direction when the gas stove starts shooting 5-foot flames.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/07/2007 03:11:28 MST Print View

I want to second what Vick said. Hence my:

"Now you shouldn't worry or stop using alcohol. The tiny exposure you get from cooking on alcohol every now and again won't do you much harm, but next time do not use it inside the tent anymore. Apparently the ventilation isn't enough."

statement in my first post. You can use alcohol or Esbit safely for cooking. Just make sure you have addequate ventilation. The safety data sheets that I quoted are for people using these chemicals day after day, year after year.

But at least now you know a bit more about (the potential dangers with) alcohol.

Eins

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/07/2007 09:28:32 MST Print View

>But at least now you know a bit more about (the potential dangers with) alcohol.


You could also switch from denatured alcohol to ethyl alcohol, available in some liquor stores as Everclear, 190-proof grain neutral spirits. Since this is intended for human consumption (but not straight!) it has no denaturant added to it. (You can also use it as a skin disinfectant for wound care.) There are warnings and hazards listed in the MSDS (esp. its flammable nature and the dangers of breathing alcohol vapor) but the only combustion products are Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide. I find it burns my eyes much less than when I use denatured alcohol, and I bring it instead when I might want to cook inside or take advantage of its multi-use nature.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Alcohol Stove and My Burning Eyes? on 03/07/2007 11:30:56 MST Print View

Douglas,
I'm an Everclear fan, too. Except in below freezing weather when it is harder (but not impossible) to light. It has a higher BTU output than denatured - but only marginally. And it has many other uses, as you pointed out. The expense discourages many from using it, however. An alternative is isopropyl. It works for wound disinfectant, has the highest BTU output, but is even harder to light than pure ethyl, and soots pots badly. The Fuzzy stove burns it most efficiently, IMHO.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Fumes on 03/07/2007 19:05:20 MST Print View

Hmmm...I've never experienced this. But, I'm usually away from my stove doing camp chores while the water boils. Is it possible that certain people have allergies to the fumes that don't affect other people?

Mireille Halley
(tinyscrafts) - F - MLife

Locale: So Cal
everclear on 03/07/2007 22:12:57 MST Print View

unfortunately the strongest we can get in CA is 151.
Go figure, we'd have a goofy alcohol law.

Benjamin Tomsky
(btomsky) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: everclear on 03/07/2007 22:39:29 MST Print View

Whenever friends visit me from out of state, I have them bring me some of the "real stuff"... because I too have experienced the burning eyes from the Home Depot denatured alcohol.

Edited by btomsky on 03/07/2007 22:40:16 MST.

scri bbles
(scribbles) - F

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Everclear on 03/09/2007 11:40:52 MST Print View

And remember if you do use Everclear you get that extra satisfaction out of true multi use gear. ;)

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Everclear on 03/09/2007 11:55:11 MST Print View

nd remember if you do use Everclear you get that extra satisfaction out of true multi use gear. ;)

Multi-use? nope
Multi-purpose? OH yeah!