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Alcohol stoves: pop can vs cat can stoves
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Adam Cassis
(acassis) - F

Locale: SoCal
Alcohol stoves: pop can vs cat can stoves on 12/07/2012 15:40:04 MST Print View

As far as thru hiking is concerned, any input as far as the best type of stove to use for thru hiking (for me, the JMT). i have built penny stoves that work ok, but not always consistant as i would like. i have seen andrew skura's online vids for his cat can stove which seems ridiculously simple to use, with maybe some more consistancy. does anyone have experience with both to give me some insight? thanks

James DeGraaf
(jdegraaf) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Cat stove v. soda can stove on 12/07/2012 15:53:06 MST Print View

Hi there, I've spent a lot of time (and money) on various types of alcohol stoves, DIY and purchased ones. As far as I've been able to discern they all boil water in about 6-8 minutes depending on conditions. They all need to have a windscreen to be effective and the best ones double as the pot stand. My go to alky stove is the cat stove for almost all pots wide enough, the only exception is the 12-10 stove used in conjunction with the Caldera cone.

On a related note if cost is a concern yours go with a cat stove and 12cm IMUSA pot with aluminum foil lid. It'll be about 4 oz and less than $10. Hard to beat IMHO.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Alcohol stoves: pop can vs cat can stoves on 12/07/2012 16:14:13 MST Print View

Several years back I went through a DIY stove stint and ended up making one cat food can stove and called it good after dicking around with penny stoves and all the silly variants that all do the same thing. I still have my first hole punched cat food can from 5 years ago and it still does what it's supposed to do, well enough.

Penny stoves are fussy and the "performance" just isn't there IMO. If you want stupid simple with a bit more consistency and aren't willing to make a stove, find yourself a Trangia spirit stove, they work well and can be snuffed out easily enough.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: Alcohol stoves: pop can vs cat can stoves on 12/07/2012 17:54:30 MST Print View

The most important thing with any alcohol stove (aside from the windscreen) is that the pot diameter matches the flame pattern. The cat-can stove works so well because the pot "seals" the top of the stove, forcing the flames out the holes and thus a wider shorter pot is needed. For alcohol stoves that make a flame in the center of the stove, a narrower pot works well.

I use the same cat-can stove and pot (wide .9 Ti Evernew/REI pot) as Skurka. I choose it because I already owned that pot when I was first looking at an alcohol stove, but I'm glad I did. I'm still using the first stove I made several years ago. The stove is easy to make and the hole-punch costs more than the cat food! Simple, easy-to-replace and it doesn't fail.

Jeff J
(j.j.81) - F

Locale: Oregon
Cat Can Stove is better on 12/08/2012 13:16:36 MST Print View

I've played with soda can stoves, and still do a little bit. I've gotten one really good stove from all the effort, and it does boil water noticeably faster than a cat can stove. It is a basic, double walled design that needs a separate pot stand. I had made enough soda stoves that I cut everything right and it seals itself without glue.

Then I made a cat can stove because I was attracted to the simplicity of the stove plus it being its own pot stand. The first one I made worked perfectly, unlike the soda stoves. I've since made a few more, varying the number of holes and pattern, to play with heat output. The fastest cat can stove is slower than my one soda can stove, but I don't care about the two minutes "lost." Also, it's really simple to modify one while out because there's nothing complicated about the design.

As has been said before and in other threads, pot diameter makes a huge difference with an alky stove. I use an old MSR Blacklite 1.5L pot and the Imusa mug mentioned above. I wouldn't want to go any narrower than the 12 cm Imusa. I get flames going up the side with it, but enough heat hits the bottom that I get a reliable boil every time.

One thing to note is that my hole punch didn't last as long as the first stove. Making others broke the cheap punch I had.


Duane Klinge
Re: Cat stove v. soda can stove on 12/09/2012 10:19:14 MST Print View

I agree with James, although I do not have extensive experience with other designs it is very easy to build and low cost.

Using a backcountry Ti 700ml mug I can get to rolling boil with 2 cups with .75 ounce using HEET as fuel and 3 cups with 1 ounce. With a stainless steel pot and 4 cups of water 1 ounce will create a large number of small bubbles on pan bottom.
Also easy to light with a Bic lighter.
The template I used has a slight hole gap at end points that I can place the Ti mug handle above that does not heat handle so pot can be lifted with bare hand.

The link below is a great site for building and using a SuperCat stove.

Edited by ksc on 12/09/2012 10:39:15 MST.