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California Fire Restrictions
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Shawn Peterson
(afterdarkphoto)

Locale: Nor Cal
California Fire Restrictions on 06/27/2013 22:33:35 MDT Print View

The southern PCT now has campfire bans. Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park and the Sierra National Forest have also implemented a no campfire policy to include wilderness packing as well as developed campgrounds.

My folks live at Shaver Lake on the western side of the Sierra's. Its dry, hot hot hot hot, and dangerous. There has already been a fire started at Carstens due to an unattended campfire.

Be careful out there and bring your warmies at elevation!

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
alcohol stoves? on 07/03/2013 08:10:28 MDT Print View

http://www.pcta.org/2013/strong-fire-restrictions-on-john-muir-trail-13030/
Would seem to imply that alcohol stoves are not allowed in some areas. I'm guessing this is more of an oversight than intent? I seem to recall a similar ban last year but that people checked with the authorities and found that alcohol stoves were acceptable? Does anyone have more info?

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: alcohol stoves? on 07/03/2013 13:43:47 MDT Print View

Forest service policy has been in the past that if the stove has a valve you can use it, if it does not have a valve you cannot. But this has not been consistent everywhere, all the time so it is best to check with the rangers at the particular forest or wilderness area you intend to visit.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Alcohol stoves? on 07/03/2013 14:09:44 MDT Print View

I talked to the people at the INYO office today. They told me alcohol stoves are ok. I am a little concerned by her statement, though. She had to ask what I meant by an alcohol stove.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Alcohol stoves? on 07/03/2013 14:25:44 MDT Print View

I've gotten inconsistent comments like that from the Inyo NF office in Bishop before. So, I make a note of the person's name and date. In the event that a backcountry ranger has a problem with what I am doing, I can refer him to the office person. I figure that alone would prevent a citation to me.

--B.G.--

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
answers seem to depend on who you ask on 07/03/2013 14:30:05 MDT Print View

I was just up in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin (GTW) for the July 1st golden trout opener and I asked about the fire ban when I picked up my wilderness permit in the Lone Pine Visitor's Center on Saturday. The two folks I talked to who were processing my permit said that alcohol stoves were not currently allowed. They said stoves had to have an on/off valve. I didn't ask about esbit but they seemed pretty sure that only stoves with an on/off valve were allowed. I left wondering if a back country ranger would have the same answer if he or she wandered into our camp.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Alcohol stoves? on 07/03/2013 14:39:14 MDT Print View

Here is the post on the INYO site:


Beginning June 28, and until further notice, the following restrictions will be in effect:
NO CAMPFIRES, briquette barbeques, or stove fires are allowed outside of designated developed recreation sites and specifically posted campsites or areas. A list of designated campgrounds and recreation sites is available at local Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers, and on the Inyo National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.
Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit (available free of charge at any Ranger Station or Visitor Center) are not exempt from the prohibitions but are allowed to use portable stoves or lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel.
NO FIREWORKS. It is prohibited to possess or discharge any fireworks.
NO SMOKING, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
NO WELDING or operating an acetylene torch with open flames, except by permit.
NO USE OF EXPLOSIVES, except by permit.


Its a little vague, but it seems to maybe prohibit alcohol stoves. I called when I saw this.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Alcohol stoves? on 07/03/2013 14:41:56 MDT Print View

"jellied petroleum"

That's almost the same as Esbit, I would think.

--B.G.--

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Gels versus solids on 07/03/2013 16:18:14 MDT Print View

> "jellied petroleum"

> That's almost the same as Esbit, I would think.

Well, Napalm (single-serving yogurt cups plus gasoline, in retail terminology). But I suspect they mean Sterno

I would call Esbit (hexamine tablets) a solid fuel.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Gels versus solids on 07/03/2013 16:20:55 MDT Print View

David, from the standpoint of safety in use, I would think that Esbit is about the same as Sterno.

--B.G.--

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Gels versus solids on 07/03/2013 16:22:17 MDT Print View

Sterno doesn't have an off switch unless you use the 'lid'. I can do the same thing to extinguish the 'stove' with my pot over my Esbit tab so...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
DIY gels. Cause, really, we all want to be chemical engineers. on 07/03/2013 19:01:10 MDT Print View

>"David, from the standpoint of safety in use, I would think that Esbit is about the same as Sterno."

Bob, I'd agree Sterno or Esbit are each far, far safer than a wood-burning stove with its potential for embers and the certainty of some coals (and variable ways of containing those coals).

While Sterno has a provided lid to extinguish the flame. It also preserves the fuel for its next use.

Esbit can be used in a variety of containers (slide the mint tin lid closed) or none at all.

And note that while "jellied fuel" makes Sterno spring to mind, in trying to use a generic description and not a brand name, it seems to leave open some DIY options:

Bob and I remember not only 35mm film cameras with their handy plastic film canisters, but that the film used to come in screw-top aluminum canisters of the same size. How's that for a mini-Sterno? Less stable for one thing, but maybe with a mini HX pot, it fills a need. Simply transfer Sterno fuel from the factory container or get out some polystyrene and make your own gelled fuel.

Fire ribbon ain't cheap per BTU, (Esbit isn't either) but it's available and, again, the more gung-ho can make their own.

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
Re: DIY gels. Cause, really, we all want to be chemical engineers. on 07/03/2013 19:58:12 MDT Print View

My favourite DIY gelled alcohol:

Mix ethanol with a calcium acetate solution.

A couple of recipes here: http://zenstoves.net/Sterno.htm

The following instructions and measurements are from the Montville High School Science Departmental.

Add 25g of crushed chalk or egg shells (calcium carbonate-CaCO3) to 100ml of vinegar (water and acetic acid - CH3CO2H) and stir for about 5 minutes.
This should produce carbon dioxide (CO2), calcium acetate (C4H6CaO4) and water (H2O) plus leave you with some left over chalk (CaCO3). If you are guessing on how much chalk to add, just make sure that there is a little extra after 5 minutes of stirring.

Remove the excess chalk by filtering your mix through some filter paper (coffee filter or napkin can be used).
Set a funnel in a jar, place your filter in it and pour your suspension through it.

Mark the level of your solution in its container and allow your solution to evaporate off about half that volume to remove the excess water.
Place your solution in an oven set on low heat or place it out in the sun to dry. If you went to far - just add the missing water.
Note - if you like, you can dry out your solution completely and store the remaining dried calcium acetate for future use.

If your solution isn't already in the container you want your gel in, then pour it in there now.

Add 30ml of alcohol (ethanol, methanol, or isopropanol) to your solution and watch the gel form. Do not stir.

Once the reaction in complete, pour off any extra fuel.


Y2kSurvivor suggests:
Dissolved calcium acetate solution ratio:
1 part dry calcium acetate (by volume) to 2 parts water

Solution to fuel ratio:
1 part dissolved calcium acetate solution to 4 parts alcohol

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: DIY gels. Cause, really, we all want to be chemical engineers. on 07/03/2013 23:14:23 MDT Print View

"Bob and I remember not only 35mm film cameras with their handy plastic film canisters, but that the film used to come in screw-top aluminum canisters of the same size."

What do you mean -- remember? I have both kinds sitting here right now.

--B.G.--

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
California Fire Restrictions on 07/11/2013 06:50:19 MDT Print View

I called the Tahoe Basin Mgmt Unit, spoke to Chris, said no alky stoves in Desolation Wilderness, so I imagine that would apply to Eldorado NF backcountry as well, since I will be going thru Desolation to the area between that and Loon Lake by Two Peaks, then back into Desolation. Opportunity to take a vintage MSR stove instead of a gassie. Six nights or so out, covering some country I have not visited in 15 years or so.
Duane

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Alcohol stoves and DRY forests on 07/11/2013 13:41:14 MDT Print View

Given that my favorite hiking area, the Spring Mountains just outside of Las Vegas, is burning furiously, destroying 30,000 acres already, I will say that NO alky stoves should be used in these dry western forests. And ONLY canister stoves be permitted.

Even alky stoves like the Starlyte, with a no-spill wick should not be permitted. Alcohol and all liquid fuel stoves need refilling. This in itself can be dangerous.

Would you like to see a SVEA or other white gas or kereosene stove accidentally explode in an ultra dry forest, shooting flames yards into the air? It has happened and could happen again and should be banned during these conditions.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Alcohol stoves and DRY forests on 07/11/2013 13:55:34 MDT Print View

In my opinion, the type of fuel is not that important. What's really important is site selection. A wood fire on rocky or barren soil is safer than a canister stove next to a dry, grassy field.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: California Fire Restrictions on 07/11/2013 14:51:55 MDT Print View

Duane,

I read through the Tahoe Basin Mgmt Unit Fire Restriction Order and they list the following exception, "However, persons with a valid campfire Permit may use pressurized gas or
contained fuel stove."
I took this to mean that esbit would be ok as a fuel source but alcohol was not.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
alchie stoves on 07/11/2013 15:45:56 MDT Print View

I like alcohol stoves. They are light, easy to make, efficient for certain purposes and just plain ole’ work.
In the past, I’ve headed up workshops on how to make pepsi-can (and later, cat food stove..easier!) stoves.
I’ve cooked probably a few hundred meals in the backcountry with an alchy stove at this point.

However, I really have been a stickler the past two years about alchie stove regs. Everything I’ve seen, at least in the spirit of the law, eliminates the use of the stoves during these type of bans.

I went backpacking this past weekend in the Comanche Peak Wilderness. I drove through a devastated patch that was started by an alcohol stove user.

I question all the debates myself. A canister stove is a lousy three ounces, cost ~$30 (or $10 for a Chinese knock-off) and there is no question of their legality.

Will a ranger “catch” me using an alcohol stove? Probably not. But if a ranger did happen upon me who takes a similar view to alchie stoves as expressed in the above posts, I am facing a very stiff fine. I’ve also seen the ridge on the local foothills on fire...a little too closely viewed from the small deck here at Casa Mags. I could see the slurry bombers drop their load on the fire. Tend to take a conservative view of fires and their destruction now.

So now I go stoveless when solo for three season backpacking. Take a canister with Mrs Mags or on a more social trip.

Maybe I’ll use an alchie stove again come Fall.

But I am definitely not going to use it when there are some legitimate questions are about their legality.

Just ain’t worth it.

At least to me.

rE: Canisters stoves just as dangerous

Site selection is important for sure. But seems there is more a probability of something going wrong any open stove you pour fuel into. :O

Edited by PaulMags on 07/11/2013 17:05:09 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
California Fire Restrictions on 07/11/2013 17:24:28 MDT Print View

Eric,
I did not consider Esbit, but I don't interpret it like you. Jellied petro like Sterno if that is what Sterno can be called, has a lid that can be used to cap the can, Esbit, no. Besides, I don't like its smell and inability to keep the smell from the rest of a packs contents. I did not ask about Esbit type fuel. I'll just bring an old MSR G or GK or something for nostalgia, as I have not been back into this area for 15 years or so.
Duane

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
Monatauk Gnat on 07/11/2013 19:47:22 MDT Print View

This tiny cannister stove has no piezo. How do you light that sucker? Would that be considered a bad idea, since you have to have an open flame to light it?

What's the lightest cannister stove with on-board piezo?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Monatauk Gnat on 07/11/2013 19:50:03 MDT Print View

Just use the spark wheel and don't depress the gas button on your lighter. Set up on rock or mineral soil to minimize risk.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Extremes on 07/11/2013 20:10:36 MDT Print View

I talked to a pretty lady last week on my hike into the Trinity Alps. She said she had to come to California to get away from the snow, there was still lots of snow in Oregon where she lived.
Duane

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
ESBIT smell :o(~ on 07/11/2013 22:11:45 MDT Print View

Duane,

I hear you about the smell of ESBIT tabs. For cooking I can take it.

Foe transporting ESBIT I have had to put the ZipLoc Freezer Bag of ESBIT tabs in a used coffee bag that has a laminate of aluminum foil. This seems to work very well (and for carrying cooked turkey bacon).

You and I and most BPLers here could cook in dry forest conditions with an ESBIT stove and not start a conflagaration because we are cautious in our site choice, site prep and stove use. But the BLM, USFS and park officials know we are not "Joe 6 Pack". They make the regs for "Joe 6 Pack", not us.

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Re: SEKI on 07/12/2013 12:15:52 MDT Print View

Email from SEKI Wilderness Office says alcohol & esbit are allowed under current, stage 2 fire restrictions.

Michael Matiasek
(matiasek) - F - M
Inconsistencies on 07/12/2013 12:23:52 MDT Print View

Wow it is amazing how inconsistent the interpretations are, even within the same forest.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Inconsistencies on 07/12/2013 12:40:56 MDT Print View

"Wow it is amazing how inconsistent the interpretations are, even within the same forest."

One national forest might have several districts, and each district office might manage things differently based on different conditions. Worse, some of the people in the district offices interpret rules and definitions differently.

In one office, I was told two completely conflicting answers to my fire questions, and that was within five minutes. So, they had a management problem.

--B.G.--

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
Re: Re: Inconsistencies on 07/12/2013 14:09:06 MDT Print View

I don't think it's districts, it's opinions among staff that vary. I called desolation yesterday like Duane and the nice lady - did not ask for her name (would not hang her out to dry anyway) said that Alcohol stoves were okay. It fell under contained fuel I think, anyway, different interpretations for sure. It's summer. It's hot and dry. I'll schlep the 2 oz. Snow Peak Lite Max this time.

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
Re: Re: Re: Inconsistencies on 07/12/2013 14:26:35 MDT Print View

I called desolation yesterday like Duane and the nice lady - did not ask for her name (would not hang her out to dry anyway) said that Alcohol stoves were okay. It fell under contained fuel I think, anyway, different interpretations for sure.

I called the Whitney Ranger Station and received the same response. Both Alki and Esbit OK... they said just no wood or open fire like in a fire ring or pit.