RUCAS Alcohol Stove

9:07 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, ladies and gents?

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Y'all made me a believer. 

Came in the mail earlier this week, but tonight was my first time using an alcohol stove.

The model I purchased goes for $20 on eBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RUCAS-Alcohol-Stove-Vargo-8oz-Fuel-Bottle-FAST-SHIP-backpacking-survival-/190872170222?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c70de2eee

Before any of y'all try to tell me this is just another pop can, cat can, Bud Light kinda stove - this one's miles away. The craftsmanship is exact and top-notch, and the aluminum is robust and durable. I'm a firm believer that people have jobs for a reason: if all a guy does all day is make alcohol stoves, I'd be foolish to think I'd do a better job than him. No offense to those of you DIY'ers out there - I just wanted to leave it to the pros on this one.

Once this is trail-tested, I'll write a full review.

Took the advice of Peter, Goose and Patman, and made sure I didn't set myself on fire lighting it. 

Put 1.5 ozs of denatured alcohol in there, lit it up with a match, and waited for the flames to come through the side burners.

Once they did, I sat my Stowaway pot atop it (filled with 16 ozs water) and waited for a boil. I wasn't paying attention to a clock, so I can't yet quote a boil time, but it was well under 10 minutes. 

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Blowing it out wasn't working for me - didn't want to set any brush on fire. Took the emptied pot, turned it upside-down, and snuffed it out that way. 

No leftover fuel, but at least I know now that 1.5 ounces of fuel will last me ten or so minutes and boil 16 ounces of water.

Like I said, I'm definitely a believer now in alcohol stoves. Clean, quiet, lightweight, "green," and precise. For boiling water or simple heat-and-eat cooking, I don't know how you could do better.

9:25 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Hope you've got a lid for that pot, it'll boil a lot quicker. :) Also a windscreen when you're out, I use a piece of aluminum flashing but heavy-duty foil or a disposable aluminum cookie sheet will work just as well (and probably weigh less, maybe I should ditch the flashing...). Make sure you've still got some air flow or your stove may 'pop'.

One other tip for chilly weather: keep the alcohol warm in your jacket or sleeping bag and it will light faster and easier without having to prime it (for which you'd need a tray to set the stove in as you light a few drops underneath it to heat things up).

Long-time Trangia user here, yours is shiny. And look at that beautiful blue flame. :) I got my first alcohol stove because I was a poor student, but when I looked at other options later, all I could see were the disadvantages of them. I wish you happy adventures with yours!

9:43 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Ha! Sure did have a lid on it. Just wanted a picture of the boil.

But man, that lid got HOT. Guess there're some downsides to the all-aluminum construction on that pot. Leave it to me to flawlessly operate something with an invisible flame...only to damn near burn myself taking a lid off a pot.

Windscreen actually is in the photos. It's a folding one by Vargo. Probably didn't recognize it because it's all black! I'm still waiting on my titanium mug to come in the mail: it has a much small diameter than this pot, and will allow me to full enclose the stove with the windscreen (it has notches cut into the top and bottom of each panel to maintain airflow).

Did not know that on the whole "keep it in your coat" advice. Helpful stuff! 

Mostly, though, this helps cut some serious weight, and packs down a lot smaller than my canister stove would:

CAMP KITCHEN

STOVE: RUCAS Alcohol Stove (1.34 oz)

FUEL: Denatured Alcohol in 8 oz Vargo Outdoors Fuel Bottle (9 oz, filled)

WINDSCREEN: Vargo Aluminum (1.3 oz)

LIGHTER: BIC Mini (0.4 oz)

MATCHES: Coleman Match Case (0.6 oz)

MUG/POT: Snow Peak Titanium Single Wall 600 Mug (2.8 oz)

SPOON: MSR Folding (0.35 oz)

TOTAL WEIGHT - 15.79 oz

Less than a single pound!!!

10:20 a.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I carry a pair of leather gloves that, in addition to keeping my fingers warm, also work to handle hot pans. 

Another advantage - fuel is available everywhere, from your local paint store  (methyl hydrate thinner) to the gas line antifreeze sold at the gas station. 

Typical specs for boiling time are 7 min/litre for an alcohol stove vs. 3-4 min/litre for a pressurized stove. One trick is to only boil what you need, like 250 ml for a meal or for a cup of coffee. That varies with elevation, ambient temperature, etc. 

You've got to figure out a better way to snuff your stove out, though. Would your metal coffee mug fit over the top?

11:06 a.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Gloves aren't a bad idea at all, Peter.

I picked up a can of denatured alcohol while I was at REI, but yeah - definite advantage knowing I can always pop by a gas station and buy a bottle of HEET if I forget my fuel, or run out.

I'll have to have a watch handy next time. For 16 ounces of water, it boiled quicker than I expected. Helped, too, to have the windscreen containing and directing the flame. 

The mug will fit over the top.

I've seen folks blow these out with the pot sitting atop them, so maybe I need to give it a little more oomph next time around?

12:02 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I think you made a great decision on getting an alcohol stove..You see how much your packweight just went down...I use a Bandana to move my pot..It also has other use's..

1:04 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

I carry a pair of leather gloves that, in addition to keeping my fingers warm, also work to handle hot pans.

 Leather gloves are ok, but do NOT use synthetic gloves or or woven gloves, even with leather on the palm side extending up the fingers to pick up hot pots or around the stove. Synthetic can melt if you grab a too hot pot, catch on fire if you get it into the flame (remember that the blue alcohol flame is almost invisible), or if you spill some liquid fuel (alcohol, white gas, kerosene), woven gloves can act like a wick and catch on fire. Been there, done that, and worse, I have seen people get burned hands from melting synthetic gloves or burning woven gloves.

Just another of those safety issues we all have to be aware of all the time in the outdoors, especially after a long, hard day of hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, climbing, or biking.

1:17 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Eventually, you 'll be able to better gauge precisely how much fuel it takes for your pot to reach a boil, and no more.  For example, I use a Caldera Cone alcohol stove.  Over the course of using it the past year or so, I know that it takes between .75 and .80 ozs. of fuel for my MSR Titan Kettle to reach a full boil (with about 2 cups of water in the kettle).  In colder conditions, just a tad bit more fuel.

My stove burns out right after my water boils.  No need to try and snuff it, and no need to try and recapture "leftover" fuel.

1:35 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Earth Pig said:

Eventually, you 'll be able to better gauge precisely how much fuel it takes for your pot to reach a boil, and no more.  For example, I use a Caldera Cone alcohol stove.  Over the course of using it the past year or so, I know that it takes between .75 and .80 ozs. of fuel for my MSR Titan Kettle to reach a full boil (with about 2 cups of water in the kettle).  In colder conditions, just a tad bit more fuel.

My stove burns out right after my water boils.  No need to try and snuff it, and no need to try and recapture "leftover" fuel.

 Yep! .8oz in my Trangia gives me 2 cups of boil in 7 minutes.

In the morning, I use .4oz to heat water. Doesn't come to a boil--which means my coffee and oatmeal isn't too hot to consume right away.

5:15 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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The Trangia burner has a simmer ring that, when closed, can be used to easily snuff the burner. I'm cheap enough to try to save every drop of fuel whenever I can. 

Just another of those safety issues we all have to be aware of all the time...

Absolutely. If you get a bad burn, you're going to be in pain all the way back home. Long delays for treatment can also lead to more serious problems. 

11:08 a.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Anyone have experience doing light cooking with these?

Might try and keep my next trip to a budget - I could probably get a weekend's-worth of meals and snacks for the cost of an MH meal. Lipton's pasta and rice sides, Zatarain's, etc.

If I can figure out how to make that work, it'd save me a lot of money. $7 a pop for a meal gets pricey. Heck, last trip out, my primitive campsite cost less than one MH meal!

December 29, 2014
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