Is Ethanol Worth It? (for alcohol stoves)

11:07 p.m. on December 18, 2011 (EST)
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Sure, you can run your alcohol stove on methanol; that's what comes in a bottle of HEET. I mean it's cheap and available and all -- but it doesn't have as much heat content as ethanol. In other words, you have to carry more methanol just to do the same amount of cooking.
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OK, so I can get more heat from ethanol than methanol, great, but alcohols with high ethanol content tend to be more expensive. Just how much weight can I save? In other words, Is Ethanol Worth It?

Join me on today's Adventure in Stoving as we "do the numbers" on ethanol.

HJ
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9:32 a.m. on December 21, 2011 (EST)
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Ethanol is for drinking, not burning

2:50 p.m. on December 21, 2011 (EST)
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lol.

Sir, you make a good argument.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

7:13 p.m. on December 21, 2011 (EST)
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I have used both ethanol & methanol.

The best deal I can currently get on a gallon of SLX (128 oz.) is $14.00, that is a contractor price at a local paint store.

The best price I can get on Heet is $1.39 (12 oz.)

It seems that when I have a whole gallon I end up giving some to friends.

All in all I prefer SLX.

I also buy white gas by the gallon....and sometimes fill up a buddies tank or fuel bottle.

Nice article Jim.



7:27 p.m. on December 21, 2011 (EST)
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trouthunter,

That's a very good price.  That's better than at Home Depot.  SLX isn't the highest heat content fuel out there, but it does a good job.  Tough to get anything cheaper than $14.00/gallon although the price you're paying for HEET is very close.  Where are you buying your HEET?

HJ

Adventures in Stoving

8:15 p.m. on December 21, 2011 (EST)
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Jim,

That price is based on buying 12 bottles of Heet (a gross?) at a Walmart employee price, I know someone who works there and we split it sometimes.

I have used Everclear before, but just can't justify the waste, haha.

9:51 p.m. on December 21, 2011 (EST)
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lol.  But can you justify getting wasted?  ;)

HJ

Adventures in Stoving

10:08 a.m. on December 22, 2011 (EST)
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I have a lab freezing system that uses 20 liters of 96% ethanol as a coolant. I have to change it every couple of years. I'll never run out.

10:48 a.m. on December 22, 2011 (EST)
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BigRed said:

I have a lab freezing system that uses 20 liters of 96% ethanol as a coolant. I have to change it every couple of years. I'll never run out.

 Some get it lucky

3:26 p.m. on December 22, 2011 (EST)
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BigRed said:

I have a lab freezing system that uses 20 liters of 96% ethanol as a coolant. I have to change it every couple of years. I'll never run out.

 Sweet!

HJ

3:49 p.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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hikin_jim said:

lol.  But can you justify getting wasted?  ;)

HJ

Adventures in Stoving

 Haha, I always get wasted in moderation.

Well, actually I love having a drink or two but I'm not a heavy drinker, I get the worlds worst headaches and that may be a blessing.

4:52 a.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi HJ, 

have you ever seen or anything heard about Eco-flamme?

http://www.ecogel.com/

I was wondering how long it would take for me to boil two cups of water with one. Considering all your thoroughness in testing I thought you might know. I'm planning on buying one in any case but still, my curiosity is spiked. If you can't find them in your area and would want one tell me, It shouldn't too expensive for me to mail you one. Could be a nice addition to your blog in any case,

Good day to you.

 

10:35 a.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Hello, Louis-Alexis,

No, I have not heard of Eco-Flamme before.  It looks very interesting.  I have written them to see if their products are available in the US.

HJ

10:42 a.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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On one cramping tip, Izz onced gotta inspirtation.  Myze alcy stove runned plumb otta fuewl, ‘cause I fergot m’extry bottle of alchi hol.  So Izz thunked whize not try uszing’ some J-j-jjack Daniels (burp) burpbon. as stove jewce.  Soz Izz pourred a little inta the stove, an’ tit-toadest my creeateivtivity wid a sip or three, an’ spilt some on my wife beeter.  Soze I goes to light the stove, realy nice, when allofasuddin my shirt iz burnin!  Well sheet howdie!  Sewz I rip m’shirt off and flung it yonder, ‘cept itz landed on m’tent, start’n it a-fire.  I quickickly lt fetched m’ water b-b-bottle ‘n prodeeded ta pur it on the flames.  Whommpfff!  Next thang I knose, my whole tent is a-burin’ firce.  (Ended up Iz didn’t fergit the spare bottle of alcyhaul after all.)  So now I have this this big ‘ol fire, reight next m-pick up truck, scorcing the paint an all, an sett’n my pile o’fire wood to burnnin.  Fortunately I wasz purpaird, and grabbed me bucket, only to reeleyes I fergot to fill it with water.  So I hi-tailed it ta the pump to fetch sum water, but when I got back, the tent, all m-wood, and m-truck werze fuelly envelopppped in f-f-flames.  Fortunately da camphosezt saw da fire ball when da gasz tank of m-truck eggploded, an called the fire deepardment.  Other than me truck wood, an campun gear, the only damage dung wuz to the pic-a-nic table, the dumpster an the RV blackwater stashon next ta m-camp.  By the time all the eggsitement wuz over, the coon I had roastin over me fire wuz done, and purddy good too.  I n-vited the camp hosest ta sume, but he said the e-vents of da evening had plump spoilt his appeetight.

Moral of the story?  Thars a reason they call alchyhaul fire water, and don’t cook near an open flame unless youzse is totaledly stober.

Ed

3:36 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Louis-Alexis said:

Hi HJ, 

have you ever seen or anything heard about Eco-flamme?

http://www.ecogel.com/

I was wondering how long it would take for me to boil two cups of water with one. Considering all your thoroughness in testing I thought you might know. I'm planning on buying one in any case but still, my curiosity is spiked. If you can't find them in your area and would want one tell me, It shouldn't too expensive for me to mail you one. Could be a nice addition to your blog in any case,

Good day to you.

 

 I live in SoCal and eat lots of Mexican food. There is Eco-flamme aplenty in these here parts...

3:56 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi Jim,

Great photo of Henniger Flats and the Pacific. I go up there for a trail run every year when the kids are at a competition in Pasadena. We have family living on East Mendocino in Alta Dena, so we stay with them and I hit the trail to run up towards Mt Wilson via the Eaton Canyon Trail (I believe it's called). I love it up there.

6:15 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks.  I was very pleased with how that photo turned out.  :)  And that is a nice area.  I'm hoping to take my daughter up there for an overnight backpack soon.

HJ

Adventures in Stoving

2:57 p.m. on March 24, 2012 (EDT)
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as long as it is made by "Duff"

7:02 p.m. on March 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Greetings from the land of Horns and Thorns!  I am a new member here but those of you who frequent CCS will recognize my avatar.  I got started collecting vintage camp stoves a few years ago when I bought a Swedish Army Mess Kit and was facinated with the Trangia burner in it.  I now own about 50 stoves ranging from my new MSR Whisperlite International back to an old Glogau Alcohol stove from 1915.  I use Heet and the SLX but I sure wish I could get it for a good price in Gallon cans.  I can go thru a pint just firing up alcohol and kerosene stoves every month.  Hikin_jim, nice to see you.

 

Sparky

10:46 p.m. on March 26, 2012 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

On one cramping tip, Izz onced gotta inspirtation.  Myze alcy stove runned plumb otta fuewl, ‘cause I fergot m’extry bottle of alchi hol.  So Izz thunked whize not try uszing’ some J-j-jjack Daniels (burp) burpbon. as stove jewce.  Soz Izz pourred a little inta the stove, an’ tit-toadest my creeateivtivity wid a sip or three, an’ spilt some on my wife beeter.  Soze I goes to light the stove, realy nice, when allofasuddin my shirt iz burnin!  Well sheet howdie!  Sewz I rip m’shirt off and flung it yonder, ‘cept itz landed on m’tent, start’n it a-fire.  I quickickly lt fetched m’ water b-b-bottle ‘n prodeeded ta pur it on the flames.  Whommpfff!  Next thang I knose, my whole tent is a-burin’ firce.  (Ended up Iz didn’t fergit the spare bottle of alcyhaul after all.)  So now I have this this big ‘ol fire, reight next m-pick up truck, scorcing the paint an all, an sett’n my pile o’fire wood to burnnin.  Fortunately I wasz purpaird, and grabbed me bucket, only to reeleyes I fergot to fill it with water.  So I hi-tailed it ta the pump to fetch sum water, but when I got back, the tent, all m-wood, and m-truck werze fuelly envelopppped in f-f-flames.  Fortunately da camphosezt saw da fire ball when da gasz tank of m-truck eggploded, an called the fire deepardment.  Other than me truck wood, an campun gear, the only damage dung wuz to the pic-a-nic table, the dumpster an the RV blackwater stashon next ta m-camp.  By the time all the eggsitement wuz over, the coon I had roastin over me fire wuz done, and purddy good too.  I n-vited the camp hosest ta sume, but he said the e-vents of da evening had plump spoilt his appeetight.

Moral of the story?  Thars a reason they call alchyhaul fire water, and don’t cook near an open flame unless youzse is totaledly stober.

Ed

 Oh we must absolutely get you into Kentucky or West By God Virginia for a weekend!

You just tell 'em your from Red Top an' make sure to pour your whiskey in a mason jar before the trip. (Yes I know jars break that's for the pistol shootin' later).

Everybody thinks I'm joking don't they? I ain't.

Mike G.

9:28 a.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi, Sparky,

Welcome aboard.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

4:10 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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trouthunter said:

That price is based on buying 12 bottles  (a gross?) 

 No.

A gross is 12 DOZEN  (144).

______________________________________

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8:40 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Yes,

12 is a dozen.

I don't know why I said Gross, I remember buying a gross of bottle rockets as a teenager, it was indeed 144.

Took about 3 or 4 minutes to shoot that many as I recall.

Mike G.

8:41 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Welcome Blacksmith!

Or do you prefer sparky?

Mike G.

12:51 p.m. on March 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Trouthunter, I am probably more comfortable with Sparky.  I tried to use that name here but it was not available.  Thanks for the welcome.

6:16 p.m. on April 12, 2012 (EDT)
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hikin_jim said:

Thanks.  I was very pleased with how that photo turned out.  :)  And that is a nice area.  I'm hoping to take my daughter up there for an overnight backpack soon.

HJ

Adventures in Stoving

 This is the weekend! I'm headin' up to Henniger flats for a Sunday morning hike. Jim, if you're around, perhaps we can meet at the trail...

7:41 p.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Ah!  How interesting.  I'm headed that way too, but on Saturday.

 

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

12:18 a.m. on April 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Hay HJ, Hi Sparky,

HJ, I musta missed it or have not checked out your whole blog.  Is HEET the best as you mention SLX not being the best?

Duane

3:03 p.m. on April 15, 2012 (EDT)
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HEET alcohol for cooking.  I hiope it gives lots of heat,  ah haaaa ha

10:47 a.m. on April 16, 2012 (EDT)
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hikerduane said:

Hay HJ, Hi Sparky,

HJ, I musta missed it or have not checked out your whole blog.  Is HEET the best as you mention SLX not being the best?

Duane

 Hi, Duane,

 

Both HEET (99% methanol) and SLX (about 50% methanol) are fine.  They burn cleanly and are readily available at good prices.

 

If you want to go really light, you can shave a few grams in my experience if you use a fuel with higher ethanol content, but higher ethanol content fuels usually produce a little soot (not bad) and are more expensive.  Really good ethanol (as in 190 proof Everclear) is quite expensive.

 

See also: 

 

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

9:26 p.m. on April 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks HJ.  I'll use HEET on a limited basis then and see if there is any of the green ethanol.

Duane

10:16 a.m. on April 17, 2012 (EDT)
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HEET should work fine.  In fact it should work a little better than "green" denatured in colder weather since methanol has a higher vapor pressure than ethanol.

 

You should also be aware that YMMV.  I talked to one person who did some lab studies on ethanol vs. methanol and found that there wasn't much difference.  When I did my testing, I did my testing in the field, and very consistently found better results with ethanol

 

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

 

7:22 p.m. on April 20, 2012 (EDT)
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its funny you mention ethanol on a backpacking site,ethanol burns fast and hot but is has some drawbacks.it absorbs water like crazy.it has a short effective lifespan after being exposed to the atmosphere(depending on humidity).arizona its great,oregon its not.the answer is no,its not worth it.check butane.if you're on a budget check propane,if you wanna get heavy and need it burn below zero(american).pressure only depends on boiling point and what ambient temperature you release it.uh propane.with a 2-stage regulator in case liquid gets into the first stage and what temp.single stage regulatures will freeze up if they see liquid.what the hell does that mean?who cares cook some food now.the only people worried about ethanol are boat owners,were at e10 now they want to push it to e15 nationally(america national)more fruits&vegetables in the combustion chamber.

8:18 p.m. on April 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, propane is a little heavy for backpacking, and I can't imagine carrying a stove with a two stage regulator, but if that's what you're into, have at it.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

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