New alcohol stove

1:42 p.m. on November 21, 2003 (EST)
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I jus got a very fine high tech alcohol stove in the mail. I bought some denatured alcohol at ACE hardware and tried it out using a windscreen made from a Fosters lager can with holes drilled in one side. I put my Evernew 400 cup on it with 10 ounces of water and lit it. Five minutes later it stopped burning and the water was just warm with some bubbles on the bottom. Now I am not way experienced with alcohol stoves and I would get better with practice - but:
Stove, fuel bottle, and wind screen weigh 4 ounces. Add 4 ounces of alcohol for a minimal usage one person two day trip and a slightly larger windscreen and it over half a pound. A Primus alpine with an equivalent amount of fuel weighs 9 ounces, 13 with my firepan windscreen modification, BUT it will bring a QUART of water (3 times as much as the 10oz cup) to a rolling boil in 3.5 minutes.

This stove is one of the best made and its a toy. A lot of people claim they are high performance and suitable for Winter use - I say Bullshit... I'd need half a pound of fuel for it - bringing it up to the same weight as the primus with the firepan!
Jim S

2:38 p.m. on November 21, 2003 (EST)
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Jim, my experience with alcohol as a fuel was burning it in an XGK when I couldn't find white gas. I was using what Kiwi's call "meths"-apparently alcohol with a purple color in it to identify it. It certainly doesn't put out the same heat as white gas. The arguments in favor of these stoves is that (1) you can make one yourself for pennies; (2)even the commercially made ones weigh next to nothing;(3)they burn little fuel in warm weather (most users aren't using them for winter anyway) and (4)once you've burned your fuel, you're carrying a stove that weighs an ounce or two instead of an empty canister or heavier stove (even if that is only a few ounces, it matters to some people). One thing I've noticed is that many of the people who rave about using these things only use them to heat up dehydrated food or maybe make tea or coffee. They soak their food to hydrate it, then a few minutes on the stove and dinner is ready-they are not really "cooking", so warming up something is adequate for their purposes. Big difference from what you are doing. All of these discussions have led me to conclude that what piece of gear is "better" often is more an "apples and oranges" argument than anything else when the focus of the discussion should be on "if I am here under these particular conditions, what is going to work best". In my experience, the right answer to this kind of question (and many others) should always begin, "well, it depends...."


Quote:

I jus got a very fine high tech alcohol stove in the mail. I bought some denatured alcohol at ACE hardware and tried it out using a windscreen made from a Fosters lager can with holes drilled in one side. I put my Evernew 400 cup on it with 10 ounces of water and lit it. Five minutes later it stopped burning and the water was just warm with some bubbles on the bottom. Now I am not way experienced with alcohol stoves and I would get better with practice - but:
Stove, fuel bottle, and wind screen weigh 4 ounces. Add 4 ounces of alcohol for a minimal usage one person two day trip and a slightly larger windscreen and it over half a pound. A Primus alpine with an equivalent amount of fuel weighs 9 ounces, 13 with my firepan windscreen modification, BUT it will bring a QUART of water (3 times as much as the 10oz cup) to a rolling boil in 3.5 minutes.

This stove is one of the best made and its a toy. A lot of people claim they are high performance and suitable for Winter use - I say Bullshit... I'd need half a pound of fuel for it - bringing it up to the same weight as the primus with the firepan!
Jim S

3:31 p.m. on November 21, 2003 (EST)
37 reviewer rep
747 forum posts

Hi - this isn't meant to be a personal thing, its just that I have a real problem with this alcohol stove ideology.

Quote:

(4)once you've burned your fuel, you're carrying a stove that weighs an ounce or two instead of an empty canister or heavier stove (even if that is only a few ounces, it matters to some people). One thing I've noticed is that many of the people who rave about using these things only use them to heat up dehydrated food or maybe make tea or coffee.

Oh course...
I see this as the minimum bottom line using my scale and my stoves:
Brasslite stove and 1 oz fuel bottle empty (hiking out)= 3.6oz (not 1 to 2) And not including wind screen.
hiking in with 2 oz of fuel - which is barely enough to warm a quart of water = 5.6 oz + windscreen

Primus and empty (113 gram) fuel bottle (hiking out) = 7.6oz
Stove and 2 oz fuel = 9.6 oz. + windscreen

So you save 4 ounces (sort of) hiking in and out (with alcohol)except (with the primus) you have a stove that can actually boil a pan of water. For the same amount of heating capability with the alcohol stove you would need more fuel, thus narrowing the difference.
What I am saying is that people like the "Perception" that they are saving significant weight, more than they like a stove that is actually functional. When I carry wieght I expect it to be highly functional per ounce, poor performance doesn't justify saving 1/4 lb. Just my opinion YMMV
As you say - it depends on what you want, and sometimes I go with no stove fuel or matches. You may find it challenging or more in tune with your preferred wilderness experience to leave behind the modern stove. Sometimes I light a wood fire by primitive methods, but I still carry a titanium pan...

Jim S
P.S. Part of my problem is this: Some folks swear that alcohol is the best lightest and ok for zero degree weather (Not you but some). A lot of unsuspecting people read these comments and waste their time and money on something that they think is going to perform well and it doesn't. For example I could swear that you don't really NEED a sleeping bag (you don't), but someone new to the subject could read this and think "cool I don't have to buy a sleeping bag" and suffer becasue their expectations were not met by the reality. They weren't willing to get that cold or to do what I had to do to keep warm without that basic piece of gear. As someone said in another group - "What is backpacking?" Is going into the woods with nothing backpacking? Or does it imply going into the woods being prepared? It is marginal to refer to extreme light-packing as backpacking. Ray may use a piece of newspaper for a sleeping pad, but is that reasonable? maybe it depends...

4:37 p.m. on November 21, 2003 (EST)
37 reviewer rep
747 forum posts
Honestly not sooo bad

MY FAULT... I have been playing with my stove and got it to work better so I should take back some of the bad things that I said. First off its 57 degrees here today with a 10mph wind. I finally managed to get the stove lit and it boiled one quart of 70 degree water in 9.5 minutes using 1.5 oz of denatured alcohol. I can see that for some people this would be enough performance, although if you heated much water, drank a lot of coffee or had two people, I think the amount of alcohol required would soon weigh as much as the cannister stove.
Jim S
Jim

8:36 p.m. on November 21, 2003 (EST)
MODERATOR
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Jim, You and I actually agree on this. I've sort of become a regular on TLB (too much free time I guess)and I think you post there also. I am far from a lightweight backpacker, but I'm all for lightening my load under the right conditions if I could afford all the titanium pots and so on. I only weigh 140 so more than 40 lbs and I'm pushing my limit. I'm not ready to wear clothes made out of silnylon or make cooking gear out of tinfoil either-some of that stuff is just nutty. If I wanted to be a monk, I would have done it a long time ago. I also agree that a beginner could be seduced into thinking that the only way to go is a 9 lb. pack and a handful of granola, but hopefully they will have already spent all their cash at REI on some mainstream gear before they come across the fanatics wearing nothing but a loincloth and carrying their gear in a plastic trash bag. I was thinking of the Pepsi can stove as the 1-2 oz ones-believe it or not folks are selling those on E-Bay for those of us too lazy or not skilled enough to cut a can in half and poke some holes in it.

Quote:

Hi - this isn't meant to be a personal thing, its just that I have a real problem with this alcohol stove ideology.

Quote:

(4)once you've burned your fuel, you're carrying a stove that weighs an ounce or two instead of an empty canister or heavier stove (even if that is only a few ounces, it matters to some people). One thing I've noticed is that many of the people who rave about using these things only use them to heat up dehydrated food or maybe make tea or coffee.

Oh course...
I see this as the minimum bottom line using my scale and my stoves:
Brasslite stove and 1 oz fuel bottle empty (hiking out)= 3.6oz (not 1 to 2) And not including wind screen.
hiking in with 2 oz of fuel - which is barely enough to warm a quart of water = 5.6 oz + windscreen

Primus and empty (113 gram) fuel bottle (hiking out) = 7.6oz
Stove and 2 oz fuel = 9.6 oz. + windscreen

So you save 4 ounces (sort of) hiking in and out (with alcohol)except (with the primus) you have a stove that can actually boil a pan of water. For the same amount of heating capability with the alcohol stove you would need more fuel, thus narrowing the difference.
What I am saying is that people like the "Perception" that they are saving significant weight, more than they like a stove that is actually functional. When I carry wieght I expect it to be highly functional per ounce, poor performance doesn't justify saving 1/4 lb. Just my opinion YMMV
As you say - it depends on what you want, and sometimes I go with no stove fuel or matches. You may find it challenging or more in tune with your preferred wilderness experience to leave behind the modern stove. Sometimes I light a wood fire by primitive methods, but I still carry a titanium pan...

Jim S
P.S. Part of my problem is this: Some folks swear that alcohol is the best lightest and ok for zero degree weather (Not you but some). A lot of unsuspecting people read these comments and waste their time and money on something that they think is going to perform well and it doesn't. For example I could swear that you don't really NEED a sleeping bag (you don't), but someone new to the subject could read this and think "cool I don't have to buy a sleeping bag" and suffer becasue their expectations were not met by the reality. They weren't willing to get that cold or to do what I had to do to keep warm without that basic piece of gear. As someone said in another group - "What is backpacking?" Is going into the woods with nothing backpacking? Or does it imply going into the woods being prepared? It is marginal to refer to extreme light-packing as backpacking. Ray may use a piece of newspaper for a sleeping pad, but is that reasonable? maybe it depends...

11:12 p.m. on November 21, 2003 (EST)
37 reviewer rep
747 forum posts
Tom : Did we meet on trail somewhere?

Quote:

the fanatics wearing nothing but a loincloth and carrying their gear in a plastic trash bag.

You must have seen me on my summer skinny dipping trip...

So are we going to Yosemite this winter Tom?
Jim (:->)

4:02 p.m. on November 22, 2003 (EST)
MODERATOR
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1,765 forum posts
Re: Tom : Did we meet on trail somewhere?

I would have remembered that-LOL. I'm planning on going-just need to figure out when. What do you think about January or February or is it better to wait until later? I'm going to try out my gear in the local mountains as soon as there is some snow (SoCal gets it later than everyone else).

Quote:

Quote:

the fanatics wearing nothing but a loincloth and carrying their gear in a plastic trash bag.

You must have seen me on my summer skinny dipping trip...

So are we going to Yosemite this winter Tom?
Jim (:->)

12:30 p.m. on November 23, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

It ain't all bullshit...

... it is just a user thing?

See tea candle cup stove at:
http://www.backpacking.net/contributions/postlist.php?Cat=&Board=cooking

My most recent use was at 18F the night of the total lunar eclipse. I now use a $1, enamel cup (3.5oz)instead of the Ti cup. I also a tea candle to keep my tea warm while I sleep. Happy hopping :-)

7:17 p.m. on November 24, 2003 (EST)
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747 forum posts
Yosemite

Quote:

I would have remembered that-LOL. I'm planning on going-just need to figure out when. What do you think about January or February or is it better to wait until later?

If I'm in-state (not working on a contract somewhere) I will go any month of the year, but I prefer to go in horrible cold nasty weather and my birthday is Jan 22 and there are often storms then. Maybe we can get Bill to join us - he can drive since my 4runner has 228,000 miles on it. (I'll bet he doesn't take a 4oz sil bivy) You can share my Bibler and we have every piece of gear known to man. (;->)
Jim

7:39 p.m. on November 24, 2003 (EST)
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Re: Yosemite

Quote:

...I prefer to go in horrible cold nasty weather and my birthday is Jan 22 and there are often storms then. Maybe we can get Bill to join us - he can drive since my 4runner has 228,000 miles on it. (I'll bet he doesn't take a 4oz sil bivy)

Well, the Explorer has 180,000, and I suspect your Toyota is a lot more dependable at 228 than my Ford. But yes, I will take the 4 ounce bivy. Works great in a snow shelter (yeah, I remember that you and snow shelters don't cooperate with each other). Actually, I have a trip scheduled for that weekend (23-25) - the Scout troop I used to be Scoutmaster of is doing their 1st snow camp of the season. Following weekend is the first session of the winter camping course I direct.

8:06 p.m. on November 24, 2003 (EST)
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Glad to see yer lernin

Quote:

MY FAULT... I have been playing with my stove and got it to work better so I should take back some of the bad things that I said.

I was surprised you had such a problem. I am also surprised you used so much alcohol to boil the liter of water, although the time is about right for the air temperature (I was at Pinnacles yesterday, and it was 19F in the morning - and to think the last time I was down there in the summer, it was over 100F).

Quote:

...although if you heated much water, drank a lot of coffee or had two people, I think the amount of alcohol required would soon weigh as much as the cannister stove.

I'm not sure what stove you got, and since you said it is a new design, I may not be familiar with it. But with the more complete Trangias (not the one that is just a little cup to hold the alcohol, but the ones that are the integrated stove and pots), the alcohol required is about 80 percent more than the white gas for the same cooking. The flame is not as hot as white gas (although it is close in the Sigg design that is much like an updraft carburettor), so you have to do a bit better than usual for wind shielding.

However, you seem to have missed the strong points of properly designed alcohol stoves (no, I don't mean the home-made Coke can variety - those are very inefficient designs), despite my telling you about them.

Keep practicing. You will learn how to use it properly. Just don't use it anywhere near your Siltent when cooking the rabbit.

8:18 p.m. on November 24, 2003 (EST)
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Re: Yosemite

My schedule is pretty flexible. I would be driving up from LA. I've got pretty much everything I think I would need. I may have an arbitration coming up some time after the new year, but I can schedule that pretty much at my discretion. I have an EMS Pampero-a four season tent with a fairly big vestibule-kind of heavy, but it appears to be pretty sturdy. I've got snowshoes, boots and so on as you know from our previous thread on all that. I hope to field test everything before I go if the weather cooperates and dumps some snow up in the mountains. I haven't been to Yosemite since I was a kid so all I know now is what I see on the maps and the website. I am sure you guys are a lot fitter than I am (I'm working on that)so that's a consideration for me as well. I wouldn't want to slow you down.

Quote:

...I prefer to go in horrible cold nasty weather and my birthday is Jan 22 and there are often storms then. Maybe we can get Bill to join us - he can drive since my 4runner has 228,000 miles on it. (I'll bet he doesn't take a 4oz sil bivy)

Well, the Explorer has 180,000, and I suspect your Toyota is a lot more dependable at 228 than my Ford. But yes, I will take the 4 ounce bivy. Works great in a snow shelter (yeah, I remember that you and snow shelters don't cooperate with each other). Actually, I have a trip scheduled for that weekend (23-25) - the Scout troop I used to be Scoutmaster of is doing their 1st snow camp of the season. Following weekend is the first session of the winter camping course I direct.

5:50 p.m. on November 28, 2003 (EST)
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2 forum posts
Re: Yosemite

Quote:

My schedule is pretty flexible. I would be driving up from LA. I've got pretty much everything I think I would need. I may have an arbitration coming up some time after the new year, but I can schedule that pretty much at my discretion. I have an EMS Pampero-a four season tent with a fairly big vestibule-kind of heavy, but it appears to be pretty sturdy. I've got snowshoes, boots and so on as you know from our previous thread on all that. I hope to field test everything before I go if the weather cooperates and dumps some snow up in the mountains. I haven't been to Yosemite since I was a kid so all I know now is what I see on the maps and the website. I am sure you guys are a lot fitter than I am (I'm working on that)so that's a consideration for me as well. I wouldn't want to slow you down.

Quote:

...I prefer to go in horrible cold nasty weather and my birthday is Jan 22 and there are often storms then. Maybe we can get Bill to join us - he can drive since my 4runner has 228,000 miles on it. (I'll bet he doesn't take a 4oz sil bivy)

Well, the Explorer has 180,000, and I suspect your Toyota is a lot more dependable at 228 than my Ford. But yes, I will take the 4 ounce bivy. Works great in a snow shelter (yeah, I remember that you and snow shelters don't cooperate with each other). Actually, I have a trip scheduled for that weekend (23-25) - the Scout troop I used to be Scoutmaster of is doing their 1st snow camp of the season. Following weekend is the first session of the winter camping course I direct.

Back to alcohol stove-I use the pepsi can stoves and "preheat them" to boil almost instantly. Yours comes with a preheat plate under it. I also put them on an old stew can but this probably blows the weight savings. I also carry a minimum of 4 oz of fuel but boil a quart twice and two warmup/soaks of noodles

5:57 p.m. on November 28, 2003 (EST)
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2 forum posts
Re: Yosemite

Quote:

Quote:

My schedule is pretty flexible. I would be driving up from LA. I've got pretty much everything I think I would need. I may have an arbitration coming up some time after the new year, but I can schedule that pretty much at my discretion. I have an EMS Pampero-a four season tent with a fairly big vestibule-kind of heavy, but it appears to be pretty sturdy. I've got snowshoes, boots and so on as you know from our previous thread on all that. I hope to field test everything before I go if the weather cooperates and dumps some snow up in the mountains. I haven't been to Yosemite since I was a kid so all I know now is what I see on the maps and the website. I am sure you guys are a lot fitter than I am (I'm working on that)so that's a consideration for me as well. I wouldn't want to slow you down.

Quote:

...I prefer to go in horrible cold nasty weather and my birthday is Jan 22 and there are often storms then. Maybe we can get Bill to join us - he can drive since my 4runner has 228,000 miles on it. (I'll bet he doesn't take a 4oz sil bivy)

Well, the Explorer has 180,000, and I suspect your Toyota is a lot more dependable at 228 than my Ford. But yes, I will take the 4 ounce bivy. Works great in a snow shelter (yeah, I remember that you and snow shelters don't cooperate with each other). Actually, I have a trip scheduled for that weekend (23-25) - the Scout troop I used to be Scoutmaster of is doing their 1st snow camp of the season. Following weekend is the first session of the winter camping course I direct.

Back to alcohol stove-I use the pepsi can stoves and "preheat them" to boil almost instantly. Yours comes with a preheat plate under it. I also put them on an old stew can but this probably blows the weight savings. I also carry a minimum of 4 oz of fuel but boil a quart twice and two warmup/soaks of noodles

Also I'm 600 ft above sealevel....low altitude they work well...your higher alitude might be it too and I use a gutter guard for windscreen/pot support....more air better burn...I hate the solid windscreen for them....good luck!

1:31 a.m. on January 19, 2004 (EST)
(Guest)

You don't mention what type of stove you purchased. Most alcohol stoves, whether manufactured or DIY, were designed by well meaning individuals with no engineering training or background who poked some holes in a can to see what would happen. Their performance problems stem from poor design, not any inherent shortcoming of alcohol as a fuel. I have only seen one alcohol stove specifically engineered for maximum performance. This is the Thermojet stove available at www.thermojetstove.com. It can cook real meals like rice, pasta or hot cereals, rather than just heating up water for coffee. It's performance and fuel consumption are comparable to gas stoves (keeping in mind that it is intended as a solo stove).

You make a comparison to the weight of a Primus stove. I used a Primus canister stove for years before making the switch to alcohol. You are right that they are very light (though still slightly heavier than an alcohol stove with fuel), and they put out a lot of heat. You overlook the host of other problems they have! The canisters have an "air space" to allow the gas to expand so they take up a lot of space in your pack whether they are full or empty (I care as much about space in my pack as I do weight). You can put alcohol in collapsible bladders that take up less space when filled and no space when empty. You can carry just as much alcohol as you need. You can't repackage butane so you're always stuck with the next largest canister to what you'll really need. The canisters are really expensive ($1/meal!!) and they are hard to find. You can find alcohol almost anywhere; hardware stores, gas stations, variety stores, even bars. Canister stoves don't simmer worth a darn. You constantly have to fiddle with them to keep them from scorching at one extreme and blowing out at the other. All in all, a well designed alcohol stove like the Thermojet is the best thing to happen to backpacking since nylon!

You also mention that you were using a titanium cup. Cups are very inefficient for heating water because of the small area of the bottom where the heat is transfered. Titanium isn't a very good heat conductor, either. You'd be much better off using a small aluminum pot instead.

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