Magic Heat/Fuel stoves

9:15 p.m. on October 4, 2006 (EDT)
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Is there anyone out there who uses this type of stove.
Me & my son have been using this stove for years and have owned other types of whisperlight and coleman multi fuel stoves in the past, but none of which have been worth the hastle or the frustration,(especially at low temps.-10F)
During a trip in the Gorge (red river gorge ky) in November a fellow backpacker was out of fuel for his Whisperlyte and wanted to know where the closest store was, when i told him it was about another 12 miles and 2 by road and getting dark,and cold i offered him an extra magic heat/fuel can and his problems were solved. Not only did it give him a hot meal, but kept him from building a fire in the dark with an inch of snow on the ground.
They may seem at first to be cheap and a little bit slow at first, but whoes in such a hurry that they cant wait 6 min for a cup of coffee or 8 minutes for a hot meal. If your in such a hurry to boil water i under 4 minutes than stay home and use the NUKE oven. Please go to your local walmart or meijer and buy one, there only about 10 bucks and you can carry a spare for trips longer than two months.
Pro's- weight- about 12 oz
fits neatly into a 2cp SS cup you can buy at walmart
lights easy-burns at -25 degF I can prove it
no burner to clean-no repair parts ever needed
wind screen is built in (or use al foil)
you really dont even need the stove part if you can dig a hole or put between three small rocks.
burns for 6 hours (about 36 meals with coffee)

9:30 p.m. on October 4, 2006 (EDT)
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did'nt get to finish , they can also be used inside a well ventilated tent or in the vestibule with out the bad smell of other fuels.
total cost for fuel and stove (times two) for five years of use- about $50
Cons- boil time 1 cp about 6 min.(but who's in a hurry)
can't think of any others but let me know if you try it.

11:27 a.m. on October 5, 2006 (EDT)
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This is another version of the old Sterno stove, but using what is essentially fuel oil, or maybe lamp oil is more accurate (Sterno is "jellied alcohol"). There are many different possible sources of heat for cooking, all of which have their pros and cons. Metatabs are even smaller and lighter (and slower to boil, but good for emergency backup). Alcohol stoves that can be made from a Coke or Pepsi or Dr. Pepper can are even cheaper and will burn rubbing alcohol, marine stove fuel (which is meths with some coloring added), or vodka or brandy or rum (nice aroma from the latter 2, but expensive fuel).

And there is the Sierra Stove (and variants) which burns scraps of wood that you can find almost anywhere lying on the ground (talk about cheap!).

They all have their fans and advocates. As for problems using the Whisperlite, Coleman, and other petroleum fuels, this indicates misuse of the stove or just plain not taking a few minutes to learn proper use. I have used Whisperlites and many other petroleum-based stoves for something like 45-50 years with very few problems (plus I have seen people have problems with alcohol, Sterno, and Magic Heat stoves - no stove is foolproof). If your friend ran out of fuel in mid-trip, that just reflects poor planning (or more likely, wasting fuel - Magic Heat would not avoid that sort of thing). Proper use certainly allows Whisperlites and almost all petroleum-based stoves to be used to as low temperatures as you will find on this planet (I have used Whisperlites at -40 on many occasions, although there are other stoves I prefer at those temperatures, like the XGK, Simmerlite, and Primus MFS).

One advantage that you didn't mention of stoves like Sterno, Magic Heat, Metatabs, Sierra Stove, commercial alcohol stoves, and "Coke can" alcohol stoves is the speed of setup and to boil. I can get my Trangia out of my pack, melt snow, and get a boil for a lunch of soup and tea faster than most people can get their white gas stove out, set up, and lit. Great for XC ski day tours.

Choose appropriately. A quiver of stoves for different applications is really the best way to go.

11:58 a.m. on October 5, 2006 (EDT)
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Bill - do you find that the Simmerlite is noticeably better in the cold than the Whisperlite? On the outside they seem to be of a similar design. Does it prime easier? Do you see much difference in flame control? I have only used my WL down to about 20 degrees, which is not a stringent test for a liquid fuel stove.

Sorry to hijack the thread...my first stove was a Sterno. I dealt with it while my fellow Scouts were using Svea 123 stoves. I was in awe of that 123 (at the time we were taking October trips in the Adirondacks, nice cool, wet weather, and the Svea worked a lot better). Too bad I never got one.

7:25 p.m. on October 5, 2006 (EDT)
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Simmerlite vs Whisperlite

The Simmerlite lights more easily, especially if you prime it properly (only a tiny spritz of fuel needed), and as its name implies, it is much easier to adjust for simmering. It puts out about the same amount of heat at full tilt (can't say "full roar" since it is much quieter than the "Whisper"lite). I had the Simmerlite with me on our trip to Alaska a year and a half ago, when we were up on Denali for a short visit, and have used it in some fairly cold (0F) winter trips last winter. No problem in lighting. But then I rarely have problems lighting any liquid fuel MSR or Primus stove in just about any conditions, which is more than I can say about my old Coleman Peak 1 International in cold or, especially, rainy weather.

Sterno stoves have their place. Like alcohol and Magic Heat stoves, the maintenance is very low (t'ain't zero, despite what some will tell you - all stoves need maintenance). But liquid fuel stoves do require a bit more attention, no question about that. If properly maintained (as I have posted here and elsewhere so many times), they work extremely well and dependably for years (my Primus 71L, bought in 1959, and Barb's Svea 123 - pre-123R, bought in 1965 are still going strong). Virtually every problem I have seen with liquid fuel stoves (or compressed gas, for that matter) is operator problem and/or the result of poor maintenance. Some are a bit finicky (the Coleman Peak 1 series in cold weather and rain, the MSR Dragonfly, especially with dirty fuel, the Optimus "suitcase" stoves, some others), but a bit of knowledge and maintenance keeps them going as well. Sometimes you just have to figure out their idiosyncracies.

On the other hand, I know a couple people who have had bad luck with virtually every stove they have tried to use. One person was unable to get any white gas stove she tried using to work properly (one time she put kerosene in, without changing the jet). She finally got a compressed gas stove with a piezo lighter, and even then had problems most of the time. A guy I know would show up on every trip during the 5 or 6 years I went on trips that he was along with a new stove. He would brag loudly about how this stove was the greatest thing invented since sliced bread or whatever. And then the thing would spill gas, flare up, not light, or some other problem (some outright dangerous) - and he was a car mechanic by occupation, too! (I never trusted any of my cars to his care, though).

6:18 a.m. on October 6, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Simmerlite vs Whisperlite

Does the Simmerlite get as much soot on it as the WL does? That is one of my pet peeves about the WL, getting soot on my hands when I pack/unpack the stove. And one of the reasons why I like the Dragonfly better - much cleaner.

11:50 a.m. on October 6, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Simmerlite vs Whisperlite

Soot? Hey, you are the chemist here. This is burning stuff that has carbon in it. Of course it produces soot. Don't kid yourself about the dragonfly being cleaner. You should look at the burner cup sometime. The problem is the priming process and the "yellow flame", which as you know deposits lots of soot. Every stove that requires priming gets soot deposits. Way back when I was first learning to handle firearms, one of the tricks was to use a candle to blacken the sights (we never heard of telescopic sights for our Winchesters out in the deserts of Arizona - that's for sissies). Use the tip of the yellow flame to get the smoothest coating of soot.

Actually, if you prime the way the book says, you will have only minimal soot deposits. But if you do it the way the majority seem to (douse the stove in a cup of napalm and throw the match in from a distance - only a slight exageration for some I have witnessed), you get lots of soot.

Interestingly, one of the recommendations for alcohol stoves (and Magic Heat) is to let the soot accumulate during the trip (pack the pots in plastic bags to keep the rest of your gear soot-free). The blackening helps the heat transfer. Jim Shaw (who used to post a lot to this board) and I did a number of experiments with blackened pots (soot and Jim's favorite, black header paint), wind shields, heat pipes, heat exchangers (both MSR's and home-made ones). We found that blackening the pots helped speed boil times by a significant amount, like a 10 percent reduction in time for most stoves we tried. If you paint the pots with header pait, though, you have to cure it. If you do this in your kitchen oven, open all windows and doors and have some really big fans to pull the fumes out. Your kitchen and stove will still stink for days (probably toxic fumes as well).

The Dragonfly (and XGK) only appear to have less soot, since the burner is inside a support structure, whereas the Whisperlite burner is out in the open where you can see the soot. A side note is that MSR refers to the tiny cup on the stem of stoves like the Whisperlite and Simmerlite as an "overflow cup", not a "priming cup", as some other companies do. One other thing that somewhat reduces the soot on the Dragonfly and Primus MFS and Optimus is the little patch of semi-wicking material (was asbestos years ago, but some other material for the last 15 years of so).

12:46 p.m. on October 6, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Simmerlite vs Whisperlite

soot? I know soot and you sir are no soot.

I sure do agree with the blackened pot theory.

I permanently blackened my pot with my Sierra Zip Stove using my favorite fuel - core of a pine cone after squirrels chewed off the pine nuts (down Euell, down).

Those cores burn hot and fast. Easy to find too.

Locate a stand of pine trees and 20 cups of boiling water ain't far behind.

1:06 p.m. on October 6, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Simmerlite vs Whisperlite

Bill,

When I said the DF was cleaner, I meant that the parts I normally handle stay clean, due to the way the priming flame is contained, as you mentioned. With the WL I normally will get some soot on my hands from the legs or the burner. I was just curious if the Simmerlite is any better in this regard. Granted, I probably use too much fuel to prime - maybe half or less of the priming cup. The other day I decided to try kerosene in the WL (internationale) and I used way too much fuel. It was dark and I couldn't tell how much fuel was coming out. It took a while to burn down.

One more question: Is cooking rice relatively easy with the Simmerlite? I am not a freeze dried kind of cook. I like rice and pasta dishes. I can get the WL to turn down low enough to cook pancakes and such without trouble, with a very low bottle pressure. But I found the flame stability to be quite poor when I try to cook rice. The WL is just a little too hot in my experience. The DF works great in this regard, but I am looking at reducing weight, and I like liquid fuel stoves.

4:11 p.m. on October 6, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Simmerlite vs Whisperlite

You can handle the Simmerlite by the legs easily enough to avoid the soot that collects on the bottom of the burner.

Yes, you can control the flame well enough to dependably cook non-instant rice and pasta, definitely as well as a compressed gas stove.

On the kerosene in the Whisperlite - yeah, most people overprime when using kerosene. What you should do is use the standard procedure that was prescribed in the old Primus kerosene stoves. Use a priming fuel (alcohol of some sort - rubbing alcohol, marine stove fuel, basically anything that lights easily and doesn't leave much soot). Fire ribbon works well, too. These heat the generator tube much more quickly and with much less soot than the kerosene. I have seen people just heat the generator tube with a Bic lighter (or one of the blowtorch "storm" lighters).

December 26, 2014
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