Saving Fuel and Pot Cozies

6:29 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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I’ve recently heard of using a “pot cozy” to keep things warm after they’re cooked.  First of all, are there any out there that are durable but don’t create a lot of mysterious and harmful fumes from heated chemicals?

Second, how do you save fuel in the first place?  E.g. prevent it all the heat from escaping around the sides of your pot instead of going into it?

5:56 p.m. on July 14, 2011 (EDT)
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In terms of saving fuel, the first thing to do is turn your flame down.  Running full bore is generally wasteful of fuel.  You especially want to avoid having the flame run up the sides of the pot. 

If you really want to be fuel efficient, then using a heat exchanger pot or an "after market" heat exchanger like the one made by MSR will facilitate that. 

Of course always use a windscreen.  Even a light wind will make your fuel consumption go up dramatically if you're not using a decent windscreen.  The one thing to be aware of is that if you're using an "upright" style of stove (where the burner is attached directly to the fuel tank), you need to be very careful not to overheat the fuel.  If you trap too much heat with the windscreen, the fuel could explode.  With a gas canister, as long as it's not too hot to touch, then it's safe.

As for a pot cozy, most people I know make their own.  I've made my own out of old ensolite pads and duct tape.  It's not a bad idea, particularly for camping in cold weather.

HJ

10:40 a.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I've not done this myself, but Cliff Jacobson swears by them and Cliff's suggestions are always well thought out.  All the details you want are in his books.

http://www.cliff-jacobson.com/books.shtml



2:00 p.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I've tried the link a couple of times, but it doesn't seem to work.

HJ

11:31 a.m. on July 16, 2011 (EDT)
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I just wrap a extra tshirt or wool sock around my cook pot.

Here's my method for cooking pasta:

I bring the salted,oiled water to a boil, add the pasta, stir. Turn off my stove, wrap the pot in a tshirt to insulate it. Let it sit for 10 minutes then stir in the other ingredients.

If you use just 2 cups of water, than say the 6 cups a mac and cheese box recommends the pasta will absorb all or most of the water with my above cooking method.

If not instead or tossing/draining the leftover water I add crackers to the pasta which will suck up the remaining liquids. I like to add Dorito's corn chips, especially the spicy varieties for a south of the border taste.

I have been cooking this way for over 30 years in the field. I can make a 4 oz canister of fuel last for about 10 meals. I usually only cook one meal a day.

1:59 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I keep a cozy on my 1 liter pot, use it when I go solo. It will keep the coffee hot for a while longer, but when you use it to actually cook with, ie cook the noodles, rice or what ever, then turn off the stove after coming to a boil, put the pot into the cozy, it will  continue to cook and save a lot on your fuel. There are a lot of materials you can use and making it yourself is one of the easiest DIY projects connected to hiking, but, yeah, wrapped in a shirt I think would work just as well.

I do not think there are any toxic fumes to worry about, unless you forget to turn off the stove.

2:52 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I find cozies only useful in winter and sometimes in shoulder seasons. Water that has been brought to a full boil only loses 10 degrees or so every 7-10 minutes depending on alot of variables, but typically if its 50F+ outside it takes a while to cool enough to have a significant impact on cooking your food. All of my meals are completely rehydrated by the 10 minute mark. So I have never found the need for one outside of winter. I dont feel like waiting another 10 minutes for my food to cool lol.

They however do come in handy to keep your drink hot while milling around/packing up camp in the morning. I do use a cozy for my coffee and for everything in the winter.

I made a cozy for like 3$. I bought a small section of reflectix from my local hardware store and cut it to shape and put some duct tape on it. I also cut a little slit so that my pots handle can be out while the cozy is on. But you can also use a sock, pack towel, sleeping bag. beanie etc. Just beware of what your using when in bear country.

I like a hot drink in winter along with my meal so I will just put my bag with food in my sleeping bag while my pot has my cozy with my coffee.

Your cozy shouldnt be putting off any chemicals/fumes etc because your not heating the cozy . It should not be on the pot while boiling. It goes on after. The way you save fuel is you can keep the water hotter longer so that your food continue to cook even though its no longer on the stove. This is a good technique if your making pastas, or things like zaterans box meals.

3:00 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Another way to save fuel is to soak pastas and box meals before applying the heat. This will not work with all things, but it works with most. I dehydrate my own meals at home and all I have to do is bring water to a boil then pour in the ziplock bag, stick the bag in a cozy or knit hat, 10 minutes later it is ready to eat.

4:40 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I just clicked the link and it worked fine for me.

4:25 p.m. on July 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Since this thread is about saving fuel, I thought I'd mention some of the basics:

1.  Turn the darned flame down.  Running the stove full blast is almost never the most fuel efficient.  You want to avoid flames running up the sides of your pot.  Generally, a comparatively low flame is the most efficient.

2.  Use a windscreen.  A windscreen keeps the heat concentrated around the pot and doesn't allow the heat to be dispersed out into the surroundings.  Be darned careful if you used a windscreen on an upright canister stove.  Overheat the canister, and BOOM!

3.  Use a lid.  Escaping steam carries off a lot of heat.  Using a lid will retain that heat.

The above are what I consider the basics.  Of course using a pot cozy to let your dinner "set" for a while after you turn off the stove makes a lot of sense.

Nothing wrong with a heat exchanger either, although they generally do not "pay" for themselves in terms of weight.  You do save fuel but in terms of weight not enough to neutralize the weight of the heat exchanger itself.  When time is more critical (large groups, melting snow, etc.), weight obviously may not be your primary consideration.

HJ

EDIT:  I just re-read the thread and realized that my post is a bit repetitive.  Oh, well, at least it's all in one spot now.

10:12 a.m. on July 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I think you would have to take a very long trip before a heat exchanger becomes an advantage from a weight perspective, especially since as you burn fuel the fuel weight goes down while the exchanger weight is constant.

10:37 a.m. on July 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Hiking Jim said: 1.  Turn the darned flame down.  Running the stove full blast is almost never the most fuel efficient.  You want to avoid flames running up the sides of your pot.  Generally, a comparatively low flame is the most efficient.

 

If after most any camp food is brought to a boil, you can turn the stove completely off and cover it with something for insulation and most things like precooked beans, rice and uncooked/presoaked pasta will continue to cook as the water reduces very slowly. I even do this at home to reduce my electric cooking bill.

There is no real reason to have to simmer anything. And after the meal has soaked in the once boiling water for 5-20 minutes it will still rehydrate the food. And if you pretest cooking at home anything you are going to eat outdoors, you can find the correct amount of water to add to soak/heat the pasta,rice or beans, it saves water. And instead of pouring out what might be in some camping area precious water, I add crackers, bread or even instant mashed potatoes to the left over water and make a extra meal or a casserole of the pasta,rice and or beans.

6:38 p.m. on July 29, 2011 (EDT)
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alan said:

I think you would have to take a very long trip before a heat exchanger becomes an advantage from a weight perspective, especially since as you burn fuel the fuel weight goes down while the exchanger weight is constant.

Yeah, maybe if you were getting float planed into a remote location where you'd be there for the summer without re-supply, then it would pay off in terms of weight. 

I have found the MSR external heat exchanger, which can be put onto pretty much any pot, works great for melting snow.  Put that puppy on, fire up something like a Dragonfly or an XGK, and let it soak up the heat.  When you want to melt snow for water for a group of people, it's worth carrying.

I've also carried it when I want to make tea or chocolate for a big group.  Save sitting around waiting waiting waiting for 3L to boil.

HJ

6:41 p.m. on July 29, 2011 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer said:

If after most any camp food is brought to a boil, you can turn the stove completely off and cover it with something for insulation and most things like precooked beans, rice and uncooked/presoaked pasta will continue to cook as the water reduces very slowly. I even do this at home to reduce my electric cooking bill.

There is no real reason to have to simmer anything. And after the meal has soaked in the once boiling water for 5-20 minutes it will still rehydrate the food. And if you pretest cooking at home anything you are going to eat outdoors, you can find the correct amount of water to add to soak/heat the pasta,rice or beans, it saves water. And instead of pouring out what might be in some camping area precious water, I add crackers, bread or even instant mashed potatoes to the left over water and make a extra meal or a casserole of the pasta,rice and or beans.

 Hi, Gary,

That sounds like good solid, practical advice.  Have you tried it a lot above 10,000'?  Sometimes when I've been doing just freeze dried food, I've had it turn out a tad crunchy when I just do the cozy method.  Sometimes I've found I've had to add a bit of heat.  Part of the problem is that the water doesn't get all that hot at high altitude since the boiling point is noticibly lower.

HJ

8:41 a.m. on July 30, 2011 (EDT)
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Can't remember where I saw it, but one guy was using kevlar tape around his cooking pot.  He seemed pleased.  Any one else heard or tried it?

11:34 a.m. on July 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I have'nt camped above 10,000 feet much but if you presoak pasta, dehydrated precooked rice and precooked beans before you turn on the heat, it will become heated much easier. Pasta will presoak in about 30 minutes.

Most of my camps have been between 3000 to 9000 feet. Average is 6000. I spent 20 years hiking in the Grand Canyon in the winter and the Grand Tetons in the summers. The Tonto Platform in the GC is about 4000 feet and much of the Tetons camp areas are around 7-9000 feet.

3:19 p.m. on July 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi All, Great information here. 

I was wondering if anyone has used Reflex for Pot Cozies,  My worry is that it's plastic / foil and would melt if put on a hot metal pot? 

I have seen several made for the One Bag cooking method, but I could not find any instruction for a metal pot.  I don't think it would be hard to make, just cut a circle and a long rectangle and then tape if all together with some good old Duct Tape.  I just would hate to get a bunch of melted plastic all over the bottom of the pot! 

HJ,

I made a wind screen out of some aluminum flashing, something I had laying a round, and it goes about half way up the pot when it sits on my Nova stove.  Do you think that is high enough or should I try to make something higher.  It also fits tight to the pan so their is little wasted space.   I am not worried about the extra heat because the gas is out side the wind shield. 

The main reason I want to use a Cozie or two is that I often make dinners that uses several pots and it would be nice to keep stuff hot as I make the next part of the dinner.  

Any suggestions would be greatly welcome. 

I will also try to post some pics later to day.

Wolfman

8:24 p.m. on July 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Pictures of the Wind Screen and Stove.

1) Wind screen it flashing material - Painted.  I started with 1/2" holes on the bottom but the flame was starved, so I increased then to about 3/4" with a step bit.  Now it has good air flow.


100_0753.jpg

2) Once the fire is going I hold it closed with a small spring style paper clip and the pot fits just inside.


100_0757.jpg

3) This is the flame inside the set up.  One thing though the wind screen dose get hot.  Not to big a deal as the stove has to cool also, but you have to be careful with touching it.


100_0756.jpg

4) works for the frying pan also. ;)  Yea the pad is quite warped!


100_0760.jpg

I know this is not outside in the wind, but to day it was sunny and no wind :(  but it helped a lot before in the wind.  :) 

Anyway I welcome any comments.

Wolfman



10:15 p.m. on August 2, 2011 (EDT)
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I think your windscreen looks pretty good, but it's hard to say based on looks alone.  I will say that you can't make it too much higher because of the pot's handles, unless you want to make cut outs.

What I would do is to do some field trials.  You could take it on local hikes where not too much is at stake and see how it performs in field conditions.  I think it looks pretty good, but as they say "the proof of the pudding is in the eating."  You won't really know until you get it in field conditions.

If you do decide to do some field trials, observe the flame through the ventilation holes in the windscreen if you can.  If the flame is getting blown about by the wind a lot, then you need to try something else.  You could try a higher windscreen.   You could also try a windscreen with more but smaller holes along the lower edge.  The holes you have now look pretty big.  You could also try a windscreen where one direction has no holes.  In the field, you would face the side without holes into the wind.

HJ

8:26 a.m. on August 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks HJ, 

I will be back on the coast camping next week, so I plan on using it then.  Weather should be nice, but that means wind form the "Coast Effect"  Lot of on shore wind.  So I should have lots of opportunities to try it out. 

I am going to take some aluminum foil with me to cover some of the holes if the flame gets to beat around.  Thanks for the suggestion. 

I also found some vids on You-Tube on making pot cozies out of Reflex for metal pots.  I guess as long as you seal up any edge of the material it will not melt.  So I am going to make a set of those to take with us.  I will let everyone here know how it all goes. 

One other thing HJ, The manual I down loaded for the Nova stove is fine, so thanks for your help with that too.  I really an enjoying the wealth of information I am getting from this site and other places people recommend.

Wolfman

9:08 a.m. on August 3, 2011 (EDT)
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100_0507.jpg

This is the system that I use. The screen folds so it will fit any pot that you might carry. Heres another picture.


100_0473_0001.jpg

The pots I use are Brunton and came with a pot cozie thats a perfect fit. It does help keep the food warmer in the winter, in the summer it keeps my tools out of the sand and dirt. I allways try to presoak my food before cooking. I think it cuts down on fuel by around 50%

12:26 a.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Mikemorrow:

How much does that windscreen weigh?  And the pot stand?

HJ

12:27 a.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Wolfman said:

Thanks HJ, 

I will be back on the coast camping next week, so I plan on using it then.  Weather should be nice, but that means wind form the "Coast Effect"  Lot of on shore wind.  So I should have lots of opportunities to try it out. 

I am going to take some aluminum foil with me to cover some of the holes if the flame gets to beat around.  Thanks for the suggestion. 

I also found some vids on You-Tube on making pot cozies out of Reflex for metal pots.  I guess as long as you seal up any edge of the material it will not melt.  So I am going to make a set of those to take with us.  I will let everyone here know how it all goes. 

One other thing HJ, The manual I down loaded for the Nova stove is fine, so thanks for your help with that too.  I really an enjoying the wealth of information I am getting from this site and other places people recommend.

Wolfman

 You're welcome.  Let us know how it goes.

HJ

4:19 p.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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HJ said

 Hi, Gary,

That sounds like good solid, practical advice.  Have you tried it a lot above 10,000'?  Sometimes when I've been doing just freeze dried food, I've had it turn out a tad crunchy when I just do the cozy method.  Sometimes I've found I've had to add a bit of heat.  Part of the problem is that the water doesn't get all that hot at high altitude since the boiling point is noticibly lower.

HJ

Was at REI recently and looking over the selection of freeze dried meals.  One brand (don't remember which one) said that their rehydration times were based on 5000 feet and to double them for every 5000(?) feet.

OCG

September 2, 2014
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