Author Topic: Alcohol Stoves  (Read 12238 times)

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Offline oldgroundhog

Alcohol Stoves
« on: July 04, 2011, 09:26:16 pm »
I'm looking for a lightweight cooking stove.  I've tried both Whisperlite and Coleman backpacking stoves, but feel there are just too heavy.  I've heard good results from folks using alcohol stoves such as the Trangia and Tatonka.  But having no experience with either, I'm not sure of their cooking / heating results.  If anyone out there is using an alcohol stove, I'd appreciate some feedback on what you have and how the stove works out for you.

OldGroundhog

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2011, 10:39:04 pm »
...  If anyone out there is using an alcohol stove, I'd appreciate some feedback on what you have and how the stove works out for you.

We have had much discussion of it here. Go back to the topics list of the Gear Talk group and do a search for alcohol. You will get some good links to backpacking sites as well.

Fred

Offline staehpj1

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2011, 06:36:01 am »
I use a home made pepsi can stove and find it works great.  I bought a Trangia at one point but didn't find it worked any better than my home made ones and it was heavier, so I never took it on a trip.

You might check out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverage-can_stove
http://zenstoves.net/

Also if you will be touring where butane canisters are readily available the MSR Pocket Rocket and a number of similar stoves are pretty nice.  If on trips where you need to carry fuel for longer periods of time the butane setup is lighter due to the the fact  that butane has more BTUs per weight.  That usually is not the case on most bike trips though since you generally have the option of buying fuel frequently.

I have been using the pop can stove more though because I have found alcohol easier to find in much of the US and because I can buy fuel frequently and in small quantities the total setup is lighter.  FWIW, I use the 12 ounce yellow bottle of Heet and usually buy a second bottle when it is down to 4 or 5 ounces left.

Also if I do use the Butane stove I generally take the pop can stove as a backup in case I can't find butane.  Since it uses the same pot and windscreen the stove and pot stand only adds a bit less than one ounce.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2011, 06:46:34 am by staehpj1 »

Offline rlc5925

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 06:25:27 am »
I have a Trangia and really like it for both it's performance and convenience

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 12:25:07 pm »
I have used a manufactured alcohol stove lately and compared it to a dual-fuel Coleman Peak 1 featherlight.

If you are going to boil quite a bit of water, forget about the alcohol stove. Get a gas stove as light as possible, pump it up, and let it roar. The alcohol stove is adequate for heating foods from cans, scrambling eggs and cooking meat and such. You heat a can of beans over an alcohol stove in a thin aluminum pot, and you can forget about eating that food for ten minutes. It will definitely super heat and boil more solid foodstuffs somewhat efficiently. It's quite slow with quarts of water. The pump-up style gas stove is much more efficient and effective than the alcohol stove. If you can get by with eating foods the alcohol stove can cook quickly, it's your best, most lightweight option. If you are going to really do some serious cooking and quarts of water have to be boiled, use the pressureflamed gas stove.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011, 01:19:39 pm »
I will never understand this fascination with boiling water. 

I do not eat boiled water.  I eat food--lots of rice and pasta, and I like it with chicken or salmon.  I like alcohol stoves as the heat output is just about perfect for cooking food.  While a Trangia is on the heavy side of alcohol stoves, it solidly built and will last forever.  There is also a simmer ring that will drop the heat output even more and is just right for warming sauces.  A Trangia will still be lighter than any white gas or isobutane stove.

A Swedish brass Trangia holds 3 ounces of fuel.  A Tatonka is German nock-off made of stainless steel witha 4 ounce fuel reservoir.  I hear that Tatonka are slower to heat up, because of the larger fuel reservoir and the inferior thermal properties of stainless steel.  Evernew also makes a titanium nock-off that holds 2 ounces of fuel, but does not come with a simmer ring.

I switched over to a Trangia from an MSR Whisperlite International.  After seeing my set up, a buddy also switched to a Trangia from an MSR Dragonfly.
Danno

Offline staehpj1

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2011, 01:31:23 pm »
You heat a can of beans over an alcohol stove in a thin aluminum pot, and you can forget about eating that food for ten minutes.
That has not been my experience.  Yes the heat output is less than my butane, white gas, or gasoline stoves, but the cook time is in the reasonable range, more like 5 minutes for a can of beans to be bubbling assuming the correct height above the flame and the use of a windscreen.  Besides I don't see this as a big deal any way, what difference is a few minutes delay in fixing dinner?  It isn't a race.

I think that it is a bigger issue if boiling all of your drinking water or relying on melting snow for water.  If I were doing that I would not be using an alcohol stove.  The thing is that I am unlikely to do either when on tour.  Mountaineering, or winter backpacking maybe, bike touring probably not.

Offline mathieud66

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2011, 12:35:01 pm »
Hi !

I have been using the same Trangia 27 for more than 20 years.   It's worry free, no maintenance, and it's great to cook !  You have great temperature control: you can simmer food very slowly if you wish.  And yes, it's slower to boil water than other stove but who cares !  It works great, even in very strong winds.

And best of all: alcool doesn't smell bad, and trangia operation is completely silent (Whisperlite... what a joke !).  

About security:  although new pump stove are safer than they used to be, they are still dangerous.  I've witnessed a few dangerous spills and tables on fire.  I don't like being around someone using a pump stove...  Trangia is safe : it's very stable, even when it's full of water or food.  You still have to be careful.  Never put alcohol in a hot burner.  If you're in a hurry to start back an empty hot burner: just cover the bottom of a pan with cold water and put the brass burner in the pan.  When you can hold the burner in your hand, you can fill it with alcohol.  Anyways, the capacity of the burner is usually enough for a normal meal for two.  I always fill it up before starting to cook.

Another thing.  The cover of the Trangia burner has a rubber seal.  Very practical, because you can leave the remaining alcohol in the burner, close the cover without worrying about a leak. But sometimes, when the rubber seal gets old, it can stay on top of the burner when you remove the cover. Guess what can happen ?  If you don't notice the seal on top of the burner and you lite the burner...   ;D...  I still laugh when I think about that.... black smoke coming from the burner, and the few seconds of total incomprehension... What the ... is happenning...  ;D

Have fun !

Mathieu


« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 12:39:48 pm by mathieud66 »

Offline TCS

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2011, 11:44:50 am »
I will never understand this fascination with boiling water.

Boiling water is the kingpin of food preparation in modern backpacking, due to the heavy reliance on reconstituting dehydrated foodstuffs.  Modern backpacking camp-kitchen equipment has become optimized for this, and it's a significant performance parameter for backpackers.

For cycletourists, not so much.  I remember mentoring an experienced backpacker about to take her first weeklong cycle tour.  "But you don't need to pack a week's worth of dehydrated food!  You'll be riding past stores a couple times a day.  Buy fresh as you need it!"  to which she replied, "How will I cook fresh food with my Jetboil?"

Here's a thought:  your foodstuffs, your recipes, your cooking gear [pot(s)/pan(s) & etc.] and your stove work optimally as an integrated system.
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline staehpj1

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2011, 12:07:12 pm »
Boiling water is the kingpin of food preparation in modern backpacking, due to the heavy reliance on reconstituting dehydrated foodstuffs.  Modern backpacking camp-kitchen equipment has become optimized for this, and it's a significant performance parameter for backpackers.

Yep, a lot of the stoves and pots that are optimized for boiling water make very poor stoves for a bike tour if you actually plan to cook. 

If taking freeze dried meals those stoves and pots are great, but IMO freeze dried meals are a really poor choice for a bike tour.  Personally I don't even like them for backpacking.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2011, 01:25:50 pm »
If you all did not figure it out, I was being sarcastic about the boiling water thing.

I was required to sample freeze dried food when I took my back packing class.  They are were all pretty dreadful, and they all taste the same.  As I recall, they all had really high sodium levels too.

Bicyclists can resupply often, maybe even daily.  Last summer I did a week long trip though central Pennsylvania, and we had to carry enough food for the whole trip.  Mid trip there was a chance to resupply, but we did not know that.  It is possible to eat real food when you tour, even when you cannot resupply daily.

Besides the merits of different stoves, the question not asked, is what about cookware.  On my trips, we take an MSR Alpine stainless steel cook set because you can prepare food in it.  Most titanium pots have so little metal that they are only suitable for boiling water in them.  Aluminumn cooksets are a crap shoot as some are only suitable for boiling water, some cannot heat tomato products (acid from the tomatoes interacts with the aluminumn), and some are just fine.

For the record, by buddy and I tour with 2 alcohol stoves, a 2 pot cook set, and a tea pot.
Danno

Offline NothingClever

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 10:31:59 am »
BACKGROUND:  Pressurized stove fan for my whole camping life.  Have owned several MSR products.  Recent discussion of their pump failures got me interested in seeking out an alternative stove.  I've used a few types of solid fuel stoves over the years (military and Esbit) but knew they would present a resupply problem once the nearest camping store was out of sight.  I stumbled on alcohol stoves from another website I frequent and after a link or two, like Paddleboy, discovered a whole cottage industry and nation of rabid alky stove fans.  Wow!!  Anyways, I have too many projects to become the next Tinny or Shugemary so I simply bought an Esbit stove.

http://www.esbit.net/product-detail/items/CS985HA-hard-anodized-aluminium-985ml-cookset.html.



What got me interested in the Esbit was the trick little handle they put on the simmer ring.



OBSERVATION: This weekend I camped at 12,875 feet.  Temps were in the low 40s with highs in the 70s.  I used the Esbit alcohol stove with regular denatured alcohol (shellac thinner) and a windscreen (it was quite windy).  Although it took longer than normal for the flame to "bloom", once the stove was fully operational, the flame quality was no different than at 5,895 feet where I live.  It took 7 minutes to prime, heat and come to boil a full size can of soup.  Water in an Optimus kettle took less time.   One feature I like especially about the stove is the ability to cool down so quickly which makes packing up much faster, a very important aspect for me.  From extinguishing the flame to packing everything up was 1 minute.  However, on a negative note, the Esbit stove is NOT leakproof.  The point of failure is the crimped flange (the edge widest in circumference) and not the o-ring top.  Not to worry, I think I'll simply purchase a Trangia stove which is only about U$D15-17.  

Just thought I'd throw the data points out there for those researching alcohol.  I think I'm sold.  For cold weather, I think a hip flask would be perfect to keep the fuel warm.  As far as fuel availability, my only interests in international touring are Central and South America and I'm confident I'll be able to find fuel to last me from one resupply to the next.  (Famous last words :D) .
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 10:49:40 am by NothingClever »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 12:09:58 pm »
However, on a negative note, the Esbit stove is NOT leakproof.
Not a big disadvantage IMO.  With my pepsi can stove, I just put in the amount of fuel I think I'll need and use it all.  I find that I waste surprisingly little fuel that way.  No reason the same approach shouldn't work with the Esbit.

Offline NothingClever

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2011, 02:58:10 pm »
Yep, agreed.  My perspective was from the "doesn't work as advertised" angle.  I read this morning reviews that the Trangia is also suffering from a leaky crimp these days.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Alcohol Stoves
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2011, 03:53:21 pm »
I will never understand this fascination with boiling water. 

I do not eat boiled water.  I eat food--lots of rice and pasta...

How do you cook your pasta without boiling water?