Jump to content
Eagle94-A1

Alcohol Stoves

Recommended Posts

So, who uses alcohol stoves for backpacking?

I'm switching over to an alcohol stove because it's easier to use than my Whisperlite, and is a lot lighter weight wise.

I've  had more challenges with the Whisperlite than anything. After using it and becoming familiar with it in the backyard, first camp out it starts leaking. Found out I had to replace a gasket, and this was after about 3 months after purchasing it. A few years later on a backpacking trip, it would not ignite. Did a field cleaning and would not work. Inspected all the part I could, nothing was wrong. had to borrow a friend's stove to cook that trip. I was able to finally get it working after 2 weekends at home taking it apart and putting it back together. Still have no idea what was wrong.

Friend introduced me to alcohol stoves. Just pour in the fuel, prime it, and WHAM, it's lit up in about a minute. So I got a Trangia and used it on one camp out to date.  No problems. Friend showed me another stove from Batchstovez . It's made from recycled aluminum beer bottles. I put it on my wish list, and got the cook kit they make for Christmas. Entire cook kit of stove, screen, pot, and a storage case that doubles as a  quart cup and bowl weighs under 8 ounces.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went through a phase of building pop-can stoves.  Went back to the whisperlite.

Here is what the G2SS says about stoves and fuels - emphasis is added:

Quote

Prohibited chemical-fueled equipment—Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.

.[...]

Chemical fuels not recommended—Unleaded gasoline; liquid alcohol fuels, including isopropyl alcohol, denatured ethyl alcohol, and ethanol; and other flammable chemicals that are not in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions for chemical-fueled equipment.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I've noticed the "Prohibited" and "Not Recommended" in the G2SS.

My understanding is that the homemade ones are "Prohibited." So the stoves in the old Cub Scout Leader How To Books are no longer allowed. But a manufactured stove, like a Trangia or Batchstovez are OK.

 "Not Recommended," is quite different from  "prohibited." Kinda like the Sheath Knife policy IMHO. Plus there is the "...that are not in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions for chemical-fueled equipment."  So if a manufacturer  states a fuel, like unleaded gasoline, is acceptable to use in their equipment, like a Whisperlite International, then it's OK.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Yes, I've noticed the "Prohibited" and "Not Recommended" in the G2SS.

My understanding is that the homemade ones are "Prohibited." So the stoves in the old Cub Scout Leader How To Books are no longer allowed. But a manufactured stove, like a Trangia or Batchstovez are OK.

 "Not Recommended," is quite different from  "prohibited." Kinda like the Sheath Knife policy IMHO. Plus there is the "...that are not in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions for chemical-fueled equipment."  So if a manufacturer  states a fuel, like unleaded gasoline, is acceptable to use in their equipment, like a Whisperlite International, then it's OK.
 

Makes sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I was reminded about. I remember as a Sea Scout, the galley had an alcohol stove. And I'm told alcohol stoves are still in use on ships still.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never had issues with my Primus (19.99) or my Jetoil (99.99) grated they are both slightly bigger than the whisper lite but they are dependable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was on 1 of 3 crews from our Troop this past summer at Philmont. We have the benefit of an ASM that works at REI that also attended the trip and I'm a gear nut. We needed 2 stoves per crew and it was time to replace our 4 old stoves with 6 new ones. We settled on the MSR WhisperLite universal. It burns both alcohol and isobutane. We used both fuels over 5 shakedowns and settled on the isobutane cans. Personally, I don't like fiddling with the alcohol. I found cooking with alcohol to be dirty. The alcohol soots all over the place. We can convert the stoves back to alcohol any time, but I doubt that we ever will. The boys are rough on all of the camping gear and the stoves have held up well. 

FWIW- Philmont encourages the use of alcohol stoves. It's supposed to be better at altitude. 

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with an alcohol  stove for individual backpacking. I use a homemade fancy feast stove when I hike or backpack without the troop. When with the troop where we are using the Philmont Patrol method to cook then I use the MSR Whisperlite. When boiling large amounts of water you can not beat the Whisperlite. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/27/2017 at 10:36 PM, Eagle94-A1 said:

So, who uses alcohol stoves for backpacking?

I'm switching over to an alcohol stove because it's easier to use than my Whisperlite, and is a lot lighter weight wise.

I've  had more challenges with the Whisperlite than anything. After using it and becoming familiar with it in the backyard, first camp out it starts leaking. Found out I had to replace a gasket, and this was after about 3 months after purchasing it. A few years later on a backpacking trip, it would not ignite. Did a field cleaning and would not work. Inspected all the part I could, nothing was wrong. had to borrow a friend's stove to cook that trip. I was able to finally get it working after 2 weekends at home taking it apart and putting it back together. Still have no idea what was wrong.

Friend introduced me to alcohol stoves. Just pour in the fuel, prime it, and WHAM, it's lit up in about a minute. So I got a Trangia and used it on one camp out to date.  No problems. Friend showed me another stove from Batchstovez . It's made from recycled aluminum beer bottles. I put it on my wish list, and got the cook kit they make for Christmas. Entire cook kit of stove, screen, pot, and a storage case that doubles as a  quart cup and bowl weighs under 8 ounces.

 

BSA recommends against alcohol stoves, but doesn't outright ban them. Homemade stoves are not allowed. Not sure what the ruling would be on cottage industry built stoves.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Alcohol stoves if tipped over can be a serious issue.

BTU's are lower per volume/weight than white gas.  Propane cylinders are dead weight.

Manufactured wood stoves are lightweight and don't generate the heat that fossil fuel stoves do..

Rocket stoves produce equivalent heat to fossil fuels and consume 1/8th the wood than manufactured wood stoves.

Edited by Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello all. First post on the forum.

There are pros and cons with alcohol stoves.  In my LNT Master Educator course we used them for all meals and it worked out well. One of the main reasons I like them is that the fuel is pretty nature friendly.

As Stosh said, they can tip an spill fuel more easily than other stove types, making them a fire hazard. Not being able to see the flame does not help either.  It also took a lot longer to boil water. 

After cooking with them quite a while, I went back to my Jetboil. It was worth the weight, and my alcohol stove was not worth the wait. (See what I did there with that fancy rhyming...)

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum @Frostbyte.  The safety factor is one thing, but the longer to boil issue is the BTU's.  Alcohol is not as "hot" per same amount of fuel as the fossil fuels.  Therefore one has to carry more fuel weight to make up the difference, thus the negative side of using it for backpacking.  The eco-friendly option would be to burn wood more efficiently and not carry any fuel, just the stove.  At summer camp I only use a homemade rocket stove for all my cooking and it works out really well.  The issue of BTU's is solved with this process in that the wood burns more intensely and thus the need for  less wood is evident while speeding up  the cooking process.  My one big issue with the rocket stove is that it can get too hot too quickly if not attended to properly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, agreed Stosh. One of the leaders in my Troop made a couple of homemade wood fuel stoves out of some cans welded together (Youtube: How To Make A Wood Gas Stove - Compact & Efficient!). I was surprised at the thermal output of this, though I have seen a woodgas truck running before in an article in Mother Earth News. 

I think this type of woodgas stove certainly would qualify as "Thrifty" as well as eco friendly. I have not used one for my cooking, so I was interested to read your experience on it getting too hot to quickly. That is the prob with the Jetboil. The flame is concentrated and intense. Good for boiling water, but really have to watch the cooking with anything else. My son just about ruined his trying to make hot chocolate using milk in his. Scalded the milk and burned the bottom. He had fun trying to clean it out, ha. Good cooking lesson for boys who think there are only two cooking temperatures; off and hot as the sun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×