Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

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Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 11:56 am

Hi all,

I've been thru-hiking overseas for the last few years and using a product called Heet (anti-freeze yellow bottle) for my Kojin Caldera Cone alcohol stove. I have recently got back to Australia and have been testing Metho. I am not a fan of how Metho is burning in my Kojin; the burn smell and especially the residue soot. Heet was just a better burn. Do any Aussies have a different recommendation of alcohol fuel? I've done some research on the difference between Metho and Heet, and it seems to be that Metho is a denatured alcohol and Heet comes under a Methanol (methyl alcohol). Would love to hear any product suggestions to try for a cleaner burn!

And just a side note; I am not planning on taking my alcohol stove out through fire season, so we can all chill on the scolding. :) I have an MSR pocket rocket with gas canister, or the trusty cold soaking in complete fire bans. So we good.

Thanks for any help! :)
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby neilmny » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 1:14 pm

Don't know an alternative fuel but adding 10 to 15% water in the Metho will reduce the soot.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Mark F » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 1:38 pm

Methylated spirits in Australia is normally ethanol with 5% methanol added to make it mildly toxic to stop people drinking it and thus not having to be taxed like alcoholic beverages. I believe HEETs (there are several versions) and the other similar fuels found in the US have a much higher percentage of Methanol and other very toxic additives. As ethanol will burn best with a slight different air/fuel mix compared to methanol I suspect that your stove is tuned to burn methanol rather than ethanol. If you get a chance compare the burn on your stove to a trangia or a stove tuned for ethanol. There are lots of threads on this topic on bpl - try https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/36595/ for a start.
"Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove".
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby crollsurf » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 1:58 pm

You can still get Methanol in Australia for industrial and motor racing uses but I seriously wouldn't want to mess with it. I'm sure it's not like HEET
You can buy Isopropyl as well which I think is similar but safer and costs nearly $30 for 500ml!

neilmny wrote:Don't know an alternative fuel but adding 10 to 15% water in the Metho will reduce the soot.

Just do that and see how you go
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 4:15 pm

Many thanks, guys! Appreciate the recommendations and feedback. I will do some further testing and investigation. :)
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby ChrisJHC » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 4:24 pm

I use a tuna can stove and have previously used a Trangia - both with Metho.

I have never had any soot formed.

The metho does smell a little but I don’t find it to be an issue.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 4:29 pm

ChrisJHC wrote:I use a tuna can stove and have previously used a Trangia - both with Metho.

I have never had any soot formed.

The metho does smell a little but I don’t find it to be an issue.


Thanks, Chris! I'm also going to play around with different brands of metho! I think maybe a higher quality brand might show a different effect, too! Cheers.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Mark F » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 6:09 pm

QueenLucyVanPelt wrote:I think maybe a higher quality brand might show a different effect, too!


I don't know what you mean by "higher quality". I would much prefer Australian methylated spirits compared to what I see in the safety docs for the various US toxic methanol based versions. I have also discovered that Diggers brand does not have methanol but is 95% ethanol, 4.9% water and 0.1% non-toxic bittering agents. Also, fuels with high ethanol content have somewhat more combustion energy compared to methanol based fuels. Ethanol delivers 75% of the equivalent volume of petrol compared to 67% for methanol. Most of the ethanol produced in Australia comes from bio sources - originally fermented sugar cane, not petro-chemical.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 6:20 pm

Mark F wrote:
QueenLucyVanPelt wrote:I think maybe a higher quality brand might show a different effect, too!


I don't know what you mean by "higher quality". I would much prefer Australian methylated spirits compared to what I see in the safety docs for the various US toxic methanol based versions.


Oh, all I meant by that was that I was doing some intense reading today and there were certain articles mentioning that "Black & Gold" metho can have a different make up to say the Woolworths brand or Diggers brand of Metho. I wasn't meaning in comparison to the quality of US products. Only talking in reference to other Aussie Metho brands. Thanks for the help! :)
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Bubbalouie » Wed 23 Oct, 2019 7:01 pm

Mark F wrote:As ethanol will burn best with a slight different air/fuel mix compared to methanol I suspect that your stove is tuned to burn methanol rather than ethanol. If you get a chance compare the burn on your stove to a trangia or a stove tuned for ethanol. There are lots of threads on this topic on bpl - try https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/36595/ for a start.


I'm inclined to agree with this, I have an Evernew burner that is fast and clean, and a Toaks burner that gets super sooty, both from the same bottle of metho.

Incidentally, I highly recommend the Evernew burner, it is a bit heavier, but worth the added performance I think.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Tue 29 Oct, 2019 4:21 pm

US made alcohol stoves are most often designed around the use of Heet because over there 95% ethanol is not very common.
You will find that some use Everclear and that is (depending on the type) around 70% ethanol and 30%water.
Years ago I suggeted adding a few drops of water to our fuel to get a better burn on US made stoves. People laughed , I did't...
On the left the one with some water, on the right metho from the bottle (White Box stove)
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Orion » Thu 31 Oct, 2019 3:47 am

Franco wrote:You will find that some use Everclear and that is (depending on the type) around 70% ethanol and 30%water.


Some states here allow for 95% ethanol maximum for non-denatured ethanol whereas others cap it at 75.5%. The various denatured alcohol products are usually lower although one brand claims 80-90% in their SDS.

This is one of the reasons I never got that excited about alcohol stoves. Also, I'd rather drink ethanol than burn it.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Thu 31 Oct, 2019 7:16 pm

95% ethanol is about $5 for a liter here.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Orion » Thu 31 Oct, 2019 10:36 pm

Yes, I'm aware that it's much more affordable and available there. But whisky is more expensive.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Fri 01 Nov, 2019 8:00 am

Thanks to everyone for their help. Just to follow up, for anyone ever needing an answer on the Kojin stove and fuel for Australia; I have done a few comparisons now between metho, metho + water, ethanol and 100% methanol. The 100% methanol is the cleanest burn by far on the Kojin stove. No soot, no residue, no smell and a more blue/less yellow controlled flame. Hope that helps anyone in the future seeking a 'HEET' replacement overseas. :)
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby nickzed » Fri 17 Jul, 2020 5:15 pm

QueenLucyVanPelt wrote:Thanks to everyone for their help. Just to follow up, for anyone ever needing an answer on the Kojin stove and fuel for Australia; I have done a few comparisons now between metho, metho + water, ethanol and 100% methanol. The 100% methanol is the cleanest burn by far on the Kojin stove. No soot, no residue, no smell and a more blue/less yellow controlled flame. Hope that helps anyone in the future seeking a 'HEET' replacement overseas. :)


HI QueenLucyVanPelt - Would you mind if I asked you, what was the Brand of the 100% methanol that you used?

I have just purchased an alcohol stove and neglected to think about the fuel availability here in Sydney prior to purchase.

Thanks
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Fri 17 Jul, 2020 5:26 pm

Hi nickzed,

I bought Redback racing methanol. :)

Hope that helps! I see a few car racing places sell it, but it may only be available in large amounts.

:)
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Moondog55 » Fri 17 Jul, 2020 6:04 pm

Methanol is usually sold in 20 litre steel drums and costs more than standard metho. Never been a fan of metho stoves but i do have a cat can and a supercat can . TBH i think that here yoy are better off with canister gas, with the proviso that you don't pay full price or use a transfr gadget and cheap butane
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Fri 17 Jul, 2020 8:23 pm

Just to repeat myself, USA made alcohol stove are almost always fine tuned to work with Yellow Heat (Methanol) because that is the fuel most easily availiable and the one that most long distance hikers use. It stands to reason that those stoves perform best with that and not so well with other types of fuel.
Again, adding a little bit of water (a few drops per use) to our 95% Ethanol does help.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby flingebunt » Sat 18 Jul, 2020 8:53 am

Here is something you can try. Thanks to COVID-19 and the fact that many alcohol companies were trying their hand at hand sanitisers (beer companies need to remove some of the ethanol from beer to make it lower in alcohol), you can often by 80%+ ethanol hand sanitisers. I bought one from a Beef Jerky shop that was 80% ethanol, purified water and glycerine. I am pretty sure that is drinkable.

If you are looking for a non-metho alcohol, you might want to try some of these.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby ChrisJHC » Sat 18 Jul, 2020 8:58 am

I note that alcohol stoves are currently on sale at Woolworths for $1.

Just have to empty the tuna out of them first!
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby QueenLucyVanPelt » Sat 18 Jul, 2020 11:52 am

Just to clarify for any confusion on this topic, I have a Kojin USA alcohol stove that performs best with the USA made heet. When moving back to Australia, I did several tests with metho and/or ethanol with/without water, different ratios with each as is suggested above and online. All were a messy burn - heavy yellow flame. My pot was getting destroyed and also soot was all over my gear.
After researching, I found a 1 Litre bottle of Redback racing 100% methanol for sale at about $10 and it has the cleanest burn I have found. I know metho is cheaper, but it was not producing the burn that I wanted. I am happy to pay the extra amount for a similar "Heet" burn with my USA brand stove.
I know Methanol in Australia is more readily available in large quantities, but I was lucky to score a small batch somewhere.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby commando » Mon 20 Jul, 2020 4:33 pm

Methylated Spirit has considerably less BTU's per litre than Shellite or Butane Gas does
so you will need more fuel for the same result for extended walks this weight could add
up, but unlikely to be a problem for weekend walks.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Mon 20 Jul, 2020 7:19 pm

commando wrote:Methylated Spirit has considerably less BTU's per litre than Shellite or Butane Gas does
so you will need more fuel for the same result for extended walks this weight could add
up, but unlikely to be a problem for weekend walks.

It isn't as simple as that because stoves that burn Shellite tend to be a lot heavier* (that is more than the fuel difference for a few days) and gas canisters are typically heavier (empty) than alcohol fuel containers.
A 100g canister is about 200g full.
A 220 g canister is about 350g full.
What happens when I am doing a 3 day walk and I have a 220g with 100g of gas in it and that is not enough for me ?
With alcohol once you know you daily burn rate you can just take that ammount (with a bit extra...)
just one example . The very popular MSR Whisperlight is 423g, the smallest fuel bottle (325 ml) is 128g, that is 551g.

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A Caldera Cone with the burner (pot holder/windscreen and stove) is about 100g.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby commando » Mon 20 Jul, 2020 9:31 pm

Working on that theory would indicate that one should only carry Hexamine tablets because there is
no other weight involved, other than the wrapping.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Tue 21 Jul, 2020 8:32 am

That is not a theory, those are facts.
Using hexamine. Some do , however others do not like the smell it makes or that it is hard to just use half a tablet without wasting some fuel and others cannot get a boil or don't like the time it takes to boil or simply find it hard to light.
So you need to work out what works best for you taking into consideration not only the BTU but all the other parameters.
BTW, I have used alcohol in winter but if in particular melting snow is required , that is not what I have used for it nor would I want to.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby GregG » Tue 21 Jul, 2020 10:05 am

Franco, I gave up lugging a relatively heavy Trangia years ago and switched to a gas stove, from memory basing my decision on the advice of another long-time contributor to this forum. I'm not familiar with the caldera cone stove but it is obviously pretty light weight, does it perform ok in windy conditions?
Cheers, Greg.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Tue 21 Jul, 2020 10:56 am

The Trangia system is the heaviest metho system I know of (along the many copies...) BUT it can work very well for people that cook rather than just boil.
Yes the Caldera Cone does work very well in windy conditions but I suspect that mose users,like me, just boil water or boil and simmer rather than really cook with them.
It is in fact the only system I have been able to get good results with using solid fuel (but I still don't like using it anyway)
There are many versions of that cone ,(with some exceptions, the cone has to be made for a particular pot because it holds thae pot up so it is a stand as well as a windscreen) it's been around since 2005.
https://www.traildesigns.com/collections/stove-systems

BTW, the debate about the most efficient/lightest system, often starting just with the fuel used , has been ongoing for a very long time but particularly since folk started to make tuna can type alcohol stoves.
Every so often someone presents the evidence that they have found the best system yet as always it will not work well for others because they don't eat the same food (or cook it that way) and or different temperatures and different eating habits. Some have 3 hot meals a day plus hot drinks, others only heat water for dinner and many are in between.
That is why there is no best for all and as I already stated,it isn't as simple as looking at BTUs .
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby commando » Tue 21 Jul, 2020 11:54 am

Gas wins... although i use shellite.
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Re: Alcohol stove fuel recommendations

Postby Franco » Tue 21 Jul, 2020 11:56 am

I see that you did not understand any of the stuff I wrote, but that is OK...
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