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View Full Version : A simple home built alcohol stove



willmarsh3
11-20-2012, 07:17 AM
Pretty cool

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtSq3FUcEic&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Ian McColgin
11-20-2012, 07:35 AM
Once I got into it, I found myself chuckling along. Brilliant. Gonna put one whole section of REI out of business.

James McMullen
11-20-2012, 09:09 AM
Chad and I spent an pleasant Saturday afternoon in the shop building a whole variety of those beercan stoves from Zen Stoves and testing 'em one against another.

No Ian, it doesn't replace a genuine stove from REI. These are ultralight water boilers, designed to heat one or two cups to boiling so you can pour it over your dehydrated backpacking food. They don't simmer, they don't have an off switch (other than the fuel running out), they can't boil a large pot, and they're pretty low BTU compared to butane, propane or white gas. They also give off water vapor as a byproduct of alcohol combustion, so you don't really want to use them inside the cabin.

But they're awfully simple and cheap to make, and they're a super compact and fun way to boil a cuppa tea sitting on the beach. By all means, build one! But unless you're doing he ultralight backpacker thing, this ain't no substitute for a stove.

Canoez
11-20-2012, 09:23 AM
Chad and I spent an pleasant Saturday afternoon in the shop building a whole variety of those beercan stoves from Zen Stoves and testing 'em one against another.

No Ian, it doesn't replace a genuine stove from REI. These are ultralight water boilers, designed to heat one or two cups to boiling so you can pour it over your dehydrated backpacking food. They don't simmer, they don't have an off switch (other than the fuel running out), they can't boil a large pot, and they're pretty low BTU compared to butane, propane or white gas. They also give off water vapor as a byproduct of alcohol combustion, so you don't really want to use them inside the cabin.

But they're awfully simple and cheap to make, and they're a super compact and fun way to boil a cuppa tea sitting on the beach. By all means, build one! But unless you're doing he ultralight backpacker thing, this ain't no substitute for a stove.

I did see a version of these stoves that can simmer - it was an unpressurized stove and had basically a damper that covered air intakes on the side of the stove, so it can be done. The thing that gets me is that they do well for boiling a cup of water or two, but they're not really "cooking stoves". As James points out, the BTU of the alcohol is fairly low, so you need to carry a lot more of this fuel to do the same amount of cooking that you could do with other fuels.

One of the more interesting stoves I've seen of late is this one from Biolite (http://biolitestove.com/). (No personal interest...) Definitely not for onboard use.

http://biolitestove.com/Media/CampStove/camp_overview_img_2-942x648.jpg

oldsub86
11-20-2012, 09:39 AM
No Ian, it doesn't replace a genuine stove from REI. These are ultralight water boilers, designed to heat one or two cups to boiling so you can pour it over your dehydrated backpacking food. They don't simmer, they don't have an off switch (other than the fuel running out), they can't boil a large pot, and they're pretty low BTU compared to butane, propane or white gas.


Where is your "Tim Allen" spirit? Can't you just see one of these made out of a 5 gallon can?

James McMullen
11-20-2012, 10:36 AM
I do have a couple empties of those five liter mini-kegs in the recycle bin right now. . . .

Chip-skiff
11-27-2012, 03:34 PM
Beercan cookers are great fun, and I've built dozens and used them on multiday trips.

They can be set up for simmering. But they are useful only heating small volumes of water, soup, etc., not for cookery, snowmelting, etc. There was a thread posted on various homebuilt and alt cookers a while back. I'll see if I can find it and post it again.

Two problems with them for boat use: First, they can spill or slosh when bumped or tipped, spreading a pool of flames. So setting them in a larger pan or washbasin is smart. A big one could spill a lot of fuel(!) Second, they seldom burn longer than 20 minutes, and should be allowed to cool before refilling— not good for stews or soups that need cooking rather than just heating.

Meanwhile, I have a BioLite stove on the bench, but have not yet tested it. The website is pretty silent about the actual mechanism they use for generating power from heat, but I did some research and found technical stuff, which I'll also have to locate in my e-heap. I just got their November newsletter. The e-mail address is:

http://info@biolitestove.com

Chip-skiff
11-27-2012, 03:45 PM
Here's the link:

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?128180-Wood-Gas-Camping-Stoves-Very-interesting-little-unit-I-want-one!&highlight=stoves (http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?128180-Wood-Gas-Camping-Stoves-Very-interesting-little-unit-I-want-one%21&highlight=stoves)

It begins with solid fuel/biomass cookers and scatters into other types.

Here are some of the alcohol/spirit cookers (also snuffer and simmering tops) I've built:

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_XAqLuU8H28k/TYKHIf8UviI/AAAAAAAABOY/GqpZ9WOfjro/s640/spirit%20cookers.jpg

One hazard of these ultralight boogers that you wouldn't predict, is that when they are low on fuel and you lift off the pot, they can be blown over by the wind.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-27-2012, 04:02 PM
The pool of flame hazard is a real thing - especially if you make the elementary mistake of trying to re-fuel before the flame has completely died.....

OTOH you can extinguish the mess with a cupful of water - don't try this with white gas.

Chip-skiff
11-27-2012, 04:11 PM
The Trangia cooker in the hanging saucepan windscreen served us well during a year of tramping and camping in New Zealand. The windscreen (and tapered pots to fit it) boosts the efficiency and the hanging rig makes it less likely to spill. Suspend it from a low limb, inside the drip line, and brew up. Pliers (those multitools work) are a good thing to have for handling these cookers and parts.

Guess I should give the BioLite stove a go.

willmarsh3
12-03-2012, 01:12 PM
I should try to construct one of these can stoves using only a leatherman tool for the next time I need one and can't find the MSR pocket rocket type canister at a camp store. Sterno takes way too long to heat up something e.g. 45 minutes for a one cup espresso pot.

Chip-skiff
12-03-2012, 02:31 PM
I should try to construct one of these can stoves using only a leatherman tool for the next time I need one and can't find the MSR pocket rocket type canister at a camp store. Sterno takes way too long to heat up something e.g. 45 minutes for a one cup espresso pot.

Might be a bit hard to build a decent one in the bush with just a Leatherman tool. I'd build a few at home and tuck them in the car and tool bag. Almost any hardware sells denatured alcohol. Fuel dryers such as HEET also work (the plain version is alcohol— avoid the sort with additives for cleaning injectors, etc.)

Canoez
12-03-2012, 02:46 PM
The Trangia cooker in the hanging saucepan windscreen served us well during a year of tramping and camping in New Zealand. The windscreen (and tapered pots to fit it) boosts the efficiency and the hanging rig makes it less likely to spill. Suspend it from a low limb, inside the drip line, and brew up. Pliers (those multitools work) are a good thing to have for handling these cookers and parts.

Guess I should give the BioLite stove a go.

I'll look forward to your review of the BioLite, Chip.

Chip-skiff
12-06-2012, 04:30 PM
I'll look forward to your review of the BioLite, Chip.

Revived the thread on solid-fuel campstoves so those interested can get more info. Worth a trip to the Bilge, perhaps.

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?128180-Wood-Gas-Camping-Stoves-Very-interesting-little-unit-I-want-one!/page6 (http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?128180-Wood-Gas-Camping-Stoves-Very-interesting-little-unit-I-want-one%21/page6)

Canoez
12-06-2012, 04:53 PM
Revived the thread on solid-fuel campstoves so those interested can get more info. Worth a trip to the Bilge, perhaps.

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?128180-Wood-Gas-Camping-Stoves-Very-interesting-little-unit-I-want-one!/page6 (http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?128180-Wood-Gas-Camping-Stoves-Very-interesting-little-unit-I-want-one%21/page6)

Thanks much. Look like I should give it a miss.