The Truth About Alcohol Stoves – When, Where, Why and Why Not

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This episode is all about Alcohol Stoves and Luke will be going over the Pros, the Cons, When, Where and Why to use them…also, when not to.

When It comes to stoves it can be a hot topic…..get it….

Easily it can involve personal bias; some will defend their stoves because the price they paid, both high and low and some will defend their stoves because they made it by hand out of a cat food can that their pet ate out of.

I’m this episode I’m going to focus on alcohol Stoves, the good and the bad without an bias; only straight up fact.

When it comes to the different types of stoves and fuel types, I’ve used them all and that simple fact is that there isn’t a perfect stove just like their isn’t a perfect camera,…..but there is the right tool for the job so to speak.

To start, lets focus on what an alcohol stove is;

Trangia Spirit Burner

Rucas

What you are see here are very common types of stoves; there are many other companies who make stoves and also, it is very common and also easy to make your own. You can do this out of a coke can, pet food container, etc.

Such stoves are known for being SIMPLE and lightweight and fuel is often inexpensive and easy to locate.

With that being said, lets focus on the pros of such stoves;

Lightweight with some stoves coming in at less than 2oz

Inexpensive to purchase or to make

Extremely easy to use

Quite

No maintenance required

Durable….you’re not going to break an alcohol stove unless you are doing something majorly wrong

Fuel is easy to locate and in fact, it can run on multiple types of fuel including denatured alcohol, methanol, and so on.

Fuel isn’t as hazardous as white gas or as flammable – that doesn’t mean that it is safer though as such stoves can easily start a forest fire and in fact, have done so and is one reason why there are many places where such stoves are banned.

Perform very well in cold conditions – can be hard to ignite with a lighter but matches make easy work of getting them going.

Denatured alcohol is fairly clean burning – minor residue on your pots/cups

Now lets talk about Cons :

Alcohol stoves are Slow – 6-7 minutes to boil two cups of water in the BEST of conditions.

Inefficient which means that they will go through a lot of fuel which means that you will need to vary more fuel with you.

Fuel doesn’t release a lot of heat and this means that it will take time and potentially multiple stove refills to accomplish your cooking task.

Limited burn time; most alcohol stoves will hold around 1 oz or fuel and you have to allow that fuel to completely burn out before refilling. Because the flame is clear, you have to be very careful or you can experience burnback.

If the stove tips over, the ignited fuel will easily spread.

With most alcohol stoves, there is one flame setting; not a great choice for those who want to simmer. Some stoves have a regulator though

The flame is invisible.

Very sensitive to wind; you will need a very good windscreen even with the slightest of breezes.

Pouring

Gauging the proper amount of fuel needed for your chore can be difficult.

If you put too much fuel in your stove for your task, you have to pour it back into your fuel bottle can be tricky.

With alcohol, there is an elevated risk of spillage.

As mentioned before, these stoves are banned in some areas and that’s because there is no shutoff valve. Also, with some stoves, if you overfill the fuel can overflow from the stove itself and cause fires.

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Rucas : 1.2oz

Trangia : 3.8oz

Vargo : .8oz

Pocket Rocket Deluxe : 3oz

Full 8oz fuel bottle : 8oz

Rocket Rocket and Canister : 9.6oz

Vargo and Fuel Bottle : 8.6

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