Just as the name suggests, alcohol stoves are stoves that use alcohol as the source of fuel. You’ll find them mostly being used by hikers, backpackers, and those who like traveling light. The reason for that is their almost negligible weight and readily available fuel.
With an alcohol stove, you don’t need gas. You may use ethanol, methanol or denatured alcohol. The design of an alcohol stove will depend on how the flame is produced. Whichever style or design you buy, you will place the stove on the ground in order to cook.
Common Alcohol Stove Designs
To reiterate, alcohol stoves are designed differently. You can find them in four basic styles. They include the following.
- Open-Flame: Alcohol stoves don’t come any simpler than the open-flame camping stove. It is basically an open can, which you fill with alcohol before lighting it up. This design is easy to make at home and is easy to operate. However, it can easily spill the fuel.
- Vertical Flame: With a chimney-like design, this type of stove directs flames upwards to the pot. It makes use of two nested cans. The vent holes are carefully placed to increase the stove’s efficiency by creating an updraft. Unlike the open-flame stove, this might not be easier to make and could be heavier.
- Side Flame: This kind of stove will have holes on the vessel’s sides so that the flame is directed outside the stove. With this design, a separate stand is totally unnecessary. A pot can squarely sit on top of the stove without dimming the flame.
- Pressure Flame: With this type of alcohol, making it is out of the question. It uses vapor pressure to produce a powerful flame, perfect for boiling water. The fuel is stored in a center port. Once it is filled, you can light it. The flame that comes out is similar to that of a home gas burner. Even though efficient, it might not burn when it has a low level of fuel.
Types of Alcohol Fuel
Not all types of alcohol are the same. As such, alcohol fuel may come in any of the following types:
- HEET: HEET is a form of methanol that is antifreeze. You can find it at an affordable price at all the major stores. It is the best fuel for use in winter or other cold weather. Regardless of how cold the weather is, the fuel will burn readily. However, it is a toxin that will poison you if it spills onto your utensils.
- Denatured Alcohol: Denatured alcohol is basically ethanol with some methanol added to it. Thus, it is undrinkable. An affordable option, this type of fuel is available in hardware stores. Even though it produces a hotter flame than methanol, it is not as efficient at colder temperatures.
- Everclear (Grain Alcohol): Everclear works as efficiently as denatured alcohol yet it doesn’t contain any methanol. It is non-toxic and costs more than denatured alcohol. Finding this type of fuel in the smaller trail towns is hard. It could even be banned elsewhere.
- Isopropyl Alcohol: The other names for isopropyl alcohol are drugstore rubbing alcohol or red-bottle HEET. Even though it has burning capabilities, it may not be great for use as a primary source of fuel. Since it hardly burns completely, it tends to leave behind some soot residue. The flame is less efficient and intense, given that the fuel is mixed with water.
One of the things you will like about alcohol stoves is that they are extremely easy to use. But you should have a clear idea of what you are doing to avoid spilling fuel.
Start by unpacking the stove but be sure to take note of how to repack it without creating unnecessary bulk. Place the stove on flat ground and attach some windshields. Assemble the burner and fill it up to 3/4 –full with fuel.
After you have closed the lid, replace the windshields. Using a match or lighter, ignite the fuel. Place a pan on top of the stove so that it is supported by windshields. You can use it to boil or cook whatever you want to prepare out in the open. On some stoves, the flame is adjustable. Allow it to cook for as long as you want and remove the pan or pot when you are through.
If you need a convenient way to prepare food while in a camp, consider buying an alcohol stove. But before you do, there are a lot of things you need to know about these stoves. This comprehensive guide on alcohol stove helps you learn what you need to know for that awesome camping experience.