Fun with alcohol?

Discussion in 'Kitchen' started by Bmblbzzz, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. Bmblbzzz

    Bmblbzzz Ultralighter

    I've always used gas stoves. I like gas for its speed and controllability. Also because gas cannisters are easily available, at least in the UK. What I don't like is not being quite sure how much fuel is left, occasionally running out (though I think this has only happened once to me), the bulk (though at least it doesn't weigh much) and most of all, disposing of empty cartridges – it just seems so wasteful! So I've been thinking about an alcohol stove...

    I know that Speedster stoves seem to get a good opinion and they're cheap enough that if the experience turns me stove-teetotal, it's not a big loss. But which one? I'm tea-fuelled, I don't want to hang around for my brew, especially in the morning – I'm not much of a lark as it is – so I'm discounting the 20ml, which leaves the 30ml or the 50ml. I found a review which seems to recommend the larger size as being quicker:
    Presumably he means 50ml not 60. I'm really not bothered by the extra 6g – I'm not even bothered about the extra 10p! And I'm prepared to accept greater consumption in return for faster tea. But maybe burner size should relate to pot size? It'll mostly be used with a pot 14cm in diameter, maybe sometimes a 17cm frying pan.

    (I'm already thinking I'm overthinking this.)

    What else will I need? I've got a windshield, but I'll need a pot stand. Okay, that's simple. It seems people use a "ground protector" to reflect heat and guard against igniting vegetation. Should be just a big larger than the pot?

    And then there's fuel. Any tips for suppliers? Or things I should know? Other than "don't drink it"! I see "bio-ethanol burns cleaner than methanol" but I'm not sure what "bio-ethanol" is. Isn't all ethanol a biological product in that it's made from fermenting sugars?

    Okay, lots of questions probably making as much sense as a teenager in the offie... Answers gratefully received!
  2. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    The Speedster 50ml would be my choice together with a Speedster pot stand.
    IMO ground protectors/ reflectors do little to improve performance but can stop the burner from igniting the grass, also they provide a level platform for the stove & pot stand so that the ideal flame gap is maintained; you can re-use an aluminium foil pie dish or a serving platter cut down
    Alcohol = Ethanol
    Bio-ethanol is a marketing ploy to make it sound green as it's derived from sugar beet etc. as opposed to from oil. Its widely available in Outdoor shops, some hardware outlets, eBay, etc.
    IMO methanol should be avoided.
    cathyjc likes this.
  3. Bmblbzzz

    Bmblbzzz Ultralighter

    What's the reason?
  4. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    "Meths" is actually mostly ethanol.

    But if you want real fun with an alky stove, and a quicker brew, you need one of my super-dangerous turbocharged copper coil jet stoves.

    Fred Wanderer, Shewie and Jim_Parkin like this.
  5. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    It's poisonous, both vapour & when adsorbed through the skin.
  6. Lempo

    Lempo Thru Hiker

    I was completely off track then...

    Teepee likes this.
  7. Henry

    Henry Ultralighter

    Yes I think the methanol historically was added to make it undrinkable (without very nasty consequences anyway...)

    But @Rog Tallbloke is right, meths is mostly ethanol with other stuff added.

    Edited after learning this!
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  8. Henry

    Henry Ultralighter

    (We used to be able to get pure ethanol to treat methanol poisoning or in an infusion for alcohol withdrawal: it’s quite hard to get hold of in hospitals these days:sorry:)
  9. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    There's been no methanol allowed in meths or other denatured ethanol for many years.
    Jim_Parkin and Mole like this.
  10. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    I think methanol is much better with nitromethane or perhaps some hydrazine added :D
  11. Padstowe

    Padstowe Thru Hiker

    Speedster stoves used to do 60ml but then dropped iit to 50ml 20200919_002031.jpg
    50ml on the left & 60ml on the right
    Mole likes this.
  12. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Methanol hasn't been in methylated spirits for , many years.

    No point.

    Ethanol is a better fuel, ( more energy per g)
    and isn't as poisonous
    Jim_Parkin likes this.
  13. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    For completeness Ethanol based liquids found on sale within the EU is termed CDA (Completely Denatured Alcohol) & has the following formulation in most member states:
    Per hectolitre (100L) of absolute ethanol:
    • 1 litre of isopropyl alcohol
    • 1 litre of methyl ethyl ketone
    • 1 gram of denatonium benzoate
    Also there may be a dye added to make the fluid recognisable e.g. Methyl violet = Meths, I've also come across blue & straw yellow in France & Spain.
  14. Darren

    Darren Summit Camper

    To be honest the size of the burner you buy will be governed but the size if the pot you have. I've got a toaks 550 pot and a snowpeak mini titanium cookset which are roughly the same diameter (around 90 mm I think) and use the spill proof 30ml. With the mug stand and a vargo windshield it's about right. Any wider burner will result in flame licking up the side of the post so wasting fuel. I also purchased the carbon burner with a 43mm reducer plate so that I can hold more fuel but the greater flame diameter is reduced with 43mm aperture. Pot stand height is important in regulating fuel use.

    As for fuel, literally just started using bioethanol (sp) and I've found it soots the pots/accs much more than meths I was originally using, boil time seems to be slightly short tho so.....
  15. OwenM

    OwenM Section Hiker

    Also there may be a dye added to make the fluid recognisable e.g. Methyl violet = Meths, I've also come across blue & straw yellow in France & Spain.[/QUOTE]

    It's red in Scandinavia.
  16. Bmblbzzz

    Bmblbzzz Ultralighter

    Thanks for all the answers. I think I should just buy and try!
  17. Bmblbzzz

    Bmblbzzz Ultralighter

    Curious, I've read the opposite. I guess it depends on other things as well.
    Darren likes this.
  18. Bmblbzzz

    Bmblbzzz Ultralighter

    Just trying to sort out, in my own mind mostly, the difference between methanol and methylated spirits, and which of them meths is short for. If Wikipedia is accurate, it seems that methylated spirits is simply one name for denatured ethanol, used because in many places, including UK, methanol is the main denaturing agent. So I presume "meths" usually refers to denatured (methylated) ethanol; but perhaps not always, because no doubt at least a few other people are as confused as I am...
  19. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Read back this thread?
    . Methanol is NOT used as a denaturing agent. Hasn't been for years

    Methanol is less energy dense than ethanol.
    And more toxic.

    So no advantage in stove use.
    cathyjc and WilliamC like this.
  20. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    Though it is where the name meths comes from: methylated spirits = ethyl alcohol alcohol (ethanol) with methyl alcohol (methanol) added.
    Mole likes this.
  21. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    Methylated spirits in some parts of the world does still contain methanol e.g. some states in the US allow the denaturing agent to be methanol (~10%) but not all of them. As above the UK & EU doesn't allow the addition of methanol to Denatured Alcohol.
    The only difference between Meths & Bio-ethanol is a bit of Methyl Violet dye. They have the same ignition point, calorific value & the same tendency to produce soot (or not).
    Wikipedia is not always the best source of information is it tends to be US centric &/or out of date.
    See this:
    cathyjc and Mole like this.
  22. Stuart

    Stuart Ultralighter

    I've got the 50ml Speedster which they recommend for pots over 140mm. It lights easily and functions pretty well. It hasn't got the fearsome heat of my White Box stove but it works.

    The pot stand works well.

    A good solid surface to stand it on is essential as the burner and stand are so light, they have no weight to hold themselves stable. As someone else said, you also need to cover the grass as it will burn it. Folded tin foil can be a fine windshield or the Speedster one looks OK.

    I use it with a large metal mug much smaller than 140mm wide and it boils fine. So, for making drinks you should be fine.

    I am having a bit of a problem getting a fast boil when I try to heat a one person dehydrated meal and water, getting a gentle gentle bubbling is easy, but not a fast boil throughout the pot. I'm using a Trangia pot which is 165mm wide.

    For the money, it's definitely worth a go.
    Rmr likes this.
  23. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    When you distill to produce alcohol I think the first 5-10% that comes off tends to be methanol, so I assume for meths they left that in, where they get rid of that first bit when producing whiskey etc. That's why moonshine can make you blind.

    Iso I think has the highest calorie density, a burner that could burn that without soot is the holy grail.
    In my experience it boils faster than denatured alcohol in any burner but soots like a good'n.
    WilliamC likes this.
  24. Padstowe

    Padstowe Thru Hiker

    the first cloudy bit when distilling alcohol can be thrown into the second mix to be distilled& so on & so on, i don't think it's methanol, could be wrong though.
    am not a big drinker but there is something nice about it being straight from the source (in this case grape mash)
    WilliamC likes this.
  25. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    Flatcat Gear makes one. I might look into how available Isopropyl alcohol is here.

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