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#123277 - 11/02/09 01:30 PM 99% Isopropyl
Knaight Offline
member

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 50
Loc: Massachusetts
I cook with 91% Isopropyl alcohol since I don't like the idea of dealing with Methanol's toxicity. Unfortunately, it results in much slower boil times and leaves a lot of carbon residue. Has anyone tried 99%? I can only find it online and haven't ordered any yet. I can't find any reviews of it as a cooking fuel.

I'd be interested to hear your experiences.

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#123278 - 11/02/09 02:02 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Why not use ethanol as fuel? It has a higher heat content than does methanol, IIRC, and is basically the active ingredient in booze. You can get denatured ethanol at hardware and paint stores; it is sold as shellac thinner. Yes, there is usually a small amount of methanol in denatured ethanol, usually about 10%, but methanol is not any more dangerous in small amounts than is straight isopropynol. A lot of hikers, including me, use denatured ethanol with no problems of toxicity at all. Just use it with care. In fact, denatured ethanol is approved for killing bacteria on skin and small amounts are used in oral products such as some toothpastes. Just don't use it in your martinis. Check out its properties at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatured_alcohol


Edited by Pika (11/02/09 02:10 PM)
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#123280 - 11/02/09 03:03 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
99% leaves the same residue as lower concentrations of iso. However, it is much more efficient.

Denatured alcohol is usually less than 10% methanol. I wouldn't use it regularly for hand cleaner, but the toxicity is pretty low.

Isoppropyl potentially has more BTUs than ethyl and methyl. But you can't get all them buggers unless your stove combusts it fully. The carbon residue indicates that you have incomplete combustion. Therefore, you are not getting the full benefit of isopropyl. I know of only a few simple stoves that can achieve complete combustion with iso. And they are not very good for other reasons, IMHO.


Edited by Spock (11/02/09 03:08 PM)

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#123374 - 11/04/09 02:52 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
Pugslie Offline


Registered: 11/22/08
Posts: 7
My local Von's (Safeway?)store carries it in their pharmacy department.

b.gin

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#123377 - 11/04/09 04:08 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Denatured alcohol is widely available and better to use in most stoves - no residue, more efficient burn. I've heard Everclear works well but for the price, I'd sooner get a couple gallons of denatured...
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#123379 - 11/04/09 04:33 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
Fishnaked Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/03
Posts: 191
Loc: West
I currently use 190 proof "Clear Spring" grain alcohol in my "cat can" stove. It's pricey compared to the other fuels people use but I'd rather pay more for something "potable" than pay less for a toxic chemical cocktail.

I'm content with the 190 proof's performance. I tried 150 proof Everclear in the same stove without much luck.

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#123385 - 11/04/09 07:45 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Fishnaked]
Knaight Offline
member

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 50
Loc: Massachusetts
I'd use grain alcohol if I could get it nearby, but the closest place to buy it is 100 miles away.

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#123386 - 11/04/09 08:10 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
My understanding is that the black residue is part of the nature of isopropyl. 99% won't make that go away.

I read on another forum of a guy experimenting with different blends of lower alcohols (Methyl, ethyl...) with the isopropyl (forgotten which percentage) and had some luck with good boil times and clean burning.


Maybe it was backpackinglight.com. Less than a year ago, I think.


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#123392 - 11/04/09 09:06 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
Fishnaked Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/03
Posts: 191
Loc: West
Originally Posted By Knaight
I'd use grain alcohol if I could get it nearby, but the closest place to buy it is 100 miles away.


I hear ya. It's actually further than that for me. Luckily though, my brother has been gracious enough to pick it up for me.


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#123395 - 11/04/09 10:09 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Roocketman]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

99% pure isopro won't make that go away..

Either pay the price for everclear, or live with denatured or methanol..

Considering methanol's a lot less toxic than gasoline or kerosene or white gas, and I have no problem using the latter, I use methanol all the time with no issue. But that is of course your choice. To make that choice and have reasonable alcohol stove performance, you're gonna want to find ethanol of some kind - perhaps denatured.

Oh if you use methanol.. don't drink it.. Same goes for white gas... aside from that you shouldn't have any problems with it.

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#123397 - 11/04/09 11:19 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Knaight]
n0oxk Offline
newbie

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 8
Loc: Missouri
On your carbon build-up you might try this little trick. When I cook on open fire I keep my pans clean from suet and smoke stains by coating the outside of the pan with liquid dish soap prior to cooking. The smoke stains still form on the pan but when you wash them it comes right off. I would think it would work the same with alcohol burners.

Jeff

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#123463 - 11/06/09 10:07 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: phat]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 235
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
So here is my question;
how much do you use for a meal? My limited experience is that I allow one ounce of alcohol for bringing 16 ounces of H2O to a boil (at altitude, a little less than 212). That, for me is a meal, dinner or breakfast; I don't cook at lunch time. So...for a long trip fuel for my alcohol stove and fuel gets as heavy as my canister stove plus fuel. Hmm. Can that be right?
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#123464 - 11/06/09 10:26 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Jim M]
Boomer Offline
member

Registered: 10/21/09
Posts: 98
Loc: Minnesota,USA
it totally depends on the stove though... what do you use?
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#123485 - 11/07/09 04:13 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Boomer]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 235
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I is called Jims super cat stove. It is just a can with holes in it. The fuel heats up and vaporizes in the can and is forced out the holes in the can (so they call it "pressurized"). It is light and simple and it seems to work fine out of the wind.
http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html
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#123509 - 11/08/09 12:26 PM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Jim M]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I budget about 3/4 oz of alchol to bring 2 cups of water to boil with my penny stove. I've used the supercat and liked it but found it used a little more fuel and was a little less wind resistant.

I generally carry 2 ounces of alcohol per trip day to allow for a hot breakfast with coffee and a hot dinner with tea.

If you are talking about maximum weight, a canister stove (my snow peak) becomes lighter for me after about 6 person days doing the above. (if you are talking about average weight over the trip the alcohol stove may remain lighter.. I don't care about that because I usually care about my pack at it's heaviest...)
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#123599 - 11/10/09 11:35 AM Re: 99% Isopropyl [Re: Jim M]
Fishnaked Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/03
Posts: 191
Loc: West
Originally Posted By Pliny
I is called Jims super cat stove. It is just a can with holes in it. The fuel heats up and vaporizes in the can and is forced out the holes in the can (so they call it "pressurized"). It is light and simple and it seems to work fine out of the wind.
http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html


I'm using the same stove (3 oz alum cat food can) with 15 3/16" dia holes in top and 10 bottom. (using Zen template)

Using one ounce of 190 proof grain alcohol, it boils 16 oz in 4.5 to 5 mins. Total burn time is 6.5 mins.

All this was recorded at around 3900'. Performance seemed to drop at 6500' but not sure how much as I didn't have a watch.

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