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#126072 - 12/30/09 04:15 AM Expected performance from popcan stove?
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
I have never known anyone that uses an alcohol stove and I've always used either white gas or a canister style stove. I recently have gotten the bug to drop some weight off the pack and to make some gear myself. I just made a pop can stove, windscreen/pot stand, and a pot cozy. I was curious what kind of performance most people get out of their alcohol setup?

I just very unscientifically tested my stove under these circumstances:

2 cups of water @ 45 degrees

1.3 ounces of Heet fuel

Room temperature of 60-61 degrees

Boil time of a little over 5 mins. after the stove was primed (pot was not placed on the stove until fully primed)

Rolling boil at around 6 mins. at 208 degrees or so in Colorado

Stove was also placed under a breezy partially opened window to let out any fumes and the outside temp was around 10 degrees.

Stove ran for somewhere around 19 mins before it petered out. The last few minutes were a little weak as far as the flame goes and not really useful for cooking. I kind of lost track of time here as I was screwing around with my cookset and new pot cozy that I made. I was also making ramen noodles in the cozy and for some reason they tasted really good, almost as if I was camping and famished.

Most of my backpacking will be at considerable altitude anywhere from 9-14,000 feet and the cooler temps that go along with that altitude. How well do alcohol stoves do as far as boiling water and running in the cold?

As far as cooking goes, generally how many fuel ounces a day do you guys carry at altitude? This would be for two people boiling water for lets say breakfast and dinner and maybe two hot drinks in the day for each guy.

What do you prefer for fuel, Heet or something else?

I was somewhat critical of the whole cozy idea but was astounded at how well and fast my noodles cooked and how well it held the heat. Ingenious idea and kudos to the guy that thought this up.

Your thoughts and advice are appreciated. I plan on building a super cat stove and one of the aluminum beer bottle stoves as I am REALLY enjoying building this stuff.


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#126075 - 12/30/09 08:41 AM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: skippy]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Your experience sounds fairly typical for alcohol stove performance. Where I live, at 3200' altitude, I can get a rolling boil with two cups of 50°F water in still, 70°F air in a bit under five minutes. I get a total burn time of about seven minutes with 0.8 oz. of fuel. High altitude will reduce the performance a bit but usually, the effects of altitude (lower partial pressure of O2) are minor compared with the lower temperatures and wind you tend to get with it.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#126078 - 12/30/09 10:34 AM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: skippy]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
Fun topic.

A little background; My favorite stove is alcohol. I use these two types (1 being the most used):
1. The ‘standard beverage can stove’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverage-can_stove
Mechanic Mike is well known on eBay. His listing describes exactly my results also http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370303475806 They require a pot stand. But that has been nice so I can balance wide pots easily. It lights with one match w/o priming at 0F. That’s a true test of a no-fidget stove! And that’s not prewarming the stove or alcohol in your pocket first! However, prewarming does speed up blossoming (fully jetting). It takes ~20 seconds at 70F to blossom and ~60 seconds at 0F to blossom.
2. The White Box Stove. This holds more alcohol. It takes longer to blossom than above (45 seconds at 70F outside and 90 sec at 0F outside). It’s nice that it doesn’t require the extra piece (the pot stand) but it is trickier to balance a pot.

Now to your comments:
“1.3 ounces of Heet fuel”

I don’t know if you mean fluid ounce or mass ounce. Either way that’s a lot for me. I use around 0.8 mass ounces for 2 cups at 45F. And that’s with a little to spare.

“Rolling boil at around 6 mins. at 208 degrees or so in Colorado”

Yes, that’s typical for my stoves, after blossomed. A Caldera cone may take longer but it uses less fuel.

“Stove ran for somewhere around 19 mins before it petered out.”

Now this makes sense since you started with a lot of Heet.

“last few minutes were a little weak as far as the flame goes and not really useful for cooking.”

Hmm. My stoves go strong right unto the end and then bang (well, maybe more like a shuuuushhh), it’s out. I’m wondering if your fuel reservoir is a little too deep. This presents a problem in warmer weather when you only want to burn 0.3oz of alcy but it could never blossom because the stove is too deep.

“How well do alcohol stoves do as far as boiling water and running in the cold?”

IMHO, excellent. I’ve never had to fidget with these 2 stoves. Other alcy stoves--- I’ve had to fidget/fight with, especially titanium!

“As far as cooking goes, generally how many fuel ounces a day do you guys carry at altitude?”

In ‘mass’ ounces, I carry 0.8oz per 2C H20. So you’ll have to do the math. Fyi, 0.8 mass oz is about 1.0 fluid ounce for Heet.

“What do you prefer for fuel, Heet or something else?”

I like yellow-bottled Heet because it is very predictable no matter where you buy it. Denatured alcohol on the other hand behaves different from brand to brand and sometimes from lot to lot. Sometimes it burns too fast, burns yellow, burns too low so I’ve given up on it. Walmart also makes a very good generic brand of heet. In March, I snag them up on sale for 50¢/bottle (12 fl oz).

I’ve experimented with boil times of Heet and Denatured and they’re within 5 seconds of each other. Denatured claims more BTU but it doesn’t show in alcy stoves.

“I plan on building a super cat stove and one of the aluminum beer bottle stoves…”

Again, be sure to test your stove in the cold (I like 0F) so you won’t be caught off guard in a mountain blizzard.

Good luck with your stoves,
-Barry

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#126089 - 12/30/09 03:12 PM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: BarryP]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
Thanks for the replies and I think my stove might be a little too big after reading your assessments. I made it a little taller than most stoves I was reading about to hold more fuel but this appears to cause it to not perform very well for the last couple of minutes. I plan on building a few different versions and test them all under the same circumstances and see what I like best.

My current stove has 16 holes punched in the top rim and one in the middle (penny stove). I also stuffed it with fiberglass insulation. It has a really nice flame pattern to it except for one larger slightly cockeyed jet hole.

Out of all of these types of stoves what has been your favorite best performing version?

-Skippy

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#126103 - 12/30/09 04:55 PM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: skippy]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I have had about equal performance with the Pepsi Can Stove and the Cat Stove. Since the Cat Stove does not need a pot stand and weighs less to boot, it is my favorite. If you are not familiar with the Cat Stove, check it out here:

http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html

Easy to make and simple to use.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#126104 - 12/30/09 05:18 PM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: Pika]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
Originally Posted By Pika
I have had about equal performance with the Pepsi Can Stove and the Cat Stove. Since the Cat Stove does not need a pot stand and weighs less to boot, it is my favorite. If you are not familiar with the Cat Stove, check it out here:

http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html

Easy to make and simple to use.


What are you using as a windscreen? The windscreen I made is aluminum flashing and also holds my pot.

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#126106 - 12/30/09 05:54 PM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: skippy]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
My windscreen is pretty minimalist. It is about 0.2 oz of doubled aluminum foil. Weighs about the same as the Cat Stove. I should also point out that I only use an alcohol stove for short trips; I use a canister stove for longer trips. After several days, the weight advantage of alcohol gets smaller and, at least for me, the convenience of the canister becomes more important. YMMV.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#126131 - 12/31/09 08:47 AM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: Pika]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
Originally Posted By Pika
My windscreen is pretty minimalist. It is about 0.2 oz of doubled aluminum foil. Weighs about the same as the Cat Stove. I should also point out that I only use an alcohol stove for short trips; I use a canister stove for longer trips. After several days, the weight advantage of alcohol gets smaller and, at least for me, the convenience of the canister becomes more important. YMMV.


How well does your foil windscreen do holding up to the mountain wind and protecting the stove?

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#126144 - 12/31/09 09:39 PM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: BarryP]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 261
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
Yep, I agree. I used 1 ounce of fuel for each meal and that amounted, mostly, of heating about 16 ounce of cold water outdoors on a trip. I foolishly miscalculated the amount of fuel I needed, but before I started cooking on the campfire some of my party took pity on me and heated some water on their stove for me. I find an alcohol stove takes much more patience (ie, time and fussing with fuel) but in the end works, But the fuel is heavy for a long trip because it takes almost twice as much fuel (by wt.) as my canister stove (Primus Micro). And...I don't mind carrying out the canisters because at the end of the week my pack is extremely light anyway.
_________________________
Jim M

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#126191 - 01/02/10 11:29 AM Re: Expected performance from popcan stove? [Re: Jim M]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I've used a commercial stove (Brasslite) and a supercat type of stove, and for Christmas I just got a compact Caldera Cone setup. I've only done one test burn, but it seems to confirm what I read elsewhere --- that it is indeed a more efficient setup. Which in turn should help offset that "not as good on longer trips" factor.

Yes, alcohol is a less efficient fuel, but with a really efficient setup you can still heat water without too much fuel. In my test burn at maybe 40F or upper 30's outside I got 2 cups of water hot, "near boiling" using 15 ml of fuel (about 1/2 a fluid oz) and it took 4 minutes and 45 seconds. The days of me getting razzed by my jetboil-carrying friend are perhaps over --- TBD in actual field conditions. I don't live at a very high elevation, but one great thing about the Caldera Cone setup is the performance in windy conditions (integrated wind screen).
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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