There's hardware cloth and then there's hardware cloth. Some is welded prior to galvanizing (zinc plating) and does not rely on the zinc to hold it together. The cheap stuff is "welded" together by the zinc coating. If your stove gets hot - alcohol and Esbit both get hot enough - it will burn the zinc - forming fumes of zinc oxide. (And the screen will fall apart.) Yep, this zinc oxide the same stuff that you put on your nose. Unfortunately, the fumes are toxic in the long term. That is, they cause a progressive deterioration of lung tissue. Whether this disease is reversible is an open question as far as I know.
IOW, don't use hardware cloth or any galvanized metal over a fire. You may think you can dodge the fumes until the zinc is all gone, but you are taking a real chance.
A better solution is to use either stainless steel hardware cloth or expanded aluminum gutter screening. They won't kill you slowly and pitifully with oxy tubes up your nose. Alternatively, throw the screen in a hot fire and run away until all the zinc is consumed. If the wire is welded, it will survive. If not, get better wire.
Edited by Spock (01/30/08 10:47 AM)