I was looking at stoves, again… Something to do while using one of the ones I’ve already got. One thing led to another, as it tends to do, and I ran into a stove that vaporizes wax and makes a fairly clean flame of it.
While this picture is the most visually pleasing, there are others at the Zen Stove link below showing the stove mode with a pot on top and a very blue flame. Including this one:
It’s an interesting idea. Makes a sort of candle like flame, but with enough added air and vaporization of the wax to be much cleaner than a simple giant candle.
Looks like they just did a price discount to $100. A bit light on power, at 1100 BTU/hr per this page:
Burner weight 2.1oz – 60g
Stand weight 1.7oz – 48g
Cooling Ring 0.3oz – 10g (for hot climate / Removable)
Burner 1.5dia x 2.25h
Stand 2.75dia x 3.25h
Any Pure Paraffin Wax
Burn time full reservoir 30min
Paraffin wax consumption 26g hr / 0.91oz hr /
Energy 1,100 btu/hr
Cold water boil 1 min / oz
That 1 minute to boil one ounce means it’s 8 minutes to boil one cup and 16 minutes to boil one pint. About the same speed as Sterno (or a little bit less).
The major feature they advertize is the non-spill nature of the fuel and that it can go on airplanes. OK. For the cost, I’d likely rather just pick up some Sterno at the other end of the flight. Pretty much every hotel destination in the world has chaffing dishes and the fuel cups for them. Though I suppose if going to “Dead End Nowhere” commercial you could find a place with nothing available. A nice multi-fuel stove that runs on kerosene and / or gasoline is available from many makers for about the same price, so not sure what airplane one might fly in on that would NOT be running on gasoline or kerosene…
Still, it’s a neat idea and would be especially useful in a stowed emergency kit where fuel survival was marginal. At one time I had a ‘perma-kit’ in my car boot / trunk. Many kinds of fuel just don’t survive well, others are a ‘risk’. The high pressure highly volatile fuel cans, like propane and butane, survived in the trunk in Phoenix, but got hotter than I like. I’m pretty sure that in some cases they would overheat and vent. (That is WHY the propane cans have an overpressure valve in them…) I had other fuels just evaporate away (like Coleman fuel in a metal can. OK for months. Over years, a tiny bit past the cap seal adds up.) Wax candles melt and make a mess of anything like cloth or paper near them. Yet, one can store wax easily in a glass jar. Just put the lid on and be done.
There’s a picture of my standard self made emergency candles here:
If the wax melts (WHEN it melts in the trunk in summer in Phoenix ;-) it is contained in the jar and just sets up again on cooling.
So one of these stoves with a jar of wax will be pretty reliable.
So I can see a use for this stove. Just not one that I can justify for me, now.
I came to that site from Zen Stoves. They have a great set of pages about all sorts of stoves:
They make the point that this package is very light. With the low power, it’s not a winter stove, but for a spring hike in a wilderness area at the end of a ‘flight to nowhere’, it solves some logistical issues with very little weight.
Raymond Gatt of Gatt-Gen released his G-Micro PSL (Personal Stove and Light) wax gasifier stove to the public sometime around 2011. It was originally marketed as a survival stove and light which will run off of alcohol and solid wax sticks. It is important to note that Raymond Gatt now markets the G-Micro PSL as a Wax only stove and light and no longer endorses the use of alcohol or other liquid fuels in his stove (more on this later). Even without the ability to use alcohol in the G-Micro PSL, a wax fueled stove makes for a potentially useful cooking system. Solid wax fuel allows you to safely store your stove and fuel in your car, garage, or closet. And since solid candles are allowed by the TSA in the US, the G-Micro and fuel can be packed in checked baggage for air travel or even mailed to your destination. This stove and light system opens up new possibilities for survivalists, disaster preppers and international travelers.
Solid wax also has considerable amount of heat potential per gram. Because of this, many ultralight hikers have experimented with various wax powered stoves in hopes of making an ultralight cook system which would allow for minimal stove and fuel weight. And if the G-Micro PSL published specification are near accurate, it has the potential of being a light weight stove contender for many.
They have a series of pictures of using the stove with a variety of fuels, from alcohols to kerosenes and even gasoline. Some a bit spectacular. In an emergency it would be “worth it” to take the risk, but not in a typical tent…
The two points that were most of interest to me were the very slow time to boil water, and the fact that it’s one of the few stoves that does a decent job of burning wax with anything approaching a clean blue flame. That it also can be fitted with a glass globe to be a lantern is interesting.
This is one of the only stove options available which allows you to check in both the stove and fuel at the airport. This allows you the ability to use your stove immediately after arriving at your destination without needing to go on a hunt for fuel. It also likely doesn’t need to be cleaned prior to checking in at the airport like a pressurized petrol stove would (unless you use a liquid petrol fuel in this stove). This makes it possible for many types of travelers to now travel with a usable stove without the fuss and delay of trying to track down fuel before heading out to their final destination.
Raymond Gatt provided an example of a coffee drinker who travels around and tries out coffee in the fields of Central America. For him, the G-Micro PSL stove can be easily packed and used in the coffee fields or in many of the homes which tend to be well ventilated. There is no need to carry stinky gasoline and a heavy multifuel stove which needs to be odor free before getting it back on a plane. Other fuels (i.e. canister fuel, denatured alcohol) are often difficult to locate and spending valuable time looking for fuel while on holiday is often undesirable.
For its intended use as a wax gasifier, this little stove is impressive compared to the dirty and sometimes dangerous homemade survival wax stoves used by many. There is a lot of fiddle factor with this stove and a learning curve to use. Wax fuel will need to be casted to the proper size or cut up to fit the tiny filler hole on the G-Micro PSL. Economy tealight candles seem to be an ideal fuel as they are easy to pack and can be used without the stove for light, heat and limited cooking. The supplied Wax Stix were the perfect size for use with the G-Micro PSL but burned dirty compared to other wax tested.
While I’d love to have one of these stoves to play with / test, I just can’t justify blowing $100 on “yet another stove”. Between the 1/2 dozen I’ve got, as long as I’m not flying somewhere, I’m pretty well set.
Speaking of those DIY wax stoves. I ran into a page that did a very interesting thing. They came up with a ‘wick design’ that is both more efficient and easy to make, while making less smoke and soot.
Instead of making the entire “Altoids Tin” a wick with coiled up cardboard, they realized that getting enough air to mix with the wax is the big issues. They make an “X” shaped wick.
More pictures in the article, including one where it’s lit and burning.
Boiled 16 ounces in 16 minutes, so about the same speed, but a lot more soot, than the ‘fancy stove’. Nice to know how to make one for “emergency use”.
As mentioned above, in general the stoves made a sooty mess of the pots, and if the soot included some wax condensate it was very hard to clean the pots afterwards. And of course the stuff makes black marks on anything it touches: hands, clothing, gear .
Which makes that costly stove look like a much better deal after all! ;-)
They do caution against using beeswax in bear country due to anecdotal reports of bears smelling residual honey smells in the wax…
Yes, I’m on a “stove kick” right now. In my experience, wax is not the best fuel for a stove. It works well in candles. Ikea sells candles made from stearic acid, that small like Crayola crayons ;-) and ought to be edible in moderation. They also burn rather cleanly. It would be very interesting to test the G-Micro PSL on that fuel.
I’ve also got an alcohol fuel stove that is super light. It works fairly well, and for ‘day hike’ use, I’d take it. Given that, I can’t see myself in need of fuel in “middle of nowhere” any time soon. But who knows, maybe some day I’ll have that “problem” and be able to justify a new stove ;-)
For now, pictures will have to do.