Butterfly 2487 16 wick stove

It arrived last night. I assembled it then, put in some kerosene in the gathering gloom, and after about an hour, did a ‘test lighting’ for about a minute.

This noon, I made lunch on it. Nothing fancy, just ramen (that I rather like) and green tea (thanks to my Carmelia Bush).

I’ll do a full blow by blow down below, but first, just to get it out of the way up front:

Yes, this stove has a couple of “quirks” that some folks will not like. Kerosene, if spilled, does not evaporate well, for example. It is sensitive to wind a bit (over about 5 mph my guess) so best in an enclosed space, yet only approved for use outdoors in the USA. (I have an easy fix for that, IMHO). But the bottom line is that I just really like this stove.

It is about the right power range, with a LOT of heat on high, and goes reasonable slow too. (The only complaint there being that I’m still learning “left is less” and it is hard to know how low it has gone in bright sun.) Don’t know if you can ‘simmer’ on it, but presume so with care in how the knob is turned.

The ‘grill’ that holds up pots has a largish gap in the middle, so small pots will ‘fall in’. I’ve got an easy fix for that too.

It is nearly silent and smokeless. If you don’t want to advertize a ‘patio kitchen’ on ‘spare the air’ days, it’s a winner and that charcoal BBQ is an issue. It is a joy to be around as it is just quietly efficient.

There is very very low odor ( I’m using “odorless mineral spirits” that in the USA are a kind of ultra-clean kerosene, but in the UK is a kind of gasoline / naphtha, so be careful with that term…) I’ll be getting a jug of “California K-1a” soon (that has lower sulphur than the rest of the world…) and well see if it stays that way. The only smell was a tiny bit of kerosene odor when it was turned off and near the end a gust of wind blew out the last bit of flame before all the kerosene was burned from the cooling evaporating wicks. Not enough to be a problem, and unlikely to happen in fully windproof places. It is better behaved in terms of odor than Coleman fuel / gasoline stoves; and even better than some propane stoves I’ve used.

It has a nice large space for setting large pots, so can handle a large pot of beans, stew, or a canner. As of now, all my canning will be done over kerosene on this stove. PG&E, kiss off and die.

Fuel is almost as cheap as gasoline, and on a $/BTU basis even closer, bought at a taxed pump. I don’t know if there is any source for “untaxed offroad” kerosene from a pump around here, but it is likely cheaper in other States. It was untaxed here, but the State, being unable to accept even a tiny bit of “lost” taxes, decided that since some small amount was going into Diesel vehicle tanks (as it winterizes Diesel and lets your car start when -20 F at the Ski Resort…) demanded that the stations put a 1 foot long hose on the pump so it couldn’t reach the car filler. Folks, of course, didn’t like this as it was damn hard to fill even a regular gas can then, but fill they did (then some dumped the can into the car / truck, since they didn’t want to be stuck with jellied Diesel at -20 F in the boonies in the snow…) This caused the State to become even more livid, as there was likely all of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of tax being avoided. Having already caused more than that much cost PER STATION, they then changed the rules some more. Now the pumps all have road tax built into the price too. At any rate, Gasoline here is about $4.20 / gallon last I looked and Kerosene (our “special” K-1a that is desulphured and maybe even hydrogenated for lower smoke) is running $5.75 or so (taxes included. That’s road tax plus 10% sales tax that is also applied to the road tax…) Your Kerosene is likely to be cheaper…

My spreadsheet shows Unleaded ($4.10/gal) at 3.7 ¢ per 1000 BTU while K-1a at $5.75 is 4.5 ¢ / 1000 BTU. “I’m good with that”. It’s a 21% “uplift” for 3 very important features.

1) Avoidance of the “Gasoline du jour” chemical changes they are doing to the stuff. Including 10% to 15% ethanol that is corrosive to metals (as in my Coleman generator) and also reduce the BTU/ gallon from that theoretical gasoline in the spread sheet. I have little confidence that my ’80s era Coleman “Dual Fuel” stove will like 2015 A.D. Gasoline..

2) It is “water white” K-1 so a lot of “mystery chemicals” from gasoline are being avoided.

3) It means I can use Jet-A, JP-8, JP-4, etc. etc. in an emergency. Basically I’m aviation and military compatible now, as the turbine fuel they run is essentially kerosene with some additives. I’d not want the additives for “daily use”, but if it’s a SHTF moment, well, I’ll take hot food and warmth over some hypothetical risk from deicing agents.

and a fourth is that just discovered very acceptable smell (or lack thereof) esthetic.

Kerosene also stores much much longer (especially in an air proof i.e. metal container out of the sun) and can be run in my Diesel car as motor fuel in a real “bug out” emergency. While I’ve run an old air cooled VW on a mix of 50:50 k-1/gasoline; that was in the ’70s when I was doing such experiments in ‘funny fuels’ and modern computerized finicky cars would likely be unhappy with it. It did ‘soot’ a bit and power was a bit off, but it ran “good enough” for emergency use, then. In a pinch, I’d be willing to do a 10% to 20% “additive” level into gasoline in a gas car if the alternative was being stuck somewhere with A Really Bad Thing happening. Just don’t shut it down until you get to where you can fill up with real gas… For a Diesel, it is even better fuel than regular #2 Diesel… (and substantially the same as #1 Diesel, modulo being a bit cleaner).

It is also worth mention that spilled kerosene is not much fire hazard compared to spilled gasoline. I put a lit match in some spill on the bricks and the match went out. That doesn’t happen with gasoline ;-) The only downside to the fuel, really, is that it doesn’t evaporate well. Eventually it does, but slowly. I spilled some on the bricks last night and they are still showing some ‘wetting’ from it (though it has largely soaked in and is slowly evaporating in the sun). Spill some on your hands, you have smelly oily hands until washed in soap and water. OK, so learn not to slop the stuff and keep paper towels nearby (and be ready to ‘wash up’ after handling cans of fuel.)

OK, enough about the reason for the fuel choice, on to the stove.

First Fire & Cooking

The directions that come with the stove are minimal, but sufficient. The “tool” included is basically a re-bent heavy paperclip wire. Just a long hook, really, to pull each wick in turn up its wick tube. Nice to have it, though, as it made things MUCH easier and faster.

I was going to take pictures of the “install the wicks” step, but it started going fast and easy and I was done…

Essentially you get a small ‘mop’ of wicks tied in a bundle. The bundle is untied (snipped the wrapper string). Each wick is separate from the others. They have a small string near the middle intended for pulling the wick up the tube. That would work, I suppose, but the thread is small and likely to cut into fingers and / or snap. It is instead snipped off of the wick, and the supplied metal hook tool put down the tube, hooked to the middle of the wick, and pulled. That’s it. NEXT! ;-)

I “enhanced” the process by aligning the wick ends for an even length of both sides (the strings are not always exactly in the middle…) Some of the wicks were smaller in diameter and one noticeably thicker. The added ‘wick mop’ I bought from St. Paul Mercantile was more consistent in diameter and likely better quality, but the default one worked fine. One of the wicks was a very tight fit, but I got it in. We will see if its too tight to pull up for more when they’ve burned down some… At any rate, it was maybe 5 minutes to put all the wicks in.

I learned a few “tricks”, like pull the ‘loop’ toward the ‘shaft’ of the hook to compress it a bit, THEN slide it down into the hook bit (so some threads don’t try to go outside the hook). Use two hands on the skinny wire for better grip on hard to pull wicks (so the wire doesn’t straighten out where you grip it…) Align both ends for an even wick length. Pull a bit extra through at first so getting the “hook” out is easy, then grab from the bottom and slowly pull the loop back. (By very careful pulling, I was able to make all the loops the same height and AT the trim lines, so didn’t bother trimming them. I suspect that the ’rounded top’ means a bit less power that will increase with the first trimming to a ‘flat top’, but it’s working fine as is.)

At any rate, the “put the wicks in” was far easier and faster than I expected at first glance.

This wick holder is then just set / gently pushed into a largish ‘hole’ in the top of the kerosene pan. Just a friction fit that works better than expected. As the kerosene just sets in this shallow black pan, and the top friction fits into it, tipping the stove will spill kerosene out of the pan, even if slowly. The stove expects to not be moved much. (Though by careful lifting from the top red part, letting it ‘pivot’ about a lift point on each side, I was able to “keep gravity pointing down” and move it without spilling.

There is a black “burner ring” with perforated metal air blending /heating screens in it that then sits on top of the wick assembly. Yes, it just sits there. You take it off to light the stove. It has a spiral metal wire handle on it.

The only other part of ‘assembly’ is putting the fuel gauge into the tank. It has two little nubs that fit into two ‘dents’ in the ring of the tank then you turn it to have the nubs keep it in place. It doesn’t “lock” so much as just has ‘keeper nubs’. Also the fuel cap goes on with a similar twist, but has a gasket in it. The fuel gauge does not have any “orient this way” directions. I just put it in and turned to where I liked it. That was wrong. It is a metal dangly lever with a small bit of cork on the end. Elegant in a way, being so simple. Yet it is impeded by some internal parts in some orientations. I didn’t now that, and kept adding fuel, 10 ounces at a time, until it was clearly over filled (as some kerosene started leaking out the black pan / white wick holder join point…) THEN I discovered that turning the ‘gauge’ to where it faced the ‘rim’ tangentially and NOT toward me “over there”, showed a full, not an empty, tank… OK, lesson learned.

UPDATE: 2nd Lesson Learned –

The proper orientation of the gauge looks to be “facing the direction the red knob shaft points”. After some use, I’ve found that the “local tangent” tends to indicate full, even when not full. I’ll be adding some more detail on this, and a picture or two, in the next few days. After about 2 hours of burn time (so about 1/4 empty) the gauge is showing ‘part way to empty’, but still shows Full when turned toward the local tangent line. The most accurate reading looks to be “facing forward” where forward is the place with the red knob. FWIW, the gauge seems to be more a “tank nearing full stop pouring now” rather than a “you are nearing the end, add fuel or run dry”. It is nearing an “Empty” reading with at least 1/2 a tank left. Inspection of the “dangly bits” in “Empty mode” compared to the depth of the tank looks to confirm this. It makes sense. You want to know when you are about to overflow to stop pouring. After that, with 8 hours of cook time, “how long to empty” isn’t very important.

Here’s a picture (dark, fuzzy, I couldn’t see the LCD in the direct sunlight.. maybe someday I’ll make a better one..) of the final orientation of things:

Butterfly 16 Wick Stove controls

Butterfly 16 Wick Stove controls

The filler cap is on the right. The red knob moves the wicks up and down ( Left is less… Right is roaring…). On the left is the fuel gauge. Note that the F/E “line” needs to be more or less aligned with the direction the red knob shaft points, the “Front” of the stove, NOT normal to your point of view… That “black ring” below the wick holder is the fuel pan. Any kerosene higher than that point will run out. The stove comes with a nice little funnel that’s way too shallow, IMHO. I used a much longer necked and larger funnel sold for adding ATF to cars. ( I use it for filling most of my stoves). The included funnel will work from a quart bottle, I suppose.

That big black round thing is the burner / air heater ring. It is just setting on top of the wick holder (though snugly, especially after a heat / cool cycle). It can be lifted up and removed. That is done to light the wicks. I’m still getting good at lighting. I’ve got a butane BBQ lighter, and recommend that, or long fireplace matches. A very thin one could be used to just reach town from above into the black burner ring and light from above. The one I have worked, but is too tight a fit on one side. We’re talking less than 1 mm clearance on the ‘fits’ side… So I found that lifting the black ring to light works best. WHEN you go to put it on / take it off, you will discover that the 4 sides of the stove are different. It only goes in / out through the two (front and back) with a wide gap.

At first I lit all the wicks, then put the burner ring on. That worked very well, but with a bit of smoke. I later tried just lighting a couple to see if the fire would spread to the other wicks. It does, but not as well or as fast as I’d like. Still working out the optimal lighting technique. It looks like “light a couple on all four sides but don’t worry if you miss a couple”. Either that, or get a long skinny BBQ butane lighter and do it from above.

Then the ring goes on and starts to heat up. After a very short time, the flame is getting fed very hot air from the perforated metal rings, and goes very blue. So much so, in fact, that in full sun I could not see it. Yes, just like an alcohol flame. I was surprised. Stuck my hand over the burner to see if it was out, and found out “right quick” it was working just fine, thank you very much. (Fast reflexes are a feature ;-) Now, in the sun, I look for ‘heat waves’ in the shadow area of the stove…

Butterfly Stove with small pot

Butterfly Stove with small pot

Here is a ‘quartering view’ of the stove with a very small 1 pint pot on it. Note the use of a Lodge cast iron trivet as a burner grill. It worked well, if a bit slower due to not a lot of holes in it. I’ll likely get a more ‘open’ small round grill to use for very small pots, but this is fine anyway. The power the stove puts out made it ‘plenty fast’ even with a very dense ‘grill’ on it. Here you can also see how the side supports are wider than the front / back.

As I was cooking in my usual “house sends breezes here” place, we had about 5 to 10 mph breezes. The stove is a bit sensitive to wind, so I added my usual “brick wind screen” from the “Pile Of Bricks” stove on the upwind side. That pretty much fixed it. At the 10 mph or so end, some gusts still caused a minor ‘puffing’, but not a big deal, just a tiny bit of yellowing of the flame. Turning the wicks down just a touch ended that, too.

I didn’t time the boil of this pint, but it was ‘near’ that of the Coleman, a bit slower (due to the trivet and wind) but close. It is faster than on alcohol (that also has wind issues, but worse). Even without changing the trivet for a more open grill, this is a fine solution for small pots. As I’d just finished cooking some ramen noodles, and this stove was already hot and running, it was better to do this than to fire up a smaller stove and take another heat up / preheat fuel wasting step.

Here is a picture of the ramen cooking in a larger pot. Hard to see, but even with the lid off in the wind, this is at a full boil. I had just turned the heat down as it was in danger of boiling over, then grabbed the camera. You can see a more full wind screen deployment of the P.O.B. with one removed to adjust the wicks down.

Butterfly 16 Wick Stove cooking noodles

Butterfly 16 Wick Stove cooking noodles

With the simple addition of a few dollars of bricks, this makes a very pretty and very effective installation, IMHO. It was working fine in breezes / gusts that were nearing the ‘annoying’ level. Much beyond this I’d be wanting to get out of the wind too. (I’d add a full surround instead of a 1/2 surround and narrow the gaps between bricks, if the wind were a bit higher).

In a place where the wind is mitigated, instead of focused by the house into a funnel, even that issue would likely go away. (My eventual design has a ‘stove table’ against a brick wall under the patio awning and out of the ‘wind funnel’, for cooking in windy times. For now, I’m calling it a “testing rig feature” when the wind blows ;-)

In Conclusion

This is a very well made, yet very affordable stove. It cost me $50 + shipping from St. Paul Mercantile.


Presently $12 shipping in the USA, so $62 all told. As a single burner Coleman 533 “Dual Fuel” runs out at near $60 bucks from Amazon, and I like this stove better, I’m a happy camper.

“Feeling the heat” over the stove, it is a very even heat distribution. I expect that the Butterfly oven will work very well on this stove (as they are designed for each other).

The fuel is very available, and more reliably constant than gasoline. For a “Preparedness Stove”, this one is far better than a gasoline stove, IMHO. Among other things, you can make ‘expedient wicks’ from a cotton mop or rope. Try making an “expedient gas generator” for your Coleman after 6 months on ‘mystery gas unleaded’…

The esthetics, being quiet and essentially smell free, are very nice.

At the end of the day, the only real negative I’ve run into so far is that being a bit wind sensitive, you need a wind free place for it, or a wind screen. Moving it is hard (you need to hold it level and NOT move fast to avoid slopping the fuel) but possible. So in general it wants an out of the wind quasi permanent place to be. Not a “bug out stove”. OK, I can live with that. It is a very good base camp stove, or patio kitchen stove. I’ll use the Trangia or Coleman 533 for the day packing or “bug out bag”. Not a problem. Given that the wick holder sits inside the fuel pan, I’d not leave it out in the rain. The wicks would also get soaked as rain drops landed on them. So you will end up moving this stove if it is set up ‘out in the open’ and rain threatens. Lucky for me, we go 1/2 year at a time without rain. (Though we get more in 2 days… so I have a load of kerosene to use in the next day or two ;-)

Maybe I’ll just make a stove cover for it ;-)

The “clean up to pack up” is complicated, involving messy fuel draining and “wringing out the wicks”. Expect that this stove is to be set up and USED, not ‘tested and packed’. For a prep kit, I’d skip my usual ‘test it first before packing’ and just do an ‘all parts present’ check and then pack it clean and dry. But realistically, I think it would be better to just set up the “Patio Kitchen” with it and use it. Why leave it in the box at all? Have some other stove as the “bug out mobile stove”. Happy with your AEK and just want a backup for That Day? Then buy one and stick the box in the prep kit area. As it has no rubber goods, it’s not going to decay if kept dry and boxed. Frankly, thinking back on all the years of “test the Coleman to make sure the pump seals and check valve still work”, I’d rather have had this in a box on the shelf. The Coleman is better for mobile use and cooking in the open in the boonies with who knows what wind and weather. This one is better for a Patio Kitchen and stationary production area / base camp use.

It is likely that this will become the “daily driver” in my patio kitchen. It has far less “fuss with factor” than the Coleman stoves (or any pressure stove, really, having no pump nor generator), makes more than enough heat, in a very even way, and has pleasant esthetics. For that, I’ll learn to light it more effectively and deal with figuring out how to see blue ‘simmer’ in strong sun.

It is likely a bit complicated for a “just want to turn the knob” technophobe who doesn’t like fire. (i.e. my spouse who barely tolerates a piezo spark lit propane stove). But I have hope. Lighting the wicks is a bit like lighting birthday cake candles, and then its just set the black thing on it. We’ll see…

I’ll likely continue to use the Trangia for indoor coffee making, and the Coleman for outdoor-in-the-wind (as pressure stoves with enclosed burner heads do best in wind); but unless something pushes me into one of them, this stove is “easy enough to use” and with pleasant behaviours and low costs of fuel. It’s relatively well made too. (Though frankly, at $50, if it rusts out after a year or two outside, I’ll just buy another one…)

So “color me happy” ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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29 Responses to Butterfly 2487 16 wick stove

  1. stpaulmerc says:

    Nice writeup on the Butterfly #2487 Kerosene Cook Stove. Off-road diesel is sold where I live (western maryland) for about $3.99/gallon. Kerosene from a pump is about the same price. I use off-road diesel in my stove because I have a 500 gallon tank that I use for my tractors. Diesel has a tiny bit more smoke to it than kerosene, but is readily available everywhere and is far cheaper than buying kerosene in small jugs.

  2. Jerry says:

    Glad to see that you got to do a first burn with your stove. I used a long funnel for the initial fill (burner off for a straight shot into the tank) but for subsequent refills will use what I use with lamps and lanterns – a turkey baster from the dollar store. I have several clear glass oil lamps that I fill with dyed oil just for decoration. Red/Green for Christmas etc… and the baster works great for that. For small lamps I use a small, cheap injector -Academy has one for a dollar that holds a couple of ounces. Green oil floating over red (food coloring) water looks cool. I found that the wicks will light from their neighbor but the stove needs to have run for awhile and have things nice and hot for this to work – best when you got blue flame everywhere. I would like to see a way to raise the burner a bit, light the wicks, and lower the burner. Though putting it back onto the burning wicks by hand does tend to get rid of that unsightly hair on the back of you knuckles.:) If you look along the shaft of the wick control knob you can see the teeth of the mechanism. I think that over time with observation it will be possible to associate the position of the teeth with the height of the flame. Then a blob or three of fingernail polish and you got a scale. Much more fun than propane.:)

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, got dinner served and et… ;-)

    Roast chicken in my favorite enamel pot and baked potato. It’s the blue round enamel pot near the bottom of this posting:

    First off: It worked very well. That I could fit that pot in the oven at all surprised me. It just barely fits, but fit it does!

    The chicken came out very tender and ‘fall off the bone’ soft. The tight fit of the pan in the oven didn’t leave a lot of room around the pot, and I think that impeded air flow to the top somewhat. The top of the chicken didn’t brown as much as in the Dutch Oven nor even as much as in the AEK oven. I’d managed to fit a rather large potato (2 person sized) on top of the pot lid, barely. It did not cook as fast as I expected. (So I gave it a bit of ‘finishing zap’ in the microwave to make it a bit more fluffy, as it was cooked, but not yet fluffy soft.)

    IMHO, that was all an artifact to two things:

    1) The very small space for air flow around a large pot in a small oven.
    2) The fact that I took a shower in the middle and when I came back the temp was down to 275 F.

    Which brings up the other point:

    The oven likes to run a bit hot on this stove, or a bit cold. It was easy to get 400 F to 450 F (just crank it open). It was easy to get “300 F and falling” by closing it too much. I had 375 F stable at one point, then fooled with it trying to get my usual 335 F to 350 F and ended up in the “300 and falling” space.

    Partly that is “all my fault”. I’m still learning this oven and with a large pot and a lack of experience and constantly wanting to do “lefty loosey” when this is “lefty lessy”… well, lets just say that a couple of times when I wanted “25 F warmer” I got “50 F colder”. There is a bit of non linearity at the low end of power. There are also some significant time lags. Turn down the power, it takes a while for the oven to cool any and longer than that for the thermometer to start cooling. It’s an efficient oven. Also, the kerosene evaporation rate from the wicks is proportional to temperature, so as it cools, it cools more, that makes it cool more… (and as you turn the wick up, it heats more, that makes more evaporation of kerosene, that makes it heat more…)

    So I resorted to turning the knob “one lobe” and waiting. Which means that some of the too low too long temperatures were all my fault from fooling around with it while cooking. And loading the poor thing to the stuffed full level.

    Still, at the end of the day, we had delicious roast chicken (sort of semi-stewed as I like to leave the lid on and collect the juices rather than leave it off for lots of browning), and a baked potato (that needed only a touch more to finish) with a side of green beans.

    As soon as I learn “what knob lobe means what”, I’ll be able to do this with less fiddling.

    Overall, the stove and oven did just fine. At full power there is an odd thing. The main burner is running blue, but a bit rich, so some unoxidzed partial combustion product gasses float in a layer above the burner and just under the ‘spreader’ on the bottom oven shelf, burning in a feint gauzy layer. Rather fascinating to watch, even if you do have to look up from below and the oven is headed toward 400 F+ and rising ;-)

    Oh, and I need to update the posting, but playing with the fuel gauge, it looks like it tends to force a ‘full’ indication if turned to the tangent line, while the ‘real’ indication may be when the E/F line is normal to the view along the red knob shaft. That is, it may be that they expect you to be looking straight in along the knob and that is the “right” orientation. After I’ve used a bit more fuel, I’ll lift the wick holder and try to figure it out more clearly. As it is, I suspect some interference from a mass of floating wicks on top of a too full fuel pan may be causing some oddities too. We’ll see as the fuel level drops (though it hasn’t much yet… about 7 more hours of burn time to go, I think…)

    So “Still a happy camper”.

    The stove does “wobble” just a little with the oven and a large pan on top (and the pan being shoved in). Don’t think it matters, and some of it is from the brick base not being perfectly flat.


    Glad you liked it. Nice to know that Diesel will work. Here in California we have “special” ultra low sulphur Diesel too. Currently running about $4.40 / gallon. Doubt it will smell or smoke much as they take out all the sulphur and do other things to it. I may try it “someday”, but for now, just knowing it works in an emergency is enough.


    I didn’t have a knuckle problem ;-)

    I did turn the stove from what is in the picture so that the ‘knob’ is now on the right and the “burner ring” wire handle is out the left side. I’ve managed to “snuff” a couple of wicks when shoving it back on, so some technique required. The stove didn’t seem to mind, though.

    It does look like there is a ‘quorum’ effect of about 50% of the wicks. Below that it doesn’t heat fast enough to ‘catch’ quickly and the inflow air blows toward the few lit and away from the many not lit. Lighting in 3 or 4 groups around the rim and putting the burn ring on worked OK.

    As the stove holds 1.6 L of oil, I’d rather not use a turkey baster… I use a 24 oz or 10 oz jar that I then pour into the funnel. The funnel works fine ( the long necked one I’ve got) and is just the right diameter of spout to sit in the filler and hold itself up. Very easy to fill. I’ll likely dedicate a 1 L or 1 Qt jar to filling this stove, as I can’t see needing more than 1 qt in it at a time, nor wanting to fill it more often than 1 qt worth. We’ll see. It may be that the 24 oz is fine. (It’s just an empty washed glass pasta sauce jar, so not an expense item…)

    I like the idea with the bicolor lamps. Wonder if you could use kerosene and isopropanol… it burns rather like a light oil (a bit smokey if not on a wick, yellowish on a wick). Hmmm…. I’ve got a lamp and some isopropanol right next to me… Hmmm…

    I was thinking of dots of nail polish on the red knob, since it’s 1:1 with the teeth. Once it’s at about 350 F, put a blob on whatever is pointing “up”. (It will wander a bit as wicks are trimmed, or not, so likely a ‘scale’ of dots each side of ‘middling’…)

    Um, I think I need to make another cup of tea and look at my lamp…

  4. Gail Combs says:

    I am assuming ChiefIO that you have already looked at the Wok (with cooking ring) as it is such an obvious match for the type of cooking you are doing. When I was single and had a gas stove, a cast iron frying pan (bacon and eggs) and a wok were my standard cooking equipment. Dice up a bunch of veggies and some meat, store in separate containers in the frig and you have a quickie meal ready in minutes when you come home after work. It is faster than ordering in pizza. It is also a lot easier to do the dicing all at once and have stuff ready for the next three days. vary the spices and it tastes different each day.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gail Combs:

    I have a wok, but an electric one. I’ve used it a few times, but I just don’t do that much stir fry. I like stir fry, but somehow I just don’t “go there” that often.

    I might get one for the Butterfly stove. The little “legs” that poke up from the pot stand are clearly there to fit a wok. (i.e. I likely would not need a ring). But for now, I’ve not got the space in the cupboards for another large pot, and the Patio has no closing storage (yet…)

    So yes, I’ve thought about it. But I end up just grabbing the saute pan instead…

    I make a “vegetable & stuff” saute that is some semi random mix of what is coming from the garden, with Chinese 5 spice, some left over rice, and soy sauce. Add an egg and scramble / mix. I make an Italian variation that’s usually some mix of squash, tomatoes, onions, carrots (taken off in thin slabs with a peeler so they cook fast), cellery and Olive Oil / Italian seasoning mix. You know, now that I think about it, I do have some “wok style” dishes I make… just in a large flat saute pan…

    Maybe I need to make that patio cabinet a priority ;-)


    I added some isopropanol 91% to a small kerosene lamp with a bit of blue oil in it. Turns out it’s miscible. (Though it left a few lenses of something white on the top layer, far less than either starting material, so who knows what it is) I got pale blue monolayer… No joy. Worse, it looks like a wick soaked in kerosene doesn’t like the binary liquid. Once the kerosene burned out of the wick, it slowed to a smoulder. I’d have expected that the isopropanol would have worked OK in it. Oh Well. I have spare wicks, so might try a wick swap later (while this one dries out…)


    Did a test of pure isopropanol 91% (oxymoron? Well…) in the lamp with a new wick. It, too, burns then fades then smoulders. It burns nicely in a puddle or on a paper towel. Wonder what gives… Maybe it just doesn’t like climbing wicks very far. Oh Well… Now I have a couple of jars of “odd fuels” use somewhere. One slightly “dirty” isopropanol (as it has now cleaned the lamp font…) and the other a bastard mix of isopropanol / lamp oil. I suppose I can use as “starter” for some fire somewhere…

    I guess some experiments teach you what doesn’t work ;-) I’d hoped that lamp oil was “oily” enough to not be miscible with isopropanol (that does mix into gasoline), but no, too similar. Though some minor phase does separate out. Perhaps that 9% “other” that could be water? But why float on top? Hmmmm…. I think I need to let this one go for a while… Along with wondering why it doesn’t like a wick. Methanol likes a wick… I’ve got some Methanol…

  6. Jerry says:

    The two liquids must be immiscible. Kerosene and water of course are but I don’t know about kerosene and isopropanol. I usually put a clear glass marble in my small lamps to keep the wick out of the water. Oil based dye in the kerosene and food coloring in the water. I don’t know how to add a photo to a comment.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    I think a photo must be uploaded somewhere else (like photobucket) and a link done.

    I’ve added an update to my prior comment. I’d hoped lamp oil was far enough from gasoline that isopropanol would not mix, but it does. (And mixes well with gasoline). Why it won’t burn on a wick is still unknown.

    Alcohol is the closest thing I can think of to a commonly available polar solvent that burns. (Kerosene being non-polar), so if it doesn’t work, I think that a non-burnable layer is likely the only other choice. i.e. water. I was hoping to have two flammable phases, but got carried away with the enthusiasm and didn’t bother to think about isopropanol line dryer for gasoline being miscible. (As is methanol – so even going more polar is unlikely to work).

    Well, back to cooking for me ;-)

    (I’d bought a jug of 91% isopropanol to test in the Trangia stove and now that I found out “it works, but sooty and not well”, have a jug of it to use… for something… so the quest continues… ;-) I suppose I can always light charcoal with it ;-)

  8. Gail Combs says:

    ChiefIO I mentioned the wok because it evolved as a method of cooking using the minimum of fuel. As far as ‘recipes’ go I usually wing it although I have several books on Chinese cooking. If you take it from the idea of cooking chopped bite size veggies plus meat there is a large number of combinations possible. Heck you can even do a ‘stew’ type dish. There is the added advantage that veggies are better for you if not over cooked.

  9. Gail Combs says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    3 April 2013 at 2:58 am

    Did a test of pure isopropanol 91% (oxymoron? Well…) in the lamp with a new wick. It, too, burns then fades then smoulders. It burns nicely in a puddle or on a paper towel. Wonder what gives… Maybe it just doesn’t like climbing wicks very far….
    The 91% is 9% H2O. I think what you are seeing is liquid chromatography in action with your wick. A wick of a different material might keep the separation leaving the H2O at the bottom.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting idea… that water might be more prone to absorption into the wick, especially if a nonpolar solvent were around “encouraging” it to leave…

    Per a wok: Maybe in a few months…. I’ve got to get rid of some other junk and make room first ;-)

    I do like Chinese, just been too lazy to take on Yet More Projects.. I’ve had my electric wok for about 20 years and I’ve used it maybe 3 times? (the latest just about 3 months ago as a deep fat frier. It works really well for french fries ;-)

    I just find that I look in the fridge, see something good I can make, and do it. “Woking” requires planning in advance and buying the stuff … Or maybe just not seeing chicken and thinking “I’ll put it in a pot and roast it” ;-0

  11. P.G.Sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; Woking your food is kind of cool, BUT, Requires 3 hours of preparation for 30 minuets of eating. I’m just too lazy for such effort. ;-) An old steel Wok would work well on your brick “jet” stove. pg

  12. Ralph B says:

    May I beg a picture looking down at the wicks? I am trying to understand how they are collectively raised/lowered. Also wondering of the wick channels could be plugged during storage such that no diesel smell would come out if stored for extended periods indoors.

    Thanks again for another excellent review.

  13. Gareth says:

    Don’t know if you’ve come across the Optimus 8R Stove? It’s a small, single burner, petrol (gasoline) stove about 6 in square by 3 in deep (ca. 150x150x75mm). Unlike a Coleman, it doesn’t have a “gas generator” – it just gets roaring hot to vaporize the fuel, bootstrapping itself up from a little pool of liquid fuel. The on/off tap also works a built in pricker/jet cleaner.
    It’s ideal for biking or flying camping trips as it will run from unleaded, leaded, Avgas, 2 stroke – whatever your plane or bike runs off, so you don’t have to carry spare fuel. One fill is generally enough for an overnight trip anyway.
    It looks like Optimus doesn’t make them any more but there are various copies available on ebay, etc. You definitely wouldn’t want to run one indoors though – a bit too fierce ;-)

  14. adolfogiurfa says:

    Kerosene….a stuff forbidden for sale here in Peru, S:A., because it is used for the maceration of coca leaves, during the production of cocaine…

  15. Jerry says:

    This a link to photobucket – I think? :) These are very small lamps, 5 inches base to top of burner, though they are functional I use them more for decoration and as a novelty. Two tone is kerosene over water with a marble at the narrow point so the wick does not get into the water in the base.

    One on the left is glass beads in clear oil. – don’t use any kind of acrylic in the oil – not a good mix.

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    Nice pictures! I have a couple of “micro sized” kerosene lamps that I really like. 1/8 inch round wick. Make a “large candle” sized flame. Just right for “night lights” in places like the bathroom during a power outage.

    I’d put one in the kitchen and one in the bath during the rolling blackout years of Dem Governor Grey “out” Davis. That way you COULD ‘go there’ without a light, but were not wasting a lot of fuel / batteries, but also could take the Maglight with you (or other larger lamp) for added light (like cooking dinner instead of just grabbing a beer from the fridge).

    One of them now has the little toothed wick raising gear loose from the shaft, so is “parts” for the other one until I decide to fix it. I’ve not seen a source for the little guys in a while. Then again, I’ve not looked much either. The LED bulbs in the Maglights make heat driving lighting less important (to the point of near zero importance.) A couple of days on a set of batteries? So why do I need to “conserve batteries” in a 4 hour power outage?…

    But I do so still like the little guys… Just so darned cute…

    Mine have a single bowl font. Yours like like a double with waist. Do you get them at a store, or order them somewhere?


    That’s just so stupid. If it is used as a non-polar solvent, most any non-polar solvent would do.

    Once Upon A Time, I invented the “Acetone THC Extraction”. Just soak MJ leaves and stems in acetone, pour it off into a shallow dish, and evaporate well away from any ignition source. You now have a very green color “hash oil” residue. If you evaporate on another substrate, like, oh, tobacco or oregano, you make them “magic” too…

    So ought the world ban nail polish remover and acetone paint stripper?

    (I’d bet acetone would do a great job of cocaine extraction… )

    Oh Well. Nothing is quite as stupid as folks who want to ban the laws of chemistry…


    I’ve seen them, and always wanted one, and could not justify spending the money…

    Cute little suckers… Were I designing a stove, I’d use it as part of my “muse” starting point.

    http://optimusstove.org/optimus-8r-stove/ has a picture.

    @Ralph B:

    Later this afternoon. Right now it’s “errands time”… Also the sun will be more ‘sideways’ so I can get better light on it. FWIW, I think just taking the “black burner rings” off and setting a small pot on top of the wick assembly would effectively seal it. What you see is the “outer tubes”. Inside them are “inside tubes” with the wicks. The Knob via a gear / notched shaft; raises and lowers the “inside tubes” from down inside the tanks. So in “down” position, the inside ring/tubes/wick assembly is just lowered out of the wick tube ring you see. Set a plate on top of that, it’s covered.


    I think you nailed…

    Hungry. Walk to fridge. (Cooling toes ;-)… 3 hours of chop and prep and finding the Chinese 5 spice and making rice… or … Battered and fried fish in 10 minutes… decisions decisions…
    I’ll take fried fish for “10 minutes and done”!

    Now IF I’d just think ahead and pre-chop some “stuff”, that wok would be damn fast, as in the Chinese restaurant where you order and it’s cooked in 5 minutes… But that would require thinking before being hungry ;-)

  17. Jerry says:

    Mine uses the 1/8 ” round wick and do put out enough light so that a room is no longer ‘Dark’. I have a bunch of them that I ordered from Lehmans.com a few years ago. Unfortunately they no longer carry the little fellows and I do not have another source. I have kept my eyes open but have not seen any though if I do locate any I will let you know – please do the same as I would like to at least have a source.

  18. Pingback: Ends, Odds, Butterfly Woking | Musings from the Chiefio

  19. Tim Clark says:

    What? 3 hours? How many kids do you have?
    I don’t get home from work until about 6pm,(1 hr drive one-way) but can make chinese from scratch by 7pm. Includes, but not limited to, as many of the following I have on hand or need for volume: brussel sprouts, green onions, mushrooms, bok choy or cabbage, kale, spinach, edible pea pods, peppers, parsley, celery, broccoli, turnips, beans of any type, carrots (washed but unpeeled-the good stuff is in the peel according to spousal requirement), and I love bean sprouts from a can. That time is a requirement as my wife read somewhere that it’s better to eat by 7pm; and we’re supposed to eat 28 different vegetables or fruits a week.
    I bet deboning the chicken probably adds some time. I usually use a piece or two of Tyson breast and rib meat defrosted in fridge over the day, but sometimes a “reduced for quick sale” cheap cut of beef or pork. Spousal demand-never the same meat two nights in a row, beef or pork no more than once/week. I cut up the next item while the “tougher” stuff is cooking. —gotta be fast—
    Additional grated fresh ginger and five spice or other favorites when all is mixed in the wok (electric-oh well). I don’t like the taste of olive oil in the wok (another wifely health requirement), but discovered a TBSP or so of sesame oil gives an awesome flavor. We eat this twice a week, another spousal requirement.
    Usually w/o rice as carbs is a no-no (yeah-one more *#$&@ wifely demand), but if so wild rice from the health food market. I put that on the stove first of course.

    Got any recipes that hides the taste 100% for wok fish ? I hate fish, but the wife- you guessed it -requires it twice a week.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tim Clark:

    Well, I made dinner last night and it didn’t take 3 hours to do the chopping… More like 1 hour of prep (and would have been less but that I needed to clear some things from the prep area and clean and prep the wok for first use and was generally slow on my first time out with the whole process.

    BTW, I always peel the carrots. Bunny requires it ;-) as any trimming go to the bunny…

    Don’t know how to hide the taste of fish, since I like it… but I’ve had some bland white fish that was pretty tasteless. Pollack maybe? Try different fish. Some just don’t taste like much…

    (Oily fish have more flavor, like salmon and mackerel, while white low oil fish have less, like cod, halibut, and pollack.)

  21. Gail Combs says:

    EM, We bought ~ 20 years ago at the state fair a German made Borner V-Slicer I use it to make the egg plant slices and diced onions for TURKISH MOUSSAKA to shred eggplant, summer squash, zucchinni, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, cheese, radishes and a bit of onion or chives or leeks and carrots for my raw veggie salads (veggies vary but that is the basics) add cider vinegar, olive oil and whatever spices are good for you. You can also add left over cooked meat, hard boiled eggs, baby spinach, sour cream…. The vinegar helps ‘keep’ the veggies fresh and a big bowl lasts ~ three to four days at our place.

    The moussaka BTW is great hot or cold and makes a nice lunch as does variations on the salad. You can make just a basic salad and vary it through time by adding different cheeses meats and spices.

    I do not think I could go back to not having that amazing device in the kitchen. Twenty years of use and it is still sharp and easy to clean ” Just swish in swamp water” was the sales pitch.

  22. Gail Combs says:

    Got any recipes that hides the taste 100% for wok fish ? I hate fish, but the wife- you guessed it -requires it twice a week.
    I had a good recipe for Blue fish (I hate white fish) …

    Amazing I did write it down and stuffed in a cook book. (This recipe made the rounds at work and came back to me unchanged – amazing)
    1/3 Peanut or olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter for pan (you can add sesame oil)
    1/3 cup lemon juice
    1/3 cup white wine
    1/4 tsp thyme
    1/8 tsp black pepper
    1/2 tsp Celery seed
    1/2 tsp garlic
    1/4 tsp parsley
    1/8 tsp marjoram
    dash allspice

    Preheat oven to 375F
    Grease shallow baking pan with butter
    place fish in pan and coat with some of the sauce
    Cover fish with chopped onoins and mushrooms (half & half)
    baste fish frequently with the rest of sauce
    Fish is done when it flakes easily with fork

    Best with blue fish but works well with any oily fish, it completely kills the taste of white fish. I now use leeks in my cooking instead of onions because of ‘carbs’

  23. Tim Clark says:

    People actually eat mackerel? I thought it was just bait for tuna. ;<)

    The wife eats salmon BECAUSE of the oil. Omega 3's and all that. I can eat fresh trout and crappie cooked in butter and lemon juice sprinkled heavily with Tony Chachere's cajun spice without gagging. BTW, I eat the salmon, but with an inch thick slather of tartar sauce, the oils kind of negate each other. Both my parents worked long hours, and us kids took turns cooking. We were raised where there were no fish……….

    @ Gail- I put a tsp of cider and 1 of fresh lemon juice in all my "salads" for preservation.

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tim Clark:

    Well, you already have the answer, then! “Cajun” anything, made properly, is indistinguishable from sucking on a road flare (lit, of course).

    Once stopped at a roadside restaurant about 20 miles over the border into Louisiana and and ordered “Cajun Crawfish Boil”. Reminded me a great deal a Jalapeno Sandwich… Or a habanero smoothy…

    Just ladle on a few ounces of Old Fire Storm Sauce and you’ll not be tasting fish for a week, (Or much else either…)

    ;-) of course…


    Looks like a nice recipe…

    I’ve got a mandolin thing that I likely ought to use more… Now that I have a reason to, maybe I’ll take it out of the box.

  25. Gail Combs says:

    Tim Clark says: @ 5 April 2013 at 12:29 pm

    …@ Gail- I put a tsp of cider and 1 of fresh lemon juice in all my “salads” for preservation….
    Lemon juice/vinegar is what I add when I cook up soup bones. Dissolves all that nice calcium/magnesium us females need.

    Since cider vinegar is supposed to have Magic properties I figure the salads are the best place to insert it without gagging. ( High blood pressure, pre-type II diabetes, <a href="http://www.fascinatingexperiments.com/health-2/stomach-ulcers-gastrities-natural-remedies-work/"Helicobacter pylori and obesity are the reasons.) Lemon juice goes into homemade lemon water for a refreshing drink.

    Oh, and Bok Choy gets dumped into the soups at the last minute for a dose of cabbage. I do not use carrots/potatoes/rice any more (carbs) so I replaced them with Bok Choy and spinach added at the last minute.

    In the Moussaka I have used venison, lamb, goat and hamburger. It would probably work with ground turkey or chicken. I keep the tomato and chick pea to a minimum to reduce the carbs.

    I am a lazy cook and prefer one pot meals that keep well over time or to prepare stuff I can freeze.

    Fried eggplant for the Moussaka and a concentrated ‘meat mix’ get popped into the freezer. A (large) shaker of combined cumin, cinnamon, and allspice goes in the spice cabinet. This means when I feel like eatting Moussaka I thaw out the eggplant and meat-mix, brown a couple more pounds of meat add a can of chickpeas and the meat-mix to the pot. Then assemble the dish, sprinkle with the spices and pop in the oven. (I freeze the ‘meat mix’ because I like to use the homegrown tomatoes from my neighbor’s farm stand that are only available in the summer, ditto the eggplant.)

    Substituting fried eggplant for pasta in a lasagna recipe is something I have thought of but haven’t tried yet.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gail & Tim:

    I think I see a trend developing here…. I add acid to foods too. Makes the flavors more intense and raises the nutrient levels ( i.e. ‘dem bone dem bones dem stew bone! ;-)

    BTW, guys need Mg and Ca too … just not as much. FWIW, it looks like raising the Vit-D level is more important than raising the Ca level. Too much phosphorus also tends to leach Ca out of the bones (to preserve balance) and too much Ca can leach the other way (per one thing I saw many years ago…) So “best” is to get some sun, avoid sodas with Phosphoric Acid in them, and don’t take too many Ca supplements without the balancing Mg and Phosphorus…

    I usually use a tangelo off my tree for things where I want a bit of flavor. (“Citrus Pepper Chicken” was what I did in the pot… Chicken, squeeze a tangelo over it / in it. Salt, Pepper, bake… A variation on the “Lemon Pepper Chicken” I used to make before deciding “any citrus will do” ;-) Makes for a very nice stock / base in the bottom of the pan, too. Tangelos are a bit strange. After several years, I realized / discovered that you could “treat it like its color”… the green ones like limes, as they yellow like lemons, when a bit under ripe but orange like a tart orange (i.e. the juice is better / more acid) and when fully mature at the dark orange-reddish with loose skin, as a very sweet ‘eating out of hand’ fruit with too little acid for juicing. So now I have almost year round citrus; just of constantly changing character. (The “last year” ones still on the tree are getting a bit dry, but still OK for Chicken Sauce, while it is now setting new ones for next season… Ideal ‘out of hand’ use is about February. About July-Sept IIRC I’ve got “Limes & Lemons” ;-)

    When out of everything else, I’ll use cider vinegar or a bit of bottle lemon juice or “whatever”…

    Softens meats in the cooking too… But haven’t tried it in the cast iron. I think it might not be a great idea there ;-) Besides, the slow cook already does good things.

    On the blood pressure front:

    Try this. Take your pressure. Then do deep breathing for 30 seconds and try again. (Continue breathing while you take the measurement.) I made a posting some time back on my experience with it. I was holding my breath (since I can not breath for 2 minutes+ without trying… ex scuba diver…) while they were measuring me, not wanting to ‘upset the reading’… That raises your BP as the pressure goes up to make up for lower oxygenation levels… just get in the habit of breathing more and things go down…

    FWIW a friend who is wheat intolerant has made many non-noodle noodle dishes prior to the advent of commonly available rice or corn noodles. IIRC he had an “Eggplant lasagna” that was reasonably good, though it does help to de-water the eggplant some… and it ends up somewhat more like a reminder of Eggplant Parmigiana than a real lasagna. At least to me it did. Since pounded squid are rather like large flat noodles, and fairly tasteless on their own, I’d be tempted to try a Squid Lasagna, with it acting as noodles and all the rest being “the usual” sauce, cheese, meat stuff… Texture ought to be about right, and under a load of strong cheese, marinara sauce, and garlic, well, it’s not going to taste like squid! ;-)

    Since “spaghetti squash” can be used in place of spaghetti noodles, you might try ‘squash slices’ from a more normal squash (like thin bits of mature zucchini that are rather tasteless) as a ‘base’. I’ve usually got a few that hid and “got away from me” each year that are just too big and fibrous for saute, but too bland for baking. Ought to take up pasta sauce well…

    (There are a couple of little finch like birds working over a few of my potted plants about 10 feet from me as I type. I think they are a ‘couple’… looks like my “aphids on the kale” problem is about to get the usual ‘seasonal solution’ as the little tweeters show up to clean them up… There are rewards to having a patio kitchen ;-)

    This morning I made an omelet on the Comal. IMHO there’s nothing quite like making an omelet to test a stove / pan combo. (It was a very tasty omelet ;-) The stove has about a 1/3 inch / 1 cm rise / run tilt to the back side. (Likely from the BBQ base so it drains rainwater) Note to self, for shallow liquid cooking like eggs, get a small shim… or use a pan that isn’t 14 inches across and doesn’t distribute heat well ;-)

    The comal cooks rather like the wok, with cooler edges and hotter middle. (By moving it around I was able to get the eggs solid enough to fold back to the middle). Clean up was easy. Cooking was easy. I’ll likely do fajitas this evening. (onions, peppers, meat, whatever sliced thin and fast fried with some oil and spices) As things get done you can push to the cooler edges and pull the less done to the center. The wok ought to do fajitas well too, but wouldn’t make tortillas quite as easily ;-) The “hot spot” in the middle reaches out to about the “step up point” on the burner legs. PLenty large, but with enough ‘cool ring’ around the outside to let you do ‘keep warm but don’t burn’ on parts that need that. I’m a happy camper.

    It also makes a decent “cover” for the stove (turned upside down it would even shed rain). We’d had a prediction of “rain Thursday” which I discovered meant just after Wednesday ended at and about 3 A.M. Th. Some small amount of rain got on the stove before I got it moved to a rain free area. Yesterday morning I removed the burner ring and saw a 1/8 inch ( 2 mm) or so layer of water in the depression with the wick tubes. Sopped most of it up with paper towel and raised the wicks. They had repelled what little went down the tubes such as to stay kerosene rich enough to light (though with a few ‘spits’ as a micro sized water drop became steam). Lighting and running for a couple of minutes dried everything out.

    Realize this was NOT a major rain storm. Just a minor fractional inch rain. Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch? Possibly less. Not enough to flood the wick tubes.

    Along the way I learned a new trick to lighting the wicks. This morning I tested the idea. Kerosene had soaked into the paper towel as I was sopping up the water and I realized a bit of fuel could be put where that water was instead (as some kerosene was floating on the water as a film from the wicks). So this morning I put about 1 cc or maybe 1/8 Tsp of petroleum naphtha on the “high side” of the wick ring (with wicks raised). DO NOT TRY THIS ON ANY FLAMMABLE SURFACE OR INDOORS it is tricky and if you slop any of the naphtha you have a very significant fire hazard / dissolve the plastic carpet problem. I did it on a brick base in a brick fireplace surround outdoors in the open. OK, warning given…

    The thin film ‘puddle’ is then lit with the BBQ lighter (so your hand is at least 8 inches away) and the flame very rapidly moves around the whole wick ring. Inside a few seconds the naphtha is burned off and wicks are all lit. Nice. I also did a trial with alcohol. (That 91% isopropanol) and it worked well too. Though I’d be reluctant to use it on a regular basis given how the lamp wick sputtered after soaking it up. But this implies that the same methanol ‘preheat fuel’ used on pressure kerosene stoves ought to do OK as a ‘fire ring starter’. I’ll try that later / tomorrow. Most likely I’ll just get a squirt can of lighter fluid and use it, as the small nozzle makes for a small delivery of fuel easily placed and controlled. The key here is to get a thin film not a big puddle… you want it to burn off in seconds, not minutes, and you want any excess to be so small an amount it barely wets the wick tops, not soak into them and head toward the tank…

    The biggest “issue” I had was, once again, putting on the burner ring and it looked like the fire had gone out in parts, when in reality they were just blue that could not be seen in the full sun. Listening to it was more helpful, as I could hear some flame sounds, soft though they were.

    Typically I’ve used the Coleman gasoline / Dual Fuel 533 for morning coffee outdoors due to the rapid light and wind resistance. With this rapid light, and the bricks for wind break, it’s about a toss-up. So even ‘fast coffee’ this morning came from the Butterfly stove. Total elapse time to “first sip” was maybe even a little less with the Butterfly due to the high power output and fast boil. The lack of sputter, hissing, pumping near a hot burner, et. al. made the esthetics of the experience much more pleasant. Oh, and the 533 has an odd habit when you turn it off. The residual liquid in the generator slowly spits, sputters and exits the jet, so the burner spits, sputters, and flares for several seconds (10s of seconds). Sometimes it just goes out, and you get the smell of unburned gasoline vapors. Sometimes it ‘flashes’ down to the jet area under the burner and you get little yellow flames dancing around UNDER the burner right above the fuel tank.

    Why they say to NEVER open the fuel tank when it is hot, IMHO, is partly from it spewing pressure fuel out, and partly the risk of a ‘hanging flame bit’ igniting it all. I would never under any circumstance use the Coleman 533 indoors in an area where flames could be an issue. (I would use the larger 2 burner old style. It is less, er, ‘spitty’…) One one occasion, I filled fuel tank to the top on a level surface (so not tilted and over filled). Upon pumping it up, the check valve did not fully seal. It began spitting a small bit of sporadic fuel spray out the vent in the middle of the pump knob. Realize this is just a couple of inches below the burner (that was running at the time). That left me with a very bothersome dilemma:

    1) Hold my thumb over the hole was coated in gasoline next to a running flame.
    2) Stand back and hope the ‘gasoline fountain spray’ did not ignite and start heating the tank.
    3) Pump a bit more and hope the check valve seated.
    4) Try turning off the burner (that can cause those ‘flame sputters’ to show up below the burner where the gasoline fountain was spitting…)


    #1 did not seem like a bright idea long term, was was a good momentary stop gap to think more. So a thumb went back on the pump knob. At that point there was maybe 1/10 cc of gasoline on me. I figured I could take that much burn if needed. (Stove was sitting in a pie tin spill catcher on a slate rock surface, so ‘worst case’ I pick that up and pitch the thing out in open dirt in the garden where a bonfire / bang would not start the house burning…nor me).

    Stop gap in place, option #2 was ‘unattractive’ as it would reduce the ability to do a ‘quick pitch’ and a pint of hot gasoline in a boiling metal tank can cover a pretty big area. #2 was off the list…

    #4 looked best as a ‘last resort’, and #3 looked like “worth a try”. So I did a couple of small pumps. The “spitting” and squirting abated. One more long pump, it seemed to stop.

    I stepped back (AFTER moving the stove out of the ‘fuel catcher’ an onto ”over the old BBQ grate” where any leakage would drip down about 2.5 feet into old ashes) and wiped the fuel off my hand, rinsed with water, figured by now the stove itself was reasonably fuel dry, and shut it off. After about 5 minutes, with no leakage and no ‘flash down’ flames at the air mixer, I put the stove back on the catch pan and did a relight / make coffee…

    I think it may be an artifact of ‘filling to the top of the fill spout’, but don’t know. Maybe it’s just an unexpected check valve stickage from something else? At any rate, lesson learned: that stove is ONLY for use where you can accept an unexpected bonfire / fire ’emergency’. Outdoors with water and open dirt near by. Fuel pressure fed out the pump shaft center is very much not good… Mixed with “sporadically flame sputters and can ‘flash down’ to the jet / mixer area under the burner near the pump” is “double plus ungood”…

    So while I still like the 533, it just isn’t a “very very safe” stove and goes in the “fun but can have its challenges” group.

    For anyone not familiar with the 533, Amazon has a picture:

    That brass tube over the top is the ‘generator’ where the gasoline evaporates. It wraps over and down to a nozzle / jet in that ‘square part’ under the burner and right on top of the tank. That’s where the fuel /air mix and inertia of the gas flow sends it UP into the burner. But when gas flow slows, excess old vapors are heavier than air, so “drain” downward. Supposed to be non-burning then, but sometimes they ‘catch’ and I’ve watch it make yellow flames and soot the bottom of the burner when turned “off”… as that generator dries out inside. The “pump” is that bit of metal to the right hand side. We’re talking just a couple of three finger widths from that square mixing area where I’ve seen fire during the ‘turning off’ process…

    The stove works great. It’s fast to light, works in the wind, puts out a lot of heat. I love it. BUT, given that “spit and fire” action… it has to be rated “outdoor adventure where you can run away” only…

    Needless to say, I now find putting a 1/8 tsp of “Coleman Fuel” on the burner ring of the Butterfly stove very very tame in comparison… and it’s the “daily driver” for even a morning coffee on the patio…

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, two nice things to mention.

    1) Using a small ‘drizzle’ of E85 as the “lighter fluid” works rather well. It is a bit less prone to ‘woof’ than gasoline, so the lighting is a bit more gentle; yet it is visible in sunlight as it is a bit yellow a fire, while not being nearly as “sooty” as gasoline. We’re talking something like 1/2 cc or 1/8 tsp of fluid spread around the ‘wick ring’ with the wicks raised. As my stove has a slight ’tilt’ toward the backside of the grill / base – since the support is a bit unlevel – I’ve done an ‘around the circle’ drizzle or just a ‘pour on the high side and wait. Both worked fine, but the ‘around the circle drizzle’ takes less time (no waiting!) and can be done with less fluid). This gives a very easy and immediate light of all the wicks, and inside a few seconds the ‘lighter fluid’ is burned off. The only ‘hard part’ being that putting the ‘burner ring’ on still looks at times like I’ve put the wick fire out, when it has just ‘gone blue’ and is not visible in the sun. At any rate, just ‘trust it is lit’ and it seems fine.

    I had a “moment” when it had rained a bit and I was in a hurry, so I dumped on the fuel and lit it. That was fine, but I”d put on too much and the wicks were “down”. The flame, when lit, “Wooofed” down into the fuel tank (as the wicks were down) and “popped” the lid off the fuel pan. (The wick carrier). So I was faced with fire on the wicks in the fuel pan… I put the wick carrier back in position after blowing out the flames. But: It is a very bad idea to dump gasoline like fuel onto the wick carrier if the wicks are down!.

    at this point, the best “lighting” method I’ve found is a wire wick holder with a fiberglass wick and kerosene on it. Pushed down from above at 4 compass points seems to work ok.

    End Update

    2) I made some Fajitas on the Comal and it worked fine too. At “full” one can get the nice ‘charred bits’ that are important to proper Fajitas flavor. Turned down a ‘tooth or two’ on the Red Knob, it does a reasonable slow frying. So I was able to soften and glaze the onions, then turn it up to get the ‘dark spots / finish’ of a fast hot frying. The center is hottest, but on ‘high’ it fries over a fairly large area. The biggest “problem” is just that I’m not used to using a comal, and it is a bit wide to ‘pour the food off’ unless you have a large bowl to catch it; so I’m trying to pick up everything with one spatula… I think I need two spatulas or a spatula / spoon combo. Maybe I’ll go watch some youtube of folks cooking on a Comal… ;-)

    Things you like tend to keep getting better, and delivering more “positive surprises”. Things that are ‘not so good’ tend to slowly reveal things that are “a bother”. The Butterfly Stove has the “bother bits” diminish with each use. Like my learning to get it lit fast in #1, or that the grill I used on the POB Grill works nicely for reasonably fast heat of small pots – it just sits on the pot stand on top fine. https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/pob-grill-layout/ has a picture of the grill. A round one might work better, but this one was fine.

    So coffee this morning was just as fast from the Butterfly stove as from the Coleman, but with an easy silent lighting, no pumping, and no ‘adjust the burner till the generator gets hot’. It is now as fast, less bother, and more pleasant, and works well with the small pot on the BBQ grill topper. So I’m not seeing any reason to use the Coleman, even for ‘fast coffee’, other than to burn up old gasoline. ( I changed out the 1 year old gas from the Honda Generator, so I’ve got a quart of ‘slightly varnish smell starting’ gasoline to ‘use up’.)

    About all I need now is a small metal 1/8 tsp ‘dipper’ to get my “lighter fluid” out of the jar. I have about a cup of E85 in an old jar, and pouring a tiny into the lid (the better to keep the amount small…) and then using that to apply the drizzle works OK, but it would be a bit faster to just have “dip and dribble”. Or maybe Ill just get a little oil can… Doit-doit-doit… and squirt it on ;-) It’s a “someday list” priority – i.e. not a very important ‘enhancement’ at all.


    I’ve “moved on” to using isopropanol as the lighting fuel. Make sure the wicks are up! or you can have a fire driven expulsion of the wick carrier from the fuel pan. (A very bad idea.) I’ve also chosen to use isopropanol as a safer fuel for lighting the wicks.

    So: make sure the wick carrier is up and do not use a gasoline like fuel. It is better to use an alcohol or better yet, use a bit of wick on a carrier with kerosene to light the wicks from above through the burner head.

    End Update

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    I think the statute of limitations has run out… ;-)

    In the ’60s, I figured out that the camper propane tank, if held upside down, would send about a 1/4 inch stream of liquid propane under high pressure several yards before billowing out enough to slow down, and that fire could not travel that fast back up stream. Lets just say it’s about as long as that flame, but much wider… though about 15 to 20 feet out, it turns mostly strait up due to being hot ;-)

    Makes the burner on a hot air balloon look tame ;-)

    Now they have damn check valves in them. Killjoys ;-)

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