A Note On Stoves

As I’ve been living on portable stoves for a few days, I thought documenting the experience might be of value.

The $10 (a few years ago) single burner 1 kW electric burner from my road / hotel kit works fine for everything. It is easy to use. Just plug it in and turn the knob. It is more flexible than the electric skillet, so things like steaming vegetables or making coffee are easy. As long as you have electrons, it is the best and cheapest solution. The only downside is the lower power for things like running a canner or big pots that take about twice as long to heat as on a regular 2.2 kW stove burner. For use in hotels, the lack of any flame, fumes, or similar “smoke detector fodder” is a major benefit. (I also have a one person sized slow cooker for use in hotels too ;-) Cost to operate ranges from free in hotels to very low in the home at 7 ¢ to 40 ¢ per hour depending on how political your local electricity supplier might be…

This looks like a fancier one at $12 from Amazon:

The surprise star was the Asian style butane stove. These are common in Asian homes as a table top appliance for various foods cooked at the table. Low and flat with a large burner surface, they cook like a regular gas stove. I got mine for about $20 at an Asian grocery store about 15 years ago. Just saw one for $30 at Smart & Final who also sell the fuel as $10 for a pack of 4 cans of 8 ounces each. Yeah, that’s $1 / 3.2 ounces. Not cheap, but not as expensive as some other choices. It runs a long time on a can, so for all practical purposes the cost isn’t very important. BIG feature is the “turn and go” ignition with the built in sparker, and then the stability and even cooking of the large burner area. Being low and flat, it is very stable. Nearly no odor or other issues. Very even cooking and fast responsive burner ( it has reminded me why I really really like cooking on gas more than electricity). It came with a carry case and I’m tempted to put it in the car kit when next I go on the road. Only problem I’ve had is forgetting that there’s an interlock that prevents loading a fuel canister if you have the burner assembly upside down in the stowed position…

The GasOne stove I have is now $31 on Amazon on the first search, but subsequent searches turned up this one at $16
But for $27 you can get a dual fuel version, propane / butane:
Go figure… The blurb says “backpacking”. Not hardly! This is a table top item not for the pack. They also have 2 burner models and more in the same general pattern. At $13.32 for 4 fuel cans, it’s cheaper to hit up Smart & Final for fuel. Interesting to note that Coleman has one for $20 ATM (regularly $30)

Alcohol stoves are good indoors but don’t stand up well to wind outdoors. Wind shields helpful. Quiet, low smell, easy to operate (pour in fuel and light). Small and light weight. As an emergency stove for use in the home, a very good choice. Fuel keeps forever and not under pressure so leaks not a big deal. As a portable or camping stove, good for an individual. I’ll likely use it in the office for making coffee now that the big butane canister is used up ;-) A bit slower than the other stoves, but very workable. The Trangia type are a good “carry in the pocket” stove for hiking & biking as the fuel is already in the stove and the whole thing is palm sized. You do need an ignition source, so carry matches, a Bic lighter or a sparker of some sort. Fuel can be found in most all hardware stores (methanol is lacquer thinner) and auto parts stores / departments (fuel line dryer). Just a very nice, but smaller and slower, stove. It will boil water fast enough to make the kettle whistle, just takes a couple of minutes longer. You must be comfortable working with flaming liquids and dropping a metal top on the fire to put it out. There is a fire risk of flaming spreading liquid if you knock it over when lit.

I like this one for general use when camping and such, but realize small Sierra Cup like things don’t get support from the “ring” and you will need a larger sized pot or use the pot that is the case.

Small butane camping stoves work great, indoors or out. With a built in spark igniter nearly trivial to operate and absolutely reliable. The small size of the platform / burner can make for a tippy experience with larger pots / tea kettles and the concentrated flame makes for a hot spot with things like a 9 inch frying pan. Eggs will cook fastest in the middle of the pan while being under cooked at the edges. Still, for camping it is nearly ideal and as an emergency stove packed in a bug-out bag or car kit it’s great. It took forever to use up a 15.5 ounce (440 gram) large size fuel canister. I’ll only be buying the smaller 220 gram size from here on out. The lower height makes things more stable and, frankly, the fuel lasts more than long enough. They can suffer fuel leaks. Yeah, the canister is supposedly self sealing when you remove the stove, and it seems to work fine, but in a life or death situation do you really want to be dependent on a bit of rubber? Leaving the stove on the canister for weeks seemed to not have any leak issues, but may depend on the stove. (I was using it to make coffee in the office before the main house stove went out…). No smells and works well in wind or bad weather. As an emergency stove, it’s a great choice. For day to day cooking, the ‘tippy’ nature of the small burner surface is an issue as is the hot spot from the small flame head. For making ramen cups and coffee on the road in an Aw Shit situation, ideal; especially with the built in spark igniter models where you don’t need to worry about where the matches have gone, or running out of matches.

Now running at $9, this looks like the one I’ve got. Just ran 15.5 ounces of fuel through it, and it worked every time. Folds up small enough to be easily in the pocket with the car keys. Holds a full sized tea kettle if you center it well ;-) I have this stove and 3 smaller sized fuel cans (220 gram) as the default OMG kit for home or road. I also have a much more expensive smaller all titanium version in my car backpack. Why? Why not? ;-)

I love my Coleman Dual Fuel 533 camp stove for the ability to run on some of the cheapest fuel you can get, unleaded gasoline. BUT: It does smell a bit. I only run on Coleman fuel as it runs a bit cleaner and isn’t that expensive, but you do need to accept a bit of smell when fueling it up, or when shutting down. It cooks well and has a nice sized burner with good responsive flame control. There’s some noise in operation, but not much. There’s also the “fiddly bit” of pumping it up to operating pressure. At first ignition it takes a while for the “generator tube” to get hot and for the flame to stabilize. I’m fine with that, but others might not be. As an EOTWAWKI stove, the ability to run on the gas from the car tank is a big feature. For general use it isn’t. I just used it to make coffee and this is after standing for a year (or three?) with fuel in it. No Problems. (This is NOT a preferred behaviour, BTW, and especially not with gasoline that polymerizes on standing) It is vastly heavier than the pocket sized alcohol and butane stoves, so not for backpacking unless you are seriously into big packs and don’t care about weight. Yet if the society started to collapse a few months ago (Impeach 45!…) it’s the stove I most want in the kit. Durable and reliable, even if a bit fiddly and with a bit of smell in operation. But not for day to day use inside the home…

Running $62 at the moment, and listed as $90, I’m glad I have mine, but I’d not buy another one prior to buying a couple of the things above. IMHO calling it a “backpacking” stove is a bit of hype. Car camping, yes.

Some time ago I used the Sterno Stove for some experiments with alternative fuels. Alcohol and such in an empty tuna can in the stove. It is slow to heat with regular Sterno fuel, but has a nice even flame. Small, light, and easy to pack, and with the added tuna can a stove able to use ‘found fuels’ like alcohol or sticks, it’s a great EOTWAWKI stove. But the low power means it isn’t great in wind and cold (snow) where you want a lot of heat fast. It’s OK indoors for making coffee and ramen (if you have some patience…) and great for things like frying eggs. Fuel is everywhere, reasonably priced, and you can make your own (do a web search…) if desired. If you run out, you can just pour methanol, ethanol, or even rubbing alcohol in the can and light it. Be careful about spilling though, as spreading flaming liquid alcohol is not as safe as solidified Sterno alcohol. As a food warmer in the home, or as a “last ditch out of gasoline” stove, it’s great. For day to day use or as your main camping stove, not so much. The Trangia style alcohol stoves beat it (though at higher cost). Very wide base so handles all size pots, and with the narrow grids works well with Sierra Cups too. Built in wind screen feature is also nice. One of my favorite stoves given the added tuna can, but does take some fiddling to set up and operate. Think Origami Stove ;-) Matching a Trangia style burner with this stove also works well for various sized pots. Does require an ignition source.

Looks like these are up to $14 now. I think I paid $5 for mine some several decades back.

Propane Stoves: There’s several of these. Similar in cost to operate to the Butane Asian stove and cheaper fuel cost than the Butane camp stoves, but bigger and heavier. Not for backpacking, but great for “car camping”. I have both 2 burner and single burner versions. They work great and are easy to figure out and operate. Over-all, just about ideal for the person who doesn’t want to deal with the fiddly bits or smell of a gasoline stove, but wants something a bit more economical than the fancy camping stoves and doesn’t care about the size or weight (i.e. not carrying it on your back). The single burner stoves tend to be tall and a bit tippy. I like the brief case shaped 2 burner versions better for the purpose of cooking for 2+ folks. One of these and a couple of cans of fuel and you are set for a long power outage. I’ve had fuel canisters in the garage (hot in summer…) for years and then used them. Just no problems. Even heat. Cooks well. Very fine burner adjustment. All in all a great stove. Just a bit big for the bug out bag. Also with the wind screen wings and all, not as suited to table top use in the home (but way better out doors…). If planning a camping trip with the car, this is the go-to stove. Also for emergency power out use at home where I’m expecting things to recover before I’ve used up 2 fuel cans ;-) I.e. not EOTWAWKI but “Standard Operations Of Socialist California Electricity”…

Looks like about $44 for the Classic Coleman 2 burner version:
This single burner one is overpriced at $30
I have 2 of them (from 2 different makers) bought over the years. They work well on the short fat canisters but are tippy on the tall skinny ones. They do work very well, handle all sized pots, and have very good power and control (but you need an ignition source). IIRC mine were about $10 at Target or similar decades back. I would not buy one again, preferring a shorter less tippy solution. But have one in the car and you are set for fuel anywhere there’s a store…

In Conclusion

So there you have it. Life with too many stove choices ;-)

Were I stoveless, and trying to decide what emergency stove to buy as a ‘first stove’, it would come down to the question of backpacking weight or in the house. For backpacking I’d get the igniter built in butane camping stove. For the home, I’d get the Asian style butane stove. (For hoteling, I’d get the electric hot plate ;-)

For EOTWAWKI, I’d get the Sterno stove, then add the Coleman Dual Fuel. Oh, and save an empty Tuna can for “found fuels” in the Sterno stove ;-)

As a second tier, I’d get a Trangia style alcohol burner kit. This is also usable for backpacking / hiking / whatever, and the burner increases the power of the Sterno stove (at the expense of heating the grids a bit…)

Only if I did a lot of car camping or cookouts would I bother with the Propane stoves. Yes, they save on fuel costs, but unless you use them a lot it just doesn’t matter. Too heavy for backpacking, and a bit clunky for use in the house, they are only really suited to a camp ground with a big picnick table and a car to haul them back and forth.

There are hundreds of other stoves and styles out there, and this is by no means an exhaustive exposition. It is intended as a “Start Here!” not as a be all and end all. For example, I have a very nice high power kerosene stove for baking with a portable oven over it. Fairly specialized, it uses a very stable fuel that’s low cost. It also would work well for canning outdoors. But it just isn’t something for the typical urban person in the First World. It does fit in well in India for a main house stove though. It’s a bit big, has a bit of smell, and fuss to make it go, but with daily use the lower fuel cost really matters. But this isn’t really about daily use. It’s about having something that’s not in the way for when you need it.

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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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52 Responses to A Note On Stoves

  1. Foyle says:

    I have a friend who is a hard-core outdoorsman. Disappears into mountains for weeks at a time. He has all the gear, but has given up on gas stoves in favor of alcohol aluminum soda-can stoves.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    For THE ultimate in light weight and low cost, the soda can alcohol fuel stove is it. The hard core types who really do backpack it all for miles and weeks go for anything that saves a gram.

    While I understand and accept that, my backpacking is limited to unloading the car into the camping spot (or hotel) and the occasional day hike of a couple of miles with beverages and a sandwich… So I don’t really care about the stove weight.

    IIRC, the soda can stove is about the same performance as the Trangia type, but about 1/4 the weight. Though from my POV, 1/4 almost nothing is nothing to worry about ;-) I’d rather save the couple of hours of labor making the thing …

  3. philjourdan says:

    Our stove died a few months ago. It was with the house when I bought it, so no telling the age (I have owned the house for 18 years now). My wife has always been partial to gas stoves, so we went to buy one (we have gas, so it would just entail running a gas line to the stove).

    We left the store not with a gas stove, but with a new inductive one!. It does cook very well. Once you get use to it. Had to junk all our copper bottom pots as they are non-ferrous. But fortunately part of the purchase price included a new set of ferrous cook ware

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve never used an inductive stove. Not sure how I’d take to it. I have a Visions glass pot I’m fond of, though mostly in the microwave.

    I have a strong preference for Gas. IF I need to replace this stove, it will likely be with a gas one. (Pipe is in the wall already)

  5. Steven Fraser says:

    @EM: Interesting, and thanks! I watched a couple ‘make a coke can stove’ vIds 10 days ago, and liked the minimalistic engineering approach.. much like my admiration of the ‘open canned goods without tools’ vids.

    I have to say, 3 or 4 of those coke can stoves in a group has got to make a hellofa heater for a pot, like a chafing dish over a few sterno cans would do, I’d covet your thoughts/experience of the use of a line of these in the poaching of large salmon filets, you know, foil-wrapped semi-fish in lemon juice/butter/salt/pepper, for a large # of dinner guests.

    And, on a tangent… I must say that your interdisciplinary interests and activities are fun to follow. I can relate, though not quite at your stage of life and independence. You provoke my thinking, which I enjoy.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steven F:

    Eclectic is just another way of saying…. “Squirrel !!!”


    The only problem with a row of can stoves and a fish is holding the fish at the right height over the fire. You can get long wire racks for that though. Then you need to adjust height to adjust cooking speed as there is no throttle valve.

    I like the idea, though… an alternative to foil on coals. Then, since you make your own, you could make them with less flame size for a slower cook, otherwise you risk burning. Normal high heat requires the moving and flipping of a frying pan. Foil is more low and slow suited.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Come to think of it, just take a length of conduit and drill holes in it. A T on each end so it doesn’t roll over, then plugs. Enscrew a plug to refill it..

    I’ll have to check out what fittings exist for aluminum conduit… You could use copper pipe but it can be expensive. Wouldn’t need much though… might need to braze ends on as solder would melt.

    Or just get a long metal dish and pour a puddle of alcohol in it. It doesn’t really need the burner holes. Might make too big a flame though….

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    You might want to add the lemon juice after cooking. Aluminum is very reactive to acid, and hot lemon juice would likely corrode the foil, giving you metalic tasting fish…. I once lost a 2 qt pressure cooker to leaving spaghetti sauce in it overnight. The next day it had pits in the metal when washed. Pitted metal is a very bad thing in pressure vessles.

    So if tomatoes corridor aluminum, lemon juice will.

  9. cdquarles says:

    I have grilled fish that were marinated in citrus juice then roasted over charcoal. It works fine. Marinate fish then wrap with foil just before grilling. The cooking time is just about 15 minutes, so a metallic aftertaste is minimal. Turning the wrapped fish over is optional. I’d do it, though, if the flame is too high. That said, if grilling smoked salmon, add the juice last, just before it is done.

  10. H.R. says:

    And then you can skip the stoves altogether and cook on your car’s manifold.

    Here’s a link to a book with a lot of recipes, pictures, and how-to cook while driving down the road.

    It sounds like it’s right up your alley, E.M. Even some of your trips out to the stores are long enough to fix a few things. Take along some aluminum foil, wrap your purchase in the parking lot, and dinner will be done when you get home :o)

  11. jim2 says:

    Inductive stove: Can you just throw a few bolts into a glass pot and heat from the inside of the pot? Might be more efficient. :)

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    I used to cook hotdogs in foil on the intake manifold when I drove out to bonneville all the time.

    On long runs baked potatoes also work quite well.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    I have a paper book on manifold cooking from decades back, but I’ve never been willing to try it… too timid I guess. Or just that a Cornish game hen and veggies in my Trucker style cigarette lighter powered “oven” (lunch box sized) does really well….

    Remembering one rest stop moment in Mississippi after a few hours of smelling things cooking….

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    It is a good idea to have a small meat thermometer to check internal temperature on risky foods.
    The thermostat setting on most internal combustion engines is around 180 deg F with a very few as low as 160 deg F. Add a little heat from the exhaust manifolds and under hood temperatures stabilize at about the same temperature as your home oven on its low setting, and if given time to reach internal temperatures in those ranges you have safe cooking temperatures, especially for things that are pre-cooked or not prone to being hazardous if under cooked (ie foods like spam, and potatoes for example)

    Ground beef and raw chicken I would definitely want to use a meat thermometer on to at least determine what the under hood temp is on your car for the conditions of use.

    You can warm even canned food if you are careful not to let it get on the exhaust manifold where it might get hot enough for a steam explosion. Best solution I have found is single serving can of beany weenies or similar, wrapped in aluminum foil and with a small pin hole in the top to allow it to vent if it gets too hot.

    In a pinch (ie cooking a fresh caught trout ) you can wrap the fish in a layer of mud and cook it over a campfire or on top of the engine, long enough to get a safe cooking temperature in the whole thing then break the mud off ( it is supposed to take the fish skin & scales with it but I have never tried it personally)

    No cooking utensils required other than maybe a green stick to skewer it on, or you can put the mud covered fish in the coals like a foil wrapped baked potato and just let it simmer.

  15. Greg Hall says:

    For hotel rooms we have used the Elite Platinum EIND-88BL Maxi-Matic Mini Induction Cooker, 800W for years and at 800w, it uses less than the hairdryer hanging on the wall! It boils water very well and can simmer on low. It does help to have a thick bottomed pan to distribute the heat better.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Minor irrelevant sidebar on stoves:

    I’ve put the Trangia alcohol burner into the Sterno stove (sits in, or on an inverted, tuna can in the wire frame in the bottom). Works a champ to boil 16 ounces of water in a tea kettle. The large size of the grid supporting the pot make it very comfortable, and the stove holds the burner off the table surface for less heat transfer. The Trangia mini-stove conducts a lot of heat, both directly out the bottom of the burner and via a lot of direct flame impingement on the aluminum pot holding “wings”. Didn’t scorch a lab notebook I put under it (saving the table) but did make it hot. Sterno stove made the surface just warm from radiant heating.

    The center wires of the wire grid did reach a dull red glow, but even on the third or fourth time I’ve done that, no damage.

    I like this combo of Sterno Stove, Sterno canned fuel, empty tuna can, Trangia (or Esbit) alcohol burner, and then “found fuel” like twigs in the tuna can as a last resort. It gives an easy to use large pot platform, with grid spacing tight enough for even the smallest Sierra Cup to be stable, with very little weight, and lets you have a “warm food / slow cook” with the Sterno or a very big fast burner with the alcohol burners, plus in a real Aw Shit you can use twigs, rubbing alcohol (just pour a bit in the tuna can) and even acetone (same way).

    There’s also a process for making a ‘wax stove’ using a coil of cardboard saturated with wax in a tuna can, but the soot is something fierce so I don’t see the attraction.

    So I’m going to make sure one of the Sterno Stoves is in with the Trangia Stove kit (or my Esbit stove / burner / mess kit, kit.) and an empty tuna can… or maybe a full one and an opener ;-)

    With a couple of quarts of alcohol, you would be set for a week or two of emergency cooking; and during that time you can stock up on twigs ;-)

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    2 ounces weight of methanol in the Trangia has boiled 40 ounces of water (volume) and cooked 2 ham omelettes (2 extra large eggs and slice sandwich ham each, with tbl spoon butter.)

    So three meals plus beverages. 8 oz of the water went to a Ramen cup. The rest was coffee and tea.

    That means a 16 ounce pint can will cook 24 meals with 256 ounces or 32 x 8 ounce each beverages. So figure one pint per person week. A gallon a month, more or less.

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks to me like you would be better off using ethanol or Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol)
    There are two different common drug store concentrations of rubbing alcohol 70% and 99%, and they are dirt cheap and available everywhere unlike methanol.

    You might want to try a burn test with high concentration rubbing alcohol.

    Isopropyl alcohol heat of combustion 7201 cal/g (requires different air fuel ratio than ethanol or methanol so if you modified the air fuel ratio you might get it to burn clean – it burns clean in an open wick alcohol lamp another option would be to mix it with other alcohols or a bit of acetone to get a clean burn. A bit of Acetone added is said to reduce soot production for kerosene lamps )

    Ethanol alcohol heat of combustion 7086 cal/g
    methanol alcohol heat of combustion 5410 cal/g



  19. E.M.Smith says:

    Another data point:

    A full Trangia ran a 2 quart pot (about a pint liquid) steaming vegetables for 10 minutes, then a quart of water to boiling with 2 Polish Sausages, then added 2 cups of refrigerated sauerkraut to the simmer, plus 6 minutes of frying then ran dry. I think it holds about 3 oz fuel total. Measure TBD later.

    @Larry L:

    I’ve tried other alcohols. It doesn’t work very well. 90% isopropanol is way too sooty, acetone blend doesn’t fix it. The flame is very yellow and inefficient. 70% is prone to water concentration over the burn, and soot. Ethanol does better with only modest soot, but at much higher fuel cost so you pay more for a yellower flame and soot. OK in an emergency, but far from preferred.

    Adjusting fuel air ratio is hard as you need to make the holes smaller… So we’re talking build your own stove… probably also need higher pressure or an air mixer.

    Overall my conclusion was: OK if the alternative is starvation or nothing, but otherwise, just buy a can of methanol.

    Isopropanol blends nicely into coleman fuel and works ok there at 10 to 15 % but don’t leave it standing full for months. (Butanol is a drop in replacement for gasoline but is reputed to smell funny / bad).

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and FWIW, the Kleen Strip brand “denatured alcohol fuel” (sold in quarts at Walmart cheap) burns with s slightly yellowish tinged flame and lists both ethanol and methanol as ingredients. I think it is blended about as ethanol rich as you can go and still burn clean. At that, it leaves soot on the iron support wires of the Sterno Stove (admittedly being run out of spec with a roaring Trangia instead of Sterno) but none seen on the pots. I think the red hot wires disassociate the fuel before it can burn /fully mix with air where the flame impinges.

    I usually get the lacquer thinner pure methanol in a gallon, or auto line dryer methanol in small plastic bottles “on the go” and it burns sootless and pure blue, but not as much fuel value per quart, though I don’t really notice that.

    There is also a “green” thinner in some hardware stores that is ethanol. IIRC it was significantly yellow flame and slightly sooted pot bottoms, so not much methanol in it.

    Acetone has the same 3 carbons as propanol and as I recall it, burned similarly. 3 carbons is a lot less than the 10 ish of kerosene, so cleans it up a bit, but 3 x the one of methanol, so dirties it up. I was dissapointed in acetone.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    The FAQ tab here

    Says the Kleen Strip Denatured Alcohol Fuel is 40-50% ethanol, 50-55% methanol.

    I’d not go much higher than that for ethanol as you start getting yellowish deposits on pots, or very slight sooting. I hate cleaning soot…

    This ratio does let you see the flame in modest sun. The tinge of yellow is enough.

  22. Larry Ledwick says:

    I just ordered one of the Trangia 28-T kits, so I can tinker with it.

    The (Stoichiometric) Air fuel ratio for
    isopropyl is 10.4:1
    methanol is 6.47:1
    ethanol 9:1

    So Isopropyl alcohol needs 1.15 x more air than ethanol and 1.6x the air that methanol does. So you have to provide an additional air path besides the drilled holes in the top of the burner.

    I think I have an idea which will accomplish that.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    I think that’s the Trangia Mini I’ve been using. It works well. Eventually the dark brown lacquer on the flame adjuster starts to peel off from the heat, as it gets hot. Other brands just leave it chrome :-)

    It is a nice very compact mess kit, stove (holder) and burner (actual fire making stove bit, with heat adjusting ring). Full power boils water nicely. For things like omelettes or frying, the ring full open is just about right. For very slow warming or bare simmer, partly close the ring.

    There is a wick between the inner liner (open to the bottom) and outer shell. As the fuel warms, it starts to simmer there, this slightly pressurizes against the inside fluid column and gas comes out the holes. Spacing and diameter of holes determines how the fuel mixes into air volumes.

    “Somewhere” I have a larger similar stove. Stainless Steel and about 250 ml. It has a removable inner ring. The pot sits directly on top closing the central hole (after hot and going) and all cooking comes from the ring of burner holes on the outside. Just two parts. Cup with ring of holes around the outside upper edge. Ring that tightly fits to the slightly in turned upper edge of the cup and sits mostly off the bottom by a mm or so. Just elegant. But in a box likely in the garage… the individual flames almost don’t touch, so air mix is very good. Looks a lot like this one, but the inner ring much closer to outer, and removable.


  24. Larry Ledwick says:

    By they way also picked up one of these. I already have one of the light aluminum folding stoves but I found this which appears to be a much sturdier design. If you are going to carry it in a car, or use it for an emergency backup stove at home, the couple ounces saved by using flimsy aluminum construction does not gain you much.


    Like you mentioned could also be used to cook with twigs or even a charcoal briquette or two in the bottom sitting in an old tin can base. (might have to break up the charcoal briquettes into 1/2 or 1/4 pieces, but the beauty of charcoal is it keeps for a million years in storage with no leaking, evaporation or converting to sticky goo. – you just have to remember the CO issue so not suitable for indoor use)

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    I bought one of those steel Coughlin stoves a decade or 2 back. Works very well and less confusion in how to set it up or store / fold it. You can use their fuel burner or regular Sterno in it. It is in my quick access stove box in the office.

    Oh, and while I’m thinking about it: the empty tuna can with Sterno spooned into it boils water at a reasonable rate. It is the small opening in the Sterno can that limits power. In theory other gel fuels ought to be the same, and solid fuel tablets too. It amazes me how much a tuna can adds to that kind of stove.

    In other data points:

    Trangia burner only, dry: 2.3 oz.
    Fully fueled: 5.7 oz.
    Fuel to spill over point: 5.8 oz.

    From absolute dead start (so includes warm up and “bloom” time) in 5.8 oz. FULL stove using Mini pot support and a regulr tea kettle, time to whistle with about 15 oz. water: 6 minutes.

    The “about” is because I leave about an ounce of head space in my 16 oz. Coffee cup…

    Weight after burn: 5.3 oz.

    So 1/2 oz. Fuel per big mug of coffee.

    Note that full fill slows time to bloom, and has more evaporative loss when you snuff it. Overall fuel efficiency and speed is best with “just enough” fuel loads. Power out is greatest at about 1/4 to 1/2 full (higher heat absorption by the stove so more vapor production). That makes this a worst case test. At least for sea level 70 F room 56 F water no wind.

    So the 3.5 max fuel load is about 7 big mugs of coffee, but really, 3 oz. fuel is all you would do for carry with the lid on.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    Just a documentation note and comment on Propane:

    This topic continues here: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/warning-lacquer-thinner-no-longer-methanol/

    where I discovered that the IIC (Idiots In Charge) at CARB (California Air Resources Board) have banned methanol from the hardware store. It (so far) is still available as HEET, but that runs about $31 / gallon, i.e. “Mini-bar prices” for the small bottles.

    I DID managed to get a pint can of 50% methanol / 50% ethanol “Denatured stove alcohol fuel” at Tractor Supply, $5+ for a pint, or $40 / gallon.

    So that’s moved the Trangia from “daily coffee” maker to “emergency storage” along with that one can of fuel. About one week worth. On my next trip out of California, to the land of freedom, I’ll buy some methanol in gallons again…

    In the mean time

    I’m using the Propane stove like this one:


    The single burner screws on top of the fuel bottle thing. It’s larger, and makes a whooshing sound in use, but boy is it FAST!

    Time to boil the kettle is a lot less. No “bloom” time, and about 2 x to 3 x the power. Instant on / off.

    I do need a sparker for it. I have some Butane Fireplace / BBQ lighters that have run out of fuel and I use them for the piezo spark. Works great and functionally free.

    Fuel cost is one of the lowest (Coleman Fuel and Unleaded gasoline are cheaper, but you have smell issues indoors as the shut off lets a bit of unburned fuel evaporate into the room…) I got 2 canisters of propane / 16 ounces each, for $6.44 so that’s $3.22 per quart (roughly). Call it $12.88 / gallon. One bottle lasts a VERY long time, so it’s not an issue and ‘worth it’ to avoid the smell issues of gasoline and for the instant start (no pumping). Cost is hardly higher than Coleman fuel, per gallon.

    I have the rig to refill the bottles from my BBQ big tank (at $4 / gallon) so I can cut the cost even more with a bit of (probably illegal) effort. But I’m not feeling the need as they do last a very long time and it just isn’t that expensive. Plus, it is cold and wet outside and my tank is empty for the winter ;-)

    (The “trick” to make the fill go fast is to put the canister in an ice water bath. Then the gas from the big tank evaporates, goes to the canister where it’s colder, and condenses. Doesn’t take long at all… Used to be you could invert the tank and move liquid, but the new valves prevent that… and “people find a way” ;-)

    So, my burner is a cheap knock off of the one on Amazon. IIRC I paid about $10 to $15 for it about a decade or two ago. The only real “issues” with it are trivial:

    It’s too big and heavy for a real backpacking stove. It’s going by car or for use around the house.

    You need an ignition source. BBQ Lighter, sparker, matches, or…

    It is a bit tall. You must seat the canister firmly in the base to keep things stable. I’ve not had any tipping problems with it, but it just isn’t low and flat like the others. You ARE dependent on that plastic base for stability. On the flip side of that, it fits nicely on a small bit of my side table where there just isn’t enough room for the wide flat Asian style butane stove. Needs just an 8 inch / 8 inch area.

    That’s pretty much it. Other than that, it just works. Damn fast and efficient. Large pot support area. Can use a full size frying pan without hot spots. Not ideal for a Sierra Club Cup, but you can set one on top of the flat burner head and still heat it on the sloped sides. A quite competent little stove that works on readily available fuel (even in California) and can use both the tall 14 ounce canisters and the squat 16 ounce ones. Very nice and fine control of the heat (but you do need to turn it way down to cook things that are delicate, like eggs).

    In general, I like using it and it isn’t much of a bother. As an on site or via car AwShit Happens stove, it’s just fine (as long as you have a couple of fuel canisters and a sparker). I’m presently running on a fuel canister found in the garage that is at least 20 years old (and likely closer to 30). Stored in a hot / cold garage, it’s still just fine. So no worries about fuel storage.

    It is now my “Daily Cooker” for making coffee, tea, and the odd breakfast.

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    An interesting stove. $17 at present. Like the small Chinese Butane camp stove, but with the larger burner size (disk shaped) like the propane stove. Then they had the sense to make the fold out pot holder large AND have a complete X across the burner. With 4 pot holder legs and full coverage, you can use any size pot on it, large or small.

    Only issue I’d have with it is the manual ignition, so you need to carry a sparker with you. OTOH, with the big burner it would be very hard to position a sparker where you could reach it between the fat fuel canister and the wide burner head.

    The bigger burner head ought to bring faster boil times AND the ability to evenly cook a larger pan of eggs…


    This looks like the same thing for $12


  28. E.M.Smith says:

    Just for grins… and because I’ve never used it before…

    I put my “1 lb Propane to camp canister butane” adapter on the propane tank (still using the plastic base from the other propane stove) and then put the low cost Chinese Camp Stove on top. The one that just finished off a 15 ounce butane canister a week or so ago.

    It all fit nicely, though the Jeebel brand adapter need a bit of a push to get the threads to engage the fuel canister. The piezo igniter worked fine.

    Flame was nice at low levels, but as you open up the valve it gets a bit ragged and pulls a way from the burner head in places. Full open is way over pressure spec and the flame is very noisy and ragged. Clearly a bit lean too.

    Boiled a kettle of water (15 ounces) fairly fast on “just past first ragged” or about 1/2 open. The piezo wire gets orange hot and I suspect that long duration use in an oxidizing flame would likely not do well on it. I see nothing wrong after one pot.

    The reason I’d not used the adapter before is that the combination makes for an unstable tall narrow stove unless you use the plastic base on the tank. I’d just not unpacked all the bits at the same time.

    My opinion is that, as an occasional use emergency thing, the adapter will work. But frankly, since you need the base anyway, why not just use the propane burner head?

    I can see it for those stoves that sit low and have a hose off to the fuel canister. Then you can just swap propane and it lays on the ground too.

    So, with that, the adapter goes back into the AwShit stove stuff box and I go back to using the propane burner on the propane tank ;-)

  29. Larry Ledwick says:

    Even with the plastic base I am not super fond of the tall canisters on those stoves but love using them. My solution was to dig a small hole set the plastic base in the hole and put a couple inches of dirt over the top of the plastic base or a bunch of rocks.

    That solved the “tippy” nature of those tall bottles.

    I have a small propane stove sitting at my feet under the desk here that was my daily carry on search and rescue missions but it used the old pierce the top style cylinders which you can’t find any more. I have one spare cylinder for it, eventually when I have to pierce that cylinder I will adapt the empy cylinder to take a fitting (found a video for it, you solder a fitting to the side of the cylinder and use a standard propane bottle and hose setup.

    I just ordered one of those burners you linked above to try them out, I like the full size top on them will see if I like them as well.

    I prefer the propane / butane style stoves for quick heat and easy light, but the trangia stoves have a lot to say for them since you can run them on vodka if you have to, or even brew your own fuel.

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    I was planning to see if the local Bevmo still had Everclear. For a very long time I had a 1/2 gallon of it on the shelf as “deep prep”. Anesthetic, antiseptic, and emergency fuel all in one, plus a very good barter material.

    Then I found the can of fuel at Tractor Supply…

    Maybe I’ll visit Bevmo anyway. Having a 1/2 gallon of Everclear isn’t the worst thing to have around. Wish I could remember what happened to the other bottle ;-)

    Let us all know what you think of the burner. I’ve added it to my “wish list” and will see if someone in the family likes me for Christmas ;-)

    I was very nervous about using the tall cylinder on just the plastic base, but in fact it has been quite stable even with 15 ounces of water in a regular tea kettle. I DID shove the bottle fully into the base, and it’s a tight fit that doesn’t wiggle.

    I like the idea of a support hole outdoors…

    Yeah, I found a web page where folks restore old stoves and it talked about the same thing. Turning the last canister into a fuel adapter.

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    Stopped by Bevmo. Everclear does still exist.
    $20 for a fifth (750 ml) and $48 for l.75 L so a very pricey fuel.

    It is now 120 proof / 60% Ethanol. I thought I remembered it as being 180 proof? More than Bacardi 151… I suppose I ought to have priced 151 also (and find out if it leaves a residue on evaporation… it ought not.)

    So there is the option of running the stove on 60% ethanol, which ought to be rather similar in mix ratio to methanol. Maybe “next paycheck” I’ll fine out. After all, I can always drink the mistakes ;-)


    Seems there’s a wiki:

    Everclear is a brand name of rectified spirit (also known as grain alcohol and neutral spirit) produced by the American company Luxco (formerly known as the David Sherman Corporation). It is made from grain and is bottled at 120, 151, 189, and 190 U.S. proof (60%, 75.5%, 94.5% and 95% alcohol by volume, respectively).[Due to its market prevalence and high alcohol content, the product has become iconic, with a “notorious reputation” in popular culture. Sale of the 190-proof variation is prohibited in some states, which lead Luxco to start selling the 189-proof version.

    So looks like it is a “choice” and my local Bevmo chose low. OK, so I need to make the rounds of liqueur stores :-)

    I think it was the 190 I was remembering ;-)

  32. Larry Ledwick says:

    The bottle of everclear I have here (purchased a couple years ago) is 95% (ie 190 proof)
    I suspect the store you bought that from were trying to hit a price point.
    Most folks would buy it by name and not even think of checking the proof.

    Mine is 375 ml bottle and if I recall correctly was around $14 – $19 or so a couple years ago.

    You might experiment with a mix of your 120 proof everclear and 99% isopropyl it might be just enough to eliminate the soot problem.

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    When I saw it was 120 proof, I didn’t buy any. I’m going to “shop around” for the higher proof if possible.

    I like that idea of a diluted Ethanol with some pure isopropanol… it has possibilities.

    This is all more for “someday dire” prepping than for actual use today. For now I’m swapped over to propane (modulo the bit of methanol left in my plastic squeeze bottle used for rapid refills without getting my fingers wet ;-)

    I was just looking to see “where would I go to get almost guaranteed fuel in an AwShit” as that is no longer The Hardware Store.

    For Daily Cooker use, I’ll just use propane until about February when I expect to visit a Free State and buy some proper fuel in gallon tin cans for cheap…

    But yes, IFF there were news of the Evil AwShit hitting in just a few hours, I’d go put a 1.75 L Everclear (or maybe a Barcardi 151 silver) on the Card and hit up the drug store for some bottles of 91 % propanol. Yeah, it will soot. After the AwShit I’ll clean the pan… or just use it for the cast iron skillet that also goes on camp fires and say “What soot?” ;-)

    Why I have multiple stoves in different types anyway… (and, for that matter, several caliber of guns). “Whatever” fuel (or ammo) that’s available can be used and if your favored is not available, you just move over one slot in the preference queue…

  34. Larry Ledwick says:

    Except for the mess there is something to be said for a little soot on the pan. Jet black soot aborbs radiant energy much better than a shiny metal pan, so the sooted pan will heat faster but you will need a “sock” for it to keep the soot off other stuff.

    You can also mitigate the soot by prepping the pan with a bit of soap first so it is easier to scrub off.


  35. E.M.Smith says:

    In support of your point:


    Down in comments

    Isopropyl alcohol at wall mart is 91 % and also this week i clean them out of heet as it is i burn a lot late at night in my shop doing boil time burn time etc. i found out if yo paint your pots black hi heat paint the BBQ kind you gain 1 min. faster plus a 5 or 6 in. pot will boil fast then any thats smaller

    Soda can stove running on acetone. You can see the flame yellows at the tips, the cup soots up, but the water boils. In a real AwShit you can get that gallon of acetone at the hardware store and use it.


    Looks like I don’t need to experiment with the Everclear, it is already shown to work:


    Grain Alcohol (aka pure ethanol, pure grain alcohol, PGA, grain neutral spirits, GNS, rectified spirit, rectified alcohol, medical grade ethanol, ethyl anhydrous, moonshine) –

    Grain Alcohol

    Everclear Grain Alcohol and Golden Grain alcohol from the David Sherman Corporation come in 95% (190 proof) bottles. This fuel works well but is an expensive option and may be illegal or difficult to purchase in many places. It is also non-toxic and can double for medicinal uses.


    Looks like it might be possible to get ethanol from E85 fairly easily at strong concentrations.


    Phase Separation is also temperature dependent. For example, E-10 can hold approximately .05% water at 60°F. To better understand the amount of water that we are talking about, picture 1 gallon of E-10 at 60°F. This gallon will hold approximately 3.8 teaspoons of water. However if the temperature drops to 20°F it can only hold about 2.8 teaspoons of water.

    So take a quart of E85, put a spoon of water in it and chuck it in the freezer…

  36. Larry Ledwick says:

    As I mentioned earlier you can now buy E98 for racing (basically 98% ethanol with enough denaturant to be legal to sell without a liquor tax stamp).

    yes a bit much but ;)


    Contact: Rob Carlsen

  37. Larry Ledwick says:


    Can I use pure ethanol?

    In the US, the answer is no unless you want to pay the beverage tax. The highest concentration of ethanol that the US allows in fuel grade ethanol is 98%. The other 2% is gasoline, thus rendering it unfit for drinking but doesn’t really change it’s combustion characteristics. In 2007, the Indy 500 used this fuel. It has an octane of 120 and the performance you can achieve is phenomenal, especially in high compression, turbo, or supercharged engines.

    It is difficult to find E98 for retail sale but is the concentration that will be loaded onto trucks when the ethanol leaves the production facility. If you don’t want to brew and distill your own fuel, you will need to talk to an ethanol distributor or blender to obtain E98. If you are running a race car and are paying for 105 octane gasoline, you will want to take a serious look at converting to E98. With this high an ethanol content in your fuel, you will want to adjust your converter to a higher setting, probably in the 8 to 10 range. This will enable easier starting and maximum power.

    For the average individual running an ordinary vehicle, the performance difference between E85 and E98 is probably not worth the trouble but with an after makket Ethanol upgrade system, you can do so if you wish. We have tested E98 in both of our Hummers and in a 2003 Dodge Dakota with a 4.7 liter V8. The power increase is remarkable but remember, you didn’t upgrade your transmission… Driving hard is hard on the equipment.

    As I mentioned earlier the easiest buy is to get a racers fuel jug and show up at a drag strip that sells E98 at their fuel point and walk away with a couple gallons. (or make friends with your local turbo import racers and pick up a couple gallons when they buy it in 55 gallon drums.)

  38. Steve C says:

    A friend, a few years ago, bought himself a Smart Still (sold for, [ahem], purifying water at home … and other brands of still are available) and used it slightly outside its intended use. It produced some *very* drinkable vodka, when he distilled to >95%% ethanol and cut it back to about 40% with plain water. (The uncut stuff was essentially identical to East European “Drinking Alcohol”, ~£1.20/litre at their supermarkets) I’m sure the uncut would power any known ethanol stove without problems.

    It’s also as well to be aware of the yeast he used – “turbo yeast” (available from all good brew shops) which races to about 20% alcohol (rather than ~15%) before expiring in its own waste. OK, you’ll need electricity to power the still, but that at least reduces the risk of your “refinery” going boom when alcohol vapour meets flame, and it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to lay in a few gallons of emergency fuel while civilisation lasts. (Or, indeed, emergency intoxicant, if things get that bad!)

    That California spec Larry mentioned seems odd. No higher than 98%? – But if you leave a container of near-pure ethanol open to the air, it at once absorbs water vapour and “cuts” itself back to about 96%, with 4% water, very quickly. Nature itself seems to follow the <98% rule, albeit by cutting with water rather than gasoline.

  39. Larry Ledwick says:

    You are correct, you cannot distill past that azeotrope point. To get past the 96% (which varies slightly depending on which alcohol you are talking about, you have to use a drying agent. You can use highly concentrated sulfuric acid to pull water vapor out of it, or pass it through zeolite or just good old fashioned dried corn cobs as I recall.

    You might be able to use oven dried salt placed so it pulls water vapor out of the air space above the alcohol in place of the highly concentrated sulfuric acid too. As I recall in salt mines the ambiant humidity is about 3% due to the drying action of the salt.

    simple sugar wash brewing of straight ethanol

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    I only mentioned the E85 / water extraction idea as there’s an E85 station about 4 miles from me, but the nearest race shop / track is God Only Knows where. Then, also, E85 is all over the boonies of Iowa ;-)

    Yes, it would be much better to just buy 5 gallons of E98, had I any clue where… and eventually I might get clue… but right now not so much.

    But the idea of buying E85, stirring in an ounce of water, getting a lot of slightly dilute alcohol and a bit of gasoline (dump in car…) is an interesting potential “field expedient solution”…

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes forcing stratification of E85 with added water and cooling sounds like the easiest way to quickly harvest some fuel ethanol.

    Minor note E85 is not always 85% ethanol it changes blend with the seasons just like gasoline so best to do that in the summer months when they are pumping summer blend which is nominally 85 % ethanol. It will still carry over a bit of gasoline so will not be suitable for drinking without a great deal of effort to clean it up.

    But just goes to show there are always options.

    The brewing yeast and sugar is the easiest solution for a quick brew, all you need is to cobble together a still to strip off the excess water, and all the supplies can be bought at your local brew shop.

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    Larry L:

    You might want to look at this. For $2.65, a little gizmo that lets you refill the flat camping canisters from the “hair spray” shaped cheap Asian Stove butane canisters:


    Not going to give you the propane / butane mix that works in the snow, but ought to be fine for any warm weather use, and cheaper.

    Perhaps you could use it (or something made like it) on your “odd” stove?

  43. Larry Ledwick says:

    Unfortunately not, that stove uses a “vampire tap” setup, where it physically pierces the top of the canister (very definitely a one time use canister).

    This is what the canister looks like:

    The piercing tap looks like this:


    This video is a quick how to on how to pierce the canisters

    Apparently they are still available in the UK / Norway and Australia but I have yet to find a place I can order any. The beauty of them is that the canisters are very cheap and they never leak without being pierced. I have one full one that is 20+ years old and still has fuel in it.

  44. cdquarles says:

    If I am remembering my physical chemistry from 40+ years ago, the natural eutectic for ethanol/water distillation is 95% ethanol, at its most efficient point and typical conditions.

  45. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry L:
    I’ve seen one case where someone made a fitting to connect a screw top canister to the threads where the burner screwed onto the vampire vslve for refilling. Required the stove to stay on yhe cannister, but not a big issue.

    IFF your stove has a threaded joint above the tap and valve, you might be able to just use a hose and thread matching bits. Otherwise it’s likely epoxy and a Lindal valve on the side for refilling.

    The stacking approach is interesting, but reduces stability.

  46. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes I’ve seen a video where they put a fitting in the side of the empty canister to use a hose adapter. I love this stove cooks very well but it is just not cost effective to work around the fact that the canisters are dropping out of the supply chain because they got outlawed in Scandinavia.

    If I find some I would buy a couple more spare canisters but that is the reason I am looking at some of the new stove designs that fit the threaded containers.

    I can make it work but I will save that project for when the zombies make it impossible to receive amazon orders ;)

    The stability issues with this stove was why I started setting it in a hole to stabilize it.

  47. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting converter… (Story on this one from elsewhere is that the stove is made by CampinGaz so the threads match the old stoves)

    BTW, in college one on my friends had one of those campingaz stoves…

    Interesting that this adapter is to go the other way, implying the bayonet canister users are common in Europe:



    9.7oz GoGas, 8.25oz Powerpak and 6.3oz Markill Pierceable gas cartridge adapters

    Adapters such as the GOGAS 2130, Karrimor PowerPack and Markill’s (each show above) allow you to use pierceable fuel canisters with EN 521 stoves and lanterns designed for fuel canisters with 7/16 NS threaded Lindal valves .

    Not going the way you want, but again implying somebody is using a lot of the piercing type cans somewhere.

    Interesting problem.

  48. E.M.Smith says:

    A discussion from someone else about an adapter the made or bought:


    And there you have it, a perfectly usable Camping Gaz formerly using a punch type canister – NOW using a screw on type canister. Even the canister holder accepts the base of the can perfectly

    Looks like a Lindal type valve that the stove burner screws onto.

    Another discussion suggested using a cartridge adapter to get gas out of a butane cartridge, then a bit of hose screwed directly to the stove valve body on the canister, to refill it.

    Ought to be pretty easy. Unscrew burnerhead, screw on hose a little loose. Attach hose to lindal/butane adapter threads thightly. Atrach full can and flush line while tightening fitting at valve body. Open valve to fill canister.

    At most might need to set the filling can on ice to assure good pressure difference. Threads all ought to be known standards. Worst case is a machinest makes a Thread A to B pipe bit.

  49. E.M.Smith says:

    Another interesting approach.

    The link to the maker doesn’t work anymore, but the adapter is obvious in design. Unscrew stove valve from canister hood. Tap bar stock to match. Drill and tap. Add gas channel. . Put Lindal fitting / treads on other end. Screw together.

    Any machinist ought to be able to make that in about 10 minutes, longer for knurled. Adding the pin to open the Lindal port would take a bit longer… but I suspect you can just “harvest” the Lindal bits from cheap adapter for other fuel types. Looking at my Lindal cheap stove, it looks like a simple pin centered in the body. Fuel exits from an offset hole drilled next to it.

    So, drill a roughly 1/4 inch hole (likely really something metric) about 1/2 inch deep, machine O ring seat, tap appropriate Lindal threads. Reverse and drill hole for stove. Tap threads. Reverse. Drill pin sized hole in center about 1/4 inch. Drill offset hole next to it through to stove side for fuel flow. Press fit brass pin into aluminum body. Insert O ring. Done.

    For deluxe version, knurl outside after tapping and drilling, anodize, then insert pin.

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