Hello. My name is Snottyragsdale, and I’m an Alcohol Stove Addict.
There. I said it.
My addiction began about 5 years ago.
I had a nice apartment, with two room mates. They didn’t pay their rent, so I kicked them out. All the bills were in my name. I got behind on my gas bill. The gas was shut off. All winter. I was paying the utility company back, but they wouldn’t turn the heat back on until the bill was paid in full. I got creative about how to insulate and heat my home. All the doors and doorways had blankets hung in front of them. All windows had weatherization plastic. I lived in one room, upstairs, with two electric heaters. It sucked, but I made it happy. You can’t kill the Rooster…He aint gonna die!
Now I live in a different city, with my best friend, his girlfriend, and three rugrats…I guess they might call them children, but I rarely pull my punches =) I live in the basement. Some would say that sucks. But I don’t. I love adversity.
You see, camping is my life. To say that I love camping would be an understatement. I incorporate camping into my mundane life. Being in the wild woods is my version of heaven. I just don’t have a connection with cities, society, or most of “humanity”. This government of ours, America, is ….let’s just say this isn’t exactly what our founding fathers had in mind.
Why should I have to pay necessary utility companies the equivalent of my rent or more? $400 per month just for heat and hot water?!? Redonculous!
I don’t believe in living like most people do. “Normal” people. What’s “normal” these days anyway? It’s easier to be “normal” than it is to be yourself. The question in this society, in my experience, is: “Why can’t you just be normal, be like the rest of us?”.
Please allow me to answer this standard question with this:
Perhaps that shouldn’t be the question that’s asked. Perhaps a more astute question is the answer. “Why do you have to be like everyone else? Don’t you have any originality in you?” I try not to let my philosophical side out in this blog, but it’s your life, be yourself, be happy. Anywho, back to my addiction.
Long story short: any chance I get to f*&% over utility companies, I take them.
And so for the past three years I’ve been building and experimenting with alcohol stoves. I do all of my indoor cooking with these things. I can cook for 3 months for $16. Kiss my gangly white ass gas company!!!
Incase you don’t know what alcohol stoves are…google them! But here’s a pic of a standard “penny alcohol stove” that I made.
These things are what most hikers use. They need to be primed before they’re lit. That is, you set them on some sort of vessel that will contain a small amount of denatured alcohol, pour some of the said on the vessel, and light it. Once the Penny Stove is warm enough, it will light. Jets of flame will be emitted from those small holes you see on the side. It’ll burn for 15-20 minutes.
These things work great, for (apparently) most hikers, but they don’t satisfy my needs. Penny stoves are pressure jet stoves, the flame is very similar to a standard gas stove in any home.
So I started making open jet stoves. Open jet stoves aren’t pressure stoves, and need no priming. Just fill and light. My first few sucked. Then I started filling them with sand. They burned for a long time, but wasted alot of fuel after they were done, as denatured alcohol evaporates after it’s warm, and most of my cooking doesn’t take 50 mins.
And so I bought some Sterno cans.
Sterno Sterno Sterno.
These things work GREAT! That is, if they’re paying you money to say so. They start out ok, but as the fuel gets lower, so does the flame. So I got some, burned the sterno fuel, and filled the can with sand. It would burn for approximately 70 mins, 55 mins usable for cooking.
By the way, this kind of burn time is unheard of with alcohol stoves. Most last 15-25 minutes. And can’t be refilled until they’ve cooled off.
Which was the problem with the sand filled stoves. Because of their thermal mass, they stay hot enough to vaporize fuel for far longer than it takes for food to cool off. At least with the sterno cans, you can snuff the flame with the lid and seal it so no fuel is wasted.
So my girlfriend, Kitchenwyche, gave me a Norpro chafing dish. As I’m always up for trying to find a better way to cook,I filled it with sand, as was my standard operating procedure. Not impressive. Then I tried it with fiberglass housing insulation.
This works well, it’ll burn for around 50 minutes, and has a cover to snuff the flame and conserve fuel. I’ve been using it for about 6 months to cook my breakfast of 3 slices of bacon and 2 chicken eggs. It takes half an hour.
This served me well for a long time…until today.
I made my own pot stand out of an old food can with a sterno can alocohol stove…filled with fiberglass insulation. This male offspring of a firearm burned for over an hour and a half before I got bored and snuffed it out!
To be clear, this is NOT STERNO FUEL! This is denatured alcohol!!! Sterno sucks monkey butt, this stuff is consistent!
It has the 3 rivets in it cuz the original lid had a slash in it for a wick, so it could be a liquid candle…for a heineken keg candle heater.
This shows a 50 ml bottle that will be filled with fuel, to carry extra in the field. The nice thing about using a sterno can for an alcohol stove is it can be filled and capped. I left one of my sterno sand stoves capped for three months once, and none of the fuel leaked or evaporated.
This set up worked almost 3 times faster than the Norpro cooker for breakfast fixings. I should take another picture, after burning for a few minutes the flame gets bigger and covers the entire pan, coming up on its sides!
7/9/12 A word of caution: as the flame gets bigger as the alcohol gets warmer, I do not use this anymore. I noticed that while cooking bacon in my 8″ frying pan some of the flame came over the sides and just about into the grease. Now, while I enjoy the occasional grease fire just like everbody else, burning to death in my own home just isn’t cool. Keep an eye on this if you use it, and perhaps use a larger pan or one with a lid.