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  1. #1

    Default Alcohol Stove (Heet Fuel), taint?

    Hi all, this is my first post, but I've been lurking for a while, and these forums have been incredibly valuable for me!

    My concern/question is this: I've been using a simple alcohol stove with Heet (in the yellow bottle) fuel. I've noticed since I've used it that there is a slight taint on the water I boil on the stove. I've used two different pots (I thought perhaps it had something to do with the old, used pot I was using; I've since bought a new MSR Stowaway with the same problems), and whenever I cook with the stove (almost exclusively to boil water for cooking and coffee), there is a faint, sickly-sweet nose and mild taste which accompanies the water and anything -- coffee, soup, MRE, etc. -- that it is put into.

    I guess what I want to know is this: is this normal? Is this a result of the small amount of additional additives found in Heet? While it's not overpowering, it's very "present," and frankly it is particularly revolting to me to the point where, though one might be able to easily ignore it, I'd switch to another cooking system if this is a characteristic of the alcohol stove.

    Any ideas as to what's going on here (or if this is just normal) would be great! I'm drinking a cup of coffee (yes I can still smell/taste it in coffee) which was boiled/made using the same pot/press/cup that I just did an overnight with last night... except I cooked it on the stove and am drinking it in my livingroom. No funky taste.

    Details:

    Stove -- Very similar to this.

    Fuel -- Heet.

    Fuel Container -- Dasani Water Bottle.

    Cookware -- MSR Stowaway 775ml pot.

    I used bottled water during the last two trips.

    I make coffee using the Aeropress system which tastes fine when used at home. (By the way, the Aeropress is incredible...)

    Anything else just ask... any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User Rick500's Avatar
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    Hmm... I use yellow-bottle HEET as stove fuel and have never noticed anything like you describe.

  3. #3

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    Do you get high aftrr drinking that tainted coffee?

  4. #4
    Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    yea a faint smell to the boiled water... I suspect some of the carbons from the burnt fuel being drawn down into the water, use a lid.
    If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.

    Woo

  5. #5
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    lone,

    Never experienced that problem and I use Heet regularly with my Caldera cone setup. I do also use a lid on my MSR Titan, so that might be your solution. You'll get quicker boil times too with a lid.

    You might try getting a quart of denatured alcohol at Lowe's and give that a try. The main benefit of using Heet is its availability along the trail. Any 7-11 should have it.

    Glad to hear someone else has reached the coffee promised land with the Aeropress. I've had mine for a couple of years and it produces amazing coffee. if you haven't tried Peet's Major Dickerson's coffee give it a try...incredibly good !!

  6. #6

    Default Lid, etc.

    Thanks for the suggestions and comments all of you. I do use a lid when I use the stove and always have (even on the previous pot). I'm not sure what the heck it is that I'm smelling/tasting, but my wife also smells/tastes it, so I'm not alone.

    Do any of you also use a water bottle or something similar (Coke bottle, etc.) to store the Heet? I took a look at my Dasani bottle, and I noticed that where there would usually be a blue or clear soft rubber inset in the bottom of the cap (to maintain a better seal I presume), there was nothing. I'm not sure if this is because Dasani bottles don't have a soft rubber inset or not.

    Do any of you know what I'm talking about? I'm wondering if perhaps the Heet dissolved this rubber inlay and the contaminated fuel then gave off some sort of plastic-y scent/flavor. I have no new Heet right now (all of mine is in the Dasani bottle), and I also don't have another Dasani to see if there is a rubber inlay, but I hope to check on both things soon. If anyone has any experience with this, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    @springerfever: I have been using the Aeropress for a few years as well, and once I made the switch from drip to French press and then finally to the Aeropress, I've never looked back. I'll look into the coffee you mentioned. Thanks!

  7. #7

    Default coffee...

    Quote Originally Posted by trailangelbronco View Post
    Do you get high aftrr drinking that tainted coffee?
    I'm currently drinking on a stiff Ethiopian Yirgacheffe that I love, so it definitely has some kick, but as far as I can tell all I get is a headache from the tainted water.

  8. #8
    Garlic
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    Alcohol will eventually break down the plastic bottles everyone uses. They shouldn't be used for long-term storage, but they're fine for a hiking season. I don't use Dasani bottles so I can't help you there. Be sure to use a bottle for fuel that you will never even think about drinking from.

    I've never noticed an aftertaste from fuel. I agree with trying denatured alcohol, or if at all possible, try some pure grain alcohol. Denatured alcohol has a very small percentage of poison added, typically gasoline I think.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    Alcohol will eventually break down the plastic bottles everyone uses. They shouldn't be used for long-term storage, but they're fine for a hiking season. I don't use Dasani bottles so I can't help you there. Be sure to use a bottle for fuel that you will never even think about drinking from.

    I've never noticed an aftertaste from fuel. I agree with trying denatured alcohol, or if at all possible, try some pure grain alcohol. Denatured alcohol has a very small percentage of poison added, typically gasoline I think.
    The Dasani bottle is about 1.5 weeks old, so I don't think that is it, but I wonder if that very soft, pliable plastic that is often found in the cap might break down faster. The bottle is labeled fuel, label-less, unlike all my other drinking water bottles, and wrapped up and down with duct tape so as not to confuse it, but I do appreciate the sage advice! I made sure to make it so distinct based on suggestions I read on these boards previously. Nevertheless, I do need to find a better fuel storage.

    I'll try denatured alcohol, but I'm thinking that if so many people that use Heet aren't reporting a taste/smell, that something is up with my particular set up. I'm really beginning to think it might be that soft plastic seal inlay, but until I can even confirm that Dasani water bottles HAVE that soft plastic inlay, I'll have to wait until I can determine if that is even a possibility.

    Thanks for the comments, Garlic!

  10. #10
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    I use Heet and I store it in a Mountain Dew bottle or something similar. I've never had the problem you described. I would have thought it was your pot, but probably not if you've had the same problem with different pots.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by echoes View Post
    I use Heet and I store it in a Mountain Dew bottle or something similar. I've never had the problem you described. I would have thought it was your pot, but probably not if you've had the same problem with different pots.
    Yes, that was my first thought as well. Hmm... the mystery continues.

  12. #12
    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lone View Post
    Fuel Container -- Dasani Water Bottle.
    Switch to a soda bottle in the size you prefer.

    Inspect the lid of the Dasani bottle and you will likely see that there is no gasket. The cap is formed to fit over the rim of the bottle. This is peculiar to many water bottle brands and in my experience they always, always, and I mean always leak. They hold water but will not hold alcohol.

    Soda bottles have gaskets in the caps. Pepsi, Coke, Mountain Dew, etc. it doesn't matter. They will not leak if there is a gasket in the cap.

    The big question I have is do you store your fuel in your stovekit?
    Skids

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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skidsteer View Post
    The big question I have is do you store your fuel in your stovekit?
    Excellent question, and unfortunately the answer is no. I store it in a separate, screw top plastic tupperware "jar." The pot hold either a zippie of gorp or nothing at all depending on how much room I have in my pack. The fuel is also always separate from cooking supplies... the trace, unlisted proprietary ingredients listed in the Heet contents always freaked me out a little tiny bit, so I have been very studious to avoid placing fuel or the stove/pot elevator anywhere in the vicinity of the cookware; in fact, as I noted, all things which come into contact with the Heet fuel are in separate containers (the stove "jar" hangs outside the pack even).

  14. #14
    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lone View Post
    Excellent question, and unfortunately the answer is no. I store it in a separate, screw top plastic tupperware "jar." The pot hold either a zippie of gorp or nothing at all depending on how much room I have in my pack. The fuel is also always separate from cooking supplies... the trace, unlisted proprietary ingredients listed in the Heet contents always freaked me out a little tiny bit, so I have been very studious to avoid placing fuel or the stove/pot elevator anywhere in the vicinity of the cookware; in fact, as I noted, all things which come into contact with the Heet fuel are in separate containers (the stove "jar" hangs outside the pack even).
    Try it with your alcohol stove with denatured alcohol as an experiment.

    You shouldn't be able to taste any residual either way if you don't store your fuel in your kit but give the denat a try just for grins.
    Skids

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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skidsteer View Post
    Try it with your alcohol stove with denatured alcohol as an experiment.

    You shouldn't be able to taste any residual either way if you don't store your fuel in your kit but give the denat a try just for grins.
    Will do. I've heard denat can vary greatly in its heat output, characteristic, etc. Is this true?

  16. #16
    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lone View Post
    Will do. I've heard denat can vary greatly in its heat output, characteristic, etc. Is this true?
    Not in my experience. Heet has a slight edge in very cold weather according to the geeks and it's perhaps cheaper on average but for the most conditions I greatly prefer denat and one of the reasons is the smell when burning.

    I used to test a lot of stoves indoors and the difference between Heet and denat is huge in terms of fumes.
    Skids

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skidsteer View Post
    Not in my experience. Heet has a slight edge in very cold weather according to the geeks and it's perhaps cheaper on average but for the most conditions I greatly prefer denat and one of the reasons is the smell when burning.

    I used to test a lot of stoves indoors and the difference between Heet and denat is huge in terms of fumes.
    Alright then, I'm sold, I'll pick it up tomorrow. I appreciate all the help. I love the simplicity and efficiency of my alcohol stove, but the slight smell/taste is very unappetizing, even appalling!

  18. #18
    So many trails... so little time. Many Walks's Avatar
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    Just a shot in the dark here...do you store a lighter in your cookset? If so, it might have a small leak causing the problem.
    That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. Henry David Thoreau

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Many Walks View Post
    Just a shot in the dark here...do you store a lighter in your cookset? If so, it might have a small leak causing the problem.
    Nope, I keep it in my pocket or in a pouch. I don't keep anything in my cookset other than, occasionally, gorp.

  20. #20
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Another shot in the dark... maybe the fuel is not the problem. Have you tried the same set up with a different stove? I wonder if maybe you're not getting complete combustion from your stove.

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