View Full Version : Ethanol / Methanol tests 'Is Ethanol Worth it?" Revisited Woo

Wise Old Owl
01-21-2012, 15:29
Sure, you can run your alcohol stove on methanol. That's what comes in a yellow bottle of HEET. I mean it's cheap and available and all -- but it doesn't have as much heat content as ethanol. In other words, you have to carry more methanol just to do the same amount of cooking. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-z03mtXtHSk4/TuJuuTCD1sI/AAAAAAAAFTk/VWhZ2aI24P8/s640/P1080668.JPG


Jim I sure took a huge interest in your thoughts and I cannot reproduce your claim this morning. Using measured cups of water and well constructed homemade stove and several tests later - I cannot find a difference. Now please understand - this is not an attack on you, had it worked out differently I would have tossed my Heet in the gas tanks and burned it off, Which I am probably going to do anyway now that I have a huge can of Ethanol. I do like the fact that the can is labeled clean burning for stoves on boats.

1 cup of water with 20 Ml of Ethanol vs 20 Ml of Methanol doesn't make a slightest difference in getting the water to boil. 4 minutes 30 seconds 210 degrees.

Does it burn hotter? It might, but it has to gassify, and burn the air too. I am sure I can construct a proof to see which burns hotter - but for now, it's the same amount of fluid. Same amount of time.

Side note after three tests in the kitchen with Heet, I have a sore throat - Gives new meaning to "Don't try this at home."

Folks another note - be very careful about picking up hot objects - watch for melting pot stands, Aluminum will melt etc. Some of the stuff you see in you tube is disaster waiting to happen.

Wise Old Owl
01-21-2012, 17:28
I have been thinking about this... then I read this

Denatured Alcohol. "Denatured" alcohol is ethanol that has had it's nature (a "spirit" for drinking) by putting something poisonous in it. A common denatureant is methanol. Indeed, in many parts of the world, denatured alcohol is referred to as "meths" or "metho." In the US, there are no standards for denaturing alcohol. Indeed denatured alcohol in the US may be less than 50% ethanol AND may contain toxic substances like methyl ethyl ketone. Generally "green" (supposedly more environmentally friendly) alcohol has a higher ethanol content and is more suitable for use as a stove fuel. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ONE *EVER* DRINK DENATURED ALCOHOL. Drinking denatured alcohol may result in severe neurological damage and may cause blindness or even death.

Alcohol. In the context of stoves, alcohol refers to either ethyl alcohol (ethanol) or methyl alcohol (methanol). Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanal), i.e. "rubbing" alcohol, is generally a very poor choice for use as a stove fuel. The best alcohol stove fuels contain as close to 100% ethanol as possible. Alcohols with high ethanol content will burn the cleanest and have the highest caloric content. Ethanol is the type of alcohol that is contained in beer, wine, whiskey, etc.

Anyway - I did use Kleen Strip - I will try something else.

01-21-2012, 17:39
WOO: Most alcohol stoves put out too much carbon monoxide to be safe indoors. Burning 20 ml once won't kill you but sure isn't good for you. Breathing too much methanol also isn't good for you. There's an article on CO from stoves at BackpackingLight.com. This is definitely a "don't try this in the home" event.

Ethanol does definitely have a higher energy content than methanol, but which works better probably depends on the stove.

01-21-2012, 23:12
Kleen Strip is about 45-50% Ethanol and 50-55% Methanol...
(view MSDS on the product page)

Wise Old Owl
01-21-2012, 23:45
Yea so that would cancel any claim of any increase in power of an Ethanol over Methanol for the moment. I will pick up a liter of Ethanol only on Monday .... That Pic on the other thread of cases of Heet for the Ididerod was amazing...

01-22-2012, 05:53
A couple of misleading examples that are often quoted are the alcohol stoves used by mushers and pyramid tents in Antarctica.
In both cases the devil is in the detail.
For the tents, "those" Arctic Pyramids are 30lbs plus jobs with 2" plus poles . Each panel is pole supported, so hardly comparable with the silnylon/Cuben whatever LW 2-4 person jobs folk describe as "Arctic" worthy...

Mushers use alcohol stoves (they are really just a large dish...) because they are maintenance free and relatively safe, to them those two things are much more important than BTU and all of that...
So a 5 gallon drum with a 3-4 gallon pot inside is not to be compared with the kind of set ups hikers use.
(BTW, one of the rules for the Iditarod is that you need to be able to bring 3 gallons of water to a boil at one time....)


01-23-2012, 22:58
Yea so that would cancel any claim of any increase in power of an Ethanol over Methanol for the moment. I will pick up a liter of Ethanol only on Monday .... That Pic on the other thread of cases of Heet for the Ididerod was amazing... Hi, Woo,

Ah, see this is where you hid the alcohol thread, in the cooking section. I was looking in the gear section.

Yeah, denatured alcohol varies a lot. Kleen Strip SLX is bascially just methanol. Klean Strip makes a second type called Kleen Strip Green which is better.

Sunnyside brand denatured alcohol has a pretty good ethanol content.

Try one of those and let's see.


Wise Old Owl
01-27-2012, 18:12
Everclear or pure Ethanol was a disappointment, Taking the above measurements 20 ml of Ethanol boiled water a little longer than six minutes. So Ethanol is not as hot and it burns slightly slower. It did keep going for an extra minute after achieving temp. But that's a two minute difference over Methanol.

01-27-2012, 18:43
Slower isn't neccessarily a bad thing if you get better fuel economy. Just as with stove design, taking an extra minute or two to get to a near enough boil, but doing it with less fuel, can be worth it. Ethanol has more BTU per ounce so the potential is there. Isopropanol has even more BTU per ounce, but much harder to get to work. Fun challenge though. I've been focusing on vegetable oil, with jute twine wicks. Slow, but efficient, and fast enough for soup. Might play some more with maybe alcohol for the early stages and vegetable oil for the long simmer.

01-27-2012, 18:58
jak take a look at my 2 for one stove on you tube it burns alcohol then when its gets gone the olive oil takes over for a simmer at [ rjburg ]

Wise Old Owl
01-27-2012, 19:14
Butane 130,000 Btu/gal
Methanol 57,000 Btu/gal
Ethanol 76,000 Btu/gal

Now that I have tested it on my stoves I am unconvinced that this is the right way to go, besides Methanol is cleaner burning - Ethanol blackens the pot, and requires cleaning off the soot before storing.... This is working at all.

01-27-2012, 19:15
That must be where I got the idea. I'll check it out again. You tha man Oops.

01-27-2012, 19:21
Your probably write WOO, but its still worth trying just for fun. I use wood some of the time anyway, so I don't mind a little extra soot. I don't like 95% isopropanol but I like the challenge. I am focusing my trials on wood, with 99% ethanol as backup because I carry it for first aid, and vegetable oil as backup because it doubles as food, and is fun to play around with as a lamp, and does a good job at simmering my lentil soup where I want a slow heat anyway. I use jute twine for my wicks, which I have to include as a consumable, but its fun to play with for lashing stuff.

I'll do some messing around tonight after checking out Oops video again.

Wise Old Owl
01-31-2012, 21:31
I hate soot.