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  1. #1
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    Default Alcohol Stove Question

    I just made myself a fancy feast stove the other day and had a question regarding how much fuel I need. I'll be using it in the morning to boil water for coffee and in the evening to boil water for food. How much fuel would I need for 3-4 days of use? Or how long would an 10oz bottle of fuel last using it twice a day to boil water?


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  2. #2
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    I think you will need to test it for yourself. The efficiency of your system is based not just on the stove, but also on the pot and windscreen you are using. I would put the amount of water in the pot that you need to boil (first for breakfast and then for dinner). Load up the stove with more than enough fuel to boil that. Then time to see how long it takes to boil and how long it takes for the flame to go out. For example, if you find that with 2 oz of fuel, you boil your water in 4 minutes but the flame goes out in 8 minutes, then you probably need about 1/2 of your fuel (1 oz) for breakfast.

    Keep in mind that real life conditions (wind, air temp, water temp, etc) will affect the boil times, making it difficult to guess the right amount of fuel to use. Guess too low and you run out of fuel before your water is hot enough. Guess to high, you will have more fuel than you need and waste the extra. Consider that if you are only heating water for coffee in the AM, you may not need to bring it to a boil, depending on how you make your coffee and how hot you want it.

    Another option it to make a device to snuff the flames so that excess fuel can be retrieved. This takes some of the guess work out of how much fuel to use, but pouring unused fuel out of a cat food can stove can be tricky. Getting an device to suck fuel might be a good idea if you go this route. Some balk at taking extra stuff, but if it allows you to use fuel more efficiently, then in the long haul, it may be a good investment. Sort of a personal preference thing.

    Another option, is to get a rough estimate of how much fuel you will need with some simple testing and then take twice as much as you need. Then when you get back, measure how much fuel you used and calculate the average daily use. With practice, you will find out what is appropriate for your system. For 3 to 4 days, the amount of extra weight you carry until you get your system tuned in won't be a back breaker.

    Testing is part of the "fun" of stove building!

  3. #3

    Default Alcohol Stove Question

    I generally assume one "feast" can of fuel per meal. Admittedly I like to take my time during meals and keep my water warm for tea and such. By assuming one can of fuel per meal I assure myself a little extra fuel. 16 oz of fuel will last me about 10 days so I would think your 10 oz would suffice for a 3-4 day trip.

  4. #4
    Ricky and his Husky Jack
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    Yeah, if you don't have time to experiment by trying the stove out at home (you can just add an ounce of fuel, place your pout on top, and see if it is enough to boil or not) then Just buy a regular 10oz bottle of Heet with you, and use it on the trail. that should be more than enough for a 3-4 day trip.

    Then when you return, you will know exactly how much to take next time
    Me: Ricky
    Husky: Jack
    Skeeter-Beeter Pro Hammock.
    From Dalton, Georgia (65 mi above Altanta, 15mi south of Chattanooga)

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the ideas. I'll probably pick up a can of fuel from home depot and have some fun this weekend. There's a state park 15 minutes away and I love an excuse to take a overnight trip.

  6. #6
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    I used my FF stove a few weeks ago while SW fishing with my brother. I filled the can with fuel to the bottom of the lower row of holes, used a wind screen and it took about two oz. of fuel because of the wind conditions.

    "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
    Isaiah 55:12

  7. #7
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    I use a penny stove so not a direct comparison. Definite +1 on the testing method recommended by OMO and yes, various factors will affect your burn time/btu output. As for reclaiming fuel, I can snuff mine out with the lid of a can (also serves as the base of the stove) and then pour through one of the burn holes back into the HEET bottle. The hole makes a nice "spout" and a tiny stream of fuel that is easy to pour. The FF will be slightly messier with the big holes but if you pour carefully you could work it out. Knowing how much fuel to use in advance and with experience will make this much easier over the long haul.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  8. #8
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    Another thing to keep in mind to save fuel is that you don't really have to boil the water. I remember from chemistry that extra heat is required to get water to actually boil after reaching 212F (delta H vaporization). If you're going to cook pasta, 210F, say, is good enough, and you'll save fuel. Again, that's part of experimenting with your stove. Some hikers use pot cozies to save fuel, too.

    Another factor with alcohol is the breakeven point of fuel weight. I've heard different numbers, but many agree that if you routinely carry more than 10 ounces of alcohol, you might be better off with gas. It all depends on your hiking and camping style.
    "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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    I use the same stove. 3 to 4 days should be between 6 and 8 ounces cooking twice a day. I fill my stove until the liquid is just below the bottom holes in the stove. This generally enough to boil two cups of water and then some.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't--you're right--Henry Ford; The Journey Is The Destination

  10. #10
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    After some experimenting with a couple different alcohol stoves I think I'm going to stick with my MSR Micro Rocket. At 3.5oz it really isn't saving much weight to switch to alcohol. I made a coke can stove which did better in boil time (16oz water to boil) and total burn time (2oz of alcohol burn to end) compared to the fancy feast. But neither were anywhere close to the MSR. For the few oz of weight addition, I like my MSR.

  11. #11

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    I had some thoughts the last 2 days after reading the comments in this thread on what I didn't like about the fancey feast SuperCat stove.

    When removing the pot, the stove stuck to the bottom of the pot. When the water boils you have a natural tendency to remove the pot. Some alcohol is still in the stove and sometimes the stove will release from the pot and fall to the ground with flames spreading far and wide.

    The boiling alcohol causes a seal to occur between pot and rim of stove.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zelph View Post
    I had some thoughts the last 2 days after reading the comments in this thread on what I didn't like about the fancey feast SuperCat stove.

    When removing the pot, the stove stuck to the bottom of the pot. When the water boils you have a natural tendency to remove the pot. Some alcohol is still in the stove and sometimes the stove will release from the pot and fall to the ground with flames spreading far and wide.

    The boiling alcohol causes a seal to occur between pot and rim of stove.
    Zelph, received my Super Stoves last week. Took one on a trip this past holiday weekend thru the Grayson Highlands Mt Rogers area. Could not be more satisfied, stove performed wonderful. We averaged a coffee in the morning and hot meals at dinner. Thanks for the great little stove!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by zelph View Post
    I had some thoughts the last 2 days after reading the comments in this thread on what I didn't like about the fancey feast SuperCat stove.

    When removing the pot, the stove stuck to the bottom of the pot. When the water boils you have a natural tendency to remove the pot. Some alcohol is still in the stove and sometimes the stove will release from the pot and fall to the ground with flames spreading far and wide.

    The boiling alcohol causes a seal to occur between pot and rim of stove.
    Back when I was experimenting with Supercat stoves, I found that having a small gap between the stove and the pot will increase the power of the stove. This can be accomplished by having a pot stand. This also helps make the pot more stable, but for some they like not having to use a separate pot stand. You can also do this if you have a wire (like a copper wire used for home wiring with insulation stripped off) that loops through a jet over the top of the pot. Make several of these around the perimeter. I found that the increased power made it possible to get good performance with only one row of holes (sometimes called a Simmmercat stove). The extra power made it burn somewhere between a simmer cat and super cat (I always thought the super cat gave too much heat for my taste). This has another advantage in that your stove has a greater fuel capacity. Also, I never had a problem with the stove sticking to the pot, since you don't have so much contact between the pot and the stove. This also, cuts down on the dampening effect of putting a cold pot on a stove, decreasing your priming time a lot. I've moved on to other designs, but if you are interested, you can do your own experiments.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    Back when I was experimenting with Supercat stoves, I found that having a small gap between the stove and the pot will increase the power of the stove. This can be accomplished by having a pot stand. This also helps make the pot more stable, but for some they like not having to use a separate pot stand.
    If you're using a pot stand, why on Earth would you use an open sideburner? Go with a pressurized design and get a lot more efficiency.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post
    If you're using a pot stand, why on Earth would you use an open sideburner? Go with a pressurized design and get a lot more efficiency.
    I know, but this is in response to the OP. Plus there are those who want a stove the is very easy to build, and the simmer cat fits the bill. Not everyone is into stove building.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    ... I found that having a small gap between the stove and the pot will increase the power of the stove ... I found that the increased power made it possible to get good performance with only one row of holes (sometimes called a Simmmercat stove)
    I use the Simmercat all the time, found in my experiments that a greater amount of total heat, over the length of the burn, was extracted from a given amount of fuel than with the double row. Longer to boil, but more than compensated for by the longer burn time. I typically use about 1/2 ounce per meal. I make 3/16" holes instead of 1/4".

    BTW I haven't had pot stick, in over 200 meals, surprised to hear that. Priming is a pain, but I hold the pot raised over the flame immediately after lighting to use ALL the fuel. This also speeds up the priming time as it heats the stove and fuel a bit faster.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by July View Post
    Zelph, received my Super Stoves last week. Took one on a trip this past holiday weekend thru the Grayson Highlands Mt Rogers area. Could not be more satisfied, stove performed wonderful. We averaged a coffee in the morning and hot meals at dinner. Thanks for the great little stove!
    Good things come in small packages. Thank you kindly for the feedback.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wil View Post
    I use the Simmercat all the time, found in my experiments that a greater amount of total heat, over the length of the burn, was extracted from a given amount of fuel than with the double row. Longer to boil, but more than compensated for by the longer burn time. I typically use about 1/2 ounce per meal. I make 3/16" holes instead of 1/4".

    BTW I haven't had pot stick, in over 200 meals, surprised to hear that. Priming is a pain, but I hold the pot raised over the flame immediately after lighting to use ALL the fuel. This also speeds up the priming time as it heats the stove and fuel a bit faster.
    Your test results see spot on. Typically, more powerful stoves are less efficient (just like cars). I found that with my tricks of suspending the pot 1 or 2 mm above the rim of the stove, you can put the pot on the stove immediately after lighting. It burns slowly, but doesn't go out, until it primes and then the jets light up. Slightly less hassle. It was pointed out that it might seem silly to have a pot stand for a stove that doesn't need one, but I should have also pointed out that I'm a bit clumsy and spilled more than one meal, so using a pot stand with a wider base was worth it in my case. I didn't have the stove sick, but I have had flare-ups when lifting the pot. As I said, I'm now using another style. Keep tinkering Wil!

  19. #19
    Registered User Paws60's Avatar
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    I use a Jet Boil with a 3.5 oz container. To boil two cups of water i get on average 22 uses or boils per canister. If I were to use oil for fuel I then would need 22 oz of fuel to do the same job if you figure 1 oz of oil per burn.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paws60 View Post
    I use a Jet Boil with a 3.5 oz container. To boil two cups of water i get on average 22 uses or boils per canister. If I were to use oil for fuel I then would need 22 oz of fuel to do the same job if you figure 1 oz of oil per burn.
    I think this article and graph do a good job: http://thru-hiker.com/articles/stove...ime_14days.php

    The crossover is after 14 days the canister stove becomes lighter in their experiments. Obviously each person's set-up and qty water boiled would change this a bit.

    I plan on 1 fluid oz of fuel per pint of water I need to boil. Noting that ethanol weighs 0.8oz/fluid oz on a 5 days of breakfast/dinner trip (so a 6 day trip eating breakfast the first day in town and dinner the last day in town) I am looking at 8 oz of fuel plus 1 oz stove: 9 oz total. This gives me a bit of a fuel buffer as I can normally pour some back into the bottle depending on wind, temp, etc.

    Compare this to a canister that has 3.5oz of fuel + 3.7oz empty canister + 3 oz stove and the alcohol start weight wins just at the start. If you do average weight per day of hiking alcohol looks even stronger:

    Alcohol weight Day 1: 9 oz, Day 2: 7.4 oz, Day 3: 5.8 oz, Day 4: 4.2 oz, Day 5: 2.6 oz, Day 6: 1 oz. AVERAGE DAY: 5 oz
    Canister weight (assuming 22 burns per 3.5 oz fuel or 0.16 oz/burn .32 oz/day) Day 1: 10.2 oz Day 2: 9.88 oz day 3: 9.56 oz day 4: 9.24 oz day 5: 8.92 oz, day 6: 8.6 oz. AVERAGE DAY: 9.4 oz. If you can get a partially empty canister that will run out perfectly, you can knock this down to 7.5 oz/day but it is still 50% heavier than an alcohol stove.

    There are plenty of reasons to use a canister stove (larger groups, faster boil times, wildfire restrictions, etc.) but for most trip lengths for a solo hiker, alcohol is lighter.

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