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  1. #1

    Default Alcohol Stove and Low Air Temps

    Has anybody here ever used a homemade alcohol stove in colder weather? I've heard that it can be a bit of an issue to get going if it's really cold out and was hoping some other alcohol stove users might be able to lend some insights. Is it feasible to use in Georgia in March? Will warming the fuel beforehand in my pocket help at all?

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    aka -OvertheEdge- :)
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    I have gotten my Pepsi can stoves to work in cold weather. By carrying the stove and the fuel in a pocket close to my body. I have also set my stove close to where I was building a camp fire ( I only build fires in cold weather). I do not set my stove on the ground or a metal plate. I set it on wood or a glove or a rock that was heated by my fire. Warm your wind screen also and get it around your stove as quickly as possible. Note you will use a lot more fuel to get a boil than in warmer weather. My definition of cold is ice and snow on the ground but not bitter cold. I do not carry a thermometer.
    Alcohol was involved!

  3. #3
    aka -OvertheEdge- :)
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    I use mine in PA in March.
    Alcohol was involved!

  4. #4
    Registered User Doughnut's Avatar
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    I used mine in december (15 degrees) in Georgia. May take a little longer to boil, but, YES, it works.
    Actually, Mine worked better than another's cannister stove!

  5. #5
    Registered User Doctari's Avatar
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    Use mine all the time; Hot, warm, cool or cold weather. For cooler weather I add a small "Priming pan", basically a cat food can cut to 1/4" high. It doesn't really register on my scale that weighs in 1/8 OZ increments. I splash a little alcohol in the priming pan as I'm filling the stove then I light that first. Be sure to use a properly sized wind screen & you should have no problems, especially if in a protected campsite.
    Keeping the alcohol in a pocket does help! Just make sure the lid is on TIGHT!

    Edit: I have used mine down to at least 20, maybe colder.
    Last edited by Doctari; 11-18-2009 at 09:18.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

  6. #6
    Registered User Hikes in Rain's Avatar
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    I've used my Cat can stove at 8*. Took two fillings to heat water for coffee, but that water did have ice crystals in it.

  7. #7
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    I carry an open vent pepsi can stove inside an Etowah stove body (I know, I know) and never had any issues firing it up and never had to "warm" up the fuel. Lucky I guess.

  8. #8
    Cooking in the Backcountry LaurieAnn's Avatar
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    My friend Dale, who also reads here (so I hope he'll chime in) created a wicking system for his WhiteBox stove to use in colder weather.

    Actually Dale explains how he did it on the following link around posts 8 and 10.... WhiteBox Stove

  9. #9
    Registered User Cheers's Avatar
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    I searched the forums on this subject a little while ago. Some links were posted that were helpful, mainly youtube instructionals. One guy came up with a great idea of suspending his pepsi can stove inside an old baked bean can. He then used a tealight candle under the pepsi stove to preheat the fuel. The baked bean can also doubled as a great potstand. He demonstrated it outside with a temp of 6* and it worked great. I think i also just did a youtbe search for "alcohol stove cold weather" and that came back with plenty of ideas. I've used mine in low 20's, upper teens and had good luck with simple body warming.

    Good luck.
    Cheers

  10. #10
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    i use the anti-gravity stove that comes with the cone kit. never warmed the fuel. never had any problems down to zero. i do suggest carrying extra fuel in winter as you may need to melt snow for water.
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

  11. #11
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    I've built quite a few alcohol stoves over the past year and have noticed that some styles don't work very well in cold weather. Most noticeably the sideburners that are also the pot stand. Even if they prime fine sometimes the cold from the pot will leech into the stove and cause it to sputter and die. I've only used Ti pots so I don't know if alluminum will do the same thing. I would recommend a cat or penny style stove with a very tight fiting windscreen for winter camping.

  12. #12
    Garlic
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    My pepsi can stove works fine in moderate winter conditions in the Colorado Rockies, 0*F, calm winds, below treeline (11,000'). I wouldn't take it on a long trip in winter because of the extra fuel needed to melt snow, but it's fine for an overnighter and when you can usually find surface water. I've never prewarmed the stove or fuel, but it's not a bad idea.

    I find that the slower priming is helpful for melting snow. The lower flame is good for getting a little water in the pan to start with.
    "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

  13. #13
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    hardest thing for me is getting the cigarette lighter to light when really cold. my pocket isn't even warm enough to prewarm the bic!
    Lazarus

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheers View Post
    One guy came up with a great idea of suspending his pepsi can stove inside an old baked bean can. He then used a tealight candle under the pepsi stove to preheat the fuel. The baked bean can also doubled as a great potstand. Cheers
    That would be me . I have found the candle isn't needed. Just pour some alcohol onto the insulation around the stove and light to pre-heat the stove. Works to well below zero. Alcohol will light down to some pretty cold temps.

    The trick is to keep the stove from touching anything which can wick the heat away from it and keep it shielded from the wind.
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  15. #15

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    Last winter I went hiking with the "Parade of Fools" from Pen-Mar park north. We had a fire at night. In the winter I carry a stainless water bottle to use as a hot water bottle (inside an insulated holder). I brought the water close to boiling and put it in the holder which then went into my sleeping bag with me and my alcohol stove fuel bottle. All the above were warm, and in the morning, at a temp. around 10 degrees, using the warm water and alcohol which I slept with, I got the water boiling in just a little longer time than it takes in the summer.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  16. #16
    Registered User russb's Avatar
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    Not all alcohol stoves ar the same. I have used both the starlyte and fancee feest in sub-zero temps without having to to do anything different. Both stoves were filled with alcohol that was at the ambient air temps and both light instantly. They are wick based stoves, not jetted.

  17. #17
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Alcohol does not vaporize too much below freezing. So, the alcohol needs to be warmed up or possibly wicked in order to light. Once light, the ambient temperature is lower, so heat loss is greater, and it will take longer for water to boil.

    If you are not starting until March, then you have all winter to experiment.

  18. #18
    NOBO toBennington, VT plus 187 mi in MH & ME
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    Last spring I hiked after the Franklin Hiker's Bash and got caught in that Norther that came through. Sub 20 degrees.

    Yes, the alcohol stoves are harder to light. They don't go "Wooosh!!" in the cold.

    I found a scrap of paper in the center provided a temporary wick to get things started. That's all it took. (Seems like I used toilet paper, but any paper would do.)
    Grinder
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  19. #19

    Default I used to use mine in winter

    cat stove. 9 degrees was the lowest recorded temp i used it in. I warmed the stove by a fire until i was able to light it. it did fine - but refilling meant starting with cold fuel again, so it was limited to warming water. if hiking and camping are not challenging enough you can always take a homemade alc stove in winter - it will add un-necessary challenges to the event.
    read the instructions on the trangia site for winter useage - it may help explain what you are trying to overcome - and why they suspend the stove. good luck.
    If its okay with the rest the herd, then its okay with me. Moo.

  20. #20

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    Thank you everyone for the advice - I'll experiment this winter and see what works for my stove.

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