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Thread: sterno

  1. #1

    Default sterno

    does anyone cook by sterno on the trail? how long does it take to boil water? How long does one sterno can last if used twice a day? any other info would be appreciated. thanks in advance


  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Bellevue, WA


    I've had to use sterno a couple of times when I couldn't get stove fuel and ... it sucks. Heavy, and potentially leaky, so do put it in a ziplock and I'd suggest also carrying it in external mesh of your pack.

    How long to boil water --- dunno. I got it "hot" but not boiling, and it still seemed to take quite a long time.
    How long does one sterno can last: I think there are a couple of sizes of these, and if I recall last year I got the larger size (?). I think I used it something like 6 or 7 days of heating 1 to 2 cups of water per day (I just cooked dinner, nothing else). But I didn't make any record here, this is just hazy memory.

    I think the big take-away with sterno is ... don't use it if at all possible. In my particular situation I had mailed my stove home and then got a resupply box with "must be cooked" food at a location that didn't offer any sort of alcohol fuel.
    PCT: 2008 NOBO, AT: 2010 NOBO, CDT: 2011 SOBO, PNT: 2014+2016

  3. #3


    I have a gimballed stove on the boat that uses sterno. It is a very 'cool' fuel as Gadget said. I would recommend a 'super cat' alcohol stove long before I recommended anyone carry sterno in their pack....

    ... but. If one were to use sterno, one thing that helps the heat transfer considerably is to have a good wind screen and put the pot as close to the flame as you can. On my 'sea swing' boat stove there is 'chimney' that effectively channels the heat from the opening of the can to the bottom of the pot... with it in place I can get a (small bubble) boil in a few minutes, when I have tried to use it without this part it can barely get water warm enough to make coffee with.

    While I am not recommending sterno, let me know if anyone wants to see a picture of what I am talking about just in case they every find themselves in the position Gadget was in.

    ... on edit: this is what the chimney looks like... I know it may still be hard to figure out what I am describing from this, so if anyone needs a picture of the whole thing let me know.

    Last edited by Sailing_Faith; 04-26-2012 at 00:57.
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  4. #4


    Thanks for the input. I was planning on using this as a fuel in my 72 hour kit or if propane and electricity were gone and I couldn't make a fire because of wet wood and what not. Thanks again


  5. #5

    Join Date
    island park,ny


    i took sterno on one of my first trips to the adirondacks back some 35 years ago. If i remember correctly it took 2 days to boil water(and I dont think it ever reached a full boil.i would think waterproof matches and some hand sanitizer would provide you with a better emergency alternative).

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