Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Denatured Alcohol - Fuel for Your Alcohol Stove

Denatured alcohol (ethanol with methanol added as a denaturing agent) is known by a variety of names. This is probably the best choice of fuel for your alcohol stove because it burns cleaner and produces more efficient heat.

It is also called methylated spirits, shellac thinner, marine stove fuel, liquid fondue fuel, or chafing dish fuel. It is easily found in marinas, boat shops and in the paint departments of most hardware or big box stores. Many brands of this alcohol are specifically marketed for use as marine stove fuel, fondue fuel or chafing fuel.

This form of alcohol fuel contains a high percentage of methanol and other poisonous chemicals. There is a large variety of chemicals in the contents of denatured alcohol that will affect the burn rate and cleanliness when being used as a fuel for your alcohol stove. You can test the quality of any brand of denatured alcohol by burning a small amount in an open metal or ceramic dish and then checking for any residue afterwards. If there is a large amount of residue, you will probably need to use a different brand.

It is an unsafe practice to store even the small propane cylinders in a vehicle. Because of this, an alcohol stove is a much better choice for an emergency heat source that can be kept in your vehicle with your other emergency supplies. Its main advantages are its low cost, its ability to be extinguished by water, and it is easily transported without the use of special containers.

Denatured alcohol will also be easier to find in an emergency situation and will probably be more readily available over a longer period of time. Retail stores often run out of propane cylinders or other forms of stove fuels very quickly in an emergency situation. The probability of a loss of electrical power may make other fuel sources scarce or unavailable.

Most types of alcohol, such as isopropyl alcohol (“rubbing” alcohol”), can be burned for fuel as well. They may be more costly or they may not burn as clean but you will probably be able to find it still on the shelf in an emergency.

Staying above the water line!

Riverwalker

13 comments:

Abraham said...

You've been on a run of great posts!

Hear in the Northeast many of us have oil for primary heat. I add a pint of denatured alcohol to my 250 gallon tank whenever it gets filled to keep it from freezing, help to dry out any water in the oil and keep it flowing nicely.

Anonymous said...

I have one of those Swedish Trancia alcohol stoves, along with pot, 'skillet' (of sorts) and cooker, all together in a Swedish gas mask bag. No parts to break / malfunction, not the hottest of flames, but it'll warm your coffee or soup with little effort. Also a great 'handwarmer' in cold wet weather on deer stand, though I do wonder if fumes are hurting my chances at seeing something.

I figure the more comfortable I am, the more I pay attention. Well, that or I fall asleep on stand, lol.

riverwalker said...

To: Abraham

It will work great for helping to combat moisture condensation in gas tanks. Just don't use it with diesel fuel, you'll need a regular diesel fuel conditioner. Thanks.

RW

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

Fumes can be dangerous. Just make sure you have good ventilation and try to avoid inhaling any fumes directly. Most fuels have additives that can create dangerous fumes. Propane may be the exception.

Make sure you have a good TMA certified full body harness so you don't fall out of the stand. The fall probably won't hurt you but the landing can be real"hard" on the body! LOL

Thanks.

RW

Jayce^ said...

I have a bit of this on hand for my various alcohol stoves. (reminds me, I need to post about those). Great for light packing. Another option to use for this is the "Heet" gas additive product. Similar composition and usage, but is often of a very good quality, you know it'll burn clean.

riverwalker said...

To: jayce

Heet is good also as fuel but may not be as readily available. Thanks.

RW

Anonymous said...

Just a note,and a few question's. In Siberia,they used to add vodka to the brake fluid to prevent it from freezing...a waste to me,but if it work's!
Here in the southwest,we all have a southwestern style.. So I got a few kerosene railroad lantern's for the patio,mostly for decoration,but functional. I haven't used them,but if they work on kerosene,they should work on diesel fuel,right? what about veggie oil? I think Alchohol might be too much,but..

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

You can use vodka...it's a high quality grain alcohol - pretty expensive though, even if you use the "cheap" kind.Alcohol makes a pretty good but flammable anti-freeze in a pinch.

Denatured alcohol is basically a grain alcohol with addititves to prevent consumption (it's toxic, so don't drink denatured alcohol) and avoid the liquor tax.

I don't think I'd use diesel in your kerosene lamps. If you wanted to use diesel for heating you could just make on old style "smudge pot".

Put some rags or cottonseed in a metal can and soak with diesel and put a match to it. Makea a decent outdoor heaters, I've used this type before when working in the oilfield.Not good for indoors.

Might use some citronella oil - like thy use for "tiki" torches.

RW

Anonymous said...

Just scored an Optimus 111B multi-fuel stove on ebay - its used so I'm hoping its still good - inspection was encouraging.

riverwalker said...

To:anonymous

Multi-fuel stove..this is a good thing.

RW

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had trouble or favorable results with carrying a small amount of denatured alcohol in a different container than the one purchased in? I do not want to take the whole container winter camping/backpacking. Plastics? #2, #7, #?, Will they work?

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 7:01

I've used old hydrogen peroxide bottles (the brown plastic ones) without any problems. They usually come in a small and a large size and have worked good for me. Thanks.

RW

Anonymous said...

I also have a jiffy heat that I picked up used at a Good Will store probably 7 or 8 years ago. I usually use Heet in it, though I have used rubbing alcohol before. Have also had good luck making stoves out of pop cans from plans on the internet. The tough part there is the accessories, pot holder, etc.

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