Backpacking stove fuel additives - Castle Products

Backpacking stove fuel additives

A lot of people interested in going light are trying alcohol as a fuel. But if you head down to the store, you'll see all kinds of alcohol. Which alcohols are good choices for stove fuel? Which ones are poor choices?

Alcohol as a Stove Fuel (in order of best fuel to worst fuel) The best alcohol fuel is ethanol (ethyl alcohol). It has the highest number of calories per gram* of any stove fuel suitable alcohol (I really don't consider dirty-burning isopropanol to be suitable as a stove fuel) and burns reasonably cleanly. If you can get lab grade "absolute" (200 proof) ethanol or 190 proof liquor, that's going to work really well, but both of those (lab grade absolute ethanol or 190 proof "drinking" alcohol) are pretty expensive - if you can even get them. Lab grade absolute ethanol is often restricted as to whom can purchase it (i.e. not the general public), and many locations prohibit the sale of high proof drinking alcohol. Check the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on lab grade absolute ethanol which may contain benzene which is toxic.

Another option is "denatured" alcohol which should consist primarily of ethanol. The problem in the US is that there are no standards for what constitutes denatured alcohol. In fact, some denatured alcohols in the US are less than 50% ethanol. In addition sometimes nasty stuff is used to denature the alcohol (render it undrinkable), stuff like methyl ethyl ketone, whose fumes you don't really want to breathe. "Green" denatured alcohol generally has a much higher ethanol content and a lower "nasty stuff" content. Check the MSDS. The higher the ethanol content, the better it is for use as a fuel. Because higher ethanol content alcohol burns hotter, sometimes the burning will "get ahead of itself, " and you'll get some soot. If the stove is overheating and producing soot, try adding water to the fuel (after you get into your camp site; don't carry it!). Adding water will calm down the burning, allowing the alcohol to mix properly with air and burn cleanly. Try adding a little water at first, and then add more water as needed to eliminate any soot (up to 25% of the total volume).

"Green" denatured alcohol generally has the highest ethanol content.

Outside the US, there is a particular variety of denatured alcohol sometimes available, methylated spirits. Methylated spirits is ethanol with methanol used as a denaturing agent. Methylated spirits is often called "meths" or "metho". Methylated spirits makes an excellent stove fuel. Would that it were available in the US.
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Popular Q&A

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Where can you buy a fuel hose for a backpacking stove?

Try the manufacturer first. Then i would go to maybe REI.com or Campmor or the Coleman website. Possibly depending on where you live there may be a local outdoors store that might carry it. If its an MSR buy it from them directly.

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A backpacker carries 2.5 L of white gas as fuel for her stove.How many pounds does the fuel add to her load?

assume that the density of white gas to be 0.79 g/ cm^3

The key here is that 1 cm^3 is equal to 1 mL and that 1 gram is equal to 0.0022 pounds. Knowing this we can set up an expression:
2.5 L x (1000 mL)/(1 L) x (1 cm^3)/(1 mL) x (.79 g)/(1 cm^3) x (.0022 lbs)/(1 g) = 4.3 lbs.
Hope this helps!!

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