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PostPosted: March 25th, 2013, 6:34 pm 
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Location: Shelburne, Ontario
Just bought the Trangia alcohol burner from MEC. Pretty damn cool! My Primus Himalaya omnifuel just got retired, I'm loving this alcohol burner =D

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/HikingCamping/StovesFuel/PRD~4000-918/trangia-mini-stove-with-cookset.jsp

Question:

The manufacturer says it burns methyl alcohol, aka methyl hydrate, but I'm wondering if there's a better fuel available? Maybe something that burns hotter or longer? Anyone know or done any experimenting?

Matt


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2013, 6:54 pm 
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awesomeame wrote:
The manufacturer says it burns methyl alcohol, aka methyl hydrate, but I'm wondering if there's a better fuel available? Maybe something that burns hotter or longer? Anyone know or done any experimenting?
I've always used denatured alcohol, which is ethanol made undrinkable. Available in any hardware store and is cheap. Burns blue and clean. If your burner is burning with a yellow flame, try adding 10% water (yes, water).


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2013, 8:17 pm 
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Gas line anti-freeze is the same stuff.

Two types available in Canada, a basic methyl hydrate or a deluxe version which is mostly ethanol. In the USA look for HEET in the YELLOW bottle. Some other types have more Propanol in which tends to be a bit sooty.

You can sometimes pick this stuff up reduced at the end of the winter when they clear the shelves.

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PostPosted: March 25th, 2013, 9:14 pm 
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Location: Burns Lake, BC
We've always used methyl hydrate. No mess, clean, and cheap.
I also use a homemade caldera cone for incredible efficiency. Search youtube for an excellent how to.
Used mine at -16C yesterday morning.

Good purchase.


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PostPosted: March 26th, 2013, 7:23 am 
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Methyl hydrate is dirt cheap at Canadian Tire. You can get a big jug for ten bucks or less. For some reason it is much more expensive at paint stores. It doesn't have as much energy per ounce as white gas/naptha but the lesser expense offsets the increase in fuel use. Best thing about it is the silent combustion in an alcohol burner.


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PostPosted: March 26th, 2013, 7:42 pm 
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Location: Shelburne, Ontario
OK, well I TOTALLY scored today. Mentioned my alcohol stove to another tenant at my work, and he's like "come here." He knew of two 20liter pails of methanol that previous tenants had left behind and I took them home no charge. Sweet, eh! Should be a nearly lifetime supply!

I did some reading online too...methanol, methyl hydrate, denatured alcohol...they're all the same thing.

I do have a very orange flame and tried adding water to the mix while it was burning but that didn't change the color of the flame. Maybe I need to mix it and shake it before pouring it into the stove?? Also besides a bit less soot, is a blue flame hotter?

Oh, I tried isopropyl alcohol....it stinks and very sooty :tsk:

Matt


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PostPosted: March 26th, 2013, 8:53 pm 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
awesomeame wrote:
I do have a very orange flame and tried adding water to the mix while it was burning but that didn't change the color of the flame. Maybe I need to mix it and shake it before pouring it into the stove?? Also besides a bit less soot, is a blue flame hotter?
Matt


Hi Matt,
Don't worry about the orange flame of the Trangia burner. All Trangia's manufactured for some time now all have that orange flame component, despite using Canadian labeled 99.99% pure methyl hydrate. Mine has the same orange flame portion within the blue flame. Its not in the fuel. Its well known in the alcohol stove tester's Youtube videos, (e.g. HiramCook, MrHiramCook are two of my favourites), and there are various theories out there (e.g. a sodium component in the wicking material used in the wall of the burner). I have never seen anyone demonstrate soot, or any lack of burner performance. Even if they did, who cares about soot? Use a pot bag. All my pots are sooted because I use them over a fire anyways, so I can't tell if the slight orange flame leaves any soot. If its pouring rain I will use the alcohol burner, but otherwise if firewood is dry I am using fire, so the pots are used both ways on a trip. Pot bags are pretty simple.

You don't need to add water to pure methanol. Vaporization of methanol to make vapour to combust into flame, is not helped by a dissolved water component (chemists please correct me if I am wrong). Methanol is more volatile than water and vaporizes at lower temperatures than water. Re your free methanol score: is there an official product label on the containers stating exactly what the contents are, and are these the original manufacturer's containers? If not, you may not be totally sure of what you have. It sounds rather odd to me that you would get 20L for free. In any case that's only about $50 worth compared to guaranteed pure methanol from Canadian Tire, i.e. Methyl Hydrate (99.99% pure methanol) at Canadian tire lists at 4L container for $9.99). http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/6/Tools/PaintStains/PaintThinnersStrippers/PRD~0497127P/Methyl+Hydrate.jsp?locale=en

You will burn more petrol fuel (money) idling your vehicle at the stop lights, and stopping and starting at stop signs on your way out of the city en route to a trip to use the alcohol burner! :D

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PostPosted: March 26th, 2013, 9:59 pm 
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Hi Matt, Methyl Hydrate, aka Methanol, is the simplest form of alcohol in the chemical sense. It is the optimal fuel for any alcohol stove.

Denatured alcohol is not the same as methanol, although it likely has methanol in it. Different companies put different chem blends in their respective denatured alcohols, some of which is nasty for humans to be near (benzene for one). Denatured has a percentage of Ethanol, which is what we drink, but methanol etc is added to make it undrinkable and in fact very poisonous to drink, so it can be made without being taxed as booze.

Isopropyl alcohol (fuel line anti-freeze) is not the same thing as Methanol either, but it will burn well enough in a stove.

Rubbing alcohol is another blend of Methanol, water, and other things.

Methanol burns the cleanest, and if you are burning pure methanol, you need not add any water to it to prevent sooting.

The stuff commonly used in Europe (Sweden, where Trangias come from) is not pure Methanol and so they advise adding a bit of water.

If your flames are yellow, and/or you are getting sooting, what is burning is not pure Methanol or there is something else, as HOOP mentions, burning inside the stove burner which is causing the yellow. It doesn't really matter, it won't change cook times.

Trangias rock IMHO.

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PostPosted: March 26th, 2013, 10:47 pm 
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awesomeame wrote:

I did some reading online too...methanol, methyl hydrate, denatured alcohol...they're all the same thing.

I do have a very orange flame and tried adding water to the mix while it was burning but that didn't change the color of the flame.
I've been using Trangias for more than 20 years. Don't know where you saw that, but methanol is definitely NOT chemically the same thing as denatured alcohol (which is mainly ethanol, at least here in the states). I've never burned the methanol variety, but I do know that if the particular batch of alcohol I am using burns yellow, adding a touch of water does calm any overly yellow flame on a fully open burner. It may depend on the exact makeup of the brand of denatured (ethanol containing) alcohol I happen to be using. That only applies with an open burner - with the simmering ring attached it will always burn with some yellow.

Besides, if your camping buddies don't know the difference, showing them that you "burn water" is a great trick. :clap:


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2013, 1:44 am 
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Matt - why fixing something that works... This is an alcohol stove and methanol is 100% alcohol. So go ahead and burn it. You can find less efficient alternatives, like 70% rubbing alcohol for example. But you won't find anything more efficient than methanol (or ethanol), and either one is not too efficient in terms of heat per mass unit. LP is more efficient, but then you have to deal with cartridge weight. I carry Trangia Mini - like the one pictured here - as a backup to my regular LP stove which I find a lot more convenient in use. Removed that bulky pot from Trangia - have a proper pot set anyway. Made a small plastic box for it, out of water bottle, and it stays there with emergency matches and almost never leaves it.


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2013, 10:24 am 
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Location: West Kootenays BC
There are many alky stoves on the market especially in the backpacking world. They all have plus and minuses depending on how you use them. Trangia's are a well established, robust stove that has a strong following in the paddling world. Trangia's are not considered a hot burning stove in the backpacking world but they simmer which is important to many paddlers. Almost everyone uses Methyl hydrate or in the US, Heet. Isopropyl alcohol does not work well at all in some alky stoves.

bill

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PostPosted: March 29th, 2013, 8:52 am 
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Location: Shelburne, Ontario
OK, well I'll stick with methanol. The 40 liters I got for free is definitely 100% methanol, both containers were sealed as new. Thanks for the info/help!

Adding some water to the mix makes the flame flicker light a campfire which I thought was cool, I'm going to try roasting marshmallows on the flame and see how that goes, lol.

& I'll try the burning ice trick, sounds great!!

Matt


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PostPosted: March 29th, 2013, 7:57 pm 
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I have the same stove...and love it.

Bring some tin foil to act as a windbreak for the stove. It makes all the difference in making sure the heat reaches the pot.

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PostPosted: March 30th, 2013, 11:18 pm 
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It's odd that people find small alcohol burners like Trangia Mini good at simmering. Well, it can simmer, but in rather uncontrollable manner. You can slide that simmering lid on Trangia and reduce the flame roughly in half. Try reducing it some more, and flame goes out. While doing this, you are risking to either flip the stove over, or burn your fingers, or extinguish the flame completely. Doesn't even come close to comfort and precision of flame control knob of my free standing LP stove. Not to mention the short burn time of alcohol burner, when you need to simmer, say, 40 minutes after you've brought it to boil. The flame of this small burner always seems to go out just when I'm few minutes from finishing cooking. Then I have to refill it - taking the pot off, letting the burner to cool down, refilling, lighting it up, placing the pot over again, adjusting the flame again. You never know how much fuel is left in that thing - you don't with LP stove either, but LP cartridge lasts a week, so with LP this doesn't matter.

Yes, the standard wind screen that comes with Trangia Mini is a joke, it doesn't protect from wind. Make your own out of heavy-duty food foil folded several times.

Small alcohol stoves are popular with backpacking crowd, especially on short routes when you can get away with a few ounces of fuel in small plastic bottle.


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2013, 9:32 am 
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Alm wrote:
It's odd that people find small alcohol burners like Trangia Mini good at simmering.


Why do you find this "odd"? People find them good at simmering because they are.

Alm wrote:
Well, it can simmer, but in rather uncontrollable manner. You can slide that simmering lid on Trangia and reduce the flame roughly in half. Try reducing it some more, and flame goes out.


No it doesn't.

Quote:
While doing this, you are risking to either flip the stove over, or burn your fingers, or extinguish the flame completely.


Don't try to adjust the simmer ring while it's on a lit stove.

Quote:
Doesn't even come close to comfort and precision of flame control knob of my free standing LP stove.


Your particular stove maybe, but not all freestanding LPG stoves have precise control.

Quote:
Not to mention the short burn time of alcohol burner, when you need to simmer, say, 40 minutes after you've brought it to boil.


Can't ever recall a time I needed to simmer for 40 minutes while camp cooking. That's a bit extreme.

Quote:
The flame of this small burner always seems to go out just when I'm few minutes from finishing cooking. Then I have to refill it - taking the pot off, letting the burner to cool down, refilling, lighting it up, placing the pot over again, adjusting the flame again.


Have only seen this problem with pop can and cat food can stoves, never a trangia. Have never, ever had to refuel the trangia while cooking.

Quote:
You never know how much fuel is left in that thing - you don't with LP stove either, but LP cartridge lasts a week, so with LP this doesn't matter.


Doubt that LP cartridge will last a week if you're simmering for 40 minutes at a time. Get a little experience with your alcohol stove and you can be very precise with the amounts of fuel necessary to say, boil a litre of water. I find nothing very convenient about dealing with multiple LPG canisters with small bits of gas left over or having to pack along multiple partially filled canisters.

Quote:
Yes, the standard wind screen that comes with Trangia Mini is a joke, it doesn't protect from wind. Make your own out of heavy-duty food foil folded several times.


At least you can put a windscreen around it, not so safe to do with a freestanding LPG stove. My windscreen took ten minutes to make out of a foil oven liner and cost $1.

Quote:
Small alcohol stoves are popular with backpacking crowd, especially on short routes when you can get away with a few ounces of fuel in small plastic bottle.


And very popular with paddlers. 1 litre of methyl hydrate easily lasts me a week. They're also popular with people who value simplicity over convenience, and those who don't like dealing with the recycling issues of canisters (or the cost).

Anyway, since this isn't a "my stove is better than yours" thread, back to the OP.

Canadian Tire sells Ethanol in 4 litre jugs for about $25. It's used for Bioflame alcohol fireplace inserts. You can also find ethanol in marine supply shops under the 'Captain Phab' brand. Ethanol burns hotter than Methyl Hydrate. Some friends swear by it but I'm not sure if it's that much better than MH, especially when you take the cost into consideration (more than twice the price for 4 litres of ethanol vs. methyl hydrate).

Another option for alcohol stove fuel is "fondue fuel" which you can find on the shelf at any Safeway, for around $3 per 500ml bottle. I get mine from Dollarama for $1.25 each. I like the childproof bottles they come in and refill mine often. Only problem is it's typically coloured blue, and will leave stains (fairly easy to clean) and some gunk in the stove.

The yellow HEET that people refer to is gas line antifreeze, available in Canada (even at safeway) but relatively expensive. I don't mess with it because not all gas line antifreeze is alcohol based, and I worry about accidentally picking up the wrong stuff.


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