View topic - Fireboxes vs Twig Stoves

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2014, 10:36 am 
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My two cents worth:

I have an original Bill Mason Fire Box. He called it the "Envirnmental Fireplace." The advantage is that it doesn't scorch the ground, minimizes fuel, and focuses the heat to the pot on the rack above the fire. The fire is also sheltered inside the box. Best of all it can be moved up under your tarp when raining to dry things, and for comfort. Mine works on snow and I've used it Ice Fishing , which is nice.

Disadvantage is that mine is heavy. You must assemble it each time. When packing - it must be cooled and cleaned and properly placed in it's bag. Of course it's dirty. It's a chore to portage. Adds big time to my kit weight. Mine was cheap in the 1980s when purchased. Today they cost something like a hundred dollars but never wear out. I guess some are lighter now. I would go for that.

A "Fire Box" might be made from an old tool box, or a Colman Camp Stove, which comes with a grate. The tool box idea might be useful to safely store breakables on the trail such as a camera.

Take a muel or your strongest "Number One Son" for the portage.

Cheers


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PostPosted: May 25th, 2014, 11:01 am 
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I was pm'd to elaborate on an IKEA canister stove I mentioned earlier in this thread. Since that time, I managed to get a really good deal on my buddy's 2nd hand Varga - Titanium Fire Box Grill and thought it would be worth comparing them.

Ikea Canister can be found here: $5.00
http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/30011832/
I picked up the pot holder cross slats from a Magic Heat (gel fuel) stove at Canadian tire for $9.00 and used the gel fuel for a fondu party.
http://www.scientificutility.com/prod_heat.html

Using a dremel and cutting wheel, I cut out extra air holes at the bottom and a larger feeder slot near the bottom. This wasn't absolutely necessary but the feeder slot comes in handy especially when lighting your tinder. I've been using the canister stove on and off for about 3 years. I really like it. My mini-solist titanium cookware set and a Sea-Summit folding cup nest in it nicely.

Here is the Varga Titanium Fire-box Grill: Retail $85 at MEC. I was given it for much cheaper. When its set up it reminds me of one of those old school Hibatchi grills from the 70's. I was quite excited about this thing:
http://www.vargooutdoors.com/fire-box-grill.html#.U4IEzfldWSo

Both stoves in their packed form:

Image

Specs:
Varga: 5.8 Oz, 8" x 8" wide and 3" deep
Ikea: 6.6 Oz (including slats), 4.5" diameter x 5" deep

After setting up the Varga, I was a bit skeptical of the relatively small volume of this stove for loading wood/twigs. While it locks together nicely, its not super stable when on uneven ground. But I did put a 1.3L pot full of water on top of it and it managed fine. The volume aspect turned not to be as much of a problem as I worried about. I was able to load slightly less, but generally similar amounts of wood using the Varga or Ikea cannister. Both allow me to use saw-cut (Swiss army knife saw or Opinel saw) bigger chunks of 1.5" sections of wood rather than hand snapped twigs which gives considerably longer burn time and generates coals which can also be used for cooking and simmering.

Varga
Pros.
-Folds flat and comes with a nice nylon carrying case. I thought the weight savings would be higher over my Ikea canister but the specs didn't bear out that way. However, the flat folding design means it can be packed more easily.
-It works as intended. Nothing fancy or mechanical to break. Strong enough to do the job and its grill can accommodate a variety of different pots. I would say that 1.5L pot would be about the max.
Cons
-Wood load capacity is limited. However, it was sufficient for cooking and this turned out to be less an issue than I thought.
-Have to remove pot and flip grill to load wood while its burning. This is a bit less convenient than my canister stove where I can drop fuel between the slats at the top or use the feeder hole.
-Doesn't work with a trangia alcohol stove. The 3" height between floor and grill is too shallow to use as a wind guard for a trangia. It is possible to do it, but the trangia burns less efficiently this way.
-Stove is lifted off ground only about 1/4". It will produce a scorch mark on the ground. Can't use it on a table.
-Expensive. $85 retail is a tough price to swallow unless you are specifically looking for the features this has to offer.

Ikea Canister Stove
Pros
-Cheap - $14.00 for cannister and buying the slats from another piece. Or get creative (steel tent pegs work, but not as effectively)
-Robust and stable. It feels more secure loading pots onto it compared to the Varga
-Ability to drop fuel in from the top and using the feeder hole
-Works with trangia alcohol burner as a wind guard. Helps to sit the stove on its cap to lift it slightly (opposite problem of Varga, but easy to work around)

Cons
-Some assembly required
-Creates a burn scar on ground, like the varga
-Takes more time to cool, especially this hot little slats
-Doesn't break down. I tolerate this because I can nest a pot set within the canister stove so it really doesn't take that much extra room.

Both stoves were similar in efficiency. These aren't high efficiency gassification stoves nor do they have a fan or other gadget. Just a confined space to start a little fire in and boil water over. I'd suggest if anybody were interested in getting a twig stove that they start off with a cheap homemade one first and try it out along side of their regular stove options a few times first. You can use a coffee can or soup can (which eventually burn out on you) or something like the IKEA canister. CDN tire offers something similar to it in the utensil section.

Caveats to using twig stoves as a replacement to a camp stove.

The number of commercial offerings of twig stoves seems to have really risen in the past few years and more and more people are switching to them. The main advantage is that you don't have to cart fuel. Since twig stoves can accommodate small pieces of wood and generally burn efficiency, wood can be had even from well scavenged campsites where most people are looking for campfire wood.

However, folks need to have sufficient fire craft skills to work a twig stove especially when dealing with raining/wet/downpour conditions. Under these conditions you usually have to set up a tarp or shelter. Sometimes your only option is to split wood to get at inner dry pieces. The difference in time and effort between making the stove work on a sunny dry day, snapping twigs picked of the ground to foraging standing wood and sawing 2-4" pieces to split under downpour conditions is substantial. Having some fire/starter tinder helps. I really like the Coghlan firesticks (wax pressed sawdust). A quarter piece of one of these fire sticks will stay lit long enough to dry semi-wet twigs (but not full on soaked pieces).

Personally, I also like to take a trangia alcohol burner and some fuel (about 250 mL) for those miserable times when all you want to do is drink a warm cup of soup and not mess with a fire. The problem with alcohol stoves is that they require lots of fuel if you rely on them exclusively for all meals and the required fuel weight easily exceeds that of most canister stove options out there. But in combination with a twig stove (especially when they work together) you can come to a nice balance of not bringing too much fuel and meeting your cooking needs during a trip.

Twig stoves may or may not be considered as open fire depending on where you are at. Some places will allow canister-type fuel stoves but not twig stoves during fire bans. Make sure you are in compliance with the local regulations and take the same safety precautions as you would with a campfire. Utility gloves are a must when working and cooking with twig stoves.


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PostPosted: May 25th, 2014, 1:06 pm 
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Joined: February 12th, 2004, 9:28 am
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Location: Waterloo, ON
That Ikea canister looks like it might be worth picking up. Almost ready made to be used as a twig stove.

kgd wrote:
Twig stoves may or may not be considered as open fire depending on where you are at. Some places will allow canister-type fuel stoves but not twig stoves during fire bans. Make sure you are in compliance with the local regulations and take the same safety precautions as you would with a campfire. Utility gloves are a must when working and cooking with twig stoves.


This is one of the gotcha's. In Ontario a twig stove is still an open fire and isn't allowed during a fireban. At least not in the provincial parks.

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PostPosted: May 26th, 2014, 6:01 pm 
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Location: a bit south ofWinnipeg
In theory in Manitoba Prov. Parks fires are only allowed in designated firepits at any time so technically these are illegal at any time except when there is complete snow cover.

In practice this rule is widely ignored and I usually carry a stick stove and use it discretely whenever conditions are right. I prefer designs with a complete base plate as they reduce scorching and make it easy to just pick the whole thing up to dump the ashes in the water.

I designed a stand for use with Kelly Kettles and open grate stoves to keep them from scorching the ground.
Image

I just got tired of seeing burnt black circles on the grass and on picnic tables in UK campsites but it works just as well in a more natural setting.

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PostPosted: June 12th, 2014, 8:24 pm 
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Location: Sunny Wasaga Beach
Splake,

I have made and ‘twig’ stoves rather than ‘fireboxes’ per your definition above. Actually, I have made a bit of a hobby of making twig stoves. Bulk as well as weight is important of course. If have used a couple of methods of joining ‘panels’ together that require very few common hand tools to make and are tolerant of warping. This allows thin sheet metal to be used, reducing the weight. They can also be used in different configs so that they can be used with or without bottom draft, with or without bottom plates to protect the soil underneath. If you’d like some details that you may be able to use to make the larger fireboxes pls send me a PM and I can send you pix and descriptions.

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