Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cold Weather Tips for Alcohol Stoves

I can recommend at least four "tricks" for alcohol stoves in cold weather:
  1. Keep your alcohol in a coat pocket or somewhere where it will stay warm.
  2. Use methanol such as comes in the yellow bottle of HEET that can be purchased at Walmart, auto parts stores, etc. Methanol generally has a higher vapor pressure than denatured alcohol and will work better in cold. DON'T drink methanol, don't breath the fumes, and don't get it on your hands. Methanol is toxic and can lead to severe neurological problems, blindness, and death. Yipes!  But if you're safe how you pour and burn, it's no big deal.  Don't be intimidated; just be careful.
  3. Use a priming pan. I use the lid from an old tin of tea. The lid is slightly bigger in circumference than my stove.  Put the lid underneath your stove. Pour some alcohol in the priming pan and ignite. The alcohol in the priming pan will warm the stove and provide for faster vaporization.
  4. Insulate! Put something like some closed cell foam cut from an old backpacking pad under the stove. You don't want snow or cold ground sucking the heat out of your stove. I wrap my closed cell foam in duct tape to a) protect the foam and b) prevent spills from getting into the foam which could catch fire while operating the stove. Don't ask me how I know that last bit. ;)  On top of the foam, I set a circular cut out of approximately 36 ga. aluminum sheet on top of which I set the alcohol stove.  The little circle of aluminum helps diffuse the heat so you don't screw up your duct-tape wrapped pad.
Got other tips?  Please send 'em my way. 


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  1. Jim- tip #4, what prevents the heat from the stove from melting the duct tape and CCF?

  2. Hi, JERMM,

    Good catch. See the above update.


  3. How about using foil tape instead of duct tape & an AL disc?


My apologies to real people, but due to Spammers I have to moderate comments. I'll get to this as rapidly as possible but do understand that I like to hike and there's no internet in the wilderness. Take care and stove on!