Friday, February 3, 2012

(Pot) Sizing Up the FeatherFire Alcohol Stove

Recently, I reviewed the FeatherFire alcohol stove.  I also took a look at The FeatherFire with a Caldera Cone.  Today, I'd like to take a quick look at what pot sizes work well with the FeatherFire.

So what's the issue? Well, flame spillage for one.
Flames spilling up around the sides of a BPL Firelite 550 pot
If flames spill up around the side pot, they're gone, wasted.  If you want efficient heating, the flame needs to be completely under the pot.

Hey, so no problem; the FeatherFire's flame is fully adjustable, right?

Well, yes, but with a really small pot, you really have to turn that flame down low.  Some pots are going to be too small to really be practical.  Today, I'd like to take a quick look at a few pots just to get an idea of what will work well.

First pot:  The BPL Firelite 550, a small 550ml mug type pot.  Diameter:  Approximately 3 5/8" (92mm).
A BPL Firelite 550 on a FeatherFire.  
Take a look at that photo above.   There's a lot of room for that flame to come out and around that pot, and indeed if you saw the first photo, that's just what the flames do when turned up a bit.  I had to dial things down pretty low in order to avoid wasted flames, and the slightest puff of wind could displace the heat entirely.  A 550ml mug type pot is really too small to be practical on a FeatherFire with a conventional windscreen.  If you're using a specialized, high efficiency windscreen like a Caldera Cone, a 550ml mug type pot works pretty well.

Next up, the MSR Titan kettle, 850ml, 4.5"/114mm diameter.
An MSR Titan kettle on a FeatherFire
The Titan kettle is a little bit bigger than a Firelite 550, but you can still have problems with flame spillage.
Flame spillage on an MSR Titan kettle on a FeatherFire
But I found that I could dial it down a bit and that the flame spillage was minimized or eliminated.
The highly adjustable flame of a FeatherFire can be adequately tuned to work with a Titan kettle
I found that the FeatherFire works reasonably well with a Titan kettle, but I don't think you'd want to go much smaller.

Next up, a 1.3 liter Evernew titanium pot.
A 1.3 liter Evernew Ti pot on a FeatherFire
Well, it's probably no surprise, but a nice big pot like the Evernew 1.3 liter did really well.  Flame spillage of course was easily contained.  Of course, now you're running into the other end of the spectrum:  Pots too large for the stove.  I think the Evernew 1.3 liter did fine, but I wouldn't go much larger.  The pot supports on a FeatherFire are suprisingly strong, but, still, I think you're just asking for trouble if you go much larger than a 1.3 liter pot.

General Observations
A pot that is wider than it is tall is generally better in terms of heating efficiency.  Heating things with a FeatherFire is no exception.  You're going to be better off with a wide, low pot, but the Titan kettle, which is a bit more mug shaped than wide and low, worked reasonably well.

The flame on a FeatherFire is very adjustable.  So adjust it.  Flame spillage is just wasted heat and wasted fuel.  You've got an adjustable flame.  Use it.  With the FeatherFire, it's possible to get efficient heating with a much wider variety of pots than with most alcohol stoves.

Alcohol stoves are quite susceptible to wind.  During my testing, I sometimes saw the flame shifted way over to the side.
Flames shifted to the side by wind
This is another good reason to use a wider pot -- so that your flame will still be under the pot as the wind shifts the flame around.  This also drives home the point that a good windscreen is essential when working with alcohol stoves.

Well, there you have it, a brief look at what pot sizes will work well with a FeatherFire alcohol stove.

Thanks for joining me on another Adventure In Stoving,


Appendix -- Pot Sizes and Diameters

      Pot           Size      Diameter                Remarks        
BPL Firelite 550    550ml   3.625"/92mm   Really too small
MSR Titan kettle    850ml   4.5"/114mm    About as small as you'd want to use
Evernew 1.3L       1300ml   5.75"/146mm   About as big as you'd want to use

All measurements were taken by hand with a ruler and should be considered approximate.

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  1. Do you think the Featherfire would work well with an Imusa 12cm 1.25 liter pot?

    1. Jordan,

      Yes, the Imusa 12 cm, 1.25 liter pot should be fine.



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