I'm really enjoying your adventures in stoving website.
I'm new to canisters, obviously, so I'm trying to play catch-up. I'm sure this is answered somewhere on BPL or on your website. But would you mind answering these 2 newbie questions?
1) Can the flame on a canister stove get blown out by the wind?
2) In your experience, is a windscreen valuable on an upright canister stove?
This is assuming the windscreen shields the canister from the heat source instead of reflecting the heat towards the canister. thanks for your advice and experience on this topic and others.Yes, a canister stove absolutely can get blown out by the wind. Some Scouts were camped next to me when I was out doing some stove testing of the new 1.0L MSR Reactor. They took great interest in the Reactor when I explained to them that it was the most windproof upright canister stove, remarking "our Jetboils were blowing out on our last trip in the San Jacinto Wilderness." And the Jetboil is actually more wind resistant than the typical upright canister stove.
Now, as to the second part of your questions, "is a windscreen valuable on a canister stove?" In a word, yes -- and for more reasons than just to keep your stove from actually blowing out.
First and foremost of course you want to prevent your stove from blowing out, but that's actually fairly rare. Good site selection should prevent most full blow outs.
Second, though, you want to prevent the wind from shifting your flame. You want that flame well centered under your pot. Take a look at this photo:
|A flame shifted to the right by a very slight puff of wind|
Third, the windscreen helps trap heat. The flame heats the air that surrounds it. That hot air will help transfer heat to the pot, particularly if the windscreen channels the hot air up along the sides of the pot. Remove that windscreen, and the hot air gets dispersed by normal air circulation or wind. Notice how in the photo below that the hot air around the flame is completely free to disperse into the surroundings.
|A very exposed, unprotected flame. Note how the sides are completely open.|
Why a windscreen?
You want to use a windscreen to
- Prevent your stove from blowing out
- To keep the flame centered (i.e. prevent flame shifting)
- To trap the heat near the pot.
What kind of windscreen?
Ah, that's all very well and fine, Jim, but what kind of windscreen should I use? Well, first, do NOT use a full 360 degree windscreen on an upright canister stove. An upright canister stove is a canister stove that screws directly into the canister (sometimes also called a "top mounted" canister stove). If you fully surround the stove, you could trap so much heat that you overheat the canister and cause an explosion, which could have severe if not deadly results.
Here's a windscreen that I've found useful:
|A windscreen made of quadrupled heavy aluminum foil. Note the partial opening to prevent overheating.|
|An aluminum foil windscreen made from multiple sheets of foil.|
|My windscreen rolled and wrapped, ready for packing.|
Note that you need a screen of sufficient height to accommodate the sizes of canisters you will use. A 110g canister is far shorter than a 220g canister which is in turn far shorter than a 450g canister. A windscreen for an upright canister stove on a 450g canister is so tall that it's frankly a royal pain in the posterior. I'm not sure I can really recommend the above shown type of windscreen with a 450g canister.
Naturally, there are a lot of other ideas beyond the simple windscreen I'm showing here. I address some of those ideas in a another blog post: More Windscreen Ideas
Al foil as a windscreen
- Easy to get
- Easy to work with
- Needs to be braced with rocks in moderate to high winds
- Not all that durable (but not all that bad either with reasonable care)
It's cheap, easy, and available, so experiment away. If you find it's not working for you in terms of durability or stability, then by all means seek out tooling foil, flashing, or titanium foil.
I hope you find this helpful,