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Old 09-14-2012
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Re: Alcohol Stove - Non-Pressurized

I had propane on my old boat and had no issues with it.

On my new boat I have an Origo stove with oven. I was a little sceptical about cooking with alcohol.

When I used the left-over marine alcohol that was on the boat, I wasn't dissatisfied but I did notice a difference in cooking times.

I looked into the heat output of some different fuels.

I don't remember the numbers but I do remember that:
  • Isopropyl alcohol has the highest BTU output but leaves a sooty residue.
  • Ethanol (grain alcohol) has a good BTU output, but is very hard to get in its pure form and must be de-natured in order to be sold as a cooking fuel. This de-naturing involves blending the ethanol with another alcohol to make it un-drinkable. The ethanol is de-natured by the addition of either isopropyl or methanol.
  • Methanol (wood alcohol) has the least BTU output of the three. It is very inexpensive and sometimes used as a cooking fuel under the name methyl hydrate.
So ideally you want a fuel that is Ethanol de-natured with a small proportion of isopropyl. I think 10% isopropyl seems to be standard.

I looked into some prices on line and see that you can get some for as little as $22.00 per gallon (Captain Phab) it is a 90-10 Ethanol (I don't know what the 10% portion is but I think it's methanol). I haven't been able to find that kind of price in real life. Usually it's around $12 -$13 per litre (quart).

I found BioFlame at Canadian Tire for $26.00 per gallon. It is Ethanol de-natured with isopropyl making it burn hotter.

I found that I couldn't get the temp in my oven past 350F with the Captain Phab, but burnt my muffins with the BioFlame when the temp topped out at 450F.

I also found that boiling water, making coffee etc. are much faster with the BioFlame.

So the bottom line for me is: I like the alcohol. I don't feel I'm missing much in the heat department.

A downside is that the alcohol tends to evapourate even when the stove isn't being used so I took to estimating the amount I needed to fill the reservoir in order to cook whatever it is I'm cooking.

I've spent as much on cooking fuel as I have on diesel this season.
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