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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > wax powered stove
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Topic Review (Newest First)
11-17-2011 10:10 PM
hellosailor Your stove had better run for a month on five pounds of white paraffin wax, the kind used in canning, because sailors won't use the stove unless they can buy fuel for it, and the only readily available "wax" that I've met is the white paraffin wax, sold in some but not all grocery and hardware stores for canning.

Outside the US, "paraffin" usually means "paraffin oil" which is called kerosene in the States. Paraffin wax dissolves, slowly, in the less volatile hydrocarbons including naphtha.
11-17-2011 09:32 PM
AdamLein You don't need to convince me! I have a two-burner Cookmate and am satisfied with it. Not enamored, just satisfied. It was inexpensive, I don't overnight very much so we really spend pennies on fuel every year, and it does cook my food. I wish it would cook it a little faster. And I have noticed condensation after using it, but I don't have anything to compare it to besides a pressurized kerosene stove

So that's an issue. It's nice that you have some numbers, but what does that translate to in terms of user experience? At that btu ratio it's gonna take at least 9% longer to cook food, not accounting for the fact that your food doesn't radiate heat slower when you use alcohol. Similarly, what does that 21% difference in heat/water ratio translate to in terms of lost heat when cooking, and discomfort and mildew growth in the cabin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
The real issue is how much power (energy/time) a burner produces. By this measure, non-pressurized ethanol stoves are within about 10% of most marine propane stoves (6800 btu verses 7500 btu); although some propane stoves do have larger burners (~10,000 btu).

An oft-repeated exaggeration. Propane produces about 555 kJ of heat per mol water vapor produced, while ethanol produces about 457 kJ of heat per mol water vapor; about a 21% difference. Add in the water dissolved in the ethanol (ethanol is never completely water free) and the difference is maybe 30%. In other words, not enough to get too excited about.

True, but you don't need to buy and maintain propane tanks, regulator(s), hoses, vapor sniffers, et cetera. You might also be able to get a bit of a break on your boat insurance. Unless you are burning an awful lot of fuel every year, it would take quite some time to make up the difference. In any case, any added expense is worth the peace of mind, IMHO.
11-17-2011 08:27 PM
neverknow
Quote:
Originally Posted by lehigh View Post
Hey all,
I'm a student at Lehigh university and for a group project we are working on a sailing stove that runs on wax. It is very similar to an alcohol stove, but instead of burning alcohol it burns wax.

I am trying to find out if there is any interest from the sailing community in this type of product. I know it sounds weird, but I'm wondering if you can tell me if you would either be really excited by it, might be willing to try it, or even just think it is a terrible idea. Any input is welcome.

If you have an alcohol stove I would especially appreciate any input, what you like about your alcohol stove, what you would like to see improved. All information is helpful. Thanks!
After reading your OP I don't understand why so many are putting you down for trying something new. Don't listen to these ppl who say don't reinvent the mouse trap. Go ahead with your project and I for one hope to see you at the Sail Boat show in Annapolis.

it just a school project. You never know it might catch on.
11-17-2011 07:41 PM
Minnewaska The number one cause of fires on a boat is electrical.... By far. 12 volt is worst.

As zealous as some get about accelerants, they just are not as risky as they are made out to be. Caution and proper procedure are required and accidents do happen. Be careful.
11-17-2011 07:33 PM
OPossumTX
Quote:
Originally Posted by lehigh View Post
Thank you all for the responses. I understand your concerns about soot and residue. That will definitely be taken into consideration.

To address some other concerns, our stove is not just a glorified candle, it is a legitimate stove that is powered by wax. The way it burns, it actually burns significantly hotter than acohol.

One of the reasons we were thinking about targeting sailboats is because of the safety factor. Wax will not just light. If you put a flame to wax it just melts. Our stove is easy to extinguish, and we feel the added safety of a fuel that cannot burn unless it is in our stove is a benefit that you all would be happy to have.

Given this information would any of you consider the use of the stove? Especially if we found a way to limit soot?
Good burner design will go a long way to reducing the soot problem.

One of the bigger problems as I see it is storage of wax of what ever sort in tropical climates. Granted that the fuel is relatively stable, it would have to be reduced to convenient portion sizes for use in the stove. When wax is exposed to tropical temperatures, it tends to, well, melt. This can result in your fuel supply becoming a runny mess if it is not contained or a single lump if it is contained. So, unless it is stored within the container from which it will be used melting could cause several problems.

There are materials which can be used to raise the melting point which could be helpful, but these would add cost to the fuel.

I don't mean to discourage you but to warn you of a problem which you may not have considered. A problem which could cause a serious hitch in your product design. If the fuel is stored in a closed container from which it will be used, this problem may be avoided. Take this as an offer of a suggestion for the fuel storage problem's solution.

I can't help with the burner design. That is far from my area.

Have FUN!
O'
11-17-2011 06:45 PM
SlowButSteady
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamLein View Post
... Some people like unpressurized alcohol stoves for the safety and simplicity, but are sad that alcohol doesn't burn as hot as other fuels ...
The real issue is how much power (energy/time) a burner produces. By this measure, non-pressurized ethanol stoves are within about 10% of most marine propane stoves (6800 btu verses 7500 btu); although some propane stoves do have larger burners (~10,000 btu).


Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamLein View Post
... and usually involves putting more water vapor into the cabin. ...
An oft-repeated exaggeration. Propane produces about 555 kJ of heat per mol water vapor produced, while ethanol produces about 457 kJ of heat per mol water vapor; about a 21% difference. Add in the water dissolved in the ethanol (ethanol is never completely water free) and the difference is maybe 30%. In other words, not enough to get too excited about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamLein View Post
... Another issue is that alcohol is a comparatively expensive fuel.
True, but you don't need to buy and maintain propane tanks, regulator(s), hoses, vapor sniffers, et cetera. You might also be able to get a bit of a break on your boat insurance. Unless you are burning an awful lot of fuel every year, it would take quite some time to make up the difference. In any case, any added expense is worth the peace of mind, IMHO.
11-17-2011 03:17 PM
AdamLein There are a lot of disparagers but it seems that the product is intended to compete with alcohol stoves. Some people like unpressurized alcohol stoves for the safety and simplicity, but are sad that alcohol doesn't burn as hot as other fuels and usually involves putting more water vapor into the cabin. Another issue is that alcohol is a comparatively expensive fuel.

If this new stove were as simple and safe as unpressurized alcohol, with similarly available fuel, but burned hotter and with less humidity, and had cheaper fuel, then it beats unpressurized alcohol.

If the product was intended to compete with pressurized alcohol, that's probably a non-starter. Pressurized alcohol is plenty hot, but nobody uses it because of the danger and difficulty in starting, so this stove would have to promise that it doesn't have the same danger and difficulty of starting. Basically, people who want pressure will use CNG/LPG, and people who don't will used unpressurized alcohol, so that's what you have to compete with.
11-17-2011 02:38 PM
Ulladh Assuming, heat output, safety, and combustion by products items have been resolved, please address fuel availability.

Diesel, propane and to a lesser extent kerosene are available in many locations, would I be able to go to a gas station or hardware store and pick up a generic canister of fuel wax and at a price comparable to other fuels?
11-17-2011 01:19 PM
sailingfool
Quote:
Originally Posted by lehigh View Post
...
Given this information would any of you consider the use of the stove? Especially if we found a way to limit soot?
No. As other posters have said, you aren't proposing to solve a problem of concern to sailors, while you create some new ones. Propane/CNG is a wonderful cooking solution, instant on/off and great heat. Alcohol, less wonderful, but manageable.

I did the paraffin stoves a scout too, it was fun and not bad for an overnight, but a pretty dumb idea for boating. I guess if were to ever go cruising on my windsurfer, I might put one in my backpack.
11-17-2011 12:41 PM
lehigh Thank you all for the responses. I understand your concerns about soot and residue. That will definitely be taken into consideration.

To address some other concerns, our stove is not just a glorified candle, it is a legitimate stove that is powered by wax. The way it burns, it actually burns significantly hotter than acohol.

One of the reasons we were thinking about targeting sailboats is because of the safety factor. Wax will not just light. If you put a flame to wax it just melts. Our stove is easy to extinguish, and we feel the added safety of a fuel that cannot burn unless it is in our stove is a benefit that you all would be happy to have.

Given this information would any of you consider the use of the stove? Especially if we found a way to limit soot?
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