Methylated Spirits also known as Denatured Alcohol is the best Alcohol Fuel for your Spirit Burner. Ethanol Alcohol should be the primary Alcohol as it produces more heat but more soot. Methanol produces less heat and is more toxic. Look for BioEthanol as the best fuel for your Alcohol burner.
I’ve been using Spirit Stoves for several years, and combined with my Trangia Cooking System; they have always worked fantastic. As a way to heat your food for minimal cost, Alcohol Burners are amazing.
In the following article, I will answer the question which alcohol fuel should I use in more detail. Please read further if you would like more information.
Which Alcohol Fuel Should I use?
For many starting on their journey using alcohol stoves for the first time, the question which alcohol fuel should I use is often the first that springs to mind.
The name alcohol stove should mean that you can use any form of Alcohol in the burner. Well, no necessarily is the answer to that one.
Choosing the suitable Alcohol for your stove is essential. By choosing the correct Alcohol, you can improve your heat output, decrease your cooking time and heat your food without creating toxic fumes.
Let’s look at the various alcohols that can be used and, more importantly, which ones you shouldn’t use.
Types of Alcohol for Alcohol Burners
There are many types of alcohols available to be used with an alcohol burner which I will go into detail so you can better understand what works, what is best and what you should avoid.
Methylated Spirits/Denatured Alcohol
Methylated Spirit/denatured Alcohol will be the best Alcohol you can use for your spirit burner. Methylated spirits or denatured Alcohol primarily contain Ethanol-based Alcohol but can include Methanol (wood alcohol) too.
Ethanol is an excellent fuel because it is made from organic materials such as corn or sugarcane. You might commonly hear Ethanol being referred to as a bio-fuel and considered a more eco-friendly fuel.
The best thing about using Ethanol based fuel is that the heat production is better than most other alcohol fuels. When comparing Ethanol to Gasoline, the energy produced is 75% of what Gasoline would produce. You can heat your food much faster while using less fuel.
Another positive is that it doesn’t produce any toxic fumes. This is great because the last thing you want to deal with is health risks from using a fuel that produces toxic gases.
It would help if you took care; however, when handling Ethanol based fuels, try not to get it on your skin or in your eyes and never drink it. Ethanol is extremely dangerous if consumed and could cause blindness or death.
The downside to using Ethanol based fuels is that they do tend to give off more soot than some other fuels. This isn’t too much of a problem, and some people get around this issue by adding water to the fuel to help it burn cleaner.
On the other hand, Methanol burns with less soot than Ethanol, but it is considered more toxic than Ethanol. Many suppliers of Methanol fumes are toxic, and when it comes into contact with the skin, the body absorbs the toxins.
The toxins can also enter the body through inhalation and ingestion, so it may be one you might want to avoid. When it enters the body, the liver converts it to formaldehyde, an extremely poisonous chemical.
Methanol also puts out less heat compared to Ethanol based fuels. Compared to Gasoline, Methanol produces 67% of the energy of Gasoline, whereas ethanol produces 75%.
Best Ethanol Based Fuels for Camping Stoves
- Ekofuel (UK) – Ekofuel is 96% pure alcohol made from plant-based sources and is readily available from Amazon. It has been formulated with alcohol stoves in mind and is the #1 best seller in the UK market. Check Amazon for Best Price on Ekofuel.
- Roundfire (USA) – An American equivalent to Ekofuel is Roundfire. It’s plant-based and also is 96% pure alcohol. This is also designed with Alcohol Stoves in mind and is an excellent choice for clean fuel. Check Amazon for Best Price on Roudfire.
If you enjoyed reading this article why not read my article on Trangia Camping Stove Review. It works perfect with alcohol stoves and is my personal favourite.
Alcohol Stove Fuels to Avoid
So above, I have covered the best fuel to use with your alcohol stove; here, I will give you a list of fuels you should avoid using and why.
Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing-alcohol): Isopropyl alcohol will work in your alcohol burner, but I would always suggest to people not to use it. Isopropyl alcohol produces far less heat when burning and burns dirty. When burning Isopropyl alcohol, it produces yellow flames that smell and creates sticky soot. It’s something that I think all camper and backpackers should avoid. It’s cheap but not worth the trouble.
Kerosene: Avoid using kerosene in your spirit burner as it produces terrible smoke and lots of soot on your pans and stinks when burned. The heat output on kerosene is low, so it will take a long time to boil your water.
Gasoline/Petrol: You should never use Gasoline or Petrol, as it is referred to in the UK, in your alcohol stove. Gasoline contains highly carcinogenic additives and can quickly enter your body when inhaled. When burning Gasoline in a spirit burner, it produces yellow flames that give off an enormous amount of soot. Your pots and clothing will smell of burnt Gasoline for days. I would avoid it at all costs because it’s a hazardous fuel.
When choosing which fuels to burn in your alcohol stove, the one clear thing is that you should stick to Alcohol-based fuels.
Ethanol will be your best bet as fuel for your alcohol stove due to its heat output, which is less toxic. It will produce soot on your pans which can be reduced by adding water to your fuel. Remember that adding water to your fuel will reduce the heat output as you are burning Alcohol and water.
Methanol will be your next choice if you want something that produces less soot. It puts out less heat than Ethanol but comes with more health risks when compared too.
You can get many alcohol fuels on the market that contain both Ethanol and Methanol alcohol. You want to get one that has a higher Ethanol content than Methanol for better heat output.
Alcohol fuels come in many names, from BioFuels to Methylated spirit or Denatured Alcohol. The critical thing to remember is the content of Ethanol or Methanol in these products.
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