Jun 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm #1260538
I would be very interested to hear about people's experiences with canister stoves in the snow. Specifically: what stove did you use and in what conditions; how happy were you with its performance; and most of all, if you have any numbers on fuel usage. If you have used both white gas and canister stoves for similar trips, and have fuel use numbers for both, that would be great info to have as well. Thanks!Jun 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm #1623515
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
If you subscribe you will find we carry a huge number of very detailed technical articles on exactly this subject.
CheersJun 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm #1623524
before i knew anything about anything, i took a caanister stove in january on a backcountry 1 night trip in rocky mmtn nat park.
elevation – 10k ft
temp high = 28 f, low 5 f
had a pocket rocket.
boiled water for tea and food a couple of times. melted snow just for fun. everything worked , even after the cold night..
the temp when i did all the cooking was probably between 15 and 25 f.
since then i've read so much about elevation adn temp affecting canisters.
of course, i dont know how much gas i consumed since i had plenty.Jun 26, 2010 at 1:39 am #1623535
@holdfastLocale: Bergen, Norway
Roger and Jorgen's interesting discussion on this subject:Jun 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm #1624305
thanks . Interesting. though I'm not thinking of that kind of cold. Just down into the teens F.Jun 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm #1624307
Roger – I expect you do. Unfortunately can't afford the membership right now – nor the new stove, actually. Hoping to be able to do so by next winter. But in the meanwhile, trying to gather a range of field use info from a variety of stove users if I can.Jun 29, 2010 at 8:44 am #1624472
Stuart RBPL Member
A full canister with at least 20% propane will work pretty well in the cold, easily down to 0F. However, this happy situation does not continue as the propane gets used up.
Some information of my own here.
The only way to avoid this decrease in performance is to keep the canister warm or use an inverted canister stove.
I believe BPL will be publishing an in-depth article on this topic sometime soon…ishJun 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm #1624694
Nice info, Stuart. Expands on what I already knew about the performance of propane/butane mix canisters.Nov 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm #1665746
you can never go wrong with a whisperlite. i wouldn't feel safe without a sturdy stove with the repair kit.Nov 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm #1665771
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> i wouldn't feel safe without a sturdy stove with the repair kit.
I don't have any problem with this idea at all, but do remember that what you are catering to here is NOT what sort of stove is required for the conditions. Instead you are catering to your perceptions, pure and simple. Other people have other perceptions, and find other stoves work just as well.
CheersNov 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm #1665804
true. i prepare to be in the field for extended periods of time so i choose gear accordingly. if your going for a short trip canisters work great! rei and most outdoor outfitters carry special mixes for below freezing. i sometimes use the msr pocket rocket which is great. i prefer the whisperlight for two reason. 1 whisperlite has bigger part so its easy to fix and replace parts. however they have more parts so more can go wrong with them. i liken it to a VW van, easy to fix but you better be prepared to mess with it. 2 i can use regular petrol from a gas station or rubbing alcohol(not recommended unless it an emergency) so basically i like the versatility. but if you have your trip well planned and know exactly what to expect cans are fine. and in the end they are probably the lightest solution.Nov 19, 2010 at 12:09 am #1665960
Be really careful. No MSR stoves are alcohol (rubbing or otherwise) capable. Very few — if any — modern liquid fueled stoves that use petroleum based fuels (i.e. Coleman type fuel or kerosene) can run on alcohol. Unless you have an old Optimus 111T or something specialized like that, I'd be very hesitant to use alcohol in an MSR liquid fueled stove. Maybe all it would do is just not work, but anytime you put something flammable under pressue and then apply heat to it, the potential for an unsafe situation exists. Your call, but I sure wouldn't experiment with alcohol in a stove designed for petroleum fuel.
If you have an MSR Whisperlite Internationale (not the regular Whisperlite) you can use unleaded automotive gasoline for short periods of time. your stove will burn dirty, and you'll have to clean it frequently. If you want a dependable stove, avoid unleaded if at all possible.
HJNov 19, 2010 at 1:26 am #1665977
thanks for the concern but i clearly advised against using alcohol if you don't have to. i almost never do. but you can. i must have the international, i bought it at a used gear spot so i don't know the model name. your right about the fuel burning dirt but i only use petrol or alternative fuel if i have to, especially if i am in mexico or latin america where specialized fuel is hard to find.Nov 19, 2010 at 7:50 am #1666025
So you've actually tried running rubbing (isopropal) alcohol in your Whisperlite and it's worked? Amazing. You sure it wasn't at least denatured alcohol?
If you have some fiberglass "cloth" type material in the priming cup at the base of the stove, then you have the Internationale. There would also be a brass sleeve on the generator ("pre heat loop") of the stove if you have the Internationale.
Well, if it works, who am I to object? I'd still worry about long term effects to the stove's materials, but if you're using it only very rarely, just when you absolutely have to, then I don't think you have anything to worry about there.
HJNov 19, 2010 at 11:14 am #1666081
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Well, this is a fun thought experiment at least. Perhaps Roger will take up the mantle and run some trials. After all, he's the guy with enough nerve to run a canster burst test :-)
I admit I've never not been able to find stove fuel in a pinch. It's possible the only risk burning alcohol is a gummed up stove (but, see below). Performance-wise, with alcohol's significantly lower energy density compared to white gas I'd expect less heat output. There's also the potential for some nasty vapors resulting from incomplete combustion–I'd stay upwind.
"Rubbing alcohol" concentrations range from about 70% to nearly 100%, the balance being primarily water. I'm guessing 70% would run very poorly indeed–perhaps not at all–in a pressurized liquid-fuel stove like a Whisperlite. The near-100% stuff should perform better. Would changing to the kerosene jet make a difference? I also wonder what alcohol's vaporization characteristics are compared to other fuels? i.e., what occurs as it travels through the vaporization tube?
My other safety concern is whether alcohol would degrade the rubber bits. Only MSR knows whether their seals and o-rings are alcohol-tolerant or not. I do know automobiles designed to burn E90 have fuel systems fashioned from alcohol-resistant materials.
As to the vast world of alcohol stove fuel alternatives, I'll guess we have a hundred-fifty threads on just that topic.
RickNov 21, 2010 at 7:58 am #1666582
stupid me. i meant denatured alcohol. the kind that comes in a can. rubbing alcohol has too much water to burn well.Nov 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm #1666689
Ah. Denatured alcohol makes a lot more sense.
I happened to be in a gear shop yesterday that had a Trangia pour spout. On the package, it had a warning not to put alcohol in MSR bottles as the unlined aluminum would be corroded by the alcohol. Just something to be aware of.
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