Commercially-produced alcohol stove systems for Scouts
Dec 19, 2020 at 10:05 am #3689820
Our Scout Troop has all of the usual suspect canister and white gas stoves. We want to move more ultralight and try alcohol stoves (with proper training!). What’s the best and safest commercially-produced alcohol stove system currently manufactured? Thanks!Dec 19, 2020 at 10:56 am #3689826Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
TrangiaDec 19, 2020 at 12:31 pm #3689838Claiborne BBPL Member
Trangia. Not ultralight but definitely good for intro and scouting. Best all around performer with the ability to cook, not just boil water. And you can save unused alcohol. They can also take a beating. These can be sourced online or REI.
You could also source boil only alcohol stoves at white box stoves.
Or A good project would be to make your own cat can stove or 8oz soda can stove. They are not hard to make and are foolproof.
If your scouts can handle white gas stoves, alcohol would be an easy adjustment.Dec 19, 2020 at 1:13 pm #3689839Mole JBPL Member
Apart from a Trangia type stoveset, I’d say a Trail Designs cone with a floor and Starlyte/Kojin(spill proof) type burner are the safest setups. Or a Flatcat Gear setup.
Definitely NOT a Whitebox, or similar where the pot perches on top the burner and are much more unstable.
(I’m a skills instructor for Explorers – older Scouts in UK)Dec 19, 2020 at 2:35 pm #3689846
REI also sells the Toaks titanium alcohol stove (20 grams) and cook kits:
And the Vargo multi-fuel stove (including alcohol) 30 grams:
Campmor sells the Esbit alcohol stove, which looks very familiar to Trangia fans:
I’ve used the TD Kojin stove, it’s nearly idiot-proof and 17 grams. And their Sidewinder Ti-Tri cone system is awesome burning many fuels. Also almost Rex-cold-tired-hungry-proof :-)
BSA doesn’t like home-made stoves for a variety of reasons.
— RexDec 19, 2020 at 5:04 pm #3689855
Just to explicate the BSA policy, here it is verbatim:
“Prohibited Chemical-Fueled Equipment— Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.”
I think even a stove made by Trail Designs and other cottage manufacturers out of a beer can would go into be prohibited category since 1) it is a can stove and 2) the beer can maker did not intend for the can be to be used as a stove.
Also all alchohol based fuels are also “not recommended.”
I personally think alcohol stoves can be used safely but have never used them with Scouts.
Adult Scouters are of course free to disagree with the policy. But AFAIK in the State of California, there exist for volunteer leaders of youth groups certain protections and limitations on liability if and only if you are acting within the safety policies of the youth organization. I would guess that the other states and other local BSA Councils have similar language limiting liability coverage for volunteer leaders.Dec 19, 2020 at 6:33 pm #3689867Brad PBPL Member
After seeing fuel spilled almost catching a table on fire, we stopped our troop from using white gas stoves. Plus they require more fiddling than canister stoves.
If you’re going to use an alcohol stove, the Kojin might be a good choice. I still like canister stoves better for scouts. They’re simpler, safer and there are plenty of ultralight options.Dec 19, 2020 at 9:33 pm #3689878
I think Esbit is a better choice as an ultralight stove for scouts. Just my $.02Dec 19, 2020 at 10:27 pm #3689887
“even a stove made by Trail Designs and other cottage manufacturers out of a beer can would go into be prohibited”
The Trail Designs Kojin looks like a very commercial product, complete with professionally-printed cover. I could easily see this sold at REI. Definitely not a reworked beer can. Pictures of my lightly-used Kojin, about 60 mm diameter.
My rarely-used Zelph Modified Starlyte Burner forgoes the fancy printing, but definitely isn’t a cut-down beer can. About 55 mm diameter.
OTOH, I agree with @matthewkphx. I cook with Esbit in a TD Gram Cracker (3 grams plus cone) all the time – it’s really Rex-proof, also no trace of beer can heritage (if any). Probably means 12-year-old Scouts can handle it safely with ease :-)
— RexDec 19, 2020 at 10:48 pm #3689888
Or take alcohol stove safety up a notch: Buy a bunch of Kojin, Starlyte, or similar burners with lids that seal well, then fill them at home under close supervision. On the trail, pop lid, light, cook, blow out, replace lid. Repeat until alcohol used up, then switch to the next pre-filled stove.
Just a more-expensive idea – but these stoves are cheap compared to some canister setups.
— RexDec 20, 2020 at 7:20 am #3689904
Ultra-deluxe dirtbag Esbit stove I put together for my son:
Zelph lid and QiWiz windscreen could be replaced with aluminum foil bringing price down into the $20 range.Dec 20, 2020 at 10:16 am #3689916MJ HBPL Member
What’s holding up the pot? The little folding QiWiz stand?Dec 20, 2020 at 1:44 pm #3689940Dan YBPL Member
I have enough parts to make up 7 of these; pot with lid, plastic lid to cover pot when in storage and the no-spill Starlyte Stove. Same pot as seen at Gossamer Gear.
Combined weight is 39 grams.Dec 20, 2020 at 10:21 pm #3690024
“What’s holding up the pot? The little folding QiWiz stand?”
It’s a little strip of stainless mesh bent into a circle.Jan 10, 2021 at 1:28 am #3693049
Thanks for all the suggestions! We are likely to go the Trail Designs route.Jan 10, 2021 at 8:24 am #3693067Jeff YBPL Member
I have three trail designs pot/windscreen combos. I love them, super lightweight, and not sure I’ve dealt with a company or an individual (Rand) as customer oriented and professional as them. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.Jan 10, 2021 at 12:29 pm #3693107
The Kojin stove would most likely comply with the BSA Chemical Fuels policy but some of the other Trail Designs stoves are manufactured from aluminium soda cans and would not, in my opinion, comply.Jan 10, 2021 at 3:50 pm #3693147Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I believe the ruling was against home-made stoves, and that commercial stove were OK. The TD stoves are certainly ‘commercial’.
I do not remember anything in the ruling concerning what the stove was made out of.
CheersJan 10, 2021 at 7:20 pm #3693182
As to BSA guide to Safe Scouting – as long gas it is a “commercially-produced” stove (meaning the company put some design effort into it and is commercially liable) then it’s OK. but any home-made stove (cat food can etc.) is verboten. As to alcohol as a fuel, it’s “not recommended.”
All that said, we are in the San Diego County area and in Southern California, alcohol fuel stoves as I found out today, are banned, not by BSA, but presumably by Cal-Fire, State Parks, USFS and the National Parks.
With respect to canister stoves, we use either MSR Pocket Rockets & MSR Windburners (depending on group size), and for winter use, MSR Windpro II’s. We still have some Whisperlites, but are only keeping those to use at Philmont as Philmont does NOT like canister stoves.
Thanks!Jan 11, 2021 at 5:02 am #3693227Brad PBPL Member
We still have some Whisperlites, but are only keeping those to use at Philmont as Philmont does NOT like canister stoves.
Philmont has no problem with canister stoves. They sell canister stoves in the store and canister fuel.
We used a remote canister stove in 2018 and will again in 2022. They’re much safer and less fiddly.Jan 11, 2021 at 11:18 am #3693273
That’s news to us. In the past they have had videos urging us NOT to bring canister stoves. I agree, they are much safer than white gas stoves (in the hands of the Scouts!).
Thanks.Jan 11, 2021 at 11:46 am #3693277
back to alcohol stoves and can stoves.
Here is the relevant statement about cans from BSA Chemical Fuels policy statement:
“Prohibited chemical-fueled equipment—Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, …..”
Some of the the Trail Designs stoves are clearly re-purposed Pepsi or Coors cans. Folks are free to disagree, but IMO the manufacturer of the can did not intend the can to be used as a stove.
Accidents happen. Parents like to hire lawyers. As a volunteer I like to limit my liability.
In the State of California volunteers for youth organizations have some liability protection as long as they operate within the letter and spirit of the organization’s safety guidelines. So if the worst case happened, how would the plaintiff’s lawyer interpret this phrase “the manufacturers stated design limitations or use” in light of the following clause prohibiting can stoves?Jan 11, 2021 at 12:04 pm #3693283Dan YBPL Member
The safest no spill alcohol stove is the Starlyte Stove. It has an integrated pot support. The absorbing material is covered with a stainless steel mesh that prevents it from coming out. The Kojin does not have that feature. Numerous times on this site it has been pointed out that the Starlyte is looked favorably upon by DNR and BLM agencies.Jan 11, 2021 at 12:05 pm #3693284
Denatured alcohol has been banned by the CARB in California. In SoCal where I am, due to fire danger most of the time, alcohol stoves are banned, especially on sections of the PCT.Jan 11, 2021 at 12:55 pm #3693298Jon FongBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
Denatured alcohol as a solvent has been banned, hower; HEET can still be purchased and that is what a lot of people use anyway. You can also use hand sanitizer (70% ethanol).
Yosemite NP & SEKI have not banned alcohol stoves.
My 2 cents
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