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camp stove fuel in Europe?

Old 03-24-09, 06:21 AM
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camp stove fuel in Europe?

we're flying to europe this summer for a tour and we've already heard about airlines being a real stickler for bringing used camp stoves in the luggage so we're most likely going to buy a new stove here in the U.S. and travel with it all clean and then pick up fuel when we get to Europe. my question is what type of fuel is easiest to find in northern european countries? we've always used "white gas/coleman fuel" but we've heard that the little butane containers may be easier to find as we travel along our route, not always going thru big cities but often staying in the campgrounds. We'll be along the North Sea route: Netherlands, Germany, Denmark.

thanks
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Old 03-24-09, 08:21 AM
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Your best bet is "Methylated Spirits" or "Meths" for short, thats what I know it as being British.

Fuel for "Trangia" type stoves.

This should help you- https://www.mark-ju.net/juliette/meths.htm

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Old 03-24-09, 08:38 AM
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Here's a list of international names for camp stove fuels. Carry a copy with you
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Old 03-24-09, 08:45 AM
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Denatured Alcohol.
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Old 03-24-09, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Freewheeler
Your best bet is "Methylated Spirits" or "Meths" for short, thats what I know it as being British.

Fuel for "Trangia" type stoves.

This should help you- https://www.mark-ju.net/juliette/meths.htm


+1

Rowan has been cooking on his Trangia stoves using Methylated Spirits for years ... in Europe, Australia, and all over North America. Trangias are impressive stoves.
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Old 03-24-09, 03:14 PM
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You are correct in thinking that Coleman fuel isn't the easiest of fuels to find in the Holland, Germany & Denmark , you will only find it in outdoor shops in the larger cities. You will find the that the most common fuel in campsite shops is the butane/propane piercable cartridges. As an alternative to the Trangia meths stove have you thought of a multi-fuel stove such as the Primus omnifuel which will burn un-leaded petrol (95 RON gasoline) available from any petrol station in Europe, as well as kerosene, diesel and can be also used with the screw on gas cartridges.
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Old 03-24-09, 04:55 PM
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Not only is Coleman fuel hard to find in Europe, it's expensive.

Along with pierceable cartridges (which can't be removed from the stove until they're empty), Camping Gaz makes a stove that runs on resealable cartridges, so you can remove the cartridge from the stove when you're not cooking. This makes packing easier and reduces the risk of a gas leak while your stove is packed. These cartridges seem to be the new standard in Europe, the pierceable ones are becoming less common. The screw-on MSR type cartridges can also be tough to find in Europe, I had trouble finding them in Italy.

I just acquired a Trangia cookset that I've used once and really like. Heat output is not as impressive as my Whisperlite but it was adequate in sub freezing temperatures. It's very simple to use, and finding denatured alcohol is probably easier than finding a particular brand or type of gas cartridge as you move from country to country.
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Old 03-25-09, 06:28 PM
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I've only bike toured in Europe once (Italy 3 years ago), but found that the piercable style of camping gaz fuel was much more common than the resealable type. I took the latter type stove and had to go for several days without fuel a couple of times).
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Old 03-25-09, 07:36 PM
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I had no problems taking both a screw on butane/propane stove or my Primus Omnifuel on the planes to/from Europe in my checked baggage. Was even able to take my used (but empty) Primus petrol bottle.

As for gas availability, by far the most common throughout Central and western Europe is the screw-on resealable butane/propane cans. As for metho, or white fuel, you can get it at basically any service station/gas station.
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Old 03-27-09, 09:26 PM
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I used picked up some meth in Amsterdam this summer. It cost two Euros for 1L and found it in an inner city supermarket first try. To clarify methyl spirits
The Trangia worked really well not super fast, but cheap.
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Old 03-27-09, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Andreasaway
I used picked up some meth in Amsterdam this summer. It cost two Euros for 1L and found it in an inner city supermarket first try. To clarify methyl spirits
The Trangia worked really well not super fast, but cheap.
Andreas
But you don't need fast. So your water takes an extra minute to boil ... you're on tour, not in some cooking race. From what I've seen they are incredibly dependable, and can be used to cook up a whole range of foods very well. Rowan is currently, once again, using his for everyday cooking.
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Old 03-28-09, 08:08 AM
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thanks for the tips and suggestions everyone!

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Old 03-29-09, 06:51 AM
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ok so it seems like everyone is big on the trangia type stoves. maybe I missed something because when I used a little trangia before I was not impressed. it had really poor heat output and it blackened the pots really bad and I had to be really careful to not get it allover everything. my wife thought that it had to do with the % of denatured alcohol we were using. like the stuff we had might have been 70/30 and to burn cleaner and hotter it needs the 90/10 blend (which we never found in the drugstores here in the US)

discuss...
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Old 03-29-09, 09:18 AM
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the 70/30 is rubbing alcohol.
your best bet in the states is denatured alcohol (sold in any hardware store) or heet (Gas-Line Antifreeze & Water Remover, sold in an auto store)
i recently moved to europe, and seem to be having a little trouble finding fuel for my alcohol stoves, (got tons, love building them). the closest i've found is alcool a bruler (just means burning alcohol, usually 90%), but it does'nt seem to burn as well as denatured alcohol. some of my pressurized stoves won't even work with the stuff i've found, so i'm still hunting for a substitute.
you be able to find alcool a bruler in any market here in europe, and it should work fine in a trangia.
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Old 03-29-09, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by rollotheclown
ok so it seems like everyone is big on the trangia type stoves. maybe I missed something because when I used a little trangia before I was not impressed. it had really poor heat output and it blackened the pots really bad and I had to be really careful to not get it allover everything. my wife thought that it had to do with the % of denatured alcohol we were using. like the stuff we had might have been 70/30 and to burn cleaner and hotter it needs the 90/10 blend (which we never found in the drugstores here in the US)

discuss...
It's a matter of energy density. Alcohols like methanol, ethanol and isopropanol (rubbing alcohol, IPA) have a pretty low energy density. For example ethanol (denatured alcohol) has a energy density of around 29 MJ/kg while butane has a heating density of around 50 MJ/kg. Naphtha (white gas) has an energy density close to that of kerosene - 45 MJ/kg. In other words, it takes half as much hydrocarbon fuel to make the same amount heat as an alcohol.

That's not all of the equation, however. There is also the density of the fuel (weight/volume). White gas, kerosene, alcohols, etc. have similar densities. Gaseous fuels like butane are much less dense and require containers capable of holding the pressure needed to liquify them. That adds to the weight of the butane but not much more than the containers used to carry other liquid fuels.

You weren't imagining anything with the lower performance of alcohol fuels. They just can't provide more heat than other fuels. Add in 30% water...a noncombustible, heat sucking liquid...and they do even worse.
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Old 03-29-09, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by rollotheclown
ok so it seems like everyone is big on the trangia type stoves. maybe I missed something because when I used a little trangia before I was not impressed. it had really poor heat output and it blackened the pots really bad and I had to be really careful to not get it allover everything. my wife thought that it had to do with the % of denatured alcohol we were using. like the stuff we had might have been 70/30 and to burn cleaner and hotter it needs the 90/10 blend (which we never found in the drugstores here in the US)

discuss...
Rowan uses methylated spirits in his. You can usually pick it up in the hardware section of a store, although I think we've found it in other places as well. They don't cook as fast as some of the other stoves, but that's OK. Like I said, you're on tour, you're not in a race to see who can boil water the fastest. I've observed the trangia and I've observed other stoves, and I'd have to say that the difference in speed for doing something like boiling water is maybe 30 seconds to a minute .... so not a big deal at all.

He keeps his handy so we can have a quick cup of coffee during our lunch stop, and then gets it going again while we're setting up camp for a nice cup of coffee at the end of the day.

Rowan has two of them, and has not only used them on many tours, but used them for about a year a few years ago as his stove, and is once again using them as his stove now. He has made incredible meals in them ... pretty much anything you'd want.
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Old 03-29-09, 03:14 PM
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Cooking speed and sheer heat output are important when you're melting snow for water or cooking for a good size group (like a mountaineering expedition), but that's not really relevant to most cycle tourists. If you factor in the time spent pumping and priming the average white gas stove, one or two people camping in warm weather might be able to cook faster with a Trangia than with a white gas stove. If you put a pot of water on to boil and then do something else (like set up camp or have lunch) then cooking time becomes irrelevant as long as the water is boiling when you need it.
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Old 03-29-09, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by markf
Cooking speed and sheer heat output are important when you're melting snow for water or cooking for a good size group (like a mountaineering expedition), but that's not really relevant to most cycle tourists. If you factor in the time spent pumping and priming the average white gas stove, one or two people camping in warm weather might be able to cook faster with a Trangia than with a white gas stove. If you put a pot of water on to boil and then do something else (like set up camp or have lunch) then cooking time becomes irrelevant as long as the water is boiling when you need it.
It's not just about cooking speed or heat output. Those are just used for comparison. Chemistry and thermodynamics say that alcohol fuels have about half the energy per unit weight than do other, less oxygenated fuels. This means to do the same heating, you have to use twice as much fuel which means you have to carry twice as much or refill twice as often. You just can't get away from that.
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Old 03-30-09, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rollotheclown
ok so it seems like everyone is big on the trangia type stoves. maybe I missed something because when I used a little trangia before I was not impressed. it had really poor heat output and it blackened the pots really bad and I had to be really careful to not get it allover everything. my wife thought that it had to do with the % of denatured alcohol we were using. like the stuff we had might have been 70/30 and to burn cleaner and hotter it needs the 90/10 blend (which we never found in the drugstores here in the US)

discuss...
Re: sooting. As per Trangia instructions, add a little water into fuel before lighting it, that reduces sooting somewhat. It'll never be as clean as gas burner though. The fuels I use have at least 80-90% ethanol.

I have a Trangia with both alcohol and gas burner. Both have pros and cons. Gas burner is fast, efficient and clean and has nice simmering. It's also loud and very erratic in cold conditions. Partially frozen canister doesn't work too well. Alcohol burner on the other hand is silent, works as intended even in cold temperatures, is usually lighter (as you only carry whatever amount of fuel you need). But it does soot the pots, it's slower / requires more fuel to achieve same heating, and simmering is so-so. Accumulated soot on pots further degrades its performance noticeably.

In Trangia gas burner, the gas line screws onto the canister. When it's unscrewed, the canister is sealed again. There's an adaptor available for punch type canisters. If I've understood correctly, the adaptor stays put on the canister, but gas line can be attached and removed as needed. I haven't used the adaptor though, so I could be mistaken on this.

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Old 03-30-09, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
This means to do the same heating, you have to use twice as much fuel which means you have to carry twice as much or refill twice as often.
The thing is that this isn't really a problem for most bike touring because you don't need to carry much fuel since you can just buy small quantities more frequently. The small Heet bottles are light enough and frequently enough available that restocking twice as often isn't a problem. When in some mode of operation where you need to carry multiple weeks worth of fuel at a time, the lower energy density is much more of a problem.

I still like isobutane cartridge stoves like my Pocket Rocket best, except for the poor availability of fuel for much of the US (can't speak for Europe).

As far as availability, Alcohol is tough to beat. Gasoline is the only thing as readily available, but it is smelly and a pain to deal with as a result. Kerosene and Coleman fuel are also not something I want in my panniers, but some alcohol spilled in them just isn't a huge deal.

So for me it is the pocket rocket if fuel is readily available or if I decide to keep stocked via the postal service (isobutane can be mailed in the us, surface mail only, with some labeling requirements), and my pop can stove if I decide to go with alcohol. I own a trangia, but my pop can stove is lighter and works fine.
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Old 03-30-09, 07:03 AM
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I have never noticed any sooting with the alcohol burners that I have used. Is it the choice of fuel, poor airflow with the Trangia wind screen, or why are some of you apparently plagued by this? I have cooked lots of meals on my Origo alcohol stove on my sailboat and on various pop can stoves when camping and have not noticed any sooting.
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Old 03-30-09, 07:34 AM
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Having used, on tour, an MSR Whisperlite, MSR Dragonfly and SnowPeak butane screw-onto-propane-cannister model, I like the SnowPeak the best. Why? It's TINY. The stove, butane can, lighter and a couple other small items fit inside my cook pot. It's super fast to set up and break down, cools fast so you can put it away sooner, and has an adjustable flame so you can simmer. The downside is that the pot holder platform is tiny too, so you can't really cook something in a big heavy pot. It's fine for boiling spaghetti water for a couple of people, though.

I generally cook simply for just myself on tour, and the snowpeak (or similar) model is good for that.

For more people, or for someone who wanted to cook something more complex that required longer cooking time or a bigger pan, the Dragonfly would be better. And it's easy to carry a fuel for a longer cooking time in a bigger bottle, rather than carrying mulitple propane cannisters. But all around, I think this is a much heavier solution for the same amount of cooking time.

The whisperlite I used was an older model and didn't have an adjustable flame - so I would never use that again given the choice.

Sorry I have nothing to say about fuel availability in Europe. I hope someday to be able to speak from experience on this ;D.
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Old 03-30-09, 08:40 AM
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Rubbbing Alcohol sucks as fuel because of the water content

Methyl alcohol, methanol, wood alcohol, methyl hydrate(all the same thing I believe) is cheap, available and burns well but is very toxic if you spill any onto your food. It can also be absorbed in lower levels through your skin. Serious side effects include blindness and death.

Pure alcohol (190 proof), Everclear (grain alcohol), in the U.S.A., really strong vodka in Europe is expensive because of liquor taxes, and illegal in some places, but it can double as a sanitizer (iodine is better for cuts), or an after ride pick-me-up. Just don't drink it straight. It still might kill you if you drink a lot of it.

Denatured alcohol, or methylated spirits, is a mix of the two. Cheaper than liquor, it is less toxic than pure methyl alcohol, but can still make you blind if you drink it.

You have to worry about the toxicity of alcohol fuels because they usually don't need to be sealed. They pour straight into the stove, so it is easy to spill on your food if that is right next to the stove. The fumes from burning are harmless though.

Custom made alcohol stoves can put out just as much heat as any other stove, it just means burning fuel at a faster rate. See penny stoves or popcan stoves.

For the purist, there is always the woodgas stove, aka a stick burning stove. You can pick up fuel just about anywhere. The downside is that many of them need an electric fan to get the airflow required and they will soot your pots. They are still neat though. The way it works is that small bits of wood are partially combusted inside a low oxygen environment, producing carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide rises and when it hits the exposed air, burns hot as a gas. The really finicky part is getting the proper air flow to keep everything burning. It is really amazing to see a handful of sticks boil a pot of water though.

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Old 03-30-09, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
The thing is that this isn't really a problem for most bike touring because you don't need to carry much fuel since you can just buy small quantities more frequently. The small Heet bottles are light enough and frequently enough available that restocking twice as often isn't a problem. When in some mode of operation where you need to carry multiple weeks worth of fuel at a time, the lower energy density is much more of a problem.
Using Heet is better than using methanol or denatured alcohol since it's almost pure isopropyl alcohol. The heating value of IPA is a little higher too (but still low compared to other liquid fuels) which would be a plus. However to boil a given amount of water, you'll still need more of the stuff than butane or white gas. Which, of course, means carrying more or buying it more frequently. You just can't get around the fact that alcohols have a lower energy density than do other fuels.

Originally Posted by staehpj1
I still like isobutane cartridge stoves like my Pocket Rocket best, except for the poor availability of fuel for much of the US (can't speak for Europe).
I agree that butane is better than other fuels for convenience and heating ability. I'll also agree that it can be a pain to find the canisters. That's why I've gone to a stove that does both as well as gasoline. The Primus Omnifuel is the best of both worlds.

Originally Posted by staehpj1
As far as availability, Alcohol is tough to beat. Gasoline is the only thing as readily available, but it is smelly and a pain to deal with as a result. Kerosene and Coleman fuel are also not something I want in my panniers, but some alcohol spilled in them just isn't a huge deal.
Actually, Coleman Fuel (along with all its other names) is readily available in most hardware stores and in much smaller quantities than the gallon quantities that you'll find at Hellmart. Mineral spirits (aka paint thinner) are very similar. They are a slightly lower boiling range than white gas or naphtha. Odorless mineral spirits have most of the aromatics removed so they are less toxic and less flammable. They'd certainly be a better choice than gasoline

I agree that spillage is a problem. I don't like it any more than anyone else. That's the main reason I use butane. However, most alcohols that you find out there in the world have their own issues with spillage. Remember that alcohols are denatured when they aren't meant for human consumption. The denaturing agents are toxic by design. I wouldn't want those spilled in my bags either.

Originally Posted by staehpj1
So for me it is the pocket rocket if fuel is readily available or if I decide to keep stocked via the postal service (isobutane can be mailed in the us, surface mail only, with some labeling requirements), and my pop can stove if I decide to go with alcohol. I own a trangia, but my pop can stove is lighter and works fine.
I'd rather just carry the Omnifuel
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Last edited by cyccommute; 03-30-09 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 03-30-09, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Using Heet is better than using methanol or denatured alcohol since it's almost pure isopropyl alcohol. The heating value of IPA is a little higher too (but still low compared to other liquid fuels) which would be a plus. However to boil a given amount of water, you'll still need more of the stuff than butane or white gas. Which, of course, means carrying more or buying it more frequently. You just can get around the fact that alcohols have a lower energy density than do other fuels.



I agree that butane is better than other fuels for convenience and heating ability. I'll also agree that it can be a pain to find the canisters. That's why I've gone to a stove that does both as well as gasoline. The Primus Omnifuel is the best of both worlds.



Actually, Coleman Fuel (along with all its other names) is readily available in most hardware stores and in much smaller quantities than the gallon quantities that you'll find at Hellmart. Mineral spirits (aka paint thinner) are very similar. They are a slightly lower boiling range than white gas or naphtha. Odorless mineral spirits have most of the aromatics removed so they are less toxic and less flammable. They'd certainly be a better choice than gasoline

I agree that spillage is a problem. I don't like it any more than anyone else. That's the main reason I use butane. However, most alcohols that you find out there in the world have their own issues with spillage. Remember that alcohols are denatured when they aren't meant for human consumption. The denaturing agents are toxic by design. I wouldn't want those spilled in my bags either.



I'd rather just carry the Omnifuel
Lots of good info there. Thanks.

I wasn't aware that mineral spirits were a reasonable substitute for Coleman Fuel. That is good to know.

I still don't see why lower energy density is a big deal on a bike tour since buying more often just isn't a problem. I mean, you pass a gas station almost every day, so no need to buy larger quantities than 12 ounces at a time.

Re the Omnifuel... The fact that it is $165 and 19 ounces vs the Pocket Rocket's $39.95 and 3 ounces makes me think I would just as soon carry the Pocket Rocket and a pop can stove if I am worried about fuel availability and don't want to rely completely on mail drops.

Then again if I wanted to carry a 19 ounce stove I could bring my SVEA123R out of retirement, especially if it can burn mineral spirits.
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