Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Canister Stove or Liquid Fuel Stove?

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Canister Stove or Liquid Fuel Stove?

Old 04-20-10, 07:43 PM
  #1  
Eric630
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Canister Stove or Liquid Fuel Stove?

Hi all

Just want some opinions on which you all would prefer for bike touring, a canister stove or a liquid fuel stove, I already have a liquid fuel stove, but I don't like how the gas container is so big and bulky (I have the Optimus Nova) and also the stove is a little heavier than a canister stove would be, which is why I want to invest in one, also they are smaller and also its kind of hard to move around because it is not one solid unit.

my only concern is how common is it to find the fuel canisters?? I'll mostly be touring the US, but do (for example) gas stations in small towns carry them? thanks
Eric630 is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 08:00 PM
  #2  
a1rabbit
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Liquid fuel, I personally hate fuel canisters because of how bulky they are, anything liquid is easier to store.

I like using pop can stoves they are so small and light you can store it inside of a cook pot or cooking can or dish. I've made my own from a large energy drink can. These stoves run on many different fuels, most small gas stations will have something that would work. You can buy a better one than most people can make here for 12 bucks (Atomic). If you want something light and easy to carry, consider these. There are lots of other options too, check out his site for ideas and maybe make your own or find one you like online. Just add a little fuel and go. He's all over youtube if you want to see one in action. There are a ton of other "pop can stove" options too, check out google and youtube for ideas.

And no, I don't know this guy and don't make any money if you buy his product. It's just an easy way to show you what they are.

Oh, another nice thing about the soda can stoves, if you learn to make one then you will always have a stove. So if one fails, or breaks (not common unless you step on it) you can make another. A couple years ago I made one while camping for a family that forgot their stove at home.

Last edited by a1rabbit; 04-20-10 at 08:04 PM.
a1rabbit is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 08:11 PM
  #3  
JoeMan
Question Authority
 
JoeMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 296

Bikes: Rocky Mountain Solo 30, 2007 REI Novara Safari and Cannondale MTB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I love my Sno-Peak canister stove. http://www.snowpeak.com/back/stoves/ultralight.html
JoeMan is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 08:20 PM
  #4  
brawny
Grateful Tread
 
brawny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Exeter, Ontario Canada
Posts: 119

Bikes: Rocky Mountain Cardiac (hardtail MB/commuter), Aquila Pave (aluminum tourer)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I prefer alcohol stoves, like the pop can stove a1rabbit mentions. I have a Trangia kit (http://www.trangia.se/english/2913.trangia_stoves.html) that I picked up at MEC. It works fine, the fuel is available almost anywhere (methyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methyl hydrate - it's all the same, really), and its cheap. As well, alcohol stoves are simple - no moving parts to wear out or break while on tour.

I'm not keen on canister type stoves because the canisters are disposable and just end up in a landfill.

Alcohol stoves are sometimes not as fast as the compressed fuel type stoves, but if you're on tour, what's a few extra minutes?
brawny is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 09:05 PM
  #5  
xyzzy834
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 358
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This is really the mac vs. pc debate of the touring forum. After experiencing the convenience and ease of push-button canister stoves, I'd never go back to my liquid fueled stove of the past. My good friend is a backpacker and he'll never give up his liquid fueled stove. We can argue the relative merits of each stove forever and neither of us will change our mind.

You're either a liquid fuel kind of guy or you're a canister guy. Your preference must be coded into your DNA.
xyzzy834 is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 09:13 PM
  #6  
a1rabbit
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
You're either a liquid fuel kind of guy or you're a canister guy. Your preference must be coded into your DNA.
That made me laugh.

Canisters are not bad, I don't want to seem like I'm bashing them. I just think everything has its place and in my personal pack it's something cheap, light and easier to replace and get fuel for wherever I am.

If I was splitting the load and my friend had a canister stove, I'd not complain about taking it. Just recycle the canisters.

When I go to the lake for a day with family, we take a propane stove.
a1rabbit is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 09:15 PM
  #7  
markf
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Wheat Ridge, CO
Posts: 1,076

Bikes: '93 Bridgestone MB-3, '88 Marinoni road bike, '00 Marinoni Piuma, '01 Riv A/R

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Wal-Mart carries a pretty good selection of canisters, including small Coleman canisters that will fit a Snow Peak or MSR stove. I don't like canisters because of the cost of the canisters, and I don't like dealing with the empty canister. They're hard to recycle. Different canisters are used in different parts of the world, so a canister that's easy to find in one country might be harder to find in another country.

White gas stoves put out a lot of heat and they can usually run on auto fuel when necessary. They have to be pressurized, though, and sooner or later they will leak, which can be dangerous. White gas can be really expensive and hard to find outside the US.

Alcohol stoves are ridiculously simple and a lot safer than white gas stoves, but alcohol costs more than white gas and doesn't produce as much heat. I've tried out my Trangia a few times, I'm going to try it some more on bike tours this summer.

I think I will keep using white gas for back country trips, since I don't have to carry as much fuel and it works better in the cold. The next time I tour outside the US, I will probably bring the Trangia.
markf is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 10:08 PM
  #8  
Bikearound
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Fuel stoves are my personal choice for 2 reasons, 1) fuel canisters become trash once empty and 2) you can buy fuel anywhere plus you have the options of burning different types of fuel depending on what is available where you happen to be. The only upside to canister stoves is that they simmer easier.
Bikearound is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 10:23 PM
  #9  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,493
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 767 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 22 Times in 14 Posts
Like most people said-- It all depends. I have both liquid and canister stoves, and both have their place. The liqud stove goes on extended backpacking, most winter camping, and mountaineering trips. The canister stove goes on most bike trips. I have not had trouble finding fuel canisters in the US. We use a MSR Whisperlight International that will burn about anything flammable. It is rugged dependable and reasonably light. It is also easy to disassemble and clean in the field. The 1 litre aluminum fuel bottles are lighter than comparable fuel canisters when empty. An advantage when several have to be packed out.
We also have an MSR Pocket Rocket, canister stove that weighs 3 ounces. It is light and you can simmer with it ( hard to do on the Whisperlite). Packing the empty canisters is not a problem on a bike tour. Pair it up with a titanium pot and you have an ultra light combination. It is also good for weekend backpacking trips. I think the liquid stoves work better in sub zero temperatures, which is usually not an issue on bike trips.

The MSR Pocket Rocket in action brewing up the morning drinks. This picture does illustrate one drawback to the small canister stove, at least this one. MSR does not recommend using a wind screen. Our shovel acts as a wind break to increase efficiency.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 04-20-10, 11:30 PM
  #10  
Bekologist
totally louche
 
Bekologist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: A land that time forgot
Posts: 18,025

Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
canister stoves? blech. alcohol for non-alpine use, and white gas for high altitude/arctic. MSR gave me a pocket rocket when i was on a gear testing team of theirs, and i used it exclusively for fast and light alpine trips.


a trangia burner or popcan stove is the cyclotourists best friend. Purchase a bottle of 151, a little for you, a little for the stove.....

here's my stove setup- Trangia burner sitting on its collapsed windscreen/pot support with a standard bic lighter for comparision.

trangia.jpg
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
trangiatable.jpg (54.4 KB, 52 views)

Last edited by Bekologist; 04-20-10 at 11:39 PM.
Bekologist is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 03:29 AM
  #11  
wahoonc
Membership Not Required
 
wahoonc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: On the road-USA
Posts: 16,854

Bikes: Giant Excursion, Raleigh Sports, Raleigh R.S.W. Compact, Motobecane? and about 20 more! OMG

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 66 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My biggest beef with canisters is having to carry multiples, and trying to tell if the damned thing is full, half full, one third full or just enough to piss me off when it craps out right before my dinner is cooked. With liquid fuel you can tell just how much you have. I mainly use the MSR liquid fuel stoves, I do have a Trangia that I use in warmer weather.

Aaron
__________________
Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
wahoonc is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 03:36 AM
  #12  
Cyclebum
Senior Member
 
Cyclebum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: NE Tx
Posts: 2,766

Bikes: Tour Easy, Linear USS, Lightening Thunderbolt, custom DF, Raleigh hybrid, Felt time trial

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Eric630 View Post
my only concern is how common is it to find the fuel canisters?? I'll mostly be touring the US, but do (for example) gas stations in small towns carry them? thanks
Canister resupply is best planned in advance to the extent possible. I take two 8 oz canisters if touring for more than a week and begin searching for another as soon as one is empty. Most outdoor supply stores stock them. Many Walmarts. It can be a hassle. I also carry an alcohol stove as backup.

They can be mailed ahead to a PO on your route. You need to put a special code on the shipping box.

I like the simplicity of canister stoves and their high btu output. I can have water boiling while my riding partner is still trying to get his multifuel going.
Cyclebum is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 04:02 AM
  #13  
Metzinger
Primate
 
Metzinger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: gone
Posts: 2,579

Bikes: Concorde Columbus SL, Rocky Mountain Edge, Sparta stadfiets

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Eric630 View Post
I don't like how the gas container is so big and bulky...
MSR bottles come in various sizes for different trip lengths. I only use the 600ml and can refill it at any gas station on the planet.

Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
I like the simplicity of canister stoves and their high btu output. I can have water boiling while my riding partner is still trying to get his multifuel going.
My Whisperlite Int puts out the same BTUs as a cannister stove. My lengthy experience with it speeds setup and ignition time.
Metzinger is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 04:07 AM
  #14  
Juha
Formerly Known as Newbie
 
Juha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Posts: 6,251
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have a Trangia set and both alcohol and propane burners for it. One thing I especially like about the alcohol burner is, it's extremely quiet. Propane burner is not.

--J
__________________
To err is human. To moo is bovine.

Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


Become a Registered Member in Bike Forums
Community guidelines
Juha is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 05:12 AM
  #15  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by markf View Post
Wal-Mart carries a pretty good selection of canisters, including small Coleman canisters that will fit a Snow Peak or MSR stove.
Don't count on this. WalMart does not stock the same items in all regions. We found that WalMart did not carry canisters in the middle of the US. We didn't see a source for isobutane canisters from Pueblo all the way to Virginia. We looked in WalMarts, sporting goods stores, general stores, minimarts, and so on. We think we passed a store in Carbondale IL that had them, but they were closed when we passed through. This was in 2007, but I doubt that the situation has changed.

The canisters were readily available in the West.

You can ship isobutane fuel to yourself or have someone at home do it for you via ground mail (domestic mail only). The package must have the following label attached on the address side of the package:

"Surface Mail Only
Consumer commodity
ORM-D"

In any case getting stuff at post offices via general delivery is a great tool if you have someone at home to ship for you or you can ship to yourself. Just remember they will hold for 30 days, but you can stop at any post office and ask them to forward it to a different post office, buying you another 30 days.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 06:21 AM
  #16  
Bikearound
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
You can ship isobutane fuel to yourself or have someone at home do it for you via ground mail (domestic mail only). The package must have the following label attached on the address side of the package:

"Surface Mail Only
Consumer commodity
ORM-D"

In any case getting stuff at post offices via general delivery is a great tool if you have someone at home to ship for you or you can ship to yourself. Just remember they will hold for 30 days, but you can stop at any post office and ask them to forward it to a different post office, buying you another 30 days.

Seems like a long way to go just for stove fuel.
Bikearound is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 06:30 AM
  #17  
markf
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Wheat Ridge, CO
Posts: 1,076

Bikes: '93 Bridgestone MB-3, '88 Marinoni road bike, '00 Marinoni Piuma, '01 Riv A/R

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If not all Wal-marts carry canisters then I guess that's one more argument in favor of liquid fuel, be it alcohol or white gas.
markf is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 08:01 AM
  #18  
BigBlueToe
Senior Member
 
BigBlueToe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 3,392

Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I love my cannister stove and prefer it for backpacking trips. I can carry enough cannisters for the number of days I'll be out.

But for bicycle touring they have the drawback of having to find a place to buy replacements. This is easier or more difficult depending on where you are. If you tour the Oregon Coast you'll probably be able to find them at regular intervals if you plan things out well. (I met a woman on this route who ran out of fuel in one of the stretches between larger towns. We spent two days stopping in every likely or unlikely store, trying to find one. In the meantime she had to use my stove after I was finished with it.) If you're crossing eastern Montana and the Dakotas you might have trouble.

For bike touring I like a stove that can burn unleaded gas. There are gas stations virtually everywhere. I don't have to plan ahead. If I'm running low on fuel I'll stop somewhere along the day's route and fill up - usually for under a dollar.
BigBlueToe is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 08:04 AM
  #19  
X-LinkedRider
Flying Under the Radar
 
X-LinkedRider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Northeast PA
Posts: 4,116

Bikes: 10' SuperiorLite SL Club | 06' Giant FCR3 | 2010 GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I use a jetboil canister burner, just due to all the available attachments and ease of use. Normally I will buy Peak canisters though. I use this about 80% of my meals while touring in Non campsite available spaces.
X-LinkedRider is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 08:24 AM
  #20  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by Bikearound View Post
Seems like a long way to go just for stove fuel.
Maybe, but it depends. If you are doing mail drops anyway adding a cartridge isn't too big of a deal. It does mean you need to allow a bit more time since it will go surface mail. Getting stuff via general delivery is a tool we tend to use anyway so for us it isn't that much of a hassle. My wife is happy to mail us stuff and care packages from home are fun any way. If you have a strong preference for your cartridge stove it might be well worth it otherwise maybe no.

On the Trans America we found cartridges were stocked often enough from the west coast to Pueblo Colorado. After Pueblo it was pretty slim pickings until Virginia.

I really like my Pocket Rocket if cooking for more than one person. If it is just me I would be likely to use my Pepsi can alcohol stove though, depending on how much and how elaborately I plan to cook.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 08:45 AM
  #21  
foamy
Senior Member
 
foamy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: The Land of Pleasant Living
Posts: 772

Bikes: Trek 630 Jamis Quest Bilenky Tourlite and various others

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I find that I don't cook a whole lot. I used a canister stove (Coleman Ultralight Exponent) to brew coffee in the mornings mostly. Take a match to it and you're cook'in. I did the drop ship routine. Easy as pie and I didn't have to do it often. It was too easy just to stop and dine somewhere to be overly concerned about carrying a bunch of food around, though, it is fun to stir a pot in the evenings on occasion or stick-cook some meat. Far and away, camp-fire cooking was how I did most of it. Really, it depended on how much time I had in the evenings. Lots of time; cook something for the pleasure of it. Not so much time; well, I had generally eaten in advance. I found I'm a much better rider in the early evening than I am in the early morning.
foamy is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 09:24 AM
  #22  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,330

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 92 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2448 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 97 Times in 66 Posts
Originally Posted by a1rabbit View Post
Liquid fuel, I personally hate fuel canisters because of how bulky they are, anything liquid is easier to store.

I like using pop can stoves they are so small and light you can store it inside of a cook pot or cooking can or dish. I've made my own from a large energy drink can. These stoves run on many different fuels, most small gas stations will have something that would work. You can buy a better one than most people can make here for 12 bucks (Atomic). If you want something light and easy to carry, consider these. There are lots of other options too, check out his site for ideas and maybe make your own or find one you like online. Just add a little fuel and go. He's all over youtube if you want to see one in action. There are a ton of other "pop can stove" options too, check out google and youtube for ideas.

And no, I don't know this guy and don't make any money if you buy his product. It's just an easy way to show you what they are.

Oh, another nice thing about the soda can stoves, if you learn to make one then you will always have a stove. So if one fails, or breaks (not common unless you step on it) you can make another. A couple years ago I made one while camping for a family that forgot their stove at home.
Bulky? And liquid is easier to store? A butane canister is about 3.5" in diameter and 3.5" high. That's 33 cu. in. A pint bottle...you have to carry the liquid in something...is 28 cu. in. Roughly the same size. Liquid can spill. Butane can't.

Butane also wins in other areas concerning bulk, especially when compared to alcohol fuels. Butane has 20,900 btu/lb. Isopropanol has 14,500 btu/lb, ethanol has 12,800 btu/lb and methanol has 9,800 btu/lb. Alcohols have lower energy densities than butane but that's not the whole story. Most alcohols aren't found in pure form. Methanol can be but it's heat capacity is very low compared to butane. In other words, you have to carry twice as much of the methanol to do the same job. Ethanol is seldom found without at least 5% water in it (190 proof ethanol) and seldom that little water. 100 proof ethanol (50%) is half water. To get the 12,800 btu out of a pound of ethanol, you'd have to burn slightly over a pound of 190 pf and you'd have to burn over 2 lbs of 100 pf ethanol. That's a lot of bulk to be hauling around so that you can burn water. Isopropanol can be found in higher concentrations (Iso-heet is 99% isopropanol) but if you buy rubbing alcohol, you'll likely only find it in 75% at the max. That's 25% water that you are 'burning'.

You also have to look at the weight of the fuel. Methanol, ethanol and isopropanol all weigh about 7.8 lb/gal. Butane weighs 6 lb/gal. Weight/vol is bulk. Yes, butane needs a canister to hold it but alcohol fuels need a container too.

Gasoline and white gas have similar heat capacities to butane (butane is a little higher) but they weigh 7.3 lb/gal...still more bulky than butane. They also cannot be used in bulk burners like pop can stoves. They burn too hot and are much to volatile to be used safely in open burn stoves. You have to have something that controls the mixing of air and fuel so you have to carry a stove that is capable of doing that.

Bottom line: If you want less bulk, more heat and a safer method, butane is hands down better than the other fuels.
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
cyccommute is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 09:28 AM
  #23  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,330

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 92 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2448 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 97 Times in 66 Posts
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Maybe, but it depends. If you are doing mail drops anyway adding a cartridge isn't too big of a deal. It does mean you need to allow a bit more time since it will go surface mail. Getting stuff via general delivery is a tool we tend to use anyway so for us it isn't that much of a hassle. My wife is happy to mail us stuff and care packages from home are fun any way. If you have a strong preference for your cartridge stove it might be well worth it otherwise maybe no.

On the Trans America we found cartridges were stocked often enough from the west coast to Pueblo Colorado. After Pueblo it was pretty slim pickings until Virginia.

I really like my Pocket Rocket if cooking for more than one person. If it is just me I would be likely to use my Pepsi can alcohol stove though, depending on how much and how elaborately I plan to cook.
I'll agree that finding canisters in the middle part of the US is difficult. That's one of the reasons I purchase a Primus Omnifuel. I can use canisters when I can find them but I have a backup plan when I can't. It's a bit heavier and messier than pure butane stoves but at least I can start my mornings with coffee no matter where I am
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
cyccommute is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 10:07 AM
  #24  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Bulky? And liquid is easier to store? A butane canister is about 3.5" in diameter and 3.5" high. That's 33 cu. in. A pint bottle...you have to carry the liquid in something...is 28 cu. in. Roughly the same size. Liquid can spill. Butane can't.

Butane also wins in other areas concerning bulk, especially when compared to alcohol fuels. Butane has 20,900 btu/lb. Isopropanol has 14,500 btu/lb, ethanol has 12,800 btu/lb and methanol has 9,800 btu/lb. Alcohols have lower energy densities than butane but that's not the whole story. Most alcohols aren't found in pure form. Methanol can be but it's heat capacity is very low compared to butane. In other words, you have to carry twice as much of the methanol to do the same job. Ethanol is seldom found without at least 5% water in it (190 proof ethanol) and seldom that little water. 100 proof ethanol (50%) is half water. To get the 12,800 btu out of a pound of ethanol, you'd have to burn slightly over a pound of 190 pf and you'd have to burn over 2 lbs of 100 pf ethanol. That's a lot of bulk to be hauling around so that you can burn water. Isopropanol can be found in higher concentrations (Iso-heet is 99% isopropanol) but if you buy rubbing alcohol, you'll likely only find it in 75% at the max. That's 25% water that you are 'burning'.

You also have to look at the weight of the fuel. Methanol, ethanol and isopropanol all weigh about 7.8 lb/gal. Butane weighs 6 lb/gal. Weight/vol is bulk. Yes, butane needs a canister to hold it but alcohol fuels need a container too.

Gasoline and white gas have similar heat capacities to butane (butane is a little higher) but they weigh 7.3 lb/gal...still more bulky than butane. They also cannot be used in bulk burners like pop can stoves. They burn too hot and are much to volatile to be used safely in open burn stoves. You have to have something that controls the mixing of air and fuel so you have to carry a stove that is capable of doing that.

Bottom line: If you want less bulk, more heat and a safer method, butane is hands down better than the other fuels.
I agree with all of that, but there is another factor that makes alcohol a sensible choice in spite of all that. The fact that when bike touring you can restock frequently and carry less fuel combined with frequent availability of yellow bottle Heet in a smallish size makes the lower energy densities much more tolerable wrt to weight carried. The 12 ounce size Yellow Heet widely available and is the size pretty convenient.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 04-21-10, 10:11 AM
  #25  
tjwarren
call me T.J.
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 361

Bikes: trek 820

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
cyccommute:

You raise some good arguments against alcohol. Alcohol's certainly not perfect, but it has some benefits:

* When things go awry and you need to put the fire out !!!NOW!!! you can just dump some water over it.
* Getting on a plane and need a fuel-free stove and bottle? Swish some water around in the stove and bottle -- fuel's gone.
* Get to your campsite and discover that your stove has a bit of water in it? Completely not a problem, it won't affect the stove at all. Worst case, it'll just make the flame a teensy bit cooler.
* There are no pressurized canisters to worry about
* There are no tiny nozzles to clog
* There's no worry about cross-threading your connectors
tjwarren is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.