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Old 02-16-2010, 03:21 PM
tpresence tpresence is offline
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Default Propane vs gel/sterno



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Hey guys and gals,

Has anyone researched what works better for a stop-gap solution to get heat? I'm speaking of storing some count containers for that rainy day when you don't have gas or electricity, and you just need something to heat water, a rock, or something else.

It seems like both have long term storage potential, are both reasonably stable, and can be bought in a form factor that storage can be minimized.

I ask because if someone has the data, awesome, if not, I'm going to start doing to statistics based on reported output of the devices, so I can buy enough to handle a heat problem that can last from a day to perhaps 3 mos...
Old 02-16-2010, 03:36 PM
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Big difference, probably not worth an actual study. The most obvious difference is mainly due to the output. Propane will blast heat out, gels (especially since you mentioned Sterno) are slower burning and the heat is often concentrated in one small area. Just depends on what you're trying to do with it. The output isn't really comparable at all in my opinion.

Don't overlook multi-fuel stoves. A 5-gallon jug of kerosene would last for a looooooooooong time, and if you ran out, it would be easy to find more stuff to burn.
Old 02-16-2010, 04:47 PM
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My goal would to be portable and to heat water. Thus kerosene or other liquids are probably out. Propane is a higher BTU output than gel fuel, and probably lighter as well. My guess is that its more sensible all around.

Don't get me wrong, I have an MSR stove that will do gas, white gas, whatever, but I can't count on access to that.
Old 02-16-2010, 04:58 PM
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I have one that is portable, handmade weighs about 4 grams and will boil a quart of water in 2 minutes with my modifications 4 minutes without, but it is a gram or 2 lighter without. It is built for alcohol and times are tested with alcohol, but it is a multi fuel (I have never testes gasoline) veggie, diesel, kerosene, white gas. I would post some pics here but not sure my connection can handle it lol. I will try to find my links from my photobook.
Old 02-16-2010, 05:02 PM
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the one on the left is modified the one on the right is one I built from the design I found online http://s91.photobucket.com/albums/k2...rent=007-5.jpg
Old 02-16-2010, 05:30 PM
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Gasoline would burn too quickly, resulting in an explosion. Don't try Gasoline.
Old 02-16-2010, 05:33 PM
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Try a tin can and "wood"!
Old 02-16-2010, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EagleTalons View Post
Gasoline would burn too quickly, resulting in an explosion. Don't try Gasoline.
That was my theory as well. I still might try it, and if it goes boom enjoy the show lol.
My first personal design will run on drain crystals, water and aluminum foil. The stove will be heavier than the ones I have previously built, but since the biggest part of the fuel water which is readily available where ever I stop to eat, my fuel weight should be drastically less. Once I get it built and tested I will post it on the DIY section.
Old 02-16-2010, 05:41 PM
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Tin can and scrounged wood is probably ok if I have some calcium carbide. I'm looking into it.
Old 02-16-2010, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
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Tin can and scrounged wood is probably ok if I have some calcium carbide. I'm looking into it.
In that case you can make a supercat, which is just a tin can with holes drilled in the top half of the can
Old 02-17-2010, 04:37 PM
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Gasoline can be used. During the 2nd World War in North Africa the 8th army regularly brewed their tea by pouring a small amount of petrol into a cut down fuel can full of sand. The petrol soaked into the sand and was lit. The vapour would burn above the sand for up to 20 minutes ample time to make tea.
We tried this method on Salisbury Plain training area using sieved topsoil. It was torrential rain but the petrol burnt steadily and we had a pint of hot sweet tea each!
Old 02-17-2010, 04:42 PM
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I have both, sterno as a backup because of the size. I just bought a Big Buddy Heater it takes two of the 16oz propane cylinders and I can recharge these with my big tank, or throw the big tank on the heater with an adapter hose and filter.

What I would really like to do is have a way of storing natural gas from the feed into my house, right now that’s the cheapest way to heat my home.
Old 02-17-2010, 04:44 PM
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a medium paint can (purchased new at home depot etc) and a roll of toilet paper makes a great emergency heater when you add alcohol. No fumes to speak of.
Old 02-17-2010, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
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What I would really like to do is have a way of storing natural gas from the feed into my house, right now thatís the cheapest way to heat my home.
I concur natural gas is ideal. Although natural gas is a lower BTU fuel( close to 1/2x less BTU in the same volume of propane), its already at your home, its cheaper (even with the offset in BTU), and its just as safe as propane. The problem is compression I would guess. I haven't done it, so I might be off.
Old 02-17-2010, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpresence View Post
I concur natural gas is ideal. Although natural gas is a lower BTU fuel( close to 1/2x less BTU in the same volume of propane), its already at your home, its cheaper (even with the offset in BTU), and its just as safe as propane. The problem is compression I would guess. I haven't done it, so I might be off.
Im sure there is some ordinance or law prohibiting us from storing it. Nanny has to take care of her kids and insure we are chained to the utility companies.
Old 02-17-2010, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpresence View Post
My goal would to be portable and to heat water. Thus kerosene or other liquids are probably out. Propane is a higher BTU output than gel fuel, and probably lighter as well. My guess is that its more sensible all around.

Don't get me wrong, I have an MSR stove that will do gas, white gas, whatever, but I can't count on access to that.
Why is propane, the smallest cylinder of which is still rather clunky and heavy, more portable than a small .4L or even .6L liquid fuel canister? I especially wonder this considering that you can top off the liquid fuel but you can't with the propane or gel, which makes you sometimes carry extra canisters.

I'm doing the exact opposite of you, but for the exact desired outcome. I've had a propane stove for the past 15 years, and have used Sterno's during that time for lightweight situations. I recently bought an Optimus multi-fuel stove due to portability, the ability to top it off, and the flexibility in fuel types if I ever have to scavenge. The end result is that my stove is now 1/3 as big, half as heavy, my fuel canister is half as big, and I don't have to carry an extra canister due to one being a little low and needing a second for when it goes out.
Old 02-18-2010, 12:43 AM
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Corndoggy. I'm only speaking of weight, not portability. The MSR stove I have is ultra-portable, but if I want to have enough fuel for a week (2 meals a day, 15 min cooking time), I have to have the 22oz bottle with my MSR whisperlite. Kinda heavy. Thats all. The 16.4 oz propane bottle is about the same size, a little lighter, and even on high lasts 7 hours or more (compared to about 3.5 hours with the MSR).

Ultimately, if im out in the wilderness, none of this fuel will be available...except by siphon I guess, if I'm lucky to find a fuel engine device that still has fuel in it. The upside to gas/alcohol is that I COULD manufacture it with the right equipment...but I doubt I would get there.
Old 02-18-2010, 07:44 AM
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Default propane vs sterno

I agree with the comments about propane being hotter than Sterno.

But both are flamable. Check out www.Kelminproducts.com to see an alternative fuel that provides heat 3 times longer than Sterno in the same size can. In addition it is safer and will not evaporate over time.
Old 02-18-2010, 09:43 AM
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Survival 101 will tell you that you can drip gasoline and water onto a flat area and it will make a controlled steady flame. My neighbor tried it in a modified wood stove in his barn... You should see his new barn!
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