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Aquaholic
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I found this at thruhiker.com they specialize in long distance, light weight hikes. I thought I'd share it here, it may be of some value. It was originally written by Paul Nanian who's trail name is ayce.


Long-distance hikers will be poking around in trail towns looking for fuel for their stoves. Read this article to find out about your choices.

Can stoves are all the rage these days on America's National Scenic Trails. I can't help but feel good about gear that is readily made for free from materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. However, the stove itself may be free but you'll have to pay for fuel. Moreover, trail towns don't always have a great selection within walking distance.

Here's a quick list of the most common stove fuels and where you'll most likely find them:



denatured alcohol (hardware store, paint department)
pure methanol from hardware store (paint department)
pure ethanol (Everclear, liquor store)
fuel line antifreeze (gas station or convenience store).
rubbing alcohol (drug store).


Denatured alcohol gets my recommendation for the best all-around fuel for any stove that burns alcohol. It is quite cheap and usually available in hardware stores. Denatured alcohol is mostly ethanol with some methyl alcohol added to render it unfit for human consumption. Often a coloring or smell agent is also added for visual or olfactory cues that the substance is not drinkable. Here's an article that you can read to find out more about the properties of denatured alcohol. One drawback, though, of this fuel is that you must buy a minimum of 32 fluid ounces. This is probably much more than you want to take on the trail. Go in on a can with some friends, or leave what you don't use in the local hiker box for the next person to use. It should be noted, though, that denatured alcohol does contain methanol (toxic, about 16%), methyl ethyl ketone(<1%), and methyl acetate(<1%) which makes it less environmentally friendly than pure ethanol.

Pure ethanol also makes a good stove fuel, but it is much more expensive than denatured because it is potable. You can find it in liquor stores as "grain alcohol"; Graves Grain Alcohol and Everclear are some brand names. You won't find liquor stores many places along the trail, though, so obtaining it will be a challenge. Pure ethanol may be harder to find and more expensive than other fuels, but it is the fuel of choice if toxicity or environmental friendliness are at the top of your concerns. If you're using mail drops, you may be able to buy it in bulk and reduce the cost. It will need to be shipped by USPS Parcel Post or UPS ground to avoid violating HAZMAT regulations.

Pure methanol (wood alcohol) burns very well in a stove. It can be found in the same sorts of places as denatured alcohol (hardware stores). It has a relatively high vapor pressure as compared to ethanol and isopropanol; this means that it will vaporize at lower temperatures. Because of this property your stove will achieve full power more quickly. Many people use this fuel because of this fact; however, methanol is toxic. It is readily absorbed through the skin or mucus membranes. Once in the body it is converted by the liver to formaldehyde, a very poisonous chemical. A weekender's short term exposure to methanol may not be a big deal, but a long-distance hiker should consider this fact carefully when choosing a fuel.

Fuel line antifreezes are usually pure isopropanol or pure methanol. Look at the ingredients of the bottle to find out which is which. You can usually find these in gas stations or convenience stores, especially up north. A popular brand is HEET; the red bottle is isopropyl and the yellow bottle is methanol. Isopropyl alcohol burns with yellow, sooty flames, indicating that it is not combusting completely. It is less toxic than methanol, though.

Rubbing alcohol is 70% isopropanol and 30% water. You can find it in drug stores. It has all the problems associated with burning pure isopropanol with the added inconvenience of having 30% of its volume being noncombustible water. It'll do in a pinch, but given the choice I'd go with something else.


You'll survive another day.
 

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Registered
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99 Posts
I used rubbing alchaol but found it was not easy enough to light, so I have now moved to HEET which lights everytime like no ones business :cool:
 

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Elitist Gun Snob
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1,365 Posts
Let me also add that denatured alcohol is a great thing to have around as it will clean off paint, makes a good hand sanitizer, and is a decent degreaser.
 

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Premium Member
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190 Posts
My Base Camp cooking I use denatured.

For packed cooking I use everclear. If it leaks and gets on your food, it doesn't render the food poisonous.
 

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Son Of Liberty
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1,871 Posts
zippo lighters will run off the same stuff. I recommend Everclear or good old KY white lightning, you can drink it, clean wounds, and burn it, it cost more but has many more uses.
 
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