Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
[Imported from the prior forum - Dec 2012]

After reading some of the online guides for building the 'Altoids tin'-type alcohol stoves, I wanted to give it a try. Furthermore, if I gave it a pretty good test at home, I'd have a better idea of its capabilities and limitations when in the field. I've used the various 'white gas' stoves over the years and wanted to try something a bit more minimalist.

I found a small donor can out hiking one day, it's smaller than the standards Altoids tins, measuring only 2" x 3". Since its lid is completely detachable, I figured it would be a perfect candidate to pair with a basic ~$6 sheet-metal solid-fuel stove.

IMG_6375.jpg


IMG_6377.jpg



Garden-variety perlite, sieved to get rid of the fines. A #6 sieve worked well.

IMG_6374.jpg



A window screen from Habitat for Humanity ($3), one advantage being that it was an older screen with the metal mesh being somewhat on the heavy side.

IMG_6379.jpg



Tracing the outline and cutting the mesh:

IMG_6380.jpg


IMG_6381.jpg


IMG_6382.jpg


The finished stove weighs 31.5 grams, or 1.1 ounces.
smile.gif



The test equipment:
(w/ 2 cups of water, a generous amount for one persons' hot drink)

IMG_6387.jpg



In the backyard:

IMG_6388.jpg



First test run (without a windscreen):
Water temperature was 65 degrees F. Ambient temperature was 58 degrees F, with a bit of a breeze.

IMG_6392.jpg


IMG_6399.jpg


A single 35mm film canister (~0.8 ounces) of methanol burned for 10 minutes and took the 2 cups of water to only 155 degrees F, not hot enough. After the stove went out, a second cap of methanol got the water to boiling after three more minutes.

IMG_6400.jpg



Second test run (with a windscreen):

IMG_6403.jpg


IMG_6405.jpg


One cap of methanol boiled the 2 cups of water in only 6 minutes, less than half of the time compared to not having a windscreen. Peppermint tea from the first test was enjoyed during the second test.
smile.gif



Third test run (with 3 cups of water, enough for two 12-ounce travel mugs):

IMG_6406.jpg


One capful of methanol raised the water to 170 degrees F, not enough even with the windscreen - a second capful would be needed to boil the larger quantity of water.

At the end of the test, there were only four very tiny 'hot points' on the underlying plastic bucket lid - I would have no concerns about heat damage from having this stove on most any non-cosmetic surface.

IMG_6407.jpg


----------------------------------------------

To conclude this experiment, while this basic stove works well for preparing a hot drink for one person (as long as a windscreen is used), it is somewhat less convenient for two people, requiring a stove refill part of the way through the run for the larger quantity of water.

So for most part, I'd rate this stove as useful. It's a significant upgrade from having to burn those nasty hexamine solid fuel tablets, and for light duty its convenience is tops. But I'm not baking a potato in mine anytime soon.
wink.gif


---------------

Edit: Please let me know if these pics above are problematic for any viewers - they are a 'roundabout' import from the archived thread - I can reimport them directly from my PB account when I have some extra time. Thanks,
 
Last edited:

KuanR

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
1,802
Location
Macau S.A.R.
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Very nice little stove, I'm interested in building one now. Is it possible to load more fuel than you tested in it to give it a longer burn time?
 

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

[...] Is it possible to load more fuel than you tested in it to give it a longer burn time?
One capful of fuel pretty much fills the stove if I remember correctly - it's been a few years now. :thinking:
The best bet for more capacity might be to use a full-size Altoids tin; However that would probably just put out more heat than to simply to lengthen runtime.

The advantage with this little mini-tin is that it can be fully contained by the sheet-metal stove.
The typical (larger) hinged Altoids tin would probably cause some fitment issues in this regard.
 
Last edited:

markr6

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2012
Messages
9,262
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Pretty cool! Over the past 2 years, I switched to an alcohol stove (called Fancee Feest) for backpacking. I liked my canister stove, but with the alcohol stove I would take the exact amount of fuel necessary and know exactly how much was left at any time. I use Everclear as fuel...burns clean and hot!

I've never seen an Altoids style. Well done!
 

more_vampires

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 20, 2014
Messages
3,475
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Cool writeup K, reminds me of the classic beer can penny stove
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverage-can_stove
http://www.jureystudio.com/pennystove/

The stove can outperform some commercial models in cold or high-altitude environments, where propane and butane canisters might fail. Roland Mueser, in Long-Distance Hiking, surveyed hikers on the Appalachian Trail and found that this stove was the only design with a zero-percent failure rate.[6]

About the only thing to go wrong with these stoves is to somehow break or spill your fuel bottle.
 

TheShadowGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
365
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Doesn't seem particularly efficient, but I bet it would run quite happily on a wide variety of liquids. It's pretty cheap and easy to make as well.
:goodjob:
 

Poppy

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Messages
5,941
Location
Northern New Jersey
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Garden-variety perlite, sieved to get rid of the fines. A #6 sieve worked well.

Thanks for sharing your little test. I enjoy this kind of stuff. :)

Why did you include perlite?
And fines? What fines?
 

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

No worries; the builds I've seen online all reference using it & not sure why, perhaps it is creating a bed of 'wicks' - they are quite porous. Or to inhibit 'sloshing' of the alcohol when the stove is full to the brim and being used ? :thinking:
And re: screening; I just wanted to get rid of the smaller particles so that it would be a 'tidy' build.

BTW, I have oodles of perlite and also lots of this heavy screen if anybody needs some. I can mail sections of this heavy wire screen in a letter envelope at no cost, just PM me your mailing address (US only please) & approx. dimensions that are needed - the only requirement is to post pics of your build here in this thread. :) To reduce my PM correspondence load I will acknowledge receipt the pm but won't send further info; screen will be mailed within the week however.

Mailing small quantities of screened perlite would also be easy (as I have LOTS); however as it needs to go in a rigid container, it would take a little more time to get together; a few bucks to cover shipping would be appreciated. More info via PM requests. Shipping times may be delayed due to time constraints.

Thanks & best regards,
 
Last edited:

TheShadowGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
365
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

I think I will take you up on that Kestrel, but I will need to make some measurements later.
 

Maven

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
33
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Very neat, whats the perlite for? to avoid fuel sloshing about?
 

TheShadowGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
365
Re: Altoids-tin type alcohol stove - Includes data from 3 test runs & LOTS of pics

Very neat, whats the perlite for? to avoid fuel sloshing about?
From what I recall, the perlite does a couple things. Alcohol, as it burns, creates heat, which boils the remaining fuel. Using a porous material slows the burn/boiling process by insulating the extra alcohol and instead wicks the alcohol upward as it burns, resulting in greater efficiency than just burning the alcohol straight. It also helps stop excessive sloshing, which can result in spills. Certain types of sand can do something similar with other custom fuels, which looks really cool; and this is how "smokeless" indoor fire pit things work (though they often use a specialty gel fuel).
There's a variant of the pop can stove that uses a single pressure chamber with a perlite or fiberglass insulation inside that gains efficiency by allowing the burning jets to boil some alcohol and raise the internal pressure, aiding the wicking process. There's actually a massive number of cool DIY stoves that all function differently with varying degrees of efficiency and ease of creation.
 

Bethanywer

Banned
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
3
Location
Egypt
Altoids tin type alcohol stove Includes data from 3 test runs LOTS of pics

I used one on my Alaska trip last year every morning to perk my coffee and it never let me down. Lit the stove, went and took a shower, came back to fresh perked coffee.
 

Kyliegor

Banned
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
2
Location
Egypt
Altoids tin type alcohol stove Includes data from 3 test runs LOTS of pics

I too have the older white gas version, and it has worked very well over the years. Coleman stoves are a solid product. The generator on mine died last summer after more than 20 years use. I need to buy a replacement part and we are good to goWhich stove to use comes down to fuel choice & fuel storage. I recently switched over to the butane/propane cartridge style for the easy to use & small packing factor.
 

Burgess

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
6,372
Location
USA
Re: Altoids tin type alcohol stove Includes data from 3 test runs LOTS of pics

I'm thinking of filling an empty
Sterno can with perlite, and then
adding alcohol as needed.

With a screen on top, naturally


Would be considerably less expensive,
methinks . . . .
 
Top