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Old 16-09-2013, 21:17   #46
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

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Originally Posted by Hillbillylad View Post
I have a non pressurised Origo two burner stove. I was going to toss it when I read all the forum stuff and already lined up a propane replacement. Then I actually tried it. I love it. When the missus joined me I was worried she would be a bit Iffy about it but she loves it too. We cook just about everything from pot roasts to bread but the biggest test for me is can it make a decent plate of chips( that'll be fries to our colonial brethren) and yep it makes excellent chips.
We use maybe a gallon of denatured alcohol a month at 13 dollars a gallon. I refill using a pump type thing I bought from the hardware store cos I too got sick of losing so much fuel pouring the gallon can into the pans. Spills wipe up or evaporate quick enough but that's money drifting away in the breeze.
I store the cans in my vented locker on deck with the gasoline tank.
At the moment I have no intention of getting rid of it, we love it. It polishes up right nice too.
No concerns storing fuel down below in the "pump up sprayer?"

Propane stored down below is not a good idea. Gasoline stored down below is not a good idea. What about alcohol? I know that it is less volatile, but is it considered good practice to store fuel (alcohol) in bulk down below?

Thanks........
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Old 16-09-2013, 21:19   #47
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

I am thinking that it can be done safely. Just have not done it myself.

Curious if others are storing alcohol stove fuel in any quantities?? If so....... where and how? any added precautions??
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Old 16-09-2013, 21:48   #48
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

The fuel isn't explosive and I'm not aware of any stories where the vapor has caused an explosion. We store ours in 1-gallon containers which we decant into 1-liter plastic Origo bottles for under way refueling. We just got a gasoline can (red plastic) that holds 4-5 gallons that we are experimenting with storing in the cockpit lashed to the binnacle. We moved our scuppers so they are above the water line so if there is a leak it will go overboard at some point.

Our only storage concern is the possibility of rubbing a hole in a bottle during 1000 miles of waves. We have no gasoline on board but still run the blower every now and then just in case any of the butane (?) lighting sticks should leak into the bilge.



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Old 17-09-2013, 21:45   #49
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

After I noted the length of time it took me to regrow an eyebrow, I decided to retire the old Kenyon Homestrand alcohol stove in favour of propane, despite its drawbacks.

Alcohol is finicky to light, not terrifically hot, and expensive on a dollar/BTU basis. About the only proper way to handle it are the Origo line of little stoves, which I've seen and which I would use on a sub-30 footer as being a safe and uncomplex method of brewing soups, tea and coffee, or even a pot of stew.

Propane and alcohol are both "wet" fuels in that their combustion releases water vapour...inside the boat, usually. Propane has a higher calorific value (it burns hotter with less fuel at a lower price) but it's problematic due to its density and the possibility that a leak could pool down in the bilges. Propane sensors and care/maintenance usually mitigate this, however.

For occasional meals aboard, I favour a butane-fuelled Forespar-type gimballed camp stove. I have one ready to be mounted in the pilothouse for hot drinks on watch. I also bring a propane-fuelled (from the one-pound green cylinders) Coleman-style camp stove with a grill on one side and a burner on the other. We lay down a plank across the back of the cockpit and cook in the open air at dock or anchor (when it's calm, as it often can be in the mornings). It keeps the cabin cooler and somehow, food tastes better outside. It's also easier to hose down a crumbed-up cockpit than the boat's interior.

I think the ideal solution is fairly unpopular: CNG, or compressed natural gas. Identical to domestic supply, it seems difficult to source in 10- or 20-pound canisters, although it has all of the heat and fewer of the downsides of propane.

A second choice is diesel itself. The advantages to a diesel stove are that you tend to have plenty of fuel nearby, and it isn't nearly as eager to burn as gases or other liquid fuels. On the other hand, it can be hard to light and you have to have a well-designed fresh air and exhaust setup to avoid sooting your sails. I have seen some nice diesel stoves, which of course double as heat sources if you are heading north or very far south. That would be my choice for a voyaging sailboat going "off the beaten track", because diesel is found nearly everywhere, and you only have to provision and store the one fuel, greatly simplifying your needs.
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Old 18-09-2013, 06:46   #50
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

Yet another post criticizing alcohol stoves on the basis of what is apparently no experience at all actually using a non-pressurized stove. After cruising through the Caribbean for a year I can say this from actual experience:

- they will never burn off your eyebrows or anything else because they are not pressurized

- They are very unlikely to malfunction because there are virtually no moving parts

- Alcohol may burn a bit cooler but the stove designers knew this and so made the burners a bit larger. It really doesnt take much longer (if at all) to heat the water for your morning coffee. I do it every morning on the boat with alcohol and every morning at home with propane.

- Yes, you can easily find it in the islands or at any hardware store in the States.

- I cooked roasts and bread in the oven of the Origo. It was our only stove and was used for everything, every day. Not just "occasional" cooking.

- Finally, no, I didnt have to carry large amounts of fuel around. One fill of my stove lasted a week out to Bermuda with fuel to spare. Also 6 days back. Also didnt need to refill on a 10 day trip to the Virgins though that trip was a bit rough so we didnt cook as much.

- I would far rather carry a couple of quarts of alcohol back to my boat than lug around propane tanks. Those suckers are heavy.

Bottom line? Propane is fine and if I ever get a "next boat" I would leave a propane system in it if it came with one. I would do the same for a non-pressurized alcohol stove. An old fashioned pressurized alcohol stove would be torn out before leaving the dock. Kerosene is even worse.
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Old 18-09-2013, 08:21   #51
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I think the ideal solution is fairly unpopular: CNG, or compressed natural gas. Identical to domestic supply, it seems difficult to source in 10- or 20-pound canisters, although it has all of the heat and fewer of the downsides of propane.
CNG though safer I don't think is anywhere close to ideal, it doesn't liquefy when compressed (at least not at the pressures you'd use on a rec boat, google ports and LNG), so CNG is running at 2000-3000 psi, versus around 100 psi for propane which is why the tanks are different.

According to the numbers below, using burners with the same BTU/hr rating, you'd have to carry just shy of 9 CNG tanks to equal 1 20 lb propane tank. And the tanks are more fun to carry as well at almost twice the weight.


BTU/ft^3 NG 1000
BTU/ft^3 propane 2500

standard tank CNG (scuba size) 80 ft^3
standard tank propane (4 gal, 20 lb) 150 ft^3

weight empty tank CNG 30 lbs
weight empty tank propane 18 lbs
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Old 18-09-2013, 09:54   #52
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
A second choice is diesel itself... I have seen some nice diesel stoves, which of course double as heat sources if you are heading north or very far south.
+1 on that. Someone on another forum posted this link:

Wallas Diesel Stove Heater

Seems like a pretty good solution, I didn't even know they made diesel stove/cabin heater combinations that vent outside.
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Old 18-09-2013, 10:13   #53
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My wish list to replace propane stove with wallas stove cost is concern but nice to remove propane from boat.
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Old 18-09-2013, 13:04   #54
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

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CNG though safer I don't think is anywhere close to ideal, it doesn't liquefy when compressed (at least not at the pressures you'd use on a rec boat, google ports and LNG), so CNG is running at 2000-3000 psi, versus around 100 psi for propane which is why the tanks are different.

According to the numbers below, using burners with the same BTU/hr rating, you'd have to carry just shy of 9 CNG tanks to equal 1 20 lb propane tank. And the tanks are more fun to carry as well at almost twice the weight.


BTU/ft^3 NG 1000
BTU/ft^3 propane 2500

standard tank CNG (scuba size) 80 ft^3
standard tank propane (4 gal, 20 lb) 150 ft^3

weight empty tank CNG 30 lbs
weight empty tank propane 18 lbs
Well, I had a friend who had CNG for his stove and his CNG tanks, while superficially different from propane 20lb tanks (standard "barbeque" tanks) were in no sense that voluminous. He switched to propane only because of the difficulty of filling CNG on a timely basis. He much preferred it as a fuel, and I don't recall seeing a vast number of tanks for it on his ketch.
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Old 18-09-2013, 13:06   #55
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

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+1 on that. Someone on another forum posted this link:

Wallas Diesel Stove Heater

Seems like a pretty good solution, I didn't even know they made diesel stove/cabin heater combinations that vent outside.
I have the impression that because people think a diesel stove is going to stink up the boat with a diesel smell, or will be difficult to get lit, that it is possible to pick up a used stove at a reasonable cost. Wallas would be in the top three of stove makers for that, I think, although there are small commercial diesel ranges made for fishing boats that would be equally suitable.
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Old 18-09-2013, 14:01   #56
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

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Well, I had a friend who had CNG for his stove and his CNG tanks, while superficially different from propane 20lb tanks (standard "barbeque" tanks) were in no sense that voluminous. He switched to propane only because of the difficulty of filling CNG on a timely basis. He much preferred it as a fuel, and I don't recall seeing a vast number of tanks for it on his ketch.
Filling on a timely basis. How much did he cook and how often did he have to fill the tank?

Some people say you use about a pound of propane a week, so you'd get 20 weeks. By the numbers I posted, an 80 ft^3 tank of CNG should last about 2.5 weeks, smaller tanks less.

I did run across someone I knew decades ago up in BC, he was trooping with his crew back to his boat with 6 CNG tanks, maybe half the size of a standard scuba tank. I don't remember asking him how long that would last and didn't know how much it was due to difficulty finding CNG vs how quickly a tank empties.

Found a link where someone says the bottles are called 20 hour tanks at 4000 BTU/hr. That works out that you need only 5+ tanks of CNG to get the same run time as propane. A don't know who is more accurate, but it's still schlepping heavier tanks a lot more often.

3 posts up from the bottom:
On CNG Stoves [Archive] - The WoodenBoat Forum
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Old 19-09-2013, 09:34   #57
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

For this post, if "survey monkey" could have been used, i think propane has it. Let me take it a step further, as I'm in the middle of a major refit.

What manufacturer's of propane stoves do people recommend?

My plan was to purchase a force 10, but there are other stoves out there.

What would you recommend and Why?

Happy Sailing!

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Old 19-09-2013, 11:28   #58
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Force 10 is good.

Taylor's makes an excellent product.

Luke's in Maine build very nice stoves.
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Old 21-09-2013, 07:51   #59
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

I have been reading these posts as well as other threads with interest.....

It seems that the cost of various fuels comes up quite a bit. I dont think that should even be a factor. Its really a safety/preference question.

Alcohol fuel has been mentioned a lot with reference to its high cost. And it is more expensive. But in the big scope it seems to me irrelevant. Average consumption is about 1 gallon per month cooking full time. Thats an average cost of say $15 per month or 50 cents a day. We all have to cook and eat. So if we pay $9 per month or $15 per month its not a big deal. If we are cutting it that close on the costs to the cruising kitty, then we are walking a fine line indeed.

So for me it boils down to....

Propane: High BTU, convenient, easy to use, "potentially" VERY dangerous.
Alcohol (Origo): Hot enough, convenient, easy to use, NOT so dangerous.
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Old 21-09-2013, 09:05   #60
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Re: Alcohol or Propane?

Diesel stove would be best
Only one safe fuel on board Diesel
More running out of propane or Alchol
Our boat has diesel engine, diesel cabin heater Wallas diesel ,
at present boat has propane stove force 10
Wallas diesel stove on refit list
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