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Old 28-08-2005, 17:38   #16
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interesting discussion

This has been a great discussion. It has prompted to me to continue to research safety for onboard fuels.

I ran across a great site:
http://www.waltersforensic.com/artic...n/vol3-no2.htm

and was suprised that they spoke of propane and alcohol with a need for safety.

'Since it is heavier than air, a propane leak can create and explosive mixture in lower boat compartments. Alcohol can also create explosive mixtures and can cause accidental ignition of combustibles owing to its clear, colourless flame. Therefore, great care should be exercised when using these fuels. Furthermore they should be stored outside or in ventilated compartments sealed from the main cabins and other compartments.'

Interesting stuff.

I will continue to use propane, but am no much more aware of the precautions.
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Old 01-09-2005, 16:52   #17
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Thumbs up Now, after 1 month of use....

I have to say alcohol is really a great way to go. We have used less than 2 gallons in the month we have been living aboard, including baking bread and making pizzas, as well as cooking all meals each day.

Extra work includes constantly pumping the fuel tank up to pressure and pre-heating. Both are very small tasks compared to everything else you have to do on a boat. The stove, once pumped and pre-heated works just like a normal gas stove.

As for advantages, I think the fact that you can always find a hardware store close by with denatured alcohol makes this much more convenient than propane, which I had on my last boat. I can remember hunting around for propane everywhere and keeping my fingers crossed that they would fill my tank (they often said they wouldn't because it didn't look just like the normal tanks on gas grills).

Another advantage is storage. I could easily store a year's worth of alcohol on board. The expense of doing so with propane would be huge. So... I don't have to go looking for alcohol as often as people go looking for propane. I can stock up.

Anyway, I think alcohol is the way to go now that I've been forced to try it!
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Old 02-09-2005, 02:38   #18
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If your going to store that much alcohol on board I'd suggest it be in containers that are punchure proof.

They usually come in a plastic jug. When tacking one day the half full one I had stored rolled over on to a corner of wood and put a hole in it. When I went below I could smell the fumes which became an emergancy. One spark and BOOM. I spent the rest of the day carefully soaking, exstracting & wiping, soaking, extracting & wiping until the smell was totally gone.

Now I keep it in an industral plastic container that I could dropkick with a steel toe boot........................_/)

Alcohol can be just as dangerous as propane. CNG is the way to go, but it's hard to find.
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Old 02-09-2005, 03:08   #19
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And at the 11.00 per gallon that we pay locally for alcohol, that is 22.00 per month. For 15.00 we fill a 5 gallon propane tank, that lasts 3-4 months living aboard full time. we do not have to pump up the pressure tank (not bad unless it happens in the middle of baking something, then you have to relight, and figure out how far along you were), and we do not have to store liquid fuel in containers that are deficient at best, or try to fill a small tank while underway or at a rolly anchorage. For those who can make pressure alcohol work, I commend you. As for me, I will take the easy way any day.
One other note, the level of fuel you consume is almost exactly what we were using when we had pressuized alcohol.
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Old 02-09-2005, 13:36   #20
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Wow..

That must have been one scary moment when you found the tank had punctured. You've got some good "near disaster" stories, Del. I still remember the "unseen submerged objects" story.

I think I'll start using a better container as well to head this possible emergency off at the pass.

Thanks for the input.

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If your going to store that much alcohol on board I'd suggest it be in containers that are punchure proof.

They usually come in a plastic jug. When tacking one day the half full one I had stored rolled over on to a corner of wood and put a hole in it. When I went below I could smell the fumes which became an emergancy. One spark and BOOM. I spent the rest of the day carefully soaking, exstracting & wiping, soaking, extracting & wiping until the smell was totally gone.

Now I keep it in an industral plastic container that I could dropkick with a steel toe boot........................_/)

Alcohol can be just as dangerous as propane. CNG is the way to go, but it's hard to find.
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Old 02-09-2005, 13:40   #21
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And at the 11.00 per gallon that we pay locally for alcohol, that is 22.00 per month. For 15.00 we fill a 5 gallon propane tank, that lasts 3-4 months living aboard full time.
I sure can't argue with the economics. Propane does sound less expensive. We are at about $10/gal for alcohol as well. In our case, I would have to factor in $2000-$4000 to switch over to propane, so the extra few $$ in alcohol is better on our budget than a huge layout to convert.
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Old 02-09-2005, 16:53   #22
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Alcohol cost

I hate to be a pain for details, but when referring to alcohol stoves I would like to know if they are pressurized systems and require alcohol for pressurized systems. As opposed to non pressure systems and a variety of fuels that will work with the non pressurized stove. The Origo is non pressureized. The cost of fuel is dramatically different. The pressurized alcohol is a lot more $$ and not readily available. My stove is pressurized and requires the exspensive fuel, one reason I am switching to kerosene.
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Old 02-09-2005, 17:50   #23
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Propane prices

Everywhere we have been in the Cribe we have seen propane. Since we use 17-20lbs in 4 months or so and carry 2 20's and 1 10 lbs tank we can go a long way before refill. When we left we werent realy sure how long we could go on a tank and have since got rid of 2.

It just cost me 16,500 BS or about 5 bucks for 20 lbs. That is twice the locals price, but all we have to do is drop the tank at the mini mart at the marina and they get it done and deliver it back to us.
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Old 03-09-2005, 00:34   #24
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First, BC Mike, we were talking about pressurized alcohol. The Origos look like a good setup, but I have not tried them.
Sean, Good point. Although after about 2 months of a pressurized alcohal stove, I had to weight an additional factor, the cost of a divorce. Propane was better for my budget
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Old 25-11-2005, 06:12   #25
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Our alcohol stove is NOT pressureized. It works really well, in a pinch, I have used rubbing alcohol ( so so but works), high octane booze can be used as well. Non pressurized alcohol is less dangerous to operate in our experience.

Flames can be difficult to see in bright light so caution is advised if you somehow have a spill of fuel and it lights. The truth is, anything that burns aboard a boat can be a fire hazard. Caution is always advised.
At this point we prefer to NOT have things like propane aboard. Deisel for engine and heat, hopefully , when we can afford to do so, one of the dickenson stoves that both cook and heat will be aboard. In the meantime we like our passive alcohol stove.
Storage of anything flammable is something that needs to be addressed carefully and correctly.
Fair Winds and happy cooking
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Old 25-11-2005, 07:30   #26
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Are we discussing this from a 'cruising perspective'?

Since this is a Cruisers Forum, it probably makes sense to discuss fuel choices relative to cruising realities (including but not restricted to safety):

Kero (Parafin): lowest likelihood of a safety problem; largest density fuel, meaning for a given amount of dedicated storage volume, it provides the longest period of cooking (especially relevant in the Pacific where many islands lack abundant infrastructure); hot flame (cooking times reduced); no longer readily available everywhere but, to the extent orifice clogging and dirty byproducts can be tolerated, alternative fuel (diesel) will work; dirtiest fuel when cooking, even when highly refined grades are burned

Propane (or LPG so we can include Butane): greatest potential risk (offset by the fact that only .0001% [or whatever] of boats so equipped experience a problem); low density fuel requiring periodic refilling (and also requiring onboard decanting capability, altho' this is cheap and simple to do) so multiple cylinders are important on long cruises in remote regions; the best cookng flame; available all over the world in some propane/butane/combination mix, but only in relatively major populated areas; very clean burning fuel; perhaps its worth noting that this is the fuel of choice on 90% of cruising boats so, if you find yourself in a remote area and without fuel, 'borrowing' LPG from another boat is probably easy, given an understandable crew.

Alcohol (Meth Spirits et al.): inbetween safety risk (certainly not a low risk fuel if you believe USCG stats); VERY low density fuel (periodic topping up of even large containers required); low temp flame (a terrible cooking fuel if you happen to be a chef; merely less satisfactory for the rest of us); very hard to find in some parts of the world and usually expensive when located; clean burning fuel (which is helpful given that the cooking time is extended); used by almost no cruising boats (except in some cases as a vaporizing fuel for kero burners).

While I can appreciate why a cruising crew would be using kero for cooking - either due to its benefits or to avoid LPG's liabilities - it escapes me why anyone would want to be either cooking or cruising with alcohol as a cooking fuel. (And yes, we have used a wick-type alcohol stove along with kero & LPG stoves, while cruising). And even in major yachting venues and well populated islands (e.g. Horta), I have had to 'loan' vaporizing alcohol to other yachts because they could only find spirits in 4 oz. containers at immense cost.

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Old 26-11-2005, 06:05   #27
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Will CNG (or high-pressure Methane) ever make a come-back?
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Old 26-11-2005, 09:43   #28
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CNG is becoming more popular here on the west coast. THe availability is increasing, and municipalities are buying more CNG vehicles, such as buses, and garbage trucks. This may help over seas eventualy, as CNG technology becomes more common, but I would not expect anything in the near enough future to benefit us. Since CNG can be extracted from landfills, at very little cost, it is a great option for a fuel resource, but the process is not fast enough to produce the fuel at the rate that would be needed for it to become a primary energy source.
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Old 26-11-2005, 13:39   #29
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Re: Are we discussing this from a 'cruising perspective'?

Quote:
Euro Cruiser once whispered in the wind:

Alcohol (Meth Spirits et al.): inbetween safety risk (certainly not a low risk fuel if you believe USCG stats); VERY low density fuel (periodic topping up of even large containers required); low temp flame (a terrible cooking fuel if you happen to be a chef; merely less satisfactory for the rest of us); very hard to find in some parts of the world and usually expensive when located; clean burning fuel (which is helpful given that the cooking time is extended); used by almost no cruising boats (except in some cases as a vaporizing fuel for kero burners).

Jack
Hi Jack,

Since this popped back up to the active thread section, and I was away during your post, I wanted to add something. The alcohol we use is a system in which there is an external tank (external to the stove) which you pump up to 10-25psi. There is then a line that runs to the stove/oven.

After you take about 1 minute (literally) to pre-heat, you are ready to cook. To pre-heat you dribble some alcohol from the burner into some small spots just below the burner by simply turning on the burner without lighting it. You then light this pooled alcohol, which heats up the burner.

After the alcohol heats the burner (1 minute's time), the stove and oven behave identically to an LPG unit.

I don't see why you say that the flame has any less heat. On the contrary, this produces more heat more quickly than our gas stove did on land. The oven is the same way. You can burn dishes in no time on this unit if you're not careful, and I can boil a gallon of water in just a few minutes. (5 maybe? Never timed it) Also, the oven goes off the temp scale I have (600 deg F) in approx 5 mins at max heating.

While I agree that alcohol is more expensive than LPG, and that it poses a safety problem if not handled properly, it is a fine cooking fuel. Since July of this year, I haven't had a meal cooked on anything but. In fact, we make all of our own whole grain breads, muffins, and cook every dinner aboard using this system.

For liveboard use, it's a good fuel. Oh, and 1 gallon lasts about a month when you bake frequently.

I just couldn't stand by and let the fuel take such a bad rap, when it in fact does heat very well and is doing such a great job for us.
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Old 26-11-2005, 21:04   #30
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When we first bought our Challenger, it had a pressure type alcohol stove. On the way from the Delta to Monterey, we had to fill the tank. It's location did not help any, but what a pain. Pouring from a container into the tank underway is a real problem. I am sure there are other solutions, but my set up did not present any obvious ones. I am not sure if our stove had problems, but the most we ever got was 2 weeks out of a gallon. $25-$30 per month was way more expensive than LPG.
As for the heat issue, it is a misnomer to say that a propane flame burns hotter than alcohol. The flash point for propane is 980 degrees. Alcohol is much lower, but this has nothing to do with the heat that can be generated by a flame. That is measured by the btu generated by each unit of fuel. Propane does generate far more btu's per pound than alcohol. This is relevant only to the consumption efficiency of the fuel.
In the original post, you mentioned the idea of an RV stove. I have seen them used, and not heard of any issues (fixed non gimbled install) I am considering one of these stoves for my trimaran. As for safety features, I have seen no difference in those offered on the RV stoves than those on the marine stoves. There were likely inovations applied to marine stoves before RV stoves had them, but both are design quite safe under current standards. Rust resistance would be the only consideration.
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