A very interesting and "many times argued" issue for boaters...I'll add my $.02 worth...
All types of fuel carried on board a moving vessel must be stored carefully whether it be diesel
, gasoline, alcohol, LPG, kerosene, propane
, or whatever...common sense dictates a reasonable and thoughtful amount of caution with all of these.
As a user of a pressure alcohol stoves for a number of years I will add the following comments from experience. I have a stainless Hillerange (stove and oven) on my C&C
which we weekend and vacation
on - it has a new steel
pressure tank with quality hoses and hardware
. I buy the alcohol in a steel
jug and secure it in a small locker where it can't move about. Until I found the source of a slow leak (a valve in the stove), I too had to pump up the tank each day. This is a perhaps once per weekend thing without the leak now...
My wife is a tea drinker so we use it regularly when aboard...I have baked bread succesfully and find the heat produced by the elements quite satisfactory but perhaps not as good as propane. It boils water
very nicely and burner control from almost no flame to blast furnace is excellent. The preheat proceedure, however, is a pain and one misunderstood by many who have had "trouble" with an alcohol stove and think they're dangerous. This, in my opinion, is the major downfall of alcohol stoves...and why I can't completely disagree with the assessment of them as dangerous. I'll bet that almost all of the serious fires caused by pressure alcohol stoves are as a direct result of the user, not the equipment
. If you are not trained in the use of this type of stove and lack the patience necessary to use it properly, I guarentee you'll have problems.
Anyone who cares to read or learn the procedure to properly preheat and use an alcohol stove can do it safely, every time! The "problems" we have encountered have been when my wife (bless her, of course) uses the thing but doesn't remember to be patient...it's not that it takes that much, but some patience is required...too much liquid alcohol in the burners before it's hot enough to vaporize and you get a flare-up...providing you've turned off the supply to the element, it's not particularly dangerous - it burns itself out and off you go with your cooking - it looks more dangerous than it is in most instances - one should not have combustibles around or over your stove in any case....I, myself have never had a problem in using a pressure alcohol stove but I understand the process and do it the same EVERY time...
My next boat will likely have propane and I'll likely be as happy with that as with alcohol...it presents different challenges from a safety
perspective but is certainly much easier for most people to use - no question. That alone probably makes it a safer cooking source. I would never allow anyone to use my current
stove without strict instruction and much hovering and reassurance...it's too easy to have a problem...most people can, however, safely use a propane stove with little instruction providing the basic systems (solenoid, sniffers, vented box, etc.) have been put in place.
There is nothing inherently dangerous about a pressure alcohol stove IMO, but it takes an understanding of the process to use one safely. I can't speak to supply and cost as I've only been using alcohol (stove alcohol anyway
) in Canada
and the US where it's in pretty good supply...
Happy and safe sailing to everyone...