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Old 13-08-2017, 08:02   #106
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Originally Posted by Seaslug Caravan View Post
In the interests of balance, Lets include this.

No Cookies | NT News



Its not clear in the story , Balladeir has an ALCOHOL STOVE.



Phil was out of action for many months.

Actually, to be balanced you'd have to cite the 100s of thousands of propane installations, and likely 10s of thousands of alcohol (pressure and non-pressure) systems, that get used daily and DON'T blow up or catch fire.

The last time I looked at the stats the number of accidents due to cooking fuel wad very small -- approaching negligible. It's definitely not something to take lightly, but the evidence clearly shows that cooking systems are not a major cause of boating accidents.
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Old 13-08-2017, 08:49   #107
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

Alcohol fire is very hard to see sometimes. It's easy to end up with major injuries when there's just a little flicker, and someone tries to re-fuel. At least, with the camp stoves I've seen, this is the case. On a boat underway, I'd think it could be worse.
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Old 13-08-2017, 14:11   #108
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Those are the Taylor wicks, not the Tilley wicks. The Taylor wicks fit into a cup around the base of the burner and absorb the alcohol that is poured into the cup (such that it can't splash out). The problem is with the pouring. A Tilley wick (e.g. TILLEY HEATER TORCH, PART No 151) is wetted in a bottle away from the burner and clamped on as needed. IIRC they were less than a apiece 20 years ago - today on eBay they are asking $25-$35 delivered. Ouch.

I am going to check my spares - I may have another pair. Not paying that price...

Greg
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Old 13-08-2017, 14:27   #109
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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The last time I looked at the stats the number of accidents due to cooking fuel wad very small -- approaching negligible.
Yes, very small but I would argue with "negligible", which means insignificant or not worth considering. Clearly it is worth considering. And while propane explosions are rare, they are not as rare as commonly thought or as the industry would have you believe.

Just before I left to cruise a boat in our club blew up, shattering the legs of the two couples aboard and necessitating an amputation. The damage to both people and boat was shocking. While out cruising I ran into at least a couple of wrecks from propane, not yet removed from marinas. And on the way back I was treated to a boat exploding, burning, and sinking while returning from the Mack I race - the heavy black smoke could be seen for miles, then nothing. Now I have encountered many thousands of boats in my years of cruising, so statistically the number is indeed small. And considering the number of folks that treat propane cavalierly, it is surprisingly small. But these things do happen, every year. So everyone please treat propane with the respect it deserves.

Greg
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Old 13-08-2017, 16:05   #110
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

Propane explosions and alcohol fires certainly do happen Carina. That's why I wrote "it's not something to take lightly." But the USCG accident stats, which are available online, report the actual number of cooking fuel related reportable events for the last decade or so. I don't have access right now since I'm on my ipad in sketch net access area, but my recollection is the numbers were a tiny fraction of total events. Note: Any event that causes human harm or exceeds a few $1000 in boat damage must be reported.

My point is not to downplay what is a very serious aspect of cruising. I just think we need to keep things in appropriate perspective. We tend to focus on the catastrophic events when discussing these kinds of things. It's important to understand just how rare they are.
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Old 13-08-2017, 16:07   #111
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
Yes, very small but I would argue with "negligible", which means insignificant or not worth considering. Clearly it is worth considering. And while propane explosions are rare, they are not as rare as commonly thought or as the industry would have you believe.

Just before I left to cruise a boat in our club blew up, shattering the legs of the two couples aboard and necessitating an amputation. The damage to both people and boat was shocking. While out cruising I ran into at least a couple of wrecks from propane, not yet removed from marinas. And on the way back I was treated to a boat exploding, burning, and sinking while returning from the Mack I race - the heavy black smoke could be seen for miles, then nothing. Now I have encountered many thousands of boats in my years of cruising, so statistically the number is indeed small. And considering the number of folks that treat propane cavalierly, it is surprisingly small. But these things do happen, every year. So everyone please treat propane with the respect it deserves.

Greg
Wow .... 30 years of marine insurance investigations and I have have never seen one propane explosion.
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Old 13-08-2017, 16:41   #112
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Wow .... 30 years of marine insurance investigations and I have have never seen one propane explosion.
A classic example of how anecdotal evidence is untrustworthy. My experiences show propane to be scary dangerous, yours to be very safe. Both seem to be based on a significant sample size. The only real evidence would be statistical, as Mike posted earlier. But even there, statistics can be manipulated, particularly when financial interests are at stake (I'm not making any accusations here). [Edit: Actually it is likely more common for flaws in the design of the statistics collection to result in skewed results - details really matter with statistics.]

The takeaway for me is that it is very unlikely that any one boat/skipper will ever have a propane explosion, but if it happens it can cause maiming and death as well as the loss of the boat. The good news is that it is not a lottery - luck is not the only factor, or even the most important. It is more like poker: bad luck tends to find the unskilled, over time. So if you are going to sit at this table, know how to play the game...

Greg
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Old 13-08-2017, 17:07   #113
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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... It is more like poker: bad luck tends to find the unskilled, over time. So if you are going to sit at this table, know how to play the game... Greg
Very well put! But I still don't see how a bottle of alcohol can explode - anyone ever opened a whisky bottle and seen it explode, blowing off the perpetrator's legs? I don't buy it - non-pressurised alcohol doesn't explode!
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Old 13-08-2017, 17:13   #114
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Very well put! But I still don't see how a bottle of alcohol can explode - anyone ever opened a whisky bottle and seen it explode, blowing off the perpetrator's legs? I don't buy it - non-pressurised alcohol doesn't explode!
Thanks for the complement.

The explanation for the explosion is simple: the vapor was contained inside the plastic bottle, which allowed the pressure to build up during the rapid oxidation (i.e. the flame entered the bottle), with the result a sudden failure of the containment. Just like firecrackers the fuel burns quickly but only explodes when contained. Containing and directing the pressure is what makes powerful explosions. (Propane inside a hull or under the sole is another example, although that burns fast enough to create a pressure wave without containment.)

Greg
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Old 13-08-2017, 17:22   #115
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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...(i.e. the flame entered the bottle)... Greg
Well, anyone opening a fuel bottle, any fuel bottle, in the presence of a flame ... is insane!
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Old 13-08-2017, 17:24   #116
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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A classic example of how anecdotal evidence is untrustworthy. ...

Exactly why I think it's important to rely on credible data, not anecdotal evidence, when discussing these sorts of risks. And I don't think the USCG has any incentive, financial or otherwise, to downplay the number of cooking-fuel related reportable events.

I asked this question earlier, and if I had better net access I might be able to answer it, but what I'd like to see is the rate of propane-related events vs alcohol. And ideally have that broken down by pressure vs non-pressure vs propane.

We know the totals are statistically negligible (although not inconsequential or irrelevant) compared to total accident causes. My guess is that there is also a statistically inconsequential difference between all three ... but I would love to see the data on this question.
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Old 13-08-2017, 17:46   #117
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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... And ideally have that broken down by pressure vs non-pressure vs propane. ... My guess is that there is also a statistically inconsequential difference between all three ...
Well, I carry various bottles of alcohol in my cabin - no concerns at all - but no way would I ever carry propane within the hull itself. If stats show just as many alcohol fires/explosions as propane, or petrol/gasoline, then there's something really fishy about those stats. I can almost concede to arguments against alcohol on grounds of convenience/heat/BTUs, but not about safety.
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Old 13-08-2017, 20:57   #118
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Well, anyone opening a fuel bottle, any fuel bottle, in the presence of a flame ... is insane!
There wouldn't necessarily have been a flame. The flash point of alcohol is quite low, so if the burner is still hot the vapor can ignite on contact. Which is one of the dangerous aspects of alcohol.

Greg
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Old 13-08-2017, 23:45   #119
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

Thanks Greg for your patient answering, however, with modern alcohol stoves there is never any need to open a fuel bottle anywhere near to a hot stove. To do so would be pointless and reckless in the extreme.
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Old 14-08-2017, 04:40   #120
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Re: Propane vs Alcohol Stove

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Well, I carry various bottles of alcohol in my cabin - no concerns at all - but no way would I ever carry propane within the hull itself. If stats show just as many alcohol fires/explosions as propane, or petrol/gasoline, then there's something really fishy about those stats. I can almost concede to arguments against alcohol on grounds of convenience/heat/BTUs, but not about safety.


I don't know what the numbers say, or even if the data is differentiated by fuel type. I do know the total number of reportable boating incidents is a tiny fraction of the total number of boating accidents.

Part of Greg's point (I think) is that mostly people do manage their fuel responsibly, be it alcohol or propane. You certainly should not store propane down below or in contained areas. Alcohol is not so much a problem, but has it's own problem areas.
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