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Old 23-02-2020, 09:32   #1
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Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

Denatured alcohol has two drawbacks:
  • Too expensive. If it cost what the ethanol in gasoline costs (~ $3/gallon) that would be one thing, but the best you can typically do is $16-22/gallon.
  • Denatured with things that smell or don't burn cleanly. Most of it is 50% methanol, because it is cheaper. Denaturants can include MEK and other solvents. On the other hand, some of the fuels are ethanol with Bitrex, which is much better.
Anyone have a cheaper source that is safe to burn? Most of us only have these stoves on weekenders and don't burn a gallon a year, but I still hate the Kleen Strip and Sunny Side stuff. I need to try Smart Fuel or one of the other fireplace fuels next. Walmart and Amazon have them for about the same price as Kleen Strip, and the quart bottles would be handier.
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Old 23-02-2020, 10:51   #2
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

Technical (industrial) grade alcohol of any sort is going to cost you $15/gal, plus shipping in all likelihood. Ethanol absolute, the finest grade of ethanol you can buy, still has benzine in it, which my chemist wife pointed out when I used it to make back-packing cocktails. I don't think there's a free lunch on this one.
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Old 23-02-2020, 10:57   #3
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

In the 1980s, I used to use “Methyl Hydrate” (99.9% CH3 OH, Methanol) in my alcohol stove. It was sold as gas line/lock antifreeze & solvent/thinner. Smokeless, but not very hot.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/sol...ate/1000130951
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Old 23-02-2020, 13:28   #4
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Technical (industrial) grade alcohol of any sort is going to cost you $15/gal, plus shipping in all likelihood. Ethanol absolute, the finest grade of ethanol you can buy, still has benzine in it, which my chemist wife pointed out when I used it to make back-packing cocktails. I don't think there's a free lunch on this one.
Yep, the 99+% ethanol is not good drinkin' likker due to the last bits of water being extracted with benzine (or so I remember from a previous life). But the 95% stuff is ok, for the remaining 5% is water. IIRC Rossvile silver label in 5 gallon drums was always shipped when we went to the islands for samoling runs... for the preservation of specimens, of course.

Here in Australia denatured alcohol is called "methylated spirits", and seems to be mostly ethanol. The title implies that the denaturent is methyl alcohol, but I"ve not been able to confirm that. Wouldn't drink it for sure!! We usre it to preheat our diesel heater and I've noted that the brand sold at the cheapo stores does not burn as well as the "name brand" stuff. Perhaps more water content?

Going price is around 4-5 AUD per liter for the better stuff, 3-4 AUD per liter at Shiploads (cheapo store). Glad we don't need much!

Jim
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Old 23-02-2020, 13:41   #5
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

I would assume from a purity standpoint that drinking alcohol would be purest.
At least in the US I believe by law ETH has to be “denatured” or rendered poisonous to drink. Unless a tax has been paid and it’s meant to be consumed as an alcoholic beverage.
I believe the poison usually added is Methanol?
This was done I believe during prohibition and has continued I guess to protect a tax?

But if your not burning a gallon a year, why does the price matter?

Would pure Methanol work? It’s easily available as motor fuel.
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Old 23-02-2020, 14:48   #6
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
...But if your not burning a gallon a year, why does the price matter?

Would pure Methanol work? It’s easily available as motor fuel.
* See reason 1.


Also, it beats another anchoring thread.


* No, pure methanol is not generally easily available. It nearly always has some small gasoline-like fraction added. It also generates a bit of formaldehyde when burned. Methanol also burns differently, with slightly less heat.
In fact, denatured alcohol is often a cocktail of whatever alcohols, aldehydes, and ketones are cheapest this month, with no set formula. Often it is no more than 50% ethanol. Some of it smells quite awful. Solvent use and burning have different requirements.

I've been looking at some ethanol fireplace fuels. They seem to be the most available and pure at a reasonable price. Instead of denaturing with ketones and methanol, they use Bitrex. Also handy that they come in quart jars; I think most spills are the result of awkward hardware store tins.
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Old 24-02-2020, 14:04   #7
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

You guys....man, I just don't get it. It is not that hard to rig a propane tank properly. I've used alcohol stove and ….they suck. Can't get enough heat ...or it takes forever to get it done.

My propane hob cooked my Mexican bacon and 2 over medium eggs in less than 5 minutes. I do lust for induction. But unless I come into some serious money...ain't happening.
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Old 24-02-2020, 16:27   #8
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

Fuel ethanol in the United States must be anhydrous (less than 1 percent water). Petroleum, typically pentanes plus or conventional motor gasoline, is added to fuel ethanol to make it unfit for human consumption. Fuel ethanol is denatured, usually prior to transport from the ethanol production facility, by adding 2 to 5 volume percent denaturant.

Ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, drinking alcohol, or simply alcohol) is a chemical compound, a simple alcohol with the chemical formula C. 2H. 6O. Its formula can be also written as CH. 3−CH.

Today's Chicago Boar of Trade commodity pricing for ethanol is $1.31 per US gallon. Obviously there is a massive markup through the distribution channels and for the packaging for the fuel sold at retail.

The wholesale commodity price varies considerably depending on country, e.g., 2.5 to 3 times higher in Europe than in the USA and Brazil.
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Old 24-02-2020, 18:22   #9
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
In the 1980s, I used to use “Methyl Hydrate” (99.9% CH3 OH, Methanol) in my alcohol stove. It was sold as gas line/lock antifreeze & solvent/thinner. Smokeless, but not very hot.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/sol...ate/1000130951


And most alcohol stove manufacturers say, "DO NOT USE METHANOL." But what do they know?
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Old 24-02-2020, 18:47   #10
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

I'm a big fan of Origo stoves. I've had (or installed) one on every boat I've owned. I even have an origo 1500 single burner that I bring (car) camping...its awesome!

I buy a gallon (4L) jug of methyl hydrate at Canadian Tire (only in Canada, I guess). In the paint section its $12, but in the automotive section its $10. They are both 99.9% pure...so are they the same?

https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/t...2324p.html#srp

https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/s...-0497127p.html

This stuff burns odorless, and is good for first aid too.

In the past, one jug has been a multi-year supply. Seems like good value to me.

I also have an origo heat pal that I bought at a yard sale that I've never used.

I use SIGG aluminum fuel bottles to carry the methyl hydrate on board. In particular, the fuel bottles have a pouring spout that really helps when pouring. That stuff is difficult to pour without spilling...I think it has do do with its surface tension being different than water, or something like that.
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Old 24-02-2020, 19:37   #11
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

Propane
  • Yes, works well, had it on my last boat.
  • Off the topic.
  • Makes no sense in smaller boats that are primarily day sailed. Expensive, complex, heavy.
Denaturants. There is a long list of permissible materials, including caustic, phenol, ammonia, and coal tar. Relatively few are common, and some are really incompatible with low-odor combustion. Perhaps the best of these is Bitrex, of which only 3-20 ppm are required (the stuff really tastes bad).


Methanol burns with less heat. It can also generate formaldehyde. There are several good reasons stove makers say no.



A properly adjusted ethanol stove produces the same amount of heat as a propane stove with the same rating. If the stove seems slow, either the fuel is methanol or there is an adjustment problem. I've tested them side-by-side. There is no general trend to speak of.


-----


Yes, I would chose an installed propane system for frequent use. No question. But that isn't the topic here.


I'm surprised so few had suggested a more-pure source, but it does take a little looking:
  • Green denatured alcohol. These are generally ethanol with either ethyl acetate or Bitrex. No ketones, petrol, or methanol.
  • Fireplace fuel. Ethanol with isopropanol and Bitrex. Blended with burning in mind.
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Old 24-02-2020, 20:11   #12
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

The best price I've found is Sunnyside denatured alcohol, 5 gallon drum is $65.00, free delivery from Walmart on line
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Old 25-02-2020, 05:55   #13
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

"You guys....man, I just don't get it. It is not that hard to rig a propane tank properly. I've used alcohol stove and ….they suck. Can't get enough heat ...or it takes forever to get it done."

My unexpressed thought, Alan Smith.

"At least in the US I believe by law ETH has to be “denatured” or rendered poisonous to drink. Unless a tax has been paid and it’s meant to be consumed as an alcoholic beverage."

a64Pilot, mine was pilfered from my own laboratory. No tax then. $16 a gallon tax otherwise, if my memory is correct.
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Old 25-02-2020, 05:59   #14
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

To secure a tax on alcohol the federal government made all non-beverage alcohol poisonous. Think about it. The punishment for drinking non-beverage alcohol is blindness or death. It happens. It happens to some pretty pitiful people.

Anyway, off my soap box. Look at 27 CFR Part 21. There you will find a list of all authorized complete denaturants (Subpart C) and speciality denaturants (Subpart D: the formula numbers) and a list specialty denaturants authorized for fuel alcohol (Subpart F: formulas 1, 3A, & 28A).

Pick you poison.

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Old 25-02-2020, 06:28   #15
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Re: Best Ethanol Stove Fuel

I was hoping someone would have a cool source for something better for burning and readily available at retail. It seems no one does.


And yes, installed propane is obviously the better choice for larger boats. The portable propane/butane stoves are the better choice for smaller boats. This is why Dometic divested Origo 5 years ago and you can't buy them anymore. Obviously.



But there are still a lot of alcohol stoves out there. I find it ironic, that with all the ethanol gasoline out there, ethanol for fuel is little more available than it ever was, and quality is still poor for that purpose.
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