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Thread: A few different stoves and their boil times under similar conditions

  1. #1
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    A few different stoves and their boil times under similar conditions

    I am somehwat new here, and am just starting to explore realms outside the AR/M4 forums. My interest in edged tools and fieldcraft led me to this forum, where I found 556mp's thread about the Coleman 533 stove. Smallish, backpackable stoves interest me, so I contributed to his thread. Last fall I pulled out a number of my smallish, backpackable stoves and did a little boil time comparison for another forum. I thought perhaps some here might be interested, so I thought I'd post my finding here, as well.

    All of these tests were conducted on the same day (a Saturday in early October, 2009) in about a 2 hour window. The weather conditions didn’t change too much during the event, allowing me to have a pretty level playing field for the stoves used.


    General weather conditions for the event: Cloudy, 45°-51° F air temp, winds calm to light steady breeze, and a little light rain towards the end of the session.

    Time of day was 08:40 to about 11:00.

    I used these 1 liter stainless steel pots with each stove timed on that day:



    I used the same cold tap water load (16 oz.) for all test. I was unable to measure the temp of the tap water, but by touch/feel it was comparable to the air temp toward the end of the session. I estimate the water temp was in the low- to mid-50° range.

    Also, after each boil test, the pots were cooled down with cold tap water, and the pot exteriors were dried. All of the water used was reclaimed in one way or another, with all the boiled water going towards tea and dish washing.

    Regarding the boil times: Because I was tending to the cats that were outside at the time, and because I was also preparing/conducting other stove tests, not all the boil times are exact. Because I was trying to multitask while conducting the tests, I missed the exact moment of boil for a number of the stoves. Therefore, not all boil times are exact. Some boil times stated may be +10 seconds or so beyond their actual boil times. Stated boil times that have a ~ preceding them were caught during multitasking. Boil times without the squiggle were observed as they happened, and are rounded up to the nearest :10 second mark.




    First up was my Super Cat alcohol stove variation. This stove is made from a Fancy Feast cat food can, and is on a larger cat food can that serves as a stand.

    Stove: Super Cat Alcohol Stove variation
    Fuel: 1.5oz of denatured alcohol
    Wind: Calm
    Air Temp: 45°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: ~12 minutes






    Stove: Markill Hot Shot canister stove
    Fuel: Snow Peak Gigapower
    Wind: Calm
    Air temp: 46°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 2 minutes 40 seconds





    Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket canister stove
    Fuel: MSR
    Wind: Calm
    Air Temp: 47°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 2 minutes 20 seconds





    Here are the Hot Shot and Pocket Rocket, with the different fuel canisters, for comparison:


    Stove: Jetboil equipped with OEM pot stand for non-Jetboil pots
    Wind: Light breezes
    Air temp: 48°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 4 minutes, 15 seconds




    Comments: I was surprised at the poor performance of the Jetboil with pot stand. Typically, canister stoves tend to lag performance-wise as the ambient temp drops, but the other two canister stoves easily out performed the Jetboil. Was it the light winds that affected its performance? Was it the fuel? I do not know. Because this intrigued me, I let the stove cool for a while, and then I conducted a test with the Jetboil pot. I’ll post that up later.
    One doesn't need to be sick to get better.

  2. #2
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    Stove: Trangia Spirit burner from Swedish mess kit in a Sterno stand thingie
    Fuel: 2 oz denatured alcohol
    Wind: Steady light breeze
    Air temp: 48°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 13 minutes 10 seconds




    Notes: I don’t have a proper universal pot stand for use with the Trangia burner. I decided to try the Spirit burner in this Sterno stove stand that I found at a rummage sale this past summer. The Sterno stand seemed to work OK, but would have probably worked better if I could have positioned the Trangia burner a little closer to the pot.



    Stove: Coleman Peak 1 Feather 442
    Fuel: Coleman white gas
    Wind: light breezes
    Air temp: 49°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 2 minutes 15 seconds






    Stove: Sierra Stove with homemade pot stand
    Fuel: Cedar lumber scraps
    Weather: Light breezes with light rain
    Air temp: 51°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 2 minutes 15 seconds






    Notes:
    For those that aren’t familiar with this stove, it burns wood and/or other solid fuel, and has a battery powered fan assist. The battery pack I have takes a AA battery, and has a switch allowing lo/off/hi for the fan.

    I haven’t used this stove for a while. I used cedar as fuel because it was handy at the time. If memory serves me correctly, boil times with mixed fuel (wood, leaves, pine needles, etc) have been longer, but not by much. The key to quick boil times with the Sierra stove is to get the fire really going first and create a fair amount of glowing embers before you put the pot on. After placement of the pot, a slow, but constant feeding of fuel will have your water boiling pretty quick. The little OEM pot stand nubs on this stove required me to lift the pot whenever I needed to add fuel to the stove. I made a taller pot stand so that I could insert smaller pieces of fuel into the stove without removing the pot; thus decreasing the time to boil (even if it is slight), and decreasing the potential for spilling water while holding the pot with one hand and manipulating the fuel with the other hand. I know that may sound goofy, but I can be klutzy sometimes. If I can figure out a way to minimize my margin for error, I will act on it.

    Pic of cedar pieces used in Sierra stove:


    The Sierra stove is great, but it really blackens the pots. I did not used the dish soap trick to reduce pot blackening for this test.
    Last edited by hikeeba; 08-18-10 at 10:14.
    One doesn't need to be sick to get better.

  3. #3
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    Jetboil PCS for comparison
    Stove: Jetboil (with its own pot)
    Fuel: Jetboil
    Wind: Light breezes
    Air temp: 50°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 4 minutes



    Notes:
    I have used the Jetboil setup with the Jetboil-brand fuel in summer/warm temps, and I have achieved fast (less than 2 minutes) boil times for 16 oz of water. The fancy heat exchanger on the proprietary Jetboil pot seems to have made a marginal difference in today’s temps/conditions. Really though, I can’t help but blame the nature of the fuel as the main contributing factor of the Jetboil. I have used canister stoves in ambient temps such as those experienced today before, and I have found that if I wrap my hands around the fuel canister in an attempt to warm the canister while the stove is going, output is increased, and water boils faster.

    Just for fun, because I had it handy…
    Stove: Trangia in Swedish mess kit pot stand
    Fuel: 2 oz denatured alcohol
    Winds: light breezes
    Temp: 51°
    Pot: Swedish Mess Kit stainless steel pot with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: ~9 minutes






    Other notes:

    Test helpers:




    All stoves were ignited using a Mil-Spec Plus fire steel, procured through The Sportsman’s Guide. These have always worked very well for me (after some minor adjustments to the scraper):


    The Sierra stove was started with a cotton ball I had partially saturated with melted candle wax and stuff in a plastic film canister several years ago. The wax made for a hard cotton ball thingie, but since the entire cotton ball wasn’t full of wax, it did put apart nicely to expose lots of little fibers which took the first spark off the steel.

    It burned plenty long, and I did not need any other tinder to ignite the cedar pieces.

    Thanks for looking.
    Last edited by hikeeba; 08-18-10 at 10:17.
    One doesn't need to be sick to get better.

  4. #4
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    Regarding the less-than-stellar performance of my Jetboil stove: I did conduct another informal test using only the canister stoves - with the same pots, the same 16 oz water loads of same temperature, and in the same ambient conditions - but after running a test, I allowed the fuel canisters to cool before I swapped them to a different stove. When I finished, I had timed each of my three canister stoves with the three different fuel canisters I had on hand for the original test. In an effort to make things as even as possible, I believe I had purchased three new canisters - a SnowPeak, A Jetboil, and an MSR - specifically for the evaluation.

    Unfortunately, I was unable to post up the results of that informal test immediately upon its conclusion. And, because I can be pretty dumb sometimes, I misplaced my notes I had taken. I will try again later this fall.



    I have a few other stoves I'd like to formally informally evaluate, as well. I had long lusted after a Svea 123r, and finally got my hands on one this past February. It's a pretty nifty little stove



    And as for packability, the Svea 123r almost fits completely inside my Snow Peak Trek700 pot:



    I also have a Pocket Cooker, a folding wood/solid fuel stove. This little bugger has been a good little stove for me. It works especially well if you can aim its feed door into a steady, moderate breeze:





    Again, thanks for looking.
    Last edited by hikeeba; 08-18-10 at 10:40.
    One doesn't need to be sick to get better.

  5. #5
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    Now suffering from cooker envy.

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    Really though, thanks for that investment of your time sir. It is well appreciated.

    I just run an MSR, my Ikea hobo and build tin can hobo sets when and if the need arises.

  6. #6
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    Great!

    Thank you!

  7. #7
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    Excellent reviews. I have had my eye on the MSR and it looks like it may go in my kit thanks to your no BS review. Thanks again.

  8. #8
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    Nice set of tests! I've looked on and off at home-made alcohol stoves for stashing in my vehicle and other places. It's been a while since I toyed with them. Is the Super Cat the current king of the hill, compared to the pressurized soda-can stoves? Or is it simply easier to build?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikeeba View Post


    Stove: Sierra Stove with homemade pot stand
    Fuel: Cedar lumber scraps
    Weather: Light breezes with light rain
    Air temp: 51°
    Pot: 1 liter stainless steel with lid
    Water amount: 16 oz
    Boil time: 2 minutes 15 seconds






    Notes:
    For those that aren’t familiar with this stove, it burns wood and/or other solid fuel, and has a battery powered fan assist. The battery pack I have takes a AA battery, and has a switch allowing lo/off/hi for the fan.

    I haven’t used this stove for a while. I used cedar as fuel because it was handy at the time. If memory serves me correctly, boil times with mixed fuel (wood, leaves, pine needles, etc) have been longer, but not by much. The key to quick boil times with the Sierra stove is to get the fire really going first and create a fair amount of glowing embers before you put the pot on. After placement of the pot, a slow, but constant feeding of fuel will have your water boiling pretty quick. The little OEM pot stand nubs on this stove required me to lift the pot whenever I needed to add fuel to the stove. I made a taller pot stand so that I could insert smaller pieces of fuel into the stove without removing the pot; thus decreasing the time to boil (even if it is slight), and decreasing the potential for spilling water while holding the pot with one hand and manipulating the fuel with the other hand. I know that may sound goofy, but I can be klutzy sometimes. If I can figure out a way to minimize my margin for error, I will act on it.

    Pic of cedar pieces used in Sierra stove:


    The Sierra stove is great, but it really blackens the pots. I did not used the dish soap trick to reduce pot blackening for this test.
    Use hardwood and you will get less black soot. Evergreens are full of tar and resin.
    Last edited by Heavy Metal; 08-22-10 at 20:26.
    My brother saw Deliverance and bought a Bow. I saw Deliverance and bought an AR-15.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the tips, Heavy Metal. I tend to use whatever I can find handy for the woodburners, but I will certainly keep an eye out for hardwood materials.

    Quote Originally Posted by davey View Post
    Nice set of tests! I've looked on and off at home-made alcohol stoves for stashing in my vehicle and other places. It's been a while since I toyed with them. Is the Super Cat the current king of the hill, compared to the pressurized soda-can stoves? Or is it simply easier to build?
    I don't think the Super Cat is the current king of homemade alcohol stoves - not by a long shot. To answer your second question, yes, it was super-easy to build:

    Simple build instructions: Acquire small aluminum can-like vessel, clean can-like vessel, make holes in can-like vessel.

    Advanced build instructions: Acquire small tuna can, Fancy Feast cat food can, or other similar aluminum can-type thing; wash can, determine number or holes to be punched in can, determine where on the can to punch the holes, punch holes with single hole punch tool.


    I've made no fewer than 6 different versions of the Super Cat, but none worked as well as the first model I made. I learned all my Super Cat stuff here: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html
    One doesn't need to be sick to get better.

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