As we continue our journey on evaluating the camping and backpacking stoves (wood-burning, canister, and liquid-fuel), the last category of stoves that we would look at is the alcohol stoves. Alcohol stoves found their origins in the enthusiastic improvisation by thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers to make super lightweight basic stoves from soda cans. Many manufacturers picked these designs, improved them and came out with their own lines of products.
In this article, we will look at some of the best alcohol stoves available in the market. Though alcohol stoves are overall lighter, cheaper and use a fuel which is readily available (just a note: alcohol fuel is not equivalent to a beer or wine bottle! alcohol stoves use denatured alcohol or antifreeze mix), such stoves are primarily useful for rehydrating frozen food or boiling water only. We will also look at some of the factors to consider while picking the best alcohol stoves for your needs and some accessories that can be used to improve the efficiency of such stoves.
It is worthwhile to mention that, just like wood-burning stoves, some campgrounds and parks ban the use of such stoves in the wilderness. So, please check the restrictions imposed while taking one with you on your outdoor trip.
Best alcohol stoves listSome of the best alcohol-fuel stoves available in the market are listed below:
|Trangia Spirit Burner with Screwcap||3.9 oz.||- This best-selling, made in Sweden alcohol stove is made from super durable brass.|
- Can burn denatured alcohol, ethanol and methanol etc.
- The stove comes with a leak-proof cap with O-rings which allows you to leave out unused fuel in the stove for short durations.
- Also comes with a simmer ring that provides basic flame control - from simmer to full and also helps in extinguishing the stove after use.
- Ultralight Cookset combos with burner and cookware are also available in the market.
|FreeFisher Professional Alcohol Stove||4.6 oz. including stand||- This great value-for-money alcohol stove is made of anodized aluminum and comes with a bracket stand.|
- The stove can store up to 100 ml of alcohol and has an O-ring screw cap container.
- Can burn denatured alcohol, ethanol, methanol etc.
- Also has a simmer control ring for flame control and easy extinguishing.
|Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove||1.3 oz.||- This ultralight bi-level alcohol stove is made from heat-resistant titanium.|
- Because of the 2-level jet stream design, the stove produces a wider flame for efficient cooking.
- The stove can store up to 70 ml of fuel - denatured alcohol, ethanol etc.
- Can also work with white gas and fuel tablet with an optional DX stand.
|Solo Stoves Alcohol Burning Stove||3.5 oz.||- A popular brass stove from the worldwide leader in wood burning stoves.|
- The burner has a leak-proof screw top cap with a rubber gasket.
- Features a convenient simmer ring that acts as a flame regulator and extinguisher.
- Backed by hassle-free warranty support.
|Lixada Titanium Alcohol Stove||1.7 oz.||- This lightweight bi-level jet stream alcohol stove is made from titanium.|
- The stove can store up to 70 ml of denatured alcohol.
- Can also work with white gas and fuel tablets.
- Also comes with a storage sack for easy storage and transportation.
|White Box Alcohol Stove||1.1 oz.||- This made in the US alcohols stove made with recycled anodized aluminum.|
- The burner can store up to 70 ml of alcohol and support pans with up to 5-inch diameter.
- Uniquely designed to produce a high- efficiency bloom flame pattern.
|Vargo Decagon Alcohol Stove||1.6 oz.||- This unique wide-base alcohol stove has a full tang titanium construction, making it extremely durable.|
- Has a stability plate at the bottom for maximum stability.
- Features a large center hole for filling and lighting up the stove.
|Nextove XLT Alcohol Stove||1.7 oz.||- This standard, handmade stove is made from high-density recycled aluminum.|
- Has a wider surface to support pots and pans with up to 6-inch diameter.
- Can burn up to 60 ml of alcohol at one time.
|Out-d Stainless Steel Alcohol Stove||8 oz.||- This heavy-duty, wide-mouth alcohol stove is made of stainless steel.|
- The burner has a capacity of 100 ml, so can burn for longer durations.
- The stove includes a compact stand to support pots and pans.
- Comes with a storage bag for easy carry.
What is an alcohol fuel stove and what are its major benefits?
An alcohol stove is a simple can-based stove which uses different varieties of alcohol – denatured, ethanol or methanol as fuel. Alcohol stoves generally have a very simple construction – there are no fuel lines, valves or fancy burners. This also means that the alcohol stoves are less efficient and have very little simmer/flame control. Hence, the alcohol stoves are suitable only for basic cooking – boiling water for rehydrating food. To improve the efficiency, you can use either a windshield or use them in box-type wood-burning stoves.
Still, because of their lighter weight, inexpensive fuel, and quiet operation, alcohol stoves are popular among backpackers and fans of minimalist survival.
The major pros and cons of such types of stoves are listed below:
How to pick the best alcohol stove for camping and backpacking?
Considering the fact that the alcohol stoves have probably the simplest design among all outdoor stoves, you would hope that picking the best alcohol stove for your needs would be an easy task. However, that is not the case considering the market is filled with a bunch of such stoves. In this section, we list out some of the major considerations to keep in mind while picking the best alcohol stove for your requirements. These major factors are summarized below:
- Building material of the stove
- Design of the stove
- Size and Weight of the stove
- Additional Features and Considerations
Building material of the stove
The building material of the stove is an important consideration while picking the best stove. As discussed above, alcohol stoves are popular because of their lightweight, compact designs. In order to ensure safe operation without increasing the weight, most alcohol stoves are made from recycled anodized aluminum, brass or ultralight titanium. Brass stoves such as Trangia Spirit Burner are generally about 2 ounce heavier than the ultralight titanium stoves such as Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove. Both of these stoves are, however, still well under 5 ounces and extremely durable and can survive a lifetime of usage.
Aluminum stoves vary considerably in weight depending upon the density of metal, but they are also reasonably durable, though not as much as titanium or brass stoves. So if you are extremely weight conscious and backpack only occasionally, you can pick an aluminum stove because it is generally cheaper than brass or titanium stoves.
Check the building material of the stove to determine the most suitable choice for your needs.
Design of the stove
One of the primary reasons alcohol stoves are popular is the fact that they have a very simple design. Still, some variations have emerged over the years to provide more versatility to such stoves. For example, the popular Vargo Decagon Alcohol Stove has a stability plate at the bottom that provides more stability to pots and pans. Similarly, Out-d Stainless Steel Alcohol Stove has a built in support arm set which provides a wider surface to cooking utensils.
Another common design enhancement is the use of two-layer jet-stream for higher efficiency heating. Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove and Lixada Titanium Alcohol Stove are two prominent stoves that follow this design.
Finally, the presence of a leak-proof burner cap with gasket rings allows you to use the burner itself for storing the fuel after use and cooling down. This is a major benefit provided by stoves such as Trangia Spirit Burner.
Check out all these design considerations while picking the best stove for your requirements.
Size and weight of the stove
Alcohol stoves are generally small and compact in size. Still, some stoves are designed to carry more fuel at one time. While there are some smaller stoves available in the market, most of the stoves that we have listed here can carry more than 70 ml (2.3 fl. oz.) of fuel at one time. With such capacity, the stove can burn for about 25-30 minutes.
Closely associated with the size of the burner is the dimensions of the stove. Since alcohol stoves have lower ground clearance, they are pretty stable once set properly. However, because of light weight, such stoves can support only smaller pots and pans – not more than 5-6 inch in diameter. For better stability, you can also consider getting a suitable support stand.
As discussed above, most of the alcohol stoves are pretty lightweight. Still, if you are a looking for something featherweight than you can pick a Titanium stove such as the Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove, which weighs only 1.3 oz.
In summary, check the supported dimensions and weight of your stove before picking the best option.
Additional features and miscellaneous considerations
In addition to the four major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular stove a preferable buy over other stoves.
One such consideration is the presence of screw cap with O-ring/gasket. Stoves such as Trangia Spirit Burner have a leak-proof cap, which allows you to carry some fuel in the stove itself, without the need of a fuel bottle.
Another small feature that popular alcohol stoves provide is the simmer ring. The simmer ring acts as a convenient flame regulator – providing basic flame control from simmer to full. And it also acts as an extinguisher, so you do not have to struggle to turn off your stove by blowing through your mouth.
Finally, one of the most important additional consideration is the warranty offered on the stoves by the manufacturer. The longer the warranty period, the better durability of the stove it would be. Most of the brass and titanium alcohol stoves are backed by an excellent limited lifetime warranty for burners, so you can use such stoves for years without worrying about their reliability.
You can look at all these features to determine if they make a specific stove a better choice for your needs.
Which are the best alcohol stoves and what our picks are?
Trangia Spirit Burner with Screwcap – Editor’s pick for the best alcohol stove
When you are someone with a 60-year-old tradition of manufacturing alcohol stoves, it is almost certain that you are a brand to beat. Over the years, Trangia has been a worldwide leader in alcohol stoves, thanks to its Swedish-made, brass spirit burner. The current Trangia spirit burner design has been in the market for more than 30 years and is still going strong.
The Trangia spirit burner can burn denatured alcohol, methanol, ethanol and even isopropanol. You should, however, avoid using petroleum-based fuels with the stove. The stove can be used independently or in a firebox for wind protection. And at 3.9 oz., it is reasonably lightweight, though not as light as Titanium alcohol stoves.
The Trangia spirit burner features a burner container with a leak-proof screw cap. The screw cap comes with a replaceable rubble O-ring gasket which allows the cap to close completely and hence you can use the burner to store fuel without the need of carrying a fuel bottle.
Another unique feature of this stove is the simmer ring that acts as a flame regulator. You can use the handle in the simmer ring to adjust it to a position of your liking. Moreover, you can use this simmer ring to extinguish the stove after use. This is a major convenience as you do not need to blow off the burning alcohol.
The only complaint you may have with this stove is that it does not come with windscreen or stand, so you would have to invest in these items if you want them.
Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove-– Editor’s pick for the best ultralight alcohol stove
If you are a thru-hiker, cyclist or an ultralight backpacker and looking for a featherweight alcohol stove then simply pick the Liberty Mountain’s popular Evernew Titanium Alcohol stove.
Matching ultralight weight with efficiency, this alcohol stove is made with durable Titanium and weighs only 1.3 oz. The stove can burn up to 70 ml (2.34 fl.oz.) of fuel at one time. You can use the HEET anti-freeze, denatured alcohol or the standard ethanol, methanol etc. as a fuel with this stove.
The Evernew stove has a 2-level design. This bi-level jet stream design helps in producing a wider flame and hence more efficient cooking. And if you decide to use the stove in a firebox or buy the optional DX stand with stove, you can also use white gas and Esbit fuel tablets as fuel.
The major complaint you would have with this stove is that it does not come with a screw cap, so you would have to drain all your unused fuel after cooling back to the fuel bottle.
FreeFisher Professional Alcohol Stove – Best value pick for alcohol stove
If you are looking for a simple, value-for-money alcohol stove, then you should definitely consider getting the well-designed, yet competitively priced FreeFisher Professional Alcohol Stove.
This alcohol stove is made from recycled anodized aluminum. The best part is that the stove comes with a bracket stand which doubles up as a windscreen. In order to use the stove, you simply need to remove the screw cap from the burner, add fuel and place the stove within the bracket.
This stove has a large capacity and can store up to 100 ml of fuel at one time. Like other alcohol stoves, it supports all alcohol variants – denatured alcohol, ethanol and methanol.
The FreeFisher alcohol stove also comes with a screw cap with O-ring for leak-proof closure. And what’s more, it also has a simmer ring for managing the flame and extinguishing the stove after use.
The basic requirement for any stove is the fuel. Alcohol fuel stoves use denatured alcohol as their primary fuel. This inexpensive fuel is generally readily available in camp stores and generic shops. Still, if you are looking for some good quality options, you can consider the following products:
- Klean-Strip Green Denatured Alcohol
- HEET Gas-Line Antifreeze and Water Remover(Yellow Bottle)
- Captain Phab Stove Fuel
- Sunnyside Corporation Denatured Alcohol
Another commonly sought accessory with such stoves is a lightweight, portable windscreen or windshield. These simple heat-resistant plates help in creating a barrier for wind and provide better fuel efficiency. If you are looking for a decent windshield, you can consider the following options:
DIY (Do It Yourself) Alcohol Stoves
The most fun people have around these basic stoves is to build them on their own. If you are interested in making your own stove, you can check out the following links for step-by-step instructions on how to make an alcohol stove. It is worth mentioning that homemade alcohol stoves may not be as safe as commercial designs, so you should be careful while using them, until you have mastered the design.
You can check out the video below to see a comparison of some the popular homemade designs.
Safety Considerations while using alcohol stoves
You should follow the following basic safety precautions while using a stove:
- Always ensure that you place the stove on concrete or rock or a cleaned up, stable ground surface. This will ensure that the stove is properly balanced while cooking.
- The alcohol stove produces a clean blue flame while burning, which may be difficult to notice while using the stove. So, be careful while taking things off the stove.
- Always let the remaining fuel cool down before pouring in back in the fuel bottle.
- Always use recommended fuel types for the stove. Do not look at improvising and using non-standard fuel as that may be hazardous and also damage your stove.
- Avoid using the stove in enclosed areas such as in your tent. Also, avoid using the alcohol stove around bushes and dry leaves as even a small splinter can cause a brush-fire.
- Do not touch the stove while it is in operation. Use heat resistant gloves if required. You can consider the following options, if required:
- Grill Armor Extreme Heat Resistant Oven Gloves
- G & F Dupont Nomex Heat Resistant gloves
- Comenzar Silicone Insulated BBQ Cooking Gloves
- Always keep the fuel away from the reach of the children and dispose-off any discarded fuel bottles responsibly.
Final thoughts on the best alcohol stoves to buy
In this article, we looked at some of the best alcohol fuel stoves available in the market for camping and backpacking. These simple and compact stoves are popular among ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers because of their light weight and inexpensive fuel. Such stoves are however suitable only for basic cooking such as boiling water and rehydrating packed food. We also looked at some of the factors to consider while picking the best alcohol stove for your needs.
We hope that you found this article useful. Do let us know your feedback by providing your comment through the form below. Until next time, enjoy your cookout in the wilderness!