Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Meths Stove Saga

I first messed around with meths (alcohol) stoves many…..many years ago, the Trangia and simple MYO, and found them slow, messy and not fit for anything!  Having years later caught the backpacking bug and hearing the ultra lightweight enthusiasts extolling their virtues I thought I’d better have a rethink.

I was planning on doing the Southern Upland Way and since there was a lot of forestry I planned on taking a Honey stove so thought I needed a back up, I decided on the Evernew (EBY-254).  Being made from titanium is was quite light, bombproof and it fitted neatly within the Honey as a windscreen, downside it was expensive.

The trip was a bit of a disaster as far as the Honey stove was concern, it rained almost continually consequently dry wood was at a premium so I only used it twice in 12 days, the Evernew on the other hand got a fair shake down.  I was quite impressed as it’s a quiet powerful little beast, the only niggling doubt was the fuel consumption; I’d used over a litre of meths, perhaps this was my poor operation or was it just a thirsty beast?

A few weeks later I set out to find out; I abandoned the simple few squirts of meths into the burner and used a 20ml medicine cup (now superceeded by a cut down 25ml plastic measuring cylinder which enables easy +/- 0.5ml measurements); did a review of Zen Stoves; decided on a simple test regime of 500ml water and 15ml of meths….what’s the temperature achieved?

First tests of the Honey/ Evernew were pretty poor, only achieving around 70C.

More research……

Improve the windshield; I knocked up a simple cylindrical windshield out of 0.15mm aluminium foil (around 20mm larger than my Evernew 1L Pasta Pot) with two titanium skewers to support the pot, a very stable set up but …………………..80C; better but I really wasn’t satisfied.


More research……

Perhaps it was lack of air; I increased the number of air holes…………..no change.

More research……

I found the Trail Designs 12-10 stove, “specifically designed to perform in the lower oxygen/ high heat environment inside the Caldera Cone”, seemed like just the job and reasonably priced at ~£16.

I wasn’t to be a happy bunny though; testing gave only marginal improvement over the Evernew.  There did seem a lot of flame lapping up the side of the pot so I tried a calming it down a little by covering some of the air inlets with tape and this helped a little; it did seem to indicate a lower output stove would be better suited to the smaller diameter pot.

More research……how about a MYO stove?

I tried the Penny and mini-Penny plus a lot of variations with no real success and then hit on the idea of cloning the 12-10 and then scaling it down.  After quite a few beers and G&T’s (I needed the empty cans) I successfully managed to reproduce a clone which gave similar performance as the original.  Then came the manufacture and testing of lots of variations; number of air inlet holes; number of burner holes; size of chimney hole.

After burning a couple of litres of meths I finally homed in on the optimum model the 28 – 12 – 6 (28 diameter chimney, 12 air inlets and 6 burner holes) while not achieving the ‘magic’ boiling 2 cups with ½ oz of meths (500ml and 15ml) it does reliably achieve 92 – 93C, I reckon it would be better with a slightly larger diameter pot.

Overall the changes in stove, windshield and improved cooking technique has reduced my fuel consumption by nearly 50% from my SUW trip, I can now manage 9 – 10 days with 500ml of meths and quite enjoy the fiddling and the silence.

For the MYO enthusiast here some simple instruction on how to construct my chimney stove, I haven’t included the basic techniques of ‘how to cut cans, etc’ as there’s plenty of info on the internet.

Materials:  Two Coke or beer cans & one Schweppes can or similar.

Part 1 – The chimney.

Cut a 28 diameter hole in the bottom of a Coke can (scribe circle, drill centre hole, cut 6 petals and then tear out with pliers).  Cut off the bottom of the can at around 20 – 21mm high.  From the inside press out lip (or whack will a soft faced mallet) around 28mm hole to form the ‘chimney’.  Wrinkle edge of can slightly inwards to aid assembly later.

Crinkle edge

Part 2 – The base.

Remove the dished end from the bottom of a coke can (score around edge of dome, drill centre hole, cut 6 – 8 petals and then tear out with pliers), the primary reason for this is to allow the combustion chamber to ‘land’ inside the base and keep it centred, it can be omitted but the combustion chamber tends to float around on the domed end.  Cut off the bottom of the can at 32mm high.  Dilate the base using an unopened can for 12 – 15mm depth, to aid assembly later; a little Vaseline helps the process.  Turn the remaining hole edge toward centre of the can until base of the Schweppes can sit down neatly.  Punch a series of 12 * 6 diameter air inlet holes around base, near the knuckle.


Part 3 – The combustion chamber

The chamber is made up of two concentric sections of the Schweppes can in order to provide additional strength and provide mating surfaces with the base and chimney sections keeping the combustion chamber central.

Cut off the bottom the Schweppes can at 34mm high; slightly wrinkle the edge inward to aid assembly.  Cut off the top of the can at 34mm high; using an unopened can dilate as deep as you can go and still get it off.  Push over the bottom section; the bottom may develop a wrinkle but this doesn’t impact performance (so long as it doesn’t split) and can be smoothed out with pliers.  Cut off the top of the assembled ‘can’, approx 35mm high, leaving the slight tapered section intact.  Punch a series of 6 * 6 diameter burner holes around 2 – 3 mm below the tapered section and keeping clear of any wrinkles.

Punch 8 burner holes

Assembly is simply a matter of placing the combustion chamber into the base and then carefully pushing the chimney down into place.  The assembled stove is around 38mm high and testing indicates a pot height of 75mm (35mm above stove) to be optimum.


Update: The never ending story of messing about with alcohol stoves doesn’t end here though, you may want to check out some other posts:

Zelph Starlyte stove, Trouble with the Starlyte & Another MYO stove


One comment on “Meths Stove Saga

  1. Kevin Sweere
    May 29, 2017

    Thank you for the detailed write up.

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2013 by in Gear, MYOG and tagged , , , .

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