The Ideal Alcohol Stove

There are few reasons why I persuit to find the right stove. Stoves are one of the heaviest item in our backpack and stove burns money. Started building alcohol stoves many years back based on information found on internet and ended up buying a Trangia mini but in the end still sold it away after a week of usage. I will explain a little further on type alcohol stoves and their usage. Firstly I will start off explaining the types of stoves and follow by introduction to Alcohol Stove and ending with my latest design. 

These are the few types of stoves available in the market
1. Petrol (Multi Fuel) - Ideal for all kinds of camping but backpacking. The draw back is the weight but this will be the perfect stove for high altitude like scaling Mt Everest. These stove is my choice for overseas travel where you can obtain fuel easily. Where there are cars on the road, there is fuel.

2. Wood - Cheapest source of fuel so long it is not raining. Stoves can be heavy and takes a long times to prepare a meal.

3. Alcohol - The lightest of all stoves and fuel cost is one of the least. Great for a few days hike but generally I will not use this stove if it is more than 3 days. Not ideal for group camping however the Trangia Cookset using the Open Jet System can make meals for a family of 4. That is why it is very popular in Sweden but very difficult to DIY to the exact specification. Personally I do not like the Trangia because of the long boil time.

4. Chemical Solid Fuel - Esbit or fuel tablet, I do not recommend to use such fuel. During my army days we were given such fuel as it is easy to carry. However after using it, I did notice the underside of my pot has a sticky black stain which later came to realise is a chemical residue.

5. Gas (LPG) - Fast cooking but not as fast as Muti fuel stove. A lot of backpackers use such stoves in Taiwan. Some even owned Snow Peak Titanium stove but they do not realised that the gas cannister is heavy, you still ended up carrying more weight. This will only be ideal if you have a big group or a week hiking however not very often you go for a week hike. I would recommend to buy a cheaper version which can be found on CiT Store.

6. Solar - Can be heavy, not ideal for hiking unless you only eat meals in the day time or when there is sunlight. Sounds like a day light vampire.

To summerise the right stove for the right occasion, I have taken a chart off from ZenStove. It is website dedicated to Alcohol Stoves but you can find tons of information about stoves however most of the links are old and do not work anymore. Study the chart and you will notice Alcohol Stove is one of the lightest for short hikes.


1. Open Jet - there are many type of alcohol stoves currently running around the market and the most popular is the Trangia mini which I sold it away. Currently there is one made in China by Alocs which do not come with a cook set, it is available on Taiwanese ebay Ruten selling for NTD299 (USD10) excluding freight but if you need to order.

This stoves is based on an Open Jet Alcohol Stove and you can store unused fuel in the stove however the boil time really sucks. It takes 12 ~ 14mins to boil 400cc of water and the stove that came with the pot stand, do not block the wind at all, you still need a wind screen. That was the reason I gave up on this stove and frankly 130g for an alcohol stove is rather heavy. Indeed you can burn 100ml of fuel for 45min but a rather long boil time, it is not fuel efficient at all. 

2. Open Flame - These are the simplest of all alcohol stove designs. Since enough alcohol vaporizes at room temperature to allow for easy ignition and generally not enough to be explosive under most conditions, you can simply burn alcohol in an open shallow metal tin. Simply open up a can of tuna or cat food, empty the contents, pour in some fuel and light. More refined versions incorporate a wick made of nonflammable fiberglass insulation, perlite (volcanic rock used in insulation and horticulture) or something comparable to help vaporize fuel and prevent spilling. Open flame stoves are popular with thruhikers wanting a failsafe system. "Quoted from ZenStoves"

3. Chimney Alcohol Stoves - aka Open Vented and Updraft Stoves - These stoves incorporate ventilation similar to a Bunsen burner to facilitate mixing of oxygen with fuel as air is "sucked" into the stove by the low pressure field created by an updraft from the burning fuel. This design allows for better air fuel mixing, more controlled burning when vents are sized properly (with or without a simmer accessory) and good heat feedback to the stove (needed to keep it running). Basically, they operate better than just a simple empty can, may be set up with adjustable heat output with the proper hardware and are more dependable than pressurized stoves. "Quoted from ZenStoves"

4. Low Pressure Side Burner Alcohol Stoves - Most use a simple updraft concept to preheat the stove and fuel, but they also turn into pressurized sideburners when a pot is placed on top of them. Made with the right number, configuration of and sized holes/ventilation, and you'll have a very light weight and dependable stove that doesn't need a pot stand. "Quoted from ZenStoves"

5. Hybrid SideBurner Jet Alcohol Stoves - These are open jet stoves with jets on the side. Like the regular open jet stoves, alcohol is poured in an open center fuel port and lit. Once the jets ignite, you set your pot on top of the stove and seal off the center fuel port, creating a pressurized system. The advantage of these systems is that you don't need a separate pot stand to cook with. "Quoted from ZenStoves"

6. Pressurized Jet Alcohol Stoves - These stoves also have little jets like the open jet stoves, but lack the open center fuel port. Instead, the fuel port is generally closed off with a screw or are nonexistent (jets double as fuel ports). This allows for the stove to build up pressure as it heats up, forcing streams of fuel vapor through its jets. These stoves generally must be preheated by burning a small amount of fuel at the base or on top of the stove. These can be very difficult to design and construct, but allow you the potential for very fast and hot cooking and possibly greater fuel efficiency. "Quoted from ZenStoves"

So many different alcohol stoves so which is the ideal alcohol stove. A true hiker will say a Super Cat stove, easy to make but they are not fuel efficient. I needed a stove that works like Super Cat with jet flame and yet fuel efficient.  

1. Works like Pressurised Jet Stoves able to boil water fast.
2. Fuel efficient
3. Use as an Open Jet Stoves for slow cooking
4. No primming base needed, 
5. No pot stand needed
6 Can be charged up for quick boil if needed. 
7. Easy topping up of fuel

After days and hours spent building and testing many different kind of stoves, I finally came out with a concept that I am rather pleased. The basic of the stove construction is using an Open Jet System. Open Jet System still takes a long time to boil water. The flame needed to be charged up so that it can be used like a pressurize stove. Finally found the trick to it, this was done by adding a diffuser on top of the stove. This will create an updraft flame that suck in air from the surrounding of the stove and making the flame twice hotter. Also in this design there are few usage, you can still use it as an Open Jet Stove by removing the diffuser for slow cooking. Need fast cooking, add the turbo base to charge the flame using a tea light candle to heat up the stove. The result.... read further.

This was the first trial on the prototype, I was not happy with the performance as the flame was jetting out of the diffuser.

The final product after adjusting the diffuser, look how air rushes into the stove, ignites at the port holes and updraft the flame. 

The flame is beautifully spread around the pot giving max heating

Test 1 Using a Pot Stand using Open jet System
Burn time: ~14mins
Fuel: 40ml
Water: 400cc Titanium Pot
Boil time: ~6mins
Full Boil: ~8mins

For an Open Jet System, it definitely beats Trangia Stove flat down.  Adding the diffuser did help to enhance the flame however the burn time was too fast. Maybe I need to adjust the stove and pot clearance. A video to show the flame in action.

Test 2 Using Pressurize System
Burn time: ~22mins
Fuel: 40ml 95% Alcohol
Water: 400cc Titanium Pot
Boil time: ~6mins
Full Boil: ~8mins

Very satisfied with the burn time of 22mins. This is extremely fuel efficient but the preheating takes around 2mins. The stove have to be sufficiently hot to get a good combustion.  

Test 3 Using Charge Up System
Burn time: ~15mins
Fuel: 40ml 95% Alcohol
Water: 400cc Titanium Pot
Boil time: ~3mins
Full Boil: ~5mins

Apparently this prove to be very efficient and a very fast boil time. The preheating of the stove was much faster. In the video notice how the flame rocketed, it was around 20cm high. will be called "CiT Mutant X Alcohol Stove"

 The finally product weight with and without the turbo base.

So there you have it, CiT Mutant X Alcohol Stove, capable of transforming to different kind of stove and yet save fuel and able to produce good flame. Able to use with or without pot stand for wide and narrow pots. Able to fill atleast 60ml of fuel which will give 30mins or more burn time base on the last test results. I have not try it on snow but with the turbo base included, it should be able to work. There some things I still need to work on and see if I can attached a flame controller. For now, it is as good as it gets.

A note to Taiwanese Alcohol Stove users - I have used couple of alcohol purchase from the pharmacy and there are 2 alcohol I would recommend. Below pic are the alcohol that I have tried. I do not recommend the one of the right as it is used for industrial. It leaves a pink residue after usage, any alcohol that you used and  leaves a residue must be avoided. The one on the left is 95% and is worth a try.

DIY Wind Screen with Pot Support