Monday 14 January 2008

The day I decided I needed more fire in my life...

I remember the day, I was looking for information on how wild-camping lunatics got around the problem of cooking when out in the sticks and trying to keep their backpacks as light as possible. My world was filled with glee when the part of my brain responsible for neanderthal-like thoughts delivered the idea that I could make a camp fire. Further research soon put this idea to bed so I decided to search the net for a while and soon found a plethora of options. Due to the current boom in outdoorsy branded equipment I wasn't surprised to find that you can waste literally hundreds of pounds on a pressurised bomb-proof stove that will burn anything from thin air to napalm (OK, not quite), down to a trusty Triangia alcohol stove burning methylated spirits.

I wanted to do this whole wild-camping thing on a budget, so my attention was directed towards the cheaper alcohol stove. I wanted to see how this funny looking little stove worked so 'YouTubed' it and found a video. As it does, the video ends and then shows other videos of similar things that you might like to see - this was the moment that I discovered the secret underworld society making alcohol stoves out of empty coke cans! Just the mere thought that I could make fire and cook on a drinks can filled me with the the kind of elation I can only imagine you get from seeing your first born child.

It was a real shame to have to drink my beer so fast in order to make one there and then, but needless to say it worked despite not winning any beauty contests or burning for more than a minute at a time. I had to investigate further and so I watched more videos and read more web-pages on the subject to find that it can be as complex or simple a subject as you care to spend time on. I've spent a lot of time!

I've now made a few stoves using different designs but there is a man in Maine who I consider to be a leading authority on these stoves and is, quite frankly, a down-right legend. He's just 'Money'. Known as "Tinny" his website minibulldesign is a great source of information and better still he spends some of his retirement making and selling stoves based on his own designs. I've bought two stoves now and the current $-£ exchange rate makes these lightweight, efficient and environmentally friendly stoves very affordable. There's a plug for you Tinny!

The one in the picture above, the "Isofly" works on the basis of a wick (rather like a candle) but I also have a tiny pressurised type a "Nion 2" and is rather akin to gas burner. These stoves burn methylated spirits (the drink of choice), pure ethanol or methanol (hard to get in the UK for obvious reasons), 'rubbing alcohol' (AKA: Isopropyl Alcohol
), air-brake anti-freeze or just some good strong rum or vodka. Here is a video from Tinny showing the Nion 2 in action:

Tinny has come up with his own cook system using the same recycled principals. The concept is a 24oz (approx 720ml) Heineken can with a metal pot stand and a length of fibreglass wick wound around the centre to provide a heat resistant surface to hold it.

Alcohol Stove for wild camping trip and cooking things at home for no apparent reason = Check!


Anonymous said...

I like your style and accurate outlook on stoves---Tinny---MBDC

Marcus said...


I'm quite possibly the happiest man alive today. I can die happy knowing that you once read MY blog!

Keep up the good work Tinny and I'll be dropping by the store again soon as I fancy myself some hasty Hooch plans - I need to go light!

Cheers Tinny.