12.04.2012

experimenting with the fancy feast alcohol stove

I currently use an MSR Pocket Rocket and think it's a great canister stove; however, I'm not that crazy about the IsoPro fuel canisters, which can be hard to find and are inconvenient for measuring the amount of fuel they contain.

Switching to an alcohol stove would make it easier to find fuel and easier to keep track of the amount of fuel I have left at any given time. As my friend Raymond Eubanks, Esq., pointed out, it would also allow me to take only the necessary amount of fuel for a trip. With a canister stove, I have to take the same size canister for an overnight that I do for five nights.

Since I'm new to alcohol stoves, I thought I'd keep my first attempt simple and cheap. Making a Fancy Feast cat food can stove is as simple and cheap as it gets, and it weighs only 0.2 oz. (a lot lighter than my 3 oz. Pocket Rocket).

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Fancy Feast cat food can stove




















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Fancy Feast stove and GSI Minimalist 0.6L pot














Here's the stove in action.




As you can see, the flames jetting from the side holes of the stove are overshooting the bottom of my GSI Minimalist 0.6L pot. This is because the Fancy Feast stove itself is 2.5 inches in diameter and my mug-sized pot is not much bigger at 3.5 inches in diameter.

This made me wonder if it would be more effective to focus the flame on the bottom of my pot by propping it above the stove with tent stakes.


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Fancy Feast stove, tent stakes and GSI Minimalist 0.6L pot














Here's the stove in action with the pot raised.




I compared the performance of both stove arrangements by filling the stove with fuel (up to its lower row of holes) and boiling 0.5L of water in my GSI pot. I did this test indoors to keep the environment constant.

The pot sitting directly on the stove boiled water in 6 minutes and burned fuel for 10.5 minutes. The pot propped on tent stakes above the stove boiled water in 5.5 minutes and burned fuel for 7.5 minutes.

Setting the pot directly on the stove took 30 seconds longer to boil water but extended the fuel burn by 3 minutes. It's also the simpler of the two setups. The only problem remaining was that the 32-hole Fancy Feast stove (two rows of 16 holes) overwhelmed my 0.6L pot with flames. To reduce the flame, I made an 18-hole stove with 12 holes on the top row and 6 holes on the bottom row.

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18-hole Fancy Feast stove for small, 0.6L pot













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18-hole Fancy Feast stove in action














I tested this new stove under the same conditions as the previous two. The flame output was perfect for the pot. It boiled water in 6.5 minutes and burned fuel for an impressive 16.5 minutes.

After messing around with the Fancy Feast stove, my Pocket Rocket looks like overkill. Since I simply heat water rather than cook on solo trips (and then only about a half a liter of water at a time), this little 18-hole alcohol stove looks like it might be a perfect fit.

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