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This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.

November 26, 2014
Last updated

How to Make Fuel for Cooking

Owner of Clawhammer Supply
Cooking With Fuel Alcohol
Before we get started, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only and the information in this article is for educational purposes only. Please read our complete legal summary for more information on the legalities of distillation.

Fuel Alcohol: Great for Cooking

Fuel alcohol (ethanol) is a renewable, sustainable, and clean burning fuel source. It can be produced by anyone with a still, a fuel alcohol permit, and access to some starch (corn, for example) or sugar. Fuel alcohol can be used to power cars, dirt bikes, lawnmowers, and chainsaws. Fuel alcohol can also be used as a heat source and can even be used to cook. Believe it or not, at the right proof, fuel alcohol (which is simply pure ethanol) can even be used for medical purposes (as a disinfectant and antiseptic).

In our opinion, fuel alcohol equals freedom. The cost of making fuel alcohol varies depending on how it's made, but price isn't going to rise and fall depending on how much middle eastern oil barons, multinational oil companies, or the local gas station decides they want to charge for it on a particular day. It can literally be made from scratch by anyone with enough patience to get the proper permits, grow some corn, mash and ferment it, and then distill it. Alternatively, one could simply buy granulated sugar then ferment and distill it. 

One of our favorite uses for fuel alcohol is for cooking. Below are some shots of us using ethanol to boil water for a couple of cups of coffee. 

Open Flame Alcohol Stoves

Open flame alcohol stoves are the simplest of all stove designs. Alcohol vaporizes at room temperature which makes lighting an open flame alcohol stove extremely easy. We purchased an inexpensive (yet very well made) open flame alcohol stove, but fuel alcohol can also just be burnt in an open and shallow metal tin (tuna fish cans work great). The pictures below feature 180 proof fuel alcohol, a Trangia "Spirit Stove" burner, and a Liberty Mountain "Westwind" stove base. The burner and stove base combo can be found for $15-$20 online.

When we tested this procedure we had a fuel alcohol permit and we were in compliance with state and federal regulations. We produced, stored, and used this alcohol in accordance with TTB requirements. We also kept and reported production logs in accordance with TTB fuel alcohol permit requirements.

How To Boil Water On An Open Flame Alcohol Stove

Step One: Remove the lid

Step Two: Fill the stove with fuel alcohol and light with a lighter or match

Step Three: Add a pot of water to the stove

Step Four: Make sure the stove is burning 

Step Five: Boil water

This type of stove works great as they are pretty darn efficient and the fuel alcohol burns extremely clean and hot. Our open flame stove came included with a lid with a cap that slides to adjust the flow of heat from the stove. This feature would be extremely useful if trying to simmer a dish without cooking too hot.

Remember: It is illegal to distill fuel alcohol without the proper permits.

Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • Nice design, fortunately in Europe we can brew alcohol for any kind of personal use completely legally :)

    Posted by J Black on February 22, 2017
  • it is worth wild to get a fuel permit just to do that

    Posted by shawn on March 20, 2015

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