This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
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). You could drink it as well, but that'd be illegal unless you have a distilled spirits permit.
In our opinion, fuel alcohol equals freedom. The cost of making your own fuel alcohol varies depending on how you make it, but price it isn't going to rise and fall depending on how much middle eastern oil barons, multinational oil companies, or your 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 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 you can simply burn alcohol in an open 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.
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: Boiling 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 included 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.