Many backpackers, hikers, and campers settle on an alcohol stove mainly because they have no breakable components, need hardly any maintenance, and require denatured fuel that is easy to find, thanks to all those hardware stores. Before we check out the alcohol stove reviews, let’s look at why you need one in the first place.
Why do you need an Alcohol stove?
For silence, simplicity, and environmental suitability, a stove that works with alcohol fuel is the best choice. Moreover, if you are looking for the lightest backpacking stove out there, these stoves are worth looking at. Therefore, it is recommended that you should have an alcohol stove if you are going on short camping trips than on long trips, wherein the extra weight of the fuel would counteract the weight efficiency of the lightweight stove itself.
Unsurprisingly, this type of stove boasts a very small but enthusiastic following. It has a small number of moving parts and is completely silent while it’s humming- a relief from the extremely noisy racket and constant tinkering of most kero or white gas stoves.
The low volatility of these stoves makes them absolutely safe to use in confined spaces such as tent vestibules and boat cabins. In addition, it’s an environment-friendly alternative (renewable) to petroleum-based sources of fuel.
This type of stove comes with its own share of downsides, too- denatured alcohol produces just about 50% of the heat per corresponding weight of gasoline, so boiling times can be quite long. Even the best alcohol stoves for camping apparently take endless time to boil water, and they don’t simmer as well. Most stoves consume as much as half an ounce of methylated spirits, such as methyl alcohol, to boil half a quart of water at sea level. As you go higher, these stoves can consume twice the amount of fuel, which is perhaps more fuel than canister stoves and the like.
Also, sometimes, fuel can be pretty hard to find outside of a hardware outlet or drugstore, and the cost is higher than that of other options, such as white gas.
Before you finalize which alcohol stove to buy, make sure that you always use the specific type of alcohol recommended by the manufacturer. Never add alcohol to a stove that is already scorching hot simply because it can catch fire from the heat. Here are three of the top alcohol stoves available on the market right now.
List of 3 Best Alcohol Stoves for Backpacking
Docooler Portable Spirit Alcohol Camp Stove
This one-piece alcohol stove has it all: Wispy weight. Utter simplicity. An ingenious packing system. A funnel and multifunctional maintenance tool. Made of high-quality materials, this little spirit stove features a burner that works best with both denatured alcohol and rubbing alcohol. Suitable for mountaineering, hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities, this compact stove is extremely portable and surprisingly has enough firepower to meet the needs of a demanding outdoor enthusiast. This system features a detachable stove mount to prevent it from waggling and sliding and to give more space for storage. Its foldable stand features a saw tooth design giving it better stability than other models of its kind.
Starting this stove is no problem; boiling water, however, is a fairly slow process. Many alcohol stove reviews pointed out that it would need a sturdy wind block outdoors, even though the black stand that comes with it does a decent job of offering wind protection. Some users were a little disappointed that it leaks if you leave any unused fuel in it. The leak is noticeable unless you make it so tight you cannot unlock it without using a couple of channel locks.
Overall, this little stove fits the bill if you are looking for a dependable cooking system at a reasonable cost.
Esbit CS985H-EX Cookset with Alcohol Burner
This compact, delightfully lightweight stove featuring a clever design is worth checking out if you are not pleased with the boiling times of the stove you’re using. Weighing in at just 10.9 ounces, this lightweight alcohol stove comes with a built-in heat exchanger system that promises to improve boiling times by as much as 30%. Now that’s impressive. This also means reduced fuel consumption and more savings for backpackers and campers who often go on short trips.
It seems to be ideal for solo campers but not for any cooking activity for a group of 7 or more people. The complete set includes an alcohol burner, a stand, a 985 ml pot, and a neat mesh storage bag. Several people left favorable reviews, with many citing that they found the handle, pour spout, and gradation of this stove to be of great help.
The stand is not particularly well suited for wind blocking, and it can easily be sorted with a bit of aluminum flashing or foil.
All in all, this is one of those alcohol stoves worth buying if you place a high priority on cutting down the weight.
Esbit CSE2350WN Lightweight Cook Set
If you’re looking for a cookout for occasional camping that also serves as a backup for emergency cooking (when the power goes out), this is pretty much one of the best alcohol stoves out there. Designed in Germany and made in China, this lightweight stove has a unique design, unlike other stoves in its category, with a contemporary and sleek look. This winner from Esbit has two hard pots made of anodized aluminum with measurements embossed on the sides. What’s more, these pots have extremely useful heat exchangers on the bottom, which are supposed to lower the cook/boil times drastically.
With a little more than two ounces of denatured alcohol, a liter of water comes to a boil in less than 8 minutes. Although it’s not the lightest of stoves you can find, the extra ounces are simply a trade-off you can make- this feature-packed 12-piece alcohol stove is totally worth it.
So, what’s the bottom line? If you are an avid camper who appreciates that space is always a premium, this is the one to go for. This complete cook set is just a little smaller than an average basketball in terms of size, and it will give you more bang for your buck.
That’s a wrap on this alcohol stove review. Alcohol stoves – They come and go. But the best alcohol stoves are here to stay. Good luck in making your decision.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.