A Tale of 2 Spirit Stoves
by Greg Ritchie
This is my Solo Stove.
This is a home made stove, a knock off of the Fancy Feast stove.
Side by Side
The Solo Stove assembled
And both of them burning.
Advantages of the Solo Stove are it is made of brass, nice looking, seals tight so you can store fuel in the stove. It also stores clean. All the sooty parts are enclosed when it’s packed away.
Disadvantage is that there are 5 pieces to keep up with, and the stove costs about $15. Call it $25 when you include the titanium pot stand.
Advantage of the home made stove is it is cheap, basically free as you are building it from trash! And it burns well, will heat 2 cups of water to boiling in about 3 minutes, slightly faster than the Solo Stove. Being larger than the Solo Stove it holds more fuel. It is nice to be able to make your coffee and cook your meal without trying to refuel a hot stove. Finally, the home made stove does not require a pot stand as the stove is the pot stand.
Disadvantage to the home made stove is that it will not store unused fuel, and it stores dirty.
Spirit Stoves, or spirit burners are called as much because they will burn a variety of “spirits". Rubbing alcohol, grain alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol. I don’t use anything less than 91% rubbing alcohol. It burns dirty at the lower percentages. Rubbing alcohol can be found from 60% to 99%.
Grain alcohol....well there are better uses for that. Denatured alcohol is a very good fuel. Methanol in my opinion is the best. Think HEET in the yellow bottle.
The Fancy Feast stove is supposedly one of the most efficient spirit stoves. Made from the Fancy Feast cat food can, with the spirit reservoir / pot stand made from a tomato paste can. The tomato past can is cut down to where the top edge of the can is 1 inch above the top of the cat food can. Notches are cut into the bottom of the cut off tomato paste can and a hole is punched in the top of the tomato paste can. A fiberglass material cut to the height of the Fancy Feast can is wrapped around the bottom of the tomato paste can where the notches were cut, then the fiberglass wrapped can is inserted into the cat food can.
To use you place the stove on a level surface. Pour about 1 ounce of fuel into the reservoir. The fuel will flow through the notches and wick up the fiberglass. The center can acts as the pot holder and places the pot the perfect height above the flame for maximum efficiency.
My version of the Fancy Feast Stove came about when I realized that a Vienna Sausage can was the same diameter as the Fancy Feast can, only taller. When I dropped a tomato paste can into a Vienna Sausage can I saw that the top of the tomato paste can was exactly 1 inch above the rim of the Vienna Sausage can. The sweet spot! But was the can too tall? Would it effectively wick?
I found an old cotton bandana to use as a wick. Took a can opener, cut the bottom out of a tomato paste can, and the top out of a Vienna Sausage can (if you use the pull tab it leave a edge on the can that I just don’t like). Used my multi tool to poke 4 holes equal distance apart (or close anyways) just above the rim and poked 2 more holes on the other end of the can just below the rim. I put the stove together, filled it with rubbing alcohol, waited a couple of minutes for the cotton wick to saturate, struck a match to it, and viola, the Vienna Sausage Stove was born!
Vienna Sausage Stove in use.
A caveat and a couple of warnings. First the caveat, I am not claiming to be the inventor of the Vienna Sausage Stove. I thought I might be, but then I Googled it. Seems as I was late to the party. Now the warnings. First, do not omit the holes at the top of the can, they are there to release pressure. Without the holes pressure will build up and will push the fuel out of the bottom can. Leaky fuel and fire do not play well together. Second, I have some concern that cotton, might hold a spark or ember. Make sure that the stove burns out, the stove is cool to the touch, and the wick is completely out before storing the stove.
And finally, what to do with all the Vienna Sausages and Tomato Paste? Boil some Ziti or Rotini in salted water with a bit of olive oil. When done drain off the water reserving some of the water for possible later use. Cut the Vienna Sausages into 1/2 inch slices, I like to lightly brown my sausage disks. Add Italian herbs, garlic, pepper flakes, all to taste, then mix in the tomato paste with enough of the reserved water to move the mixture from the dry side to the slightly moist side. There you have it, a bushcrafty Italian meal, cooked over your new spirit stove that’s fit for Gnome Royalty!