Saturday, September 3, 2011

TEST RESULTS - cooking with different kinds of alcohol

Melody Barber did an experiment with Alcohol. No not wine, but denatured and isopropyl alcohol.  Remember we should have different fuels on hand to use. Where one may not be appropriate to use another will be. 

Keep in mind that "One is none, Two is One, and Three is better than One."

Many people think they are just going to fire up the old BBQ and cook away. Well just let us assume for a moment that you cannot for some reason use the BBQ. Just let your imagination run wild over a myriad of reasons.  The list could go on. You should always have other methods planned out and ready to implement.  Such as Solar Cooking. Yep, the sun may not be working with you that day (you know, the sun is hiding behind the clouds) , and you have to choose another method. A wise person does not rely on one or two styles of cooking, they have many different methods in place so if the inevitable happens they are prepared. 

My personal opinion about using toilet paper and alcohol in a tin can may be different than yours. If you like this method then by all means go ahead and use it. For myself it's not a method I would use. I have other cookers and alcohol stoves that are more efficient and less costly.  

Now on to Melody's tests -   "Some people have asked about the differences between denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, so we put them to the test using alcohol stoves made from paint cans with toilet paper and alcohol in them. The results were kind of surprising.

Here is what we found...Water boils with both kinds of alcohol. It did not boil until we put a lid on it, however. We had read in a couple of places that the isopropyl does not burn hot enough to boil water, but it did in our experiment. Denatured does burn cleaner than isopropyl. 

We placed #10 cans over the alcohol stoves for a cooking surface and the one with the isopropyl turned black while the one with the denatured alcohol did not. Denatured alcohol puts out nasty fumes. We did not expect that. The fumes were burning our eyes. The isopropyl alcohol did not have the same effect.  Under identical conditions, the isopropyl alcohol was actually more efficient. While the denatured alcohol felt hotter, it took longer for the water to boil and it used up more fuel.   

The denatured alcohol had an almost invisible blue flame while the isopropyl alcohol had a bigger, easily seen orange flame. It could be that while the denatured was burning hotter, the flame did not get as close to the cooking surface of the #10 can which might explain the longer boiling time. 

After our test, we would prefer the isopropyl alcohol to the denatured alcohol. By the way, when cooking with a #10 can, we found it more efficient to drill holes not only in the upper and lower sides but also in the top (the cooking surface) for the flames and heat to get through. Using a cooking grate over the alcohol stove instead of a #10 can resulted in the wind blowing out the flames so we never did get the water to boil with that method.”

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