Question regarding stove experiment.

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Juany118, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    Okay here is my experiment. The main issue with any stove systemss weight is fuel. With that in mind I was going to experiment as follows. A firebox nano and my primary fuel would be biofuel. When biofuel proves problematic I was also going to have my Esbit (trangia clone) alcohol stove and a few ounces of fuel, 5 or 6 max as back up. This is basically a 2 person 5 day set up.

    Now my question is this. I know in winter alcohol has issues lighting. There are two ways around this. Keep your main fuel bottle close to your body so it's all warm or keep a small bottle, like a contact lens drop bottle, in a pocket and use that to prime the stove. Does any one have experience with both methods who can tell me the pros and cons of each?
     
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  2. Andy 315

    Andy 315 Supporter Supporter

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    Along with the issue of lighting alcohol is less efficient in winter and you tend to burn more fuel. Also I guess it depends on what winter means to you. I have used mine in 30 degree weather with little issue.
     
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  3. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    My plan would be to avoid anything too far past 30, maybe 25 as the low. There is only so much bodging of my current sleep system that I can do, z-rest under a Klymit insulated pad, liner in my 20 degree bag, etc. to make it practical, comfortable, and safe.
     
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  4. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    I think you'll be ok with that setup. Since the burner is suspended & protected in the Nano, you won't suffer from the heat sink issue nearly as much as if it were sitting on the ground (ie energy spent getting the alcohol to a boil to power the jets, which is the trouble in the cold). Splash a titch more alky around the burner or under it when lighting and you'll have negated the effect of the ambient cold temps in a flash (is that a pun?).
     
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  5. Spork

    Spork Supporter Supporter

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    I would just take Esbit tabs as backup fuel...then you wouldn't have the weight of the burner and fuel bottle. Lighting is not affected by temperature and they can be used as firestarters.

    A box of 12-14g tablets weighs 6-1/2 oz...20-4g weighs 3oz
     
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  6. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    I have tried that in the past. While, in theory, Esbit tab fuel has a higher energy content I have found that, I believe due to stove designs, the transfer of that energy to boil water is less efficient.

    So if I am boiling water I often, in "normal" temps the alcohol stove boiled water noticeably faster and at winter temps I quite often blew thru an entire Esbit tablet barely getting the water "hot" where as I only used marginally more alcohol than normal to get a full on boil.

    Perhaps know why I asked the initial questions would help explain the above as well. While I will be initially solo, and in shoulder/winter season, for the testing of this cook system idea, the reason for the testing is to see if this set up is more efficient in terms of "cooking for two" with a single stove as my fiancee has expressed interest in joining me on outings. Knowing her that will mean at least 4 meal boils a day (breakfast and dinner for two) and two or more coffee/tea boils a day. In cold weather, that would be a lot of esbit tabs due to the necessity to use multiple tabs to get a boil and the weight advantage becomes minimal, if it exists at all.

    My main question was, due to the above, that I know from experience that keeping my main fuel bottle inside my coat works well. I have no experience with keeping just a very small amount in a pocket and used as a primer. I know it "works" but not how well.
     
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  7. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Supporter Bushclass I

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    I've had trouble getting ice in my 12 cm Zebra to even come close to a boil using a MSR pocket rocket and canister fuel at -20F after one hour of run time. I always try to cook outdoors and experiment with my cooking options on the coldest days of the winter.
    My cold weather alcohol experimenting has had mixed results, mostly poor. The more you can micro climate protect your stove and cooking area from winds the better results you will get.
    For those cooler times a Jetboil system might perform well with self contained micro climate but I haven't picked up one of these yet.
    So far I've found that the colder it gets the more I switch over to wood and liquid fuel. Canister, alcohol, and Esbit tabs are warmer weather cooking methods.
     
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  8. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    Well +20F is my preferedp limit, high teens the lowest and I would prefer that be after I am asleep and done cooking but thanks for the info. As for the wood, that's one of the reasons I always bring my Kabar BK11, even when going light. That blade allows for me to get to dry wood more easily.

    Thanks for the observations though regarsing the various types.
     
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  9. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Supporter Bushclass I

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    For that warm a temperature 20-30F lighting with a Bic or matches should work fine without having to keep your alcohol on your person. Getting below zero and you kind of have to tinker with pre-warming your fluid. I use laboratory pill bottle sized Nalgene containers for my alcohol body carry. The alcohol will normalize quickly at those sub-zero colder temps pretty fast once poured in the cold stove.
     
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  10. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    Ahhh, thanks. Right now, I use either repurposed bottles that contained embrocation oil or empty contact lens eye drop bottles. So if I had too keeping them in the puffy would be fine.
     
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  11. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Given the requirements I think a system like this one would be the best option.

    The advantages are as follows
    • Ti cone makes for more efficient cooking
    • Ti cone acts as a wood stove in addition to a windscreen
    • Wick stoves do not depend on the stove body getting hot enough to vaporize the alcohol making them less problematic in the cold
    • The stove design is very efficient (not all alcohol stoves are created equal, most are pretty inefficient)
    • It nests
    • For a wood/alcohol stove setup it's about as light as you can get
    You could always setup something similar yourself. The ti foil is actually pretty cheap. I use it for the pot support in my diy Fancee Feest stoves. I would imagine a simple cone with some ti stakes as cross supports would work pretty well and you could use wood or alcohol.

    Personally I just build a small cooking fire or use my stove. You can either build an oblong ring and rake coals to the far side like this

    [​IMG]Cooking up Some Supper by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    Setup a raised platform to build a fire under like this

    [​IMG]Dinner Camp One by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    Or use a pot crane like this

    [​IMG]Pot Hanger by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    Or this

    [​IMG]Best Worst Trip Ever! by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Best Worst Trip Ever! by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    And then just use your stove when you don't feel like dealing with a fire.

    [​IMG]Three Ridges Loop, Second Time by MJGEGB, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  12. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    Stove type makes a big difference - my capillary hoop type (Toaks) blooms instantly and can yield full output on small amount of fuel while my wick-based Trangia takes longer to bloom and won't even bloom on small amounts of fuel. Only difference in the cold (single digit F before windchill) for the Toaks is the initial lighting. I tip the stove so alcohol is near the edge/lip, then heat the edge/lip with a lighter for 2-3 sec - once it catches, it'll still fully bloom faster than I can place the windscreen and pot. Another cold start method is to drop a pinch of cotton ball the size of a down feather in the alcohol as a wick, and hit it with a ferro spark. Efficiency seems same to me, except of course longer boil times due to the water's lower starting temp.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  13. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    Not actually sure which method the Esbit uses. It looks like a trangia but I have lit it with very little fuel.
     
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  14. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    If you can pour 1-2 ml of fuel in and then pour it back out, there's no wick.... if nothing comes back out, then there's a wick. Think my Trangia will light on that amount of fuel, at least indoors, but won't bloom or reach a usable output.

    Not my intention to dis wick stoves btw (and the Trangia is not a real 'wick' stove), just wanted to mention that capillary hoop is only body-heat-vaporizing-stove that I've used that blooms instantly and seems impervious to cold (after ignition).
     
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  15. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    Oh I didn't take it as a diss and I will perform the experiment you mention to figure it out. Thanks for the info!
     
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  16. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    You actually have that mixed up, even though the Trangia has a wick technically, it still depends on the stove body heating up enough to vaporize the alcohol enough to come out of the Jets. Otherwise it's acting as an open burner like a tealight stove. That's why they offer a primer plate for cold weather use. It's a terribly inefficient and heavy stove.

    Capillary action stoves do not depend on heat in the stove body to vaporize and transport the alcohol. They generally have a wick to act as a spacer like the one I posted above, but don't technically need one as they depend on capillary action to transport the alcohol as the name implys.

    Capillary action is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of, or even in opposition to, external forces like gravity.
     
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  17. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    Agree on the Trangia.... and that's why I mentioned:
    I mention 'capillary hoop' stoves and of the many DIY versions I've seen, none use wicks. While the physics of capillary action might raise the alcohol level a tiny bit between the narrow walls of a capillary hoop stove, by far the more important driver is stove body heat to vaporize the alcohol. For example, my stove jets are 1.25" from the bottom, and I can use 5ml of fuel that sits 0.125" from the bottom - I'm quite certain that the capillary action is not carrying the liquid alcohol up against gravity the additional 1.125" to the jets. It's the initial tealight stove action in the center, immediately heating/vaporizing the liquid alcohol (that may be twice as high, or 0.25"?) behind the internal wall, but the additional 1.0" of rise is certainly going to be vaporization due to body heat.... not capillary action.

    From my understanding liquid alcohol does not burn, only its vapor does. Even true wick stoves (eg, Fancy Feest) move liquid alcohol to where it can be heated (by the flame, or metal body) to vaporize, and only then can it contribute to the flame. The first 2mins of THIS video is a good example of a Fancy Feest requiring stove body heat to actually light up.
     
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  18. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    I suppose you are correct, both your Toaks and the Trangia depend on the alcohol being vaporized before blooming. Here's a video from the same guy showing the Fancee Feest without a wick.



    He points out the same disadvantage that you did. I'm curious if you've ever had issues with cold affecting the Toaks. I'm not convinced that it depends on the heat of the stove body as much as the Trangia or others. I can't see it blooming as fast as it does otherwise. I used to use a supercat stove until one time trying to boil water for coffee. We were car camping and I was using my other stove for bacon and eggs in the morning as it was raining. So I grabbed some water from the cooler which was very cold. Well I'd get the stove going and then pretty soon it would snuff out. I realized then that it was the cold pot of water cooling down the stove alcohol through the stove body that was causing the issue. I've never had that problem with the Fancee Feest. Generally I light the wick, not the middle but you can do either. I've seen folks use them on top of snow and in subfreezing temps. In fact the guy from the video made his specifically for melting snow. If it was the temperature of the stove body I don't think it would be possible to use it in that situation without the wick. I'd be curious to see if that's the case or not.

    By the way all wick stoves by definition are capillary action stoves.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  19. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    The Toaks stove has much less mass to get up to heat than the Trangia, being physically smaller, less complicated and Ti. for roughly the same amount of flame initially generated in the open bowl. I have both these stoves and based on my experience, I'm not surprised the Toaks blooms faster than the Trangia in cooler temps. Once burning, both inner and outer walls are transferring heat back into the (relatively) small amount of fuel between them, boiling the fuel and creating the positive vapour pressure to feed the jets. Sine the Toaks does not act as a pot stand the heat sink issue is not there. It's slower to bloom than in warm temps, but only a small amount so.

    The SuperCat stove relies entirely on thermal feedback to keep vaporizing it's fuel and providing positive pressure to it's jets, and therefore is most susceptible to any disruptions to that cycle. Introducing a big heat sink like a pot of cold water would definitely count. I've had issues with Supercats and cold water while in my kitchen!

    The Fancy Feast stove does not rely on thermal feedback to generate fuel pressure, being a wicked stove. This is an advantage in cooler weather.

    I think the Toaks is called 'Capillary' as is relies entirely on the thermal feedback loop through it's narrow capillary walls to drive fuel accessibility at the jets; this differs from stoves like the Fancy Feast that use a wick (and therefore capillary action, yes) but not vapour pressure to provide fuel to the burn. Labels.
     
  20. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    Well, that's why I posted in this thread.... only discernible difference is the initial lighting, once lit, it still fully blooms faster than I can place my stand/windscreen/pot down on it (which wastes a few BTUs) and runs normally until dry. I've used it in single digit F (sub-zero w/windchill) last year a few days XC skiing, which is kinda rare to get that low around here, and use twigs as a platform on snow, keeps it from melting/sinking in - bottom right in this pix:

    [​IMG]

    I think the capillary action helps a little bit (CLICKY), but it's still all about the heat from the stove walls and resulting vaporization, and IMHO, that goes for the Fancy Feest too. For example, if you put a flame to the Fancy Feest wick, the flame will also heat the surrounding internal and external walls, enough to vaporize a bit of alcohol around the wick, which is what actually ignites. Once lit, it's a circular reaction - stove flame continues to heat the inner/outer walls, the wall heat vaporizes more alcohol which is what actually burns, and the wick transport more liquid fuel up to be heated/vaporized (is that 'capillary' or 'osmosis?' IDK).

    The advantage the Toaks has (and the Fancy Feest for that matter), vs the Trangia, is the minuscule volume of space between the inner and outer walls - this causes instantaneous vaporization. Even if you chill the external wall, the heat from a flame on the internal wall will be plenty to continuously vaporize the alcohol. For the sake the science, I just buried my Toaks with some alcohol in snow for 5min, and then lit it with the 'cotton feather' cold start method I mentioned above... too bright/windy to get a good picture (esp. of the blue part of the flame), but it seemed to bloom and burn normally to me. I think Fancy Feest would do well also.... not sure about the Trangia though.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Cool, that's sort of what I expected. I doubt the Trangia or others would perform as well in that situation. I was always under the impression with my Fancee Feest stoves that it was just the flame vaporizing the alcohol and igniting it. In the case of your stove I would guess it's a combination of capillary action ( I did a little experiment that showed that water given a small gap could rise close to the top) and the small area needed to be heated up between the flame and the alcohol would give a clear advantage.

    Probably not what @Juany118 was looking for in this thread, but it's interesting to me, and reinforces my beliefs that this style of stove is superior to the Trangia, supercat and similar.
     
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  22. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    Interesting.... do you think that capillary action could drive the alcohol that high up in my stove (referencing my above pix, where you can see how high the jet holes are above the alcohol level)? The capillary gaps don't seem that small (relatively).

    But anyways, it was an interesting discussion for me too, I enjoy the technical aspects as well - makes you think about and understand better how thing work.
     
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  23. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    It's pretty much impossible to know exactly what is going on inside your stove. I'd actually be curious to see what the inside looks like, but wouldn't be willing to buy and destroy one to find out.

    I found this thread that goes into detail about these stoves, CHS that is not a wick stove. If you're like me you get a kick out of understanding how things work. My gut is telling me that this stove is not dependent on the heat from the stove body. Here's a breif snippet from the thread.

    "As you build CHS's, ask yourself why it is getting hot? A better question is, why is it not getting hot?

    Run an experiment. Take a solid rod of aluminum about a foot long and 0.5" in diameter. Take a candle, while holding the rod horizontally, and heat one end of the rod with the candle. The rod will heat at a much faster rate than the stove does (if it is constructed properly).

    This is not an apples to apples comparison. It is way out of whack. But it should make one think. Aluminum transfers heat very quickly. Why isn't the CHS (being made of very thin aluminum) getting hot quickly? Why does setting this stove on a block of ice not stop the stove from running? Why does this stove run in a linear fashion? Why does this stove not run properly when full (fill to no more than within 1 cm of the aperture for proper performance)... or during the last 5 seconds? Pondering the answers to these questions will allow you to build a more efficient stove.

    I will answer part of the question. Most stoves with jets require vapor pressure to run properly. There is no vehicle to deliver the fuel other than by pressure. A CHS does not run that way. This stove has fuel near the jets for a different reason. The fuel is trying to quench the flame. It cannot win. The key is to control the fight. If it sends too much fuel to the fight, the stove will not be efficient. If it does not send enough, the stove will not be powerful. Lack of power is visible in the flame. Lack of efficiency is seen in the bowl (bubble bomb) and is felt in thermal feedback.

    Edit:

    I am editing this because what I state above is not compete enough. I do it here because it does not deserve a huge part in this thread. My thoughts are likely controversial. They are also unimportant. I only went down this path because I was asked about them. I do not mind giving my opinion. I actually want to give my opinion. Those that read anything I type know that. I also know myself. However, often it would be best if my opinion was held in check. That is too late in this case. I might as well try to give a more complete rendering.

    When a person is asked to calculate acceleration due to gravity, they are told to ignore many realities. Beyond the ignored realities, they are told to pick a zero for displacement purposes. Some pick the start. Some pick the end. It does not matter to those that pick whatever they pick. The displacement is the same no matter where they set zero. It matters to me. Zero should be the center of mass and there should be another calculation in the equation that accounts for distance above sea level (in my mind, distance away from center of mass). These things drive me crazy. Not thinking in these terms allows for strange theories. Views on gravity is a prime example. They ignore obvious observation. Pluto and Charon are in a dance around a combined center of mass. Gravity is not a product of bent space.

    Why is any of this relevant? It is relevant because stoves are constructed on a premise. Get the fuel to vapor and burn it. This accepted starting point makes for a bad accepted norm. It creates a condition where people think in simple terms of available BTU's and that stove construction is just style points. Because we have been conditioned to ignore insignificant variables, we ignore important realities. We apply definitions that are not constant.

    Consider the white box stove. The jets bloom after the fuel boils. Methanol boils at 148.5° F. 148.5° vapors fill and pressurize the void. This creates several realities. Vapors are compressible. The pressure created by setting the pot on the stove is not an issue. The vapors can withstand the pressure. Only so much vapor can escape through the jets. The result is desirable. In fact, most stoves with jets rely on pressure to operate properly. There are many other dynamics about that pressure that I will not go into here. The discussion would be too long. Because the stove relies on vapors pressure to run, if you lower the temperature of the fuel or stove the flame will dramatically reduce. Set a cold pot on the stove or set the stove in cold water and it almost goes out immediately. This condition is an accepted reality in stove construction. It is why people shield their stoves from the ground. It is why people have priming pans in cold weather. The stove needs vapor pressure produced via boiling fuel to run properly.

    Now consider what happens if you set a CHS in cold water or on an ice block or in a snow banking. Why does the blame not dramatically change? The simple answer is that the stove runs properly because of what is happening in the hoop, not in the bowl or, by extension, the fuel in the bowl. It does not matter if the fuel is 32° or 100° in the bowl. The fuel must be at 148.5° in most stoves to run properly. That is a design flaw. It is a bad starting point. But because of the accepted starting point, few accept the reality that no stove that requires internal thermal feedback can approach the efficiency capabilities of a CHS stove. How the fuel is delivered in a stove is so ingrained it is hard to relay to others why this design is so superior. It is a reasonable to have varying opinions of why liquid fuel is going up the ribs. That is not as important as accepting the fact that liquid fuel is going up the ribs. Vapors are at or above 148.5°. If vapors were going up the ribs, I would not be able to hold my stove in my hand for several minutes while it ran. If vapors were going up the ribs, setting the stove in cold water would immediately quench the fire."
     
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  24. Todd1hd

    Todd1hd Supporter Supporter

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    Just my two cents worth, I use alcohol year round. In the dead of winter you just have to prime your burner a little and get the alcohol hot. No biggy.
     
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  25. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    Good finds.... perhaps then the Toaks is not really a true CHS afterall, as I mentioned before, the ribs seem relatively large to me (too large to transport fluid significantly against gravity) but I'm quite sure it's pure vapor running up the ribs. Ran it again and gets HOT fast... ~5 sec to bloom and by 10 sec its too hot to hold with your fingers. Actually, overheating is one of the stove's downsides - too tight a windscreen and it'll start over jetting - forget about the Caldra Cone.

    I now realize the snow test I did above maybe a decent cold start test, but it's not going to be representative of cold running since the snow touching stove sides will instantly melt and then the stove would be left surrounded by insulating air. The snow supporting the bottom is inconsequential. Based on your article, I tried placing the running stove (weighted with ball bearings) 3/4 deep in ice water, and the cold stopped the vaporization and put it out. I also tried starting the stove in the ice water, and while the center caught tealight style, it just wouldn't bloom.

    So the Toaks does not display the same characteristics of the true CHS your articles discuss, and it is dependent upon thermal feedback - however, to the point of this thread, at least atmospheric cold/snow/ice appears inconsequential to the stove, at least once you've learned the cold start routine.
     
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  26. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Not sure if anyone else is taking an intrest in this discussion (sorry to the OP) but I figured I'd try the same with my DIY Fancee Feest. I put the stove in ice water with rocks to weigh it down and then added ice water to the pot. I lit the stove on in the ice water and then immediately placed the pot on top. Zero second prime since I lit the wick directly, and the stove ran fine.

    20181122_192434.jpg 20181122_192438.jpg 20181122_192914.jpg 20181122_194534.jpg 20181122_194626.jpg

    The ice in the pot melted and it got to the point where bubbles formed and steam was rising but the fuel ran out before it reached a boil. The ice in the pan melted too, but the water, stove, and rocks all staid cold to the touch.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  27. reppans

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    Nice! Makes sense - with the wick's ability to transport liquid fuel to the top where it can heat/vaporize better vs the Toaks which is basically trying (and unsuccessfully) to vaporize in the ribs well below the ice water level. Does the FF stove get too hot to hold in normal operation?

    I've seen a number of DIY CHS vids and somehow believe them to be more like the Toaks (relying more on thermal feedback to vaporize at or near the alcohol level in the ribs) than true capillary which should transport liquid alcohol all the way to the top as discussed in your articles (and like the FF wick). I'd like to see any 'capillary hoop stove' pass this ice water test with a small amount of fuel (I used ~5ml for my test).
     
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  28. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    Nice testing gents. It's also nice to see the "low-tech" easy build option come out on top for colder conditions. Now we just need to find a way to use the FF when inside a larger pot support (Nano or Lixada type), when you wouldn't be setting the pot directly on the stove, without any kind of lid going FOOM and popping off.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
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  29. Keithturkjr

    Keithturkjr Scout

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    I can see where a specific set of conditions could make a firebox nano and an alcohol stove ideal.
    -wanting to use twig fires to cook without using carried fuel and not wanting a continuous campfire
    -wanting a ultralight backup stove with carried fuel to use as a backup

    I have a fancy feast stove and it is lightweight, but its isn't as hot as canister stoves and if you want to cook or boil a lot of water you can easily use so much weight in alcohol that it gobbles up its weight savings as starts to even weigh more than something light like a pocket rocket.
    -To win with an alcohol stove over a pocket rocket you have to you have to boil under 1 gallon per day for less than no more than 3-4 days. There are a lot of people that can win the war against ounces and pounds doing that and the triumph is widely praised but it is won within those constraints.

    -Firebox nano weighs 4 ounces theres a million ways around the biofuel cookie pocket grills, bottle tongs stick toggle and paracord is probably the lightest as far as using twig fires to boil water goes.

    The best made case I can come up with for a small short lived fire make with the tiny fuel that would fit in something like a firebox is:

    -Fast easy fire to quickly make a cup of coffee in a place where you don't want to have a fire for a long time
    -want to play with fire and knives and play with bushcraft stuff.
    Those two points are pretty legit . I'm all for it. As you move away from those very specific applications the limitations of the firebox will quickly emerge.

    Case against the firebox:
    Me, personally if I'm going to light wood on fire Im gonna make a warming fires that I can cook on and enjoy the light of too.

    Aside from those two positive applications for the firebox stealth fire is the only thing I could see some one wanting with it.

    If I was trying to avoid detection and absolutely had to make a fire:
    Id dig a little 12 inch hole, leave the dirt from the hole right next to the hole, do that fast twig fire in the hole where I could boil the water with hardwood twigs to reduce smoke, then kick the dirt over it,...then bug out at least 1 mile before settling down somewhere else. -US Army survival manual.

    Stealthy fire in general really kinda sucks. Firebox is not a good way to execute it.
    Firebox might be cool out west where the parks are really tight on fires but as a stealth fire the fire box gets super hot and cant be repacked quickly, its dirty, I'm not sure how much it matters but your fingerprints will get fire etched into the metal so you can't just leave it behind if you decide to run.
     
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