Economical multifuel stoves

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by whiteturbo, Jun 29, 2022.

  1. whiteturbo

    whiteturbo United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hiya guys, Am getting on great using my camping stoves for ALL cooking duties(to reduce my power bill which has recently doubled), I have two MSR Dragonfly's For simmering and controlled cooking but am finding them a bit heavy on fuel for just boiling water for tea/coffee, I have an older MSR Whisperlite(Grey pump) but apart from being quieter than the dragonfly it doesn't seem any more economical.
    So I am looking for a multifuel stove, separate bottle type, economy of fuel use is main importance, I don't care about noise, and I have simmer sorted so I don't care if it simmers or not, and weight is not important as it wont be used for backpacking. So any suggestion's, Oh, I have discounted the Soto Muka because although you don't have to prime it, the stove does apparently shoot a larger flame than a priming flame on start-up and I don't want my kitchen ceiling scorched. So any suggestion's as to which currently available stove I should consider?
     
  2. hikerduane

    hikerduane Subscriber

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    Try a camp stove that uses propane. Propane in larger quantities will be more economical than using petrol or paraffin in small amounts.
    Duane
     
  3. whiteturbo

    whiteturbo United Kingdom Subscriber

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    I have about 8 gallon's of Naphtha, so going propane wouldn't make any sense.
     
  4. 907_Nick

    907_Nick United States Subscriber

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    I've done a lot of testing and the Primus Omnilite is a bit more fuel efficient than the Dragonfly, but that's getting to the point of splitting hairs. If you're worried about fuel consumption boiling water you might be better served by buying a heat transfer kettle - those do make a shocking difference.
     
  5. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    True.

     
  6. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    I can’t imagine any camp stove being cheaper to run than electricity. I think hikerduane nailed it as far as fueled stoves.
     
  7. Dean

    Dean United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @whiteturbo
    Maybe not for the kitchen, but for outdoor use, how about a Volcano/Kelly/Ghillie kettle for boiling water. Runs on dry twigs, paper, pine cones etc that must be cheaper to find than buying naptha. An updated stove on these principles would be a Bio-Lite, maybe?
    Whilst the use of liquid fuel can more readily control your spend on cooking (it is paid for up front and when it runs out you eat salad!), I am intrigued to know whether anyone has done a cost comparison between the use of mains services and liquid fuels for indoor cooking. I assume your home still has mains services connected, so you are still liable for standing charges.
    While on the subject of domestic services, if you have a water meter, do you recycle water for toilet flushing? We have a water butt outside the back door and continually refill 6 pint plastic milk bottles to discharge into the wc cistern. Although there is a cost benefit to all this faff (especially as the water company meter sewage processing as a percentage of your fresh water take), I just hate the idea of using highly cleaned and processed water for toilet flushing. Our garden is also prone to some occasional flooding so the idea of removing an amount of water, no matter how small, from the local water environment has an additional attraction.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2022
  8. whiteturbo

    whiteturbo United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @Dean I have looked at the Kelly Kettle and intend to get one at some point and I do have and sometimes use(when out on my Bicycle) a small wood/twig burning stove. BUT I have come to the conclusion that when SHTF it will do so at a leisurely pace it won't be wake up one morning and there's no power with dead people all over the place and civilization come to an instant standstill. It will be a slow decline over several decades. I mean the Fall of Rome didn't happen on such and such a date it happened over a century or so, and that is what I expect, and am trying to prepare for, a slow and gradual decline which we will have to adapt to as it occurs. I don't intend to run off into the woods and go off grid, for one thing you would need several hundreds of thousands of £'s to buy land and build a decent shelter etc, living in a tent is a crap idea with the British climate.
    NO I will stay put where I am surrounded by all my stuff, BUT reduce my dependence on the outside world. SO doing all my cooking with my camping stoves, which I collect anyway, is an exercise in WHAT IF! so what if our power supply became erratic or as seems likely, too expensive to use in the way we have become used to. I used about 5 ltrs of Naphtha(about £13) last month using my stoves for most of my cooking, I did cheat a bit and used my air fry oven for chips and heating up pasties, But I do have a Coleman oven and I have fun with my Omnia, I'm just too lazy to mess around with setting it up every time, so some times I use the Coleman, mainly so I get used to actually using it and finding out how long things take to cook, but I confess that most of the time I take the easy road. I don't know for sure yet BUT with the amount of coffee and tea I drink and all my cooking I am certain that I am saving more than £13 a month, FFS I am paying £100 a month(it used to be £50) and a good bit of that has to be cooking and the frequent drinks I indulge in, I'm paying a standing charge for Gas which I never use and because It's council property I can't get it switched off. So you could say I'm dependant on getting fuel for my stoves and if the grid went down permanently I would still be Knackered, That's true But I will have a cushion, 8 months at the moment but I intend to get that up to 12 months gradually, Same with food, I don't have a garden, mores the pity, But I could survive for 6 months with what I have stored, I'd lose a bit of weight, but I wouldn't starve and if nothing ever happens I'm eating food at last 6 months price's. My computer with its 850 watt PSU and the monitor is probably my biggest power expense, so I would have to use my laptop if things got too expensive. So its all about WHAT IF's while keeping my fingers crossed that it never happens, It also means getting use out of my stove(and lantern) collection, and on top of all that I find it Fun playing with my toys!
     
  9. Morten M Andersen

    Morten M Andersen Denmark Subscriber

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    Hi whiteturbo, I can understand where you are coming from and I have similar thoughts and worries.

    I would suggest an alternative solution if you enjoy frequent hot drinks like coffee and tea during the day: Buy a large thermos bottle. I do believe a thermos with glass insert more effectively traps the heat compared to one made from steel. He steel flask will obviously be more robust.

    By using a thermos you can boil 1 or 1.5 liters one time a day. If your hot drinks require boiling water you could defend the expense of reheating a measured amount in an electric kettle or on a stove because heating from 80c to 100c would be much less than heating from 20c to 100c.

    Otherwise I have also heard that the Primus Omnilite is supposed to be a “fuel-sipper”.

    @907_Nick do you have any recommondations on heat transfer kettles?
     
  10. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr SotM Winner Subscriber

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  11. Marc

    Marc Subscriber

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    @whiteturbo Does your power company have a smart meter on your house, and offer usage graphs? Knowing your own numbers will be the only way you can make an informed decision. Here's my own, from May of this year, the most recent available from my power company:

    Screenshot 2022-06-30 183747.jpg

    We run a wood stove in the winter, and otherwise have an all electric house. Water heating, cooking, clothes drying, heat pump HVAC, Keurig coffee pot, air fryer, etc. We're also on a well, so electricity pumps our water out of the ground as..... well. Cooking is a very small part of our bill, something like $10. If your numbers are similar, you're going to be very hard pressed to beat that with a fuel powered appliance.

    Several years ago, when looking at which direction to go for heating the house, I gathered a bunch of data and compared the $$$/BTU of various fuels. Electricity via resistance heaters was by far the most expensive. Going by memory, kerosene was next, then #2 heating oil, propane, wood pellets, purchased firewood, and finally self-harvested firewood. I don't remember exactly where electric heat pump heating fell, somewhere in the purchased firewood range, and with push-button simplicity. Obviously you'd have to gather data on what fuels are available in your own area, and their costs, and plot your own chart to compare. Again, knowing your own numbers will be the only way you can make an informed decision. I'd be surprised if you came out ahead using fuel instead of electricity.

    Your seem to have shifted gears to a more prepper type mentality. No worries, I lean that way myself. Part of why we have the wood burner and a couple years of firewood stashed. It's a different discussion from saving money on a day to day basis, though.
     
  12. whiteturbo

    whiteturbo United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @Marc I have my monthly bills from my power company before I took the course I am following now, and I figure I need 3 months using my stoves to get a fair comparison, To be honest I doubt I am making much of a saving and although that was the original purpose of the exercise I am slowly coming around to thinking that maybe some independence from the Big power corporation(Shell) is more important. My previous Energy supplier went bust due to the big price hike last year and I was allocated Shell as my energy supplier, I had no choice in the matter, and it meant an instant jump from £50 a month to £100 a month. It made me realise how vulnerable we all are, so I determined to do something about it. The world we live in is changing and what happened with the Covid crisis made me feel as if I had passed from one dimension to another, Our reality changed through no fault of our own and it was not a change for the good, the fuel crisis and more recently the uncertainty caused by the Ukraine conflict means the stability we had taken for granted since the end of the cold war can no longer be relied upon. I am a poor man living on a meagre State Pension so I can't take the steps I would like to take, and there is no great wilderness left in Britain, and even if there was I doubt I would survive very long being 73, so I have to be sensible and take what small steps I can in my existing environment, So the best I can hope for is maybe a cushion from the problems we could all be facing soon, The food supply chain has been badly compromised by two years of society being closed down, Will it recover? I hope so, But I am not counting on it. I have enough food for about 6 months if I'm frugal and I have the means to cook it using my stoves, and I have proved to myself that its not pie in the sky, because I have tested it by putting it into practice. I have read a bit about what happened in the 1930's and the great depression, and if it happens again I am at least a bit in front of the curve. It might never happen, in which case I can have free weeks every now and then, and spend the savings on another stove that has caught my eye. Or even a lighter to add to my small collection.
     
  13. Dean

    Dean United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi @whiteturbo , You and I may not be quite so different - you have a few years on me, but not many and I have been prematurely thrust into "slightly early retirement" by the loss of ability to drive, in the short term at least. My thoughts about food supply chains and the like started as we approached Brexit when we stocked up on staples that would have a long shelf life, notwithstanding sometimes ridiculously short or expired best before dates! Pulling a cycle trailer from a skip enabled car free shopping for quite considerable weights of load lugging.
    The more recent turmoils of fuel supply and cost brought about by world events adds to the feeling of helplessness and a need to be prudent in protecting oneself.
    I have already adopted the Thermos flask idea (bought cheaply from house clearance people). I would add to that a vague recollection from physics lessons along the lines that raising water temperature beyond 88 deg C uses disproportionately more fuel to bring it to boiling, so storing it at that temperature in a pre-warmed flask, ready for final boiling on demand might be slightly more efficient than storing it once boiled.
    I am trying to think of other ways that the 1940's/50's "housewife" might have acted/ things used, before we all got so wasteful, the pressure cooker and those half or one third ring saucepans come to mind. I have started to use a halogen cooker (not yet to its fullest potential) and last nights beans, in their opened tin, were heated dunked amidst the boiled potatoes in a loose bain marie fashion.
    What is the naptha you are using - panel wipe? brake cleaner or what? Reading the data sheets for some automotive products suggests there can be adverse effects on some rubber products, so care may be needed for stove seals.
     
  14. Blackdog United Kingdom

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    This is an interesting one. We have a normal(ish) house setup, but the three of us also spend a big chunk of the year living on an old narrowboat and an off-grid shed on the smallholding, and do a lot of indoor cooking on paraffin.

    Earlier this year we did a big order for C1 grade 'Premium' paraffin, for indoor use. We use old stale heating oil , C2 grade, in stoves for outdoor use, but for health reasons (no decent fume extraction yet anywhere) we prefer C1 for domestic duties. We have access to lots of C2 grade heating oil and can always find more, free, when old steel heating oil tanks start to leak and the houseowners panic and want the tank emptied pronto! It does tend to clog burners and nipples faster, but that can be tolerated given the lack of expenditure.

    Anyway, we bought 205l of Premium C1 at £267.75 delivered. At the time I did some calculations based on heat output, fuel consumption etc which I have now sadly lost, but the liquid fuel worked out cheaper than bottled Calor gas, although by the time you factor in expensive meths (we use bio-ethanol, same stuff) for priming the costs are probably drawing close. I hate gas anyway, any problems in a boat and it pools in the bilge then blows you out through the roof. Paraffin is far safer in my view, easy to stock up on unlike gas, and obviously far more fun.

    This isn't answering your question, although domestically a paraffin pressure stove will cost about the same to run as a Calor gas stovetop indoors, on premium C1 paraffin if bought in bulk. A decent extractor and C2 heating oil and you'd make a significant saving. Not sure if long term you'd have a lot of faff with clogged burners with the heating oil, it might just be the stale, possibly contaminated rubbish we get for nothing.

    Electricity wise, I'm not sure as I don't manage that side of things. There is an odd contract with the solar panels at the house and electricity is free when the sun is shining, so cooking and baking done during the day during a lot of the year is free or cheap. But the cost of whatever contract is in force has doubled recently, so perhaps when the sun isn't shining the cost is now nearer paraffin?? I really must redo those calculations!

    Ahh, good stuff. Pressure cookers are a great boon, as are hayboxes and their modern equivalent 'thermal cookers', much more mobile and convenient but another investment. Both are well worth it if one has the discipline and makes good use of these two fuel-savers through forward thinking and planning ahead, but sadly so many people buy a pressure cooker, realise it needs a bit more thought and input than what they are used to, and consigns it to the back of the cupboard because they can't be bothered. Pah!

    Lids on saucepans is the other obvious fuel-saver... along with cooking big batches for efficiency of fuel and time, helping to keep the freezer full in modern times.

    A quick-boil kettle with coil base is more efficient on a gas or liquid fueled stove, same as heat exchanger camping pots. Why does nobody produce domestic saucepans with heat exchanger bases for use on flame cookers? I've often thought about modifying some copper saucepans and soldering on a coil base or fins.

    Being big fans of copper kettles we have plenty, and always use the smallest size possible for the amount of water needed... less mass of copper to heat up, and less surface area to loose heat to atmosphere.

    All a lot of faff? I like faff, and the resulting economy.
     
  15. whiteturbo

    whiteturbo United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @Blackdog You seem to have a good setup, Something I would aspire too if I was younger, A smallholding so you obviously grow most of your own food, a narrowboat so some travelling and exploration(with living accommodation), a house with solar, so economical living under normal circumstances and an off grid shed for when/if things go tits up. You seem to ready for anything except a direct hit by an asteroid lol.
    I use Holts Break cleaner(Naphtha) its only £13 for 5 ltrs(just over a gallon). I was dubious about using what amounts to petrol but its cleaner than Paraffin and a little cheaper, I can't smell it at all and it evaporates completely if you spill any, probably not good in a narrowboat as like Gas the fumes might accumulate with potentially disastrous results. I do have a small quantity of paraffin for use in my Pressure lanterns. I am also a fan of pressure cookers and own several different sizes and makes, good for soups and stews. I also use a Pressure Cooker for rice, using pot in pot. Although I do have two electric ones, the ones I use mainly are stovetop ones of various sizes that I have accumulated over the years.
     
  16. Blackdog United Kingdom

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    I find the disaster prepping/survival movement fascinating, and I suppose I fall into the camp although not by intention. Partly upbringing, thrifty parents with good sense, always stocks of food, plenty of candles and torches around in case of power cuts, good old fashioned entertainment (no TV, unusual as a child growing up in the 90s) reading aloud, games, we'd have ridden out anything. Scout motto too, "Be prepared"! From a young age I couldn't imagine being helpless or getting caught out.

    Dial in an interest in living in the past, using old stuff and old methods, discovering the realities of the joys and hardships probably experienced by those 'back in the day', and an ever increasing interest in self sufficiency and respect for nature. To my logic, the less you spend means the less you have to earn, giving more time and freedom. Of course I've had to put up with the occasional 'layabout' jibe over the years (self employed, and only work to earn as much as is needed), by those not realising that a big chunk of that gained time then has to be spent dealing with firewood, fixing the roof of the house, cutting and welding 12mm plate when the boat is out the water, or seeking out the cheapest bulk organic food and decoking paraffin stoves. Personally I'd rather have the time and have to faff, at least I'm in charge!

    Sorry about the life story, but I find all this fascinating.

    My thoughts are that the best way to be prepared for any trouble or hardship is to be as self-sufficient as possible- be it in a flat or on half a dozen acres. The number of people in cities who buy their food daily, or even multiple times daily, and are totally reliant on the grid for heat, cooking and light is frightening. It doesn't take much, even if you only rent a single room, to know that you will be comfortable in most of the likely disaster situations. A few days without power in winter? Decent thermals, hot water bottle, meths stove and a bit of fuel and you won't go cold. Card machines go down and shops close for a few days? A sensibly stocked kitchen cupboard plus a few emergency supplies will ride you through. But who thinks like that these days? Of course there is always room for improvement.

    The other commendable aspect which you are obviously doing is actually living it- I wonder how many zombie preppers have hundreds of dollars of dehydrated/tinned food/MREs stashed away which would turn their stomach or give action inhibiting digestive issues if they actually tried to eat them let along live off them for any length of time? Emergency seed banks which they have no idea how to grow or whether their soil type would support? Camping stoves they would struggle to light, and struggle even more to cook a morale-boosting meal on? Firearms they couldn't hit anything with? Too many marketing opportunities to extract money from dreamers.

    The best bet has to be living it daily, making lifestyle changes to increase efficiency regardless of how restrictive the domestic situation may seem to this. In a crisis situation efficiency is priority to survive as long as possible. In the everyday, efficiency lowers costs, saves resources and is the right thing to do for the planet. For example: food prices rising and disrupted supply chains? Pulses are a great protein source, and bought in bulk they are cheap and keep for ages. Efficient cooking? Pressure cooker/haybox. Stove and fuel supply in case of grid hiccups, and know how to use and maintain it. In the countryside, efficient outdoor wood fueled set up, and know how to use it effectively even if not everyday. But then you know all this...

    Good call on Holts, I don't think there is any cheaper way in the UK currently of obtaining 'further refined petrol' any cheaper. The joy of any liquid fuel is it can normally be stored and poured well away from cooking/sleeping areas, then you only have what is in the tank of the stove or lamp to worry about if anything goes wrong. Millions of people use gas in caravans and boats every year with great convenience and without trouble (on UK canals and rivers a gas inspection is required every few years) but when things go wrong they tend to do so spectacularly. Give me a century-old brassie any time!
     
  17. Reflector

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    @whiteturbo
    What are you paying presently for electricity? I made an Excel spreadsheet for doing calculations on BTUs per dollar.

    Looking at 13GBP for 5L of naphtha you're getting 11k btu per GBP, from that I'd take a guess that your electricity is greater than 0.30GBP per kwh (11kbtus/gbp)? If that's the case you've got electrical rates similar to the insanity I have in Southern California (About close to half a dollar a kwh)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
  18. Blackdog United Kingdom

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    I've just been told that we're now paying £0.35 per kwh, jumped from £0.15, huge price hikes all over the UK recently. The calculations I did to compare paraffin/propane/electricity were based on kw output rather than BTUs. Still trying to find them...
     
  19. whiteturbo

    whiteturbo United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hiya All, As Blackdog says its £0.35 KWH up from £0.15 KWH so using liquid fuel seems to be worthwhile for the moment, on top of which we are making actual use of our lamps and stoves rather than them just sitting on a shelf, I don't know about you but I like turning my hobbies into practical uses, it sort of justifies spending money on objects that most people can't see the point of, I mean I turned an Interest in Carpentry and old tools into a profession that kept the wolf from the door for over 50 years. To be honest though, I'm a naturally lazy person, I always look for easy ways to do things, but I also hate to be rushed, My ex wife said that I worked hard when I wanted something, and did nowt or as little as I could the rest of the time, probably the reason we never had any spare money, She was right looking back, I do need to be motivated, and when I am, I put my all into it,(how the marriage lasted 20 years and 3 kids I'll never know lol).
    I like old well made things, even not so old things if they are well made, For example its only recently that I discovered just how good the MSR Dragonfly is, Not for collecting purposes BUT as a practical working stove, I bought both mine Brand new for £85 and £90 respectively, Kettles and pots sit solidly on it, not balanced up in the air and about to fall off the moment you look away(I'm thinking of you Optimus SVEA 123) and you can boil a kettle fast when on full throttle but a gentle simmer when waiting for the chips to catch up with the beans or tomatoes. I know! its horses for courses, the Dragonfly is a great base camp stove whereas the SVEA 123 is more suited to backpacking, so don't think I am running down the SVEA, its actually one of my favourite stoves, just not what I need at the moment for the job I need to be done.
    My friends think I'm a looney, messing about with camping cookers and liquid fuel, not even those nice clean, easy to use canister stoves, when its so much easier to just flick a switch, you don't even need to turn off the kettle it does it itself, and the Instant Pot will cook a meal for you all ready for when you get back from shopping, They just don't get it!
     
  20. Blackdog United Kingdom

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    Right, here we go, although this is not naptha, but C1 'Premium' paraffin vs electricity.

    Probably massively over simplified, comments welcome from anybody with more knowledge of thermodynamics than me! Based on Kerophile's post here, which is maxiumum theoretical heat output of various Primus models, which in reality may be a percentage lower.

    For a 2-pint stove we commonly use domestically (or 4-pint with 2-pint sized burner), 2.8KW output, fuel consumption 0.279 litre per hour. Fuel cost based on a 205 litre bulk purchase of C1 Premium paraffin a couple of months ago, at £1.31 per litre. It is likely this will have risen by 1/3 or so since.

    Cost of paraffin stove= 0.279 x 1.31/2.8 = £0.13 per KWh heat output.
    Electricity was £0.15, now hiked to £0.35 per Kwh heat output.

    Now the tricky bit. Obviously there is meths for priming. More complex is the efficiency of cooking on an electric hob vs a Pressure stove. Does anybody have a clue about relative efficiencies? The electric hob will be significantly more efficient. Plugging the question into google the first result is:
    Gas cooktop 40% efficiency
    Electic cooktop 74% efficiency, induction 84% (Don't have one of these). Assuming this is near the mark, the results are:

    Noble Paraffin 1 / 0.4 x 0.13 = £0.325 per KWh 'in the pot'
    Boring mains electricity 1 / 0.74 x 0.35 = £0.47 per KWh 'in the pot'.

    I have not got a recent quote for C1 paraffin but if comparable to other price rises of red diesel and heating oil I'd add 1/3 to the cost, bringing it just under mains electricity.

    So it seems C1 Premium paraffin is roughly equal to mains electricty post UK price hikes? This may be life(style) changing if so, when the sun isn't obliging the solar rig...

    Running a Primus on heating oil (C2) at roughly £1 per litre current prices gives £0.09 per KWh heat output and £0.23 per KWh 'in the pot'. Half the price of mains electricity so a massive saving, if one can vent the elevated level of fumes. I've heard plenty of people running classic pressure stoves and lamps on heating oil, my experience has been lots of jet clogging, to the extent of a 'whisker' of carbon 3/16" high forming on the jet on occasions sending the vapour off-centre and giving uneven burning. As mentioned before, our heating oil is years old and possibly contaminated, has anybody else had lots of trouble burning heating oil?

    Granted, non of this is of concern to campers and hikers, but it is easy to forget liquid fuels have a long history of domestic use and this is of great importance to the few of us who still use them a great deal.