Ethanol Test

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by BradB, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    Today I did a test with a few ethanol fuels. In light of our recent discussion about our California friends’ possible difficulties obtaining alcohol fuels, I wanted to post information about ethanols I bought from ebay. The first test here is from the 5 gallon pail from Quality Chemical, labelled 200 proof denatured alcohol. I tested in a Trangia 27 with the 0.6L kettle. My subjective observation was that this fuel burned the hottest of my test sample. It had a large yellow flame, seen above, and left a bit of soot and some brown deposits, seen below. The soot wiped off easily but the brown deposit needed to be scrubbed with the rough side of a household sponge.


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    The next sample was Regal Flame fireplace fuel, below. This batch I added water to attempt to clean up the burn. I did not measure, but it was probably 15-20% water. The flame was not as intense and, although I did not time it, it took considerably longer to boil the kettle of water.


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    Below, you can see that the watered down ethanol did not leave any deposits or soot. The price to be paid is a slow boil time, if that matters to you.


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    The next test, below, was using undiluted Regal Flame. It burned much more like the Quality alcohol.

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    Below we see the small bit of soot and brown deposits from the undiluted Regal Flame.

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    Next, I cooked soup for lunch in a Trangia 25 using the Quality ethanol. The pan was anodized and you can see a bit of deposits and soot.

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    This pic below is the companion pot in the T25 set. It has only seen use with Kleenstrip methanol/ethanol.

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    If I were only considering a clean burn, the Kleenstrip methanol/ethanol types are the clear winners. The ethanols from Quality and Regal Flame burn a good bit hotter. Since I have a supply of Kleenstrip, I may relegate that fuel to priming duties. In the Origo on the boat I will be using both the Quality and Regal Flame. Out in the open I will likely use the ethanol fuels in the Trangias since I seem to be constantly spilling some fuel on my fingers. There is not much reason to burn a more toxic fuel when a safer alternative is easily available. For all who are interested in the topic, I hope I have shed some light on it and may open some possibilities beyond the REI or big box store methanol fuels. Brad
     
  2. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr Subscriber

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    Thank you. I agree with your conclusion. I do not care about the cleanliness of the pot bottom. I do like the idea of reduced toxins.
    I have a gallon of SLX denatured.

    Ken
     
  3. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    The Klutz used my kerosene pump to pump out about a half gallon. Didn’t spill a drop!
     
  4. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr Subscriber

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    How do you compare the Quality and the Regal?
    60 for 3 gallons or 90 for 5 gallons, you saved 10 buying the 5 gallons bucket.
    A lot less plastic containers to recycle.
     
  5. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    Just by observation, I thought the Quality burned the hottest. My initial impression was good, so I am not likely to buy the Regal again. I do have 11 quarts left of the Regal, so it will be a while before that decision comes up. The Quality bucket looks good enough to put in use once it is empty.
     
  6. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    I am skeptical of the idea that the toxicity of methanol is of any practical concern to stove users, either directly or as an atmospheric pollutant. The toxicity concern of methanol is ingestion. Methanol - Wikipedia

    It's interesting that methanol is approved in Europe for gasoline at up to 3%.

    I don't see any indication that there is a toxicity or "pollution" issue with regard to combustion of methanol, at least any more than with ethanol, nor of toxicity concern from skin contact.

    I'd be interested of course in information to the contrary, but otherwise I see no downside whatever to the use of 'standard' denatured alcohol, such as the ubiquitous KleenStrip, as a stove primer and fuel.

    As a side note, as KleenStip labels their DA as 'fuel', Crown (the can I just bought a couple days ago) labels its as 'Glass Cleaner' and the instructions describe that as the only use! Its ingredients? 'Methanol and ethanol', with no further elaboration.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  7. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr Subscriber

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  8. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    I use a gallon of denatured a year, at the very most; probably much less. I use the Trangia rarely, the rest is for priming kero stoves.

    I'll be sure to stand clear.
     
  9. Marc

    Marc Subscriber

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    @BradB Thank you for doing the comparison, hugely appreciated.

    I'll be reading up on methanol toxicity, as that's what I use, and my Trangia is my most frequently used stove.

    Bought outside of winter, a four pack of yellow HEET in 12oz bottles was $2.51, or under half the cost/oz of the 5 gallon bucket mentioned above. Leaves no soot or residue.
     
  10. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    Continued stroll through the internet....

    Crown DA at the hardware store is "Glass Cleaner". Same stuff at REI is "Alcohol Stove Fuel".

    Now, the one thing I think we don't have is glass stoves.....
     
  11. ArchMc

    ArchMc Subscriber

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    The chemistry set I had as a child had a glass alcohol burner in it.

    Wow, to think they gave things like that to elementary school children...

    ....Arch
     
  12. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    Sounds like the heet is super cheap, but I guess it is all methanol. At $17.80 a gallon the Quality 5 gallon bucket is about the same as the Kleenstrip at Home Depot, till I pay sales tax. But the Quality or Regal are all ethanol. As for methanol, you get lower price, cleaner pots, but lower energy. There are those who feel methanol is super toxic and should be avoided completely. Others pay no attention to the casual exposure of stovies, neither the combustion fumes nor the skin absorption of fuel handling. I suppose the truth lies somewhere in between.
     
  13. itchy

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    Remember that ethanol is the antidote for methanol poisoning. Another reason to enjoy a beverage while using our stoves.
     
  14. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    I too have often read this. Apparently the mechanism is that metabolism of ethanol will interfere with methanol metabolism in some important way. I wondered recently, with our discussions, that if ethanol is denatured with modest amounts of methanol (which seems to be the case in some formulations), why would the product not contain its own antidote?
     
  15. itchy

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    @Ed Winskill
    Yes, it is a substrate for (but in this case serves as a competitive inhibitor of) alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme that catalyzes the first step in the conversion of methanol to the more toxic compounds formaldehyde and formate. The trick in using ethanol as an antidote is to continue giving unadulterated ethanol to the patient until all the methanol is excreted via the kidneys as methanol. Obviously you cannot do this with the denatured stuff. That said, ethanol is not the first choice in treating the patient.
     
  16. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    I prefer Itchy’s suggestion. I have heard that one shot of bourbon per 10 minutes of burning methanol in a Trangia completely negates any ill effects.
     
  17. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    I have been applying this rule of thumb, hitherto in ignorance of its salutary [collateral] effects.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  18. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr Subscriber

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    I read a little on the use of ethanol as an antidote for methanol poisoning. It is a 10% ethanol solution by IV. 5 proof.
    Standardized Treatment of Severe Methanol Poisoning With Ethanol and Hemodialysis
    Abstract
    Seven patients with methanol poisoning were treated with ethanol, hemodialysis and supportive measures. The interval between ingestion and initiation of ethanol therapy varied from 3 to 67 hours and from ingestion to dialysis from 9 to 93 hours. All patients survived, but one had permanent visual impairment. A 10% ethanol solution administered intravenously is a safe and effective antidote for severe methanol poisoning. Ethanol therapy is recommended when plasma methanol concentrations are higher than 20 mg per dl, when ingested doses are greater than 30 ml and when there is evidence of acidosis or visual abnormalities in cases of suspected methanol poisoning.
     
  19. itchy

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    @snwcmpr

    Sorry, by unadulterated ethanol I did not mean to imply 200 proof. Only that it had to be ethanol absent the denaturant.
     
  20. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr Subscriber

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    @itchy I did not think you implied that. I actually had no idea about it, until I read a bit on it. It is interesting that that seeming contradiction was an effective therapy.