MSR XGK EX denatured alcohol

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by Marlina Pfaff, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. Marlina Pfaff United States

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    Please help! Hi there, I am completely new to backpacking and MSR stoves. I have a brand new XGK EX and I’ve been trying to test it before I go backpacking next week. A friend suggested denatured alcohol would work fine, but I cannot seem to get a steady flame at all. I went and bought Coleman fuel and was able to get a steady blue flame. Why am I having trouble with the denatured alcohol? I am following the instruction manual and this fuel is listed on MSR’s website as appropriate for this stove. I know you guys will likely suggest your preferred fuel, but I have no other use for this fuel other than with this stove. I’d like to use it up if possible.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2021
  2. hikerduane

    hikerduane Subscriber

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    Coleman Fuel!
    Duane
    PS: Does not say denatured alcohol. Slap your friend.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  3. Haggis

    Haggis Subscriber

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    Run the stove on Coleman fuel, prime the stove with the alcohol…
     
  4. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr SotM Winner Subscriber

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    And alcohol will damage your msr fuel bottle lining.
    Have your friend buy you a new bottle.
     
  5. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones United States Subscriber

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    The XGK™ EX stove is a multi-fuel stove that burns a variety of fuels by using two different jets. The “GK” Jet (which should come preinstalled in your stove) is used for white gas, kerosene, unleaded auto gas, and aviation gas. The “X” jet (which should be included in the spare parts) is for jet fuel and diesel. MSR recommends using MSR® SuperFuel™ (white gas) for optimal performance. Leaded fuels should not be used. Although unleaded auto gas can be used, MSR advises against this as using it may shorten the stove’s service life.

    Anyway, you have a fine multi-fuel stove. But it will not burn alcohol. (Sounds like you got bad advice about that.)

    Incidentally, MSR FAQs cover this:

    Q: Can I burn Alcohol in my MSR stove?

    A: No, MSR stoves will not burn alcohol, and alcohol will damage MSR Fuel Bottles.

    But you can use that alcohol for priming. It will save fuel, and your stove will stay cleaner than if you prime with white gas.
     
  6. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Hi, @Marlina Pfaff ,

    Welcome to CCS! All the guys have covered all the bases regarding your MSR X-GK EX. I have quite a few X-GK models, up to and including several X-GK EX models. Each and every one is a wonderful stove, and all of them work a treat, when used properly. I tend to burn either Coleman Fuel, or Water White K-1 Deodorized kerosene, and these fuels will keep your stove working as it was designed to work! You can prime it with Meths (Methylated Spirits, or alcohol, but NOT Isopropyl alcohol!). It can also burn some fairly noxious other fuels, if in an emergency situation, but NOT alcohol. Whomever told you that your stove could burner alcohol is misinformed. Thanks for signing on here, and asking about your stove. Stick to the suggested fuels, and you will be VERY happy with your workhorse of a stove!! It boils water quickly, and with some preparation, can simmer well enough to cook sausages, and a fine pasta sauce! Think about using a good simmering plate when needing a better simmer.

    Again, welcome to CCS, and hope to see you here when you have time to visit! We're really big on photos, too. So, if you wish to take photos of yourself, and your MSR stove, out on adventures, you'll find we're a welcoming audience! Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc (who LOVES his MSR stoves, and the X-GK family, in particular!)
     
  7. Reflector

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    The jets are too small unless drilled out to run the XGK EX on denatured alcohol. Stick with coleman fuel and kerosene unless you are crazy like me and intend on getting some spare jets to drill out until you hit the sweet spot for running your XGK on alcohol with the caveats and warnings running it on fuel it wasn't designed for.
     
  8. Marlina Pfaff United States

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    Thanks for all the feedback! I trusted my friend who thought denatured alcohol was okay because the MSR website mentions it: Choosing the Right Fuel for Your Liquid Fuel Stove this page appears to list what fuels will work with the stove. Nowhere does it say which of these fuels (like denatured alcohol) should not be used. I really tried to find more information to give me clearer answers. I suppose I will blame MSR’s website for this, as they also mentioned they had an article about denatured alcohol but did not reference the link to the article (I have been unable to find it anyway).
     
  9. Daryl

    Daryl United States SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Practices makes perfect! Start cooking with your new stove before you hit the trail. The last place you want start learning how your cookware and stove works is after a long days hike. Make a habit to carry the replacement O-rings too, your stove is new now but someday it will need service. As for the extra DA might think about getting a trangia burner or making a soda can stove, nice to have back-up stove. I always had a great time backpacking and sure you will too. Your about to make memories that will last a life time, enjoy Daryl sunny SoCal
     
  10. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr SotM Winner Subscriber

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    You are right. I took a quick look at the information MSR provides. It would appear that they failed to state the obvious. They do not say .. DO not use alcohol. As a long time MSR user I know that, obviously it does not convey that in their information.

    From MSR-Blog
    Choosing the Right Fuel for Your Liquid Fuel Stove
    From the MSR XGK EX webpage.
    From the MSR XGK EX manual.

     
  11. Marlina Pfaff United States

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    Appreciate all the feedback, you guys are awesome! I had the denatured alcohol in one of my MSR bottles, brand new bottle. It was in there for maybe a few hours before I poured it back into its original can. Then I put the Coleman fuel into that same bottle. Should I expect the inside lining may still get damaged from the alcohol?
     
  12. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    HI, @Marlina Pfaff ,

    Actually, the article you linked, which was written by Steve Grimes, with whom we once camped at a Stove Gathering in Oregon, specifically stated: "It’s important to note that most pressurized-type liquid fuel backpacking stoves will not operate safely on alcohol. Again, read those manuals." That most definitely applies to the X-GK EX, and most other MSR liquid fueled stoves, as well.

    IF you wish to use a stove system what was actually designed to work wonderfully with Methytated Spirits (alcohol), then get a Trangia Model 27, or it's larger Sister, the Model 25. If it's just you, cooking for yourself, get the M27; if you are cooking for yourself, and others, then get the M25. Both are simple, easy to use stoves, and dead silent in operation! Sweet Bride, my wife and I love to use any type of stove in our camp cooking plans, but the MSR stoves get a choice of Coleman Fuel, Kerosene, or those that can use it, cartridge gas. For Meths, we use Trangia, mostly! Lovely stoves, all around, as are the MSR's, IF they are fed the proper fuel. NO Meths for MSR stoves.

    As to your fuel bottle, I think you'll probably be OK with the limited amount of time the Meths was inside it. It's mostly during extended contact with Meths, that the lining of the MSR bottles is damaged! I've had exactly ONE MSR fuel bottle so damaged, and that one I used to carry Methylated Spirits for my Trangia stove!! Silly me!! I learned, the hard way, and now only use Trangia fuel bottles for Meths!! I seriously think your fuel bottle will be OK, since you did not store any Meths in it, and quickly removed what was in there for the short time. I hope that helps you, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc

    PS - As an aside, Steve Grind, and also Drew Keegan, both of whom worked for MSR/Cascade Designs, camped with us at the one and only Oregon Stove Gathering, some years ago. Both were sharing, caring, and good Gentlemen, and brought lots of MSR goodies to pass out as gifts to our attendees! They were going to eat dehydrated backpacking meals, but Sweet Bride and I were cooking fresh foods and we invited them to come and eat with us every night. They were thankful, and very polite guests! They also attended a seminar I did at that event, on the history of the MSR X-GK family of stoves, and they were very happy to hear about many things that MSR/Cascade Designs does not know about the "early days" at MSR! In fact, they told us all that the current owners of MSR had not seen value in keeping all that original paperwork, and (foolishly, IMHO!) destroyed it!! YIKES!! Now, neither Gentleman works for MSR, nor Cascade Designs, any longer. Though I keep in touch with Drew now and then, it's been quite a while since we last talked. That OSG was a wonderful event, for many reasons, one of which was Steve and Drew's attendance with us, and their kind and interested consideration! Oh, and Steve did a great seminar of his own, featuring the MSR Whisperlite, Universal Stove, and with a detailed discussion on why MSR continue to use plastic fuel pumps! VERY interesting stuff!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2021
  13. Marlina Pfaff United States

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    Thank you Doc! I was not bashing the author of the article, but I do appreciate your defense of him. It’s MSR’s responsibility to provide information like that and the editor could have made that article more specific or, they should’ve followed up on Mr. Grind’s statements. Because the manual does not say anything about alcohol! The XGK EX stoves are regarded so highly by MSR themselves that they made it sound so unique being able to operate with absolutely any fuel available. I understood it as “alcohol is not a good idea for MOST stoves, but our super fancy multi-fuel stove can do anything!” Of course, experienced people who know their stoves and their fuels would’ve avoided confusion. But as I mentioned in my first post, I am completely new to these things and need everything spelled out in order to operate safely. I am so glad I found this knowledgable community that responds fast; I will be ready for my trip next week!

    P.S.- when I bought the denatured alcohol, it was the only liquid fuel available in the Sportsman’s Warehouse I was in. I knew Coleman would’ve been a safe bet and I probably would’ve chosen it over the alcohol had it been in stock.
     
  14. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    You'll find Coleman in many other places. Also Crown is a brand you may see; it's fine.
     
  15. Laitch

    Laitch Subscriber

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    When familiarizing yourself with a new product, making assumptions about its use can be dangerous, if not fatal.

    The manual doesn't say anything about alcohol as a fuel in the stove because it isn't used as a fuel in the stove. It's asking a little too much to have a manufacturer explain in a manual all the things that shouldn't be used as fuel in a stove, as it would be too much to for them to explain all the prohibited uses of a stove. In Step 1, the manual refers its reader to the Fuel Information section before proceeding to Step2.

    I can tell you right now, don't light it up then use your stove as a warming device in your sleeping bag if it gets chilly out there. :lol:

    Here's what the manual does say in the Fuel Information section.
    YGK EX Instructions.jpg
     
  16. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones United States Subscriber

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    Excellent advice, but I’d be inclined to cut Marlina some slack here, since she’s new and was given bad info by a friend. Heck, when I first started looking at XGKs a buddy told me they’d burn anything, including Cost Cutter beer from Kroger’s.

    I didn’t believe that, of course, but have tried to burn many other things over the years. (And nearly made a fuel out of myself more than once ;-)
     
  17. Fettler United States

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    I don't believe there's actually anything "unsafe" about alcohol as a fuel per se although alcohol is well known to not play well with certain types of rubber compounds or formulations (used in gaskets and other components) that are otherwise tolerant of extended exposure to gasoline. Plastic pump mechanisms would also be a consideration, I'd expect.

    Leaving that aside (huge sides nonetheless) the issue in this instance is achieving the correct air fuel ratio, or AFR for the fuel used. The "jet size" would by necessity need to be roughly double that of gasoline to achieve an equivalency, so it's not surprising the stove ran poorly. The jet is merely the tiny, almost invisible hole where fuel or fuel vapor is metered. Its size is calibrated very carefully so as to provide a clean deep blue flame.

    If the jets were sized correctly for alcohol, I'd expect the fuel consumption or burn rate would be astonishing. This has to do with the energy density or BTU of a given fuel. Sort of the way a single, heavy oak log will burn for hours, but a whole armload of cottonwood is gone in minutes.

    Gasoline for many years was listed at 120,000 BTU per gallon, Alcohol at 76,000 BTU per gallon. Whatever figures employed, it's a whole lot less energy in the corn squeezins!

    Everclear Grain alcohol might be a suitable priming fuel, and ... for other purposes ... out on the trail.
     
  18. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    Your alcohol purchase is not in vain. I use it to prime all my liquid fuel stoves. Prime the XGK with it and the stove will remain clean when burning either white gas or kerosene.
     
  19. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr SotM Winner Subscriber

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    @Marlina Pfaff
    Give yourself a break.

    My first kerosene use of an XGK was without alcohol priming ... in a tent ... in a snow storm above Paradise on Mt Rainier. I suggest that you don’t copy that.
     
  20. Jim Lukowski

    Jim Lukowski United States Subscriber

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    I wonder why MSR states to use the GK jet for kerosene and the X jet for jet fuel. Jet fuel IS kerosene! I don't know what additives jet fuel may have in other countries and if that's why the different jet.

    I don't have that MSR stove, but I'm in the US and find jet fuel to run very well in my Coleman kero lanterns, wick lanterns, center draft lamps and Aladdin's. However, as a caution, if you find a source for jet fuel, ask if it contains anti-icing agent. If it does, you don't want to use it as it's considered pretty toxic. I had a source for all the free jet fuel I wanted, until that airport manager warned me about the anti-icing agent in his fuel. Large airports add it themselves, but smaller regional airports sometimes have it delivered with the anti-icing agent already added. To add, this is not dependent on 'winter' temps to use it. At 35000 feet cruising altitude, the air temp is -67F.