Which Kerosene burner?

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by Alcoholic, Oct 22, 2020.

  1. Alcoholic Australia

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    Hi brains trust

    It's good to be here - I've enjoyed the various threads and discussions that I've seen after a fair bit of time "lurking" around here. A bit of background about me - I'm not much of a collector but have managed to assemble a variety of stoves nevertheless, without a lot of rhyme or reason. Most used has been my trusty 20yo Trangia 27 Duossal - I haven't felt the need for much else for solo backpacking - it's reliable, quiet and windproof and the fuel is consistently available in remote locations around here for some reason.

    Then the kids came along and management wasn't keen on cooking with Trangias for a family of five. So I got into Coleman DF - a 428 3 burner and a 533 sportster. Great stoves but the "shellite" fuel around here is $8/litre and that is more than I like to pay, so they don't get used as much as I would like, particularly at home where they would be good. If the fuel was cheaper, they would be perfectly adequate for my needs - I know stove fuel is a small expense but my frugal tendencies make me wince everytime I buy it and I see a cheaper fuel on the shelf right next to it. And around here, the summer is hot so it's nice to do a decent proportion of cooking outside if I can. Eating a plant based diet, I don't use the kamado much anymore - a stove is my preferred option for the meals we cook, particularly with a pressure cooker for beans and spuds etc, which we eat a fair bit of.

    By comparison, around here the cost of "metho" and "kero" is about $4/litre in your average big box store. Purely on the basis of energy density, that makes kero look pretty good but I've never used it and don't know anyone who does either. Non-iso butane is about $5/kg and Propane a touch over $3/kg for the "swap and go" 9kg bottles but a lot more for smaller canisters, so they are only really only financially good for home use. Camping butane / propane mix canisters are extortionate, in my view. On the subject of gassies, I have used them a lot because they are the default but I don't like the pressures involved and just don't get excited about them - they are too plain for my taste, even at home. I prefer liquid fuels also for the ability to not waste canisters/fuel between trips and just top them up without "jury rigging" a dodgy refilling system. I also don't like carrying the pressurised fuel around in the heat / car but that's just me.

    So, on the basis of fuel cost and the desire to cook regularly outside for a big family, I'm chasing a kero burner. Lets face it, it might just be an excuse to get another stove as well - and impress friends with something different. Looking for something to do most of the cooking on and if I need a second burner I can probably use one of my existing ones (eg the 533). A good option to also take camping would be a nice bonus. This would be very much a "user" stove and as second hand brassies are pretty hard to find in my neck of the woods, I am thinking of the new market, in particular:
    - Dragonfly (with DragonTamer for the serenity of a silent burner at home) - a MSR option that can simmer
    - Nova with silent burner
    - Manaslu 121 - is a silent burner available?
    - Primus Omnifuel?

    Key considerations, from reading around here of blocked jets, pump issues and o-rings are to get something that is as close to my Trangia as possible in terms of reliability / ease of maintenance / serviceability and availability of spares. With 3 hungry kids and a busy job, I don't have a lot of time for fettling and need stuff to be as reliable as possible but I also hate throwing stuff away because of non-serviceable components (hence my Trangia love). BTW - I might need some decent, stacking large camping pots as well for family meals.

    Thanks for getting this far - any thoughts?
     
  2. geeves

    geeves New Zealand Subscriber

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    Be careful with your kerosene. They have recently messed around with the branding lately and in a lot of brands the blue kero is no longer suitable for stoves. The Diggers brand at Bunnings was the first I saw like this. The fuel you want is now called lamp oil but they still sell torch and amp oil which is also not suitable.
    The blue kero is loaded with all the sulphur they had to take out of the diesel. The lamp oil is clear but so is the torch and lamp oil which is nearly lubricating oil.
    Just to rub it in here in NZ blue kero $6/l Lamp oil both types $15/l Shelite $13/l
    Why look at new and near new stoves? A primus 5 or similar will run for several hours on a refill and plenty of silent power The other choices are all good
     
  3. Alcoholic Australia

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    Thanks for the heads up! You may have just saved me a lot of money! I knew the Diggers blue kero had a fair bit of sulphur still in it but I thought it was still OK for stove use - I don't mind the smell so much but if it clogs up stoves then that's a different can of worms... Around here, there doesn't seem to be much else that is easily available for us without hanging around an airport. The low odour kero isn't much cheaper than Shellite so there goes that idea! Same with unscented lamp oil.

    The reason for a new stove was just because I don't know enough (having never used one) about these types of stoves to feel confident buying sight unseen and second hand options just don't seem to come up here in Perth. In any case, if the blue Diggers kero has too much sulphur then I'm back to the drawing board. Probably have to resign myself to a propane gassie for home use and stick with the shellite for camping. Or just go back to lunchbox butane stoves (shudder...)! I don't like my chances of convincing management that we should try cooking family meals on a suite of Trangias... as much as I might personally quite like that outcome (I'm a patient man!).
     
  4. Wim

    Wim Subscriber

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    Hi @Alcoholic , if alcohol is your fuel of choice and it is readily available at a decent outlay it may be best to stick with it. During world war 2 many Swedish (pressure) stoves were converted to burning alcohol and were still sold after the war. Also, a lot of single and double burner alci stoves were sold to be used on small ships. The Optimus 111 triple fuel can also run on it. So, spoiled for choice! :D/ :lol:
     
  5. Alcoholic Australia

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    Thanks @Wim. I have no idea why alcohol pressure stoves haven't been more popular, although I know they like a drink. But that should all come out in the wash, depending on the cost of alternative fuels in different parts of the world.

    I've just run the numbers on fuel costs using the cheapest, readily available bulk price for each fuel, assuming from @geeves input that the normal blue kero is not a viable option, from most expensive to cheapest:
    - Shellite: 24c/MJ
    - Low Odour Kerosene: 18c/MJ
    - Alcohol (Methylated Spirits): 16c/MJ
    - Butane: 12c/MJ
    - LPG Propane 8.5kg cylinder: 6.4c/MJ
    - Natural Gas (Town Gas or Reticulated Gas): 3.9c/MJ

    If I could have used the normal blue kero it would have been 12c/MJ. Actually not all that much better than alcohol after all... and alcohol is somewhat renewable by comparison too, which is nice.

    I should have done these calculations earlier and they explain more than a few things but they are not what I wanted to see! Might have to just get an outdoor natural gas stove for the home duties and stick with the Trangia and Coleman stoves I have for occasional use camping... although at that price it might be worth leaning on management for a couple of Trangia 25 duossals.... the efficiency of the wind break in that design would likely compensate for the higher fuel cost over butane at least and my distaste for propane for camping use is strong for some reason.

    Having said that, the premium for the smaller camping bottles of propane (almost twice the price for 3.7kg and worse for going smaller again) eats up the benefit of using propane for camping anyway....
     
  6. Alcoholic Australia

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    By the way, just to round this comparison out, I just ran the numbers on the best "big box store" deal I could find with "camping mix" isobutane / propane canisters and got $1/MJ!

    Wow - that's nuts and backs up my intuitive reaction to these boutique fuels! I recognise their convenience but no thanks - they're not for me....
     
  7. pyro_P Australia

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    MSR Dragonfly owner here (20yr old stove purchased second hand)
    Have fitted a Quitestove cap for the serenity, gives excellent heating & simmer control.
    Have tried Kero, have to put the K jet into the burner, but IMO, it burns better on Shellite.
    my 2 doubloons.

    edit: also have Svea 123, Coleman 400, optimus 8R, but dragonfly is much favourite.
     
  8. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    @Alcoholic You’ve said there are no classic kerosene pressure stoves to be found in your neck of the woods? A lot of fine stoves were made in Australia and tons of Brit and Swedish stoves were imported so I’d not rule out coming across a fixed-leg No.5-type of one or another make as has been mentioned.

    Geeves made a fair point about high-sulphur kero but a classic kero stove probably lapped up the equivalent happily enough without any bother back in the day when fuel wasn’t as refined as now. They’re tough old things and a simple jet pricker is likely to be the only maintenance resource you’d need. True, an old example that’s not already been fettled might need a new filler cap washer and non-return valve ‘pip’. If sold as working, with photo evidence, then not.

    Contemporary wick kero stoves from China are another option and will burn the cheap kero or lamp oil, but wind shielding has to be good. I use wick stoves outdoors and they’re great for simmering the contents of a cast-iron Dutch oven. Tagines, roasted meat joints, bread - perfect combination.

    John
     
  9. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    @Alcoholic

    There are plenty of classic kerosene pressure stoves in Australia, including Australian-made ones. I’ve got a few hundred in the shed if you want one.

    Diggers Kerosene is as pure a kerosene (for stoves and lamps) as you can get in Australia. The alternative is Jet-A1. Jet A-1 is pure kerosene plus anti-freeze. Diggers is Jet-A1 + blue dye.

    Anything sold here as “odourless” kerosene, or “lamp oil” is not suitable for burning in pressure stoves or pressure lamps.

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  10. Alcoholic Australia

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    Thanks for the info gents - much food for thought there.

    @presscall - I may well be looking in the wrong places by the sound of things! I do like the idea of using a classic pressure stove - sounds like that might be the best option for the quick boil and then transfer to the wickie for a simmer? Could be a good combination?

    @Tony Press - thanks for the offer but only if there is something you wouldn't miss of course - I need to get a handle on prices for these things too! Yes the lamp oils I've seen around don't look they would burn in any sort of pressure stove. Can I ask how you source your stoves? I've mainly been checking my local gumtree but should I be looking somewhere else? Do you source globally or nationally or just within your state? Sorry - this is all very new to me, as you can no doubt tell. Do I just have to be patient for when something pops up locally?

    BTW, do you know what it is about the low odour (is that different to "odourless"?) kero that makes it unsuitable? I just thought it had the sulphur taken out, which shouldn't impact on anything? What am I missing?

    Anyway, it's great to know that normal Diggers blue kero is fine in Australia because alternatives are pretty thin on the ground! Sounds like the kiwis must get different stuff. I was getting pretty worried I would have to stick with alcohol stoves but that puts a kero stove or two right back on the agenda...

    Sorry for all the questions and tell me to get lost if some of these things are a stove buyer's trade secrets but thanks again for the info anyway...
     
  11. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    @Alcoholic

    1. I mainly (98%) buy from Australia. My interest is what was sold and used here.

    2. Gumtree is full of “dreamers” that use Google, find a high price, and try to sell shit they know nothing about. There’s an FL6 lamp on Gumtree for $100,000 (true story). The seller tells you to f!ck off if you ask whether the price is a mistake.

    I find most of my stuff on the Bay of Evil or in junk shops and recycle shops at tips.

    3. My views on odourless kerosene come from a long time professional lamp seller who sells the stuff in quantity to hippies and ashrams for wick lamps. He says, “don’t use in pressure gear”.

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  12. Alcoholic Australia

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    Thanks @Tony Press. I'll give that FL6 a miss then! Off I go wading into the bay of evil for old brassies...

    By the way, I'm wondering if reducing the sulphur content of the kero may raise the vaporisation temperature somehow. I have a voice in the back of my head that seems to suggest some memory of that happening with diesel as the sulphur content of that fuel has steadily reduced over time. No idea where to even start looking for info on that though...
     
  13. BradB

    BradB United States Subscriber

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    Find an old Punker alcohol stove on ebay or other auction site. Easy to prime and use, simmers well, heats fairly fast when needed. Safe. Uses your fuel of choice. Available in one or two burner models. Brad
     
  14. Alcoholic Australia

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    Thanks @BradB - I will keep an eye out for one of those too... although I think I was partly keen on kero just because it’s a fuel I hadn’t played with before... being able to use the relatively cheap stuff around here gives me the excuse I was looking for, if you take my meaning!
     
  15. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    @Alcoholic

    Have a good think about what kind of stove you want. If I’ve got something spare along those lines in the shed, you can have it and the bits you need to get it going (if it’s not already going) for a fair price.

    Send me a PM (“Conversation”) if you want to chat.

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  16. Alcoholic Australia

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    @Tony Press - thank you for that kind offer and I will definitely have a good think. I will let everyone know how I get on...