Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gear: Supercat Homemade Alcohol Stove

We have acquired many backpacking stoves over our long life, but one of our favorites is our homemade Supercat alcohol stove. We like the Supercat alcohol stove because its among the lightest at 1 ounce, one of the simplest as its one piece with no parts, and it is effective in boiling water in about four minutes. Anyone can make a Supercat stove in about 15 minutes or less! Its the easiest homemade alcohol stove one can make and a popular project among backpackers.

Making a Supercat Alcohol Stove

Here's a YouTube video we like that describes how to make a homemade Supercat aka "Fancy Feast" alcohol stove:

Using a Supercat Alcohol Stove

Using a homemade Supercat alcohol stove is even easier than making one, but is not without a few warnings. We are setting fire to a liquid fuel in an open container punched full of holes.

1. Set your alcohol stove on a flat level surface, such as a picnic table, rock, or hard dirt surface. When using on a wood surface like a picnic table, its good trail etiquette to first place a piece of aluminum foil beneath the stove to reflect heat away from the wood. We carry a small round piece inside all our pots and cups that we use with our Supercat stoves.

2. Pour a small amount of alcohol inside the stove. For your first few times, don't agonize over how much fuel to use. Right now you just want to master the basics of how alcohol stoves operate. Don't fret if you spill a bit of alcohol over the side of the stove as you have just "primed" your stove for lighting.

3. Light your stove with a match or lighter. Hold a lit match or lighter near the holes of the stove or near the spilt fuel. The Supercat will likely ignite. Note there is little color in an alcohol flame and more than one cook has been singed by a lit alcohol stove. You can mix a small amount of salt into your alcohol fuel which will generate a visible flame.

4. Watch for the alcohol to begin boiling. After about 15-20 seconds, you should hear a change in the burning fuel and note small bubbles in the bottom of the stove. Congratulations! Its time to boil or cook something.

5. Slide your pot or cup down onto the stove. Slowly place your cook pot onto the Supercat stove. Covering the opening of the stove should cause the flame to jet out the small holes you punched into your can.

That's it in a nutshell! Your homemade alcohol stove will burn until it runs out of fuel. Don't be in a hurry to grab your alcohol stove after it goes out. The entire can will be very hot. Wait a minute or two and everything will be cold enough to pack up.

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