Alcohol is a good alternative to LPG. It is a simple stand alone system, without high-pressure lines, sniffers or tanks
A non-pressurized alcohol stove performs just as well as LPG. The Origo stove model has either one, or two canisters, that each accommodate 1.2 L of fuel. Each canister lasts 1 week of regular usage, this includes 3 meals a day, plus coffee and tea in evenings. Marine alcohol stoves have fuel cannisters filled with an absorbent material to prevent spillage, an important safety feature if cooking whilst sailing.
Fully filled but never used, an alcohol stove canister will dry from evaporation in two or three months.
There are four common types of stove alcohol: denatured alcohol, ethanol, isopropanol and methanol.
They're found in hardware stores (sometimes), marine, RV and camping stores. For an alcohol stove to burn cleanly, you need the fuel to be at 90% purity(180 proof), or better. All the stove manufacturer means is that the water content of the fuel should be as low as conveniently possible (below 10%).
Denatured alcohol. Basically ethanol(high-proof alcohol) with additives (10-50% isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, or methyl isobutyl ketone), made to taste bad to discourage people from drinking it.
Other names: methylated spirits, meths, denatured rectified spirit or bio-ethanol.
Ethanol. A high-proof alcohol fuel which can be distilled from a wide variety of biomass feedstock. It is the next best thing, but is often more expensive, and heavily taxed. It burns cleanly, the flame is colorless (be careful) and it is non-toxic.
Other names: ethyl alcohol, ethyl hydrate, grain alcohol or drinking alcohol.
Isopropanol. Is sold with different levels of purity (70%, 95%, 99% etc), with water added. It is toxic if consumed, it burns with hot flame, the flame is odorless but it leaves dirty residue(stains pots, and can clog burners).
Other names: isopropyl alcohol, propan-2-ol, 2-propanol, IPA and rubbing alcohol.
Methanol. Was once produced by the destructive distillation of wood, but is now mainly produced industrially by hydrogenation of carbon monoxide. It is often added to denatured alcohol to render it undrinkable. It burns cleanly, it has the coolest flame, the flame is colorless and is VERY toxic if ingested. Methanol is absorbed through the skin, stomach, or lungs and much of it becomes formaldehyde in the body, which changes to formic acid in the liver. Formic acid can cause death or damage to the brain or optic nerve leading to blindness.
Other names: methyl hydrate, wood alcohol or carbinol).
Alcohol Stove Instructions:
- Do not fill when hot.
- Do not fill while operating.
- Do not overfill.
- Re-fill away from stove.
- Use a small bottle, with a narrow spout to re-fill fuel. Or one with a safety nozzle.
- Store in closed containers, mainly due to the combustible nature of the ethanol vapour-air mix at certain concentrations, but also due to the possibility of evaporation.
We found an Origo Stove for cheap in 2020 with plans to switch away from lpg if we enjoyed the experience, but we found that denatured alcohol was very hard and expensive to get in Canada. Not just this, most denatured alcohol was 50% ethanol (or less) with the remainder being made up of methanol and other burnable chemicals such as MEK and acetone, resulting it a less-than-deal burn. The only available option was methyl hydrate(methanol), and we didn't like the idea of handling this poison.
It didn't work for us, but this does not mean it isn't a good option. If you have access to affordable and good quality denatured alcohol(also known as methylated spirits), cooking with alcohol is great.