Accessories for your Alcohol Stove
Build a Wind Screen
(aka Windshield, Windschutz, Windscreen)
MSR's Solid Heat Reflector with Windscreen
A wind screen serves two purposes. It acts as a radiation shield, reflecting heat back at your stove and pot, and shields your stove against the wind, which can easily blow out many alcohol and gas stoves. Rocks, trees, snow walls, packs (not too close) and trekkers may be used to block some wind, but a properly designed wind screen works so much better. Commercial and DIY aluminum screens should more than make up for their extra weight in fuel savings and decreased cook times.
Note - A tight fitting windscreen around stove mounted over a gas fuel canister or petrol tank can be very dangerous. This can cause overheating and lead to an explosion. There are a few safer options for canister stoves - See Canister Stove Windscreens, Roger Caffin's Wind and Radiation shields, Homemade Canister Stove Windscreen, 2DrX Explorations' windscreen and backpackinglight.com 1179 for more information. See also US Patent 2,448,326
Making your own functional windscreen is pretty easy and should be just about free. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Use dimensions listed in How to Build a Pot Stand if you want just the right sized windscreen. You can also opt to make a more durable windscreen which doubles as a pot support.
Aluminum flashing, a disposable bake pan, heavy duty aluminum foil (folded over on itself 1-4 times for durability or not at all) and sidewalls from beverage cans can work great for a lightweight windscreen.
The flashing and bake pan can be held together by any number of methods mentioned in How to Build a Pot Stand.
Foil can be held together temporality with paperclips or permanently with folds.
Use a hole punch and punch out holes in bottom row or cut out a square section to face away from the wind to allow air to enter the windscreen.
Vent Holes in Bottom
Rand Lindsly of Trail Designs has a "Vari-Vent" windscreen, which is basically a windscreen with a row of "U" shaped cuts instead of round vent holes. This allows you to open and close little doors around the circumference of your windscreen and direct air in or away from the inside of your potstand. Here is Rand's video and Jason Klass' Video Review.
This type of venting may allow you to create a tornado effect within the potstand which may have a positive effect on how air and vaporized fuel is mixed. It may also cause an annoyance for some hikers who are easily annoyed.
Modified pots, tin and metal vents, metal cans, trimmed metal Thermos, and a variety of ornamental metal cups/holders can be used, and may work well with certain applications. See sailfar.net 8658, forum.woodenboat 2585627, spiritburner.com 5821, nonplatonic.com hanging_stove_of_espresso_goodness and mountainbuzz.com 182667
Tom Wood's KiteScreen is an interesting alternative worth looking at. It's basically a sheet of fabric held up by branches.
If you want a windscreen that needs to be so close to your stove that it touches the flames, consider using titanium or stainless shim 0.003" or thinner instead of aluminum. See backpackinglight.com 41557
You can also make a windscreen that's cone shaped to allow it to have enough space away from your stove at the bottom and then come in around a narrow pot at the top. This creates a skirt which concentrates stove heat around the side and bottom of your pot. This is now a very common setup for trekkers across the world, mostly due to Rand Lindsly of Trail Designs. He took this idea and ran with it, creating a company that makes and sells cone shaped windscreens from many popular pots.
See our How to Build a Pot Stand for more information on cone shaped windscreens. Also see picasaweb.google.com Zelfbouw14, picasaweb.google.com Zelfbouw 29 and US Patents 611955, 1,622,587, 1,728,107, 2,797,298, 3,209,746, 5,195,500, 7,703,452, 8,020,550 and others for some cooking skirt ideas.
Casserole Pan Cone Shaped Windscreen
Jason Klass' Belt Buckle Windscreen is a simple collapsible windscreen worth taking a look at.
It is possible to use a larger aluminum can or bottle to cover a narrower can or bottle. This a little ingenuity, these can also double as pot supports.
Tinny at Minibull sells Carbon Felt for use as a Windscreen. This can double as a pot grabber, cozy and material for a rat's nest.
Ortik uses fire resistant fabric as a windshield. This also doubles as a stove hanging system.
Tim Anderson of Bike Switzerland uses a heat resistant cookie sheet.
"I've been adding a layer of heat resistant "cookie sheet" to the inside of reflectix as a windscreen. The cookie sheet is a dark, thin synthetic layer that has a very high heat resistance, which keeps the bubblepack from melting. I've wrapped the sheet up and over the edges and stapled it, leaving it loose in the middle (not in direct contact with the reflectix). Once the stove goes out, the 'windscreen' also serves as a cozy with the lid described below. I use a slow-and-steady Vargo Decagon stove, so the flames rarely reach past the side of the pot.
I've taken two aluminum pie tins (I trimmed off the rolled edge on one), sandwiched some bubble pack between the bottoms, and stapled the edge.
It is a lid for cooking that really holds in the heat, a lid for the cozy and serves as a place to set food during prep. (I wouldn't want to eat in it)."
The JetBoil Helios uses a transparent plastic windscreen.
JetBoil Helios with Plastic Windscreen
If you don't want to go to trouble of building your own windscreen and heat reflector, then MSR, Aaron Rosenbloom from Brasslight and others will be more than happy to take your money and sell you a strip of softened aluminum or something similar. And if you just want to go crazy, you can purchase titanium sheet/foil from sources such as Backpackinglight (0.03mm), Titainium Goat (0.05mm) or Suluk46.
Zen Stoves PotStands - detailed information on windscreen/potstand combinations
backpackinglight.com Stove Windscreen Dynamics and Design: Part 1 Requires membership
backpackinglight.com Stove Windscreen Dynamics and Design: Part 2 Requires membership
The Fire Bucket Stove System
backpackinglight.com 53217 discussion on windscreen with canister stove
Tick's canister stove windscreen
backpackinglight.com 478144 - Windscreen on FireMug Stove
backpackinglight.com 526962 - Windscreen on FireMug Stove
backpackinglight.com 20654 - Windscreens for canister Stoves
backpackinglight.com 45927 - Windscreens for canister Stoves
backpackinglight.com 16675 - Windscreen on canister stove
backpackinglight.com 1179 - Windscreen on canister stove
backpackinglight.com 53110 - pot support on canister stove doubles as windscreen
backpackinglight.com 11852 - Windscreens for canister stoves
backpackinglight.com 179272 Windscreen with flip down feet
backpackinglight.com 495091 - compressible windscreen
backpackinglight.com 194226 - elevated windscreen on tent stakes
backpackinglight.com 7695 - bushbuddy elevated windscreen
hikinggear.de four-dog-stoves-bushcooker-lt-i-der-nahezu-all-in-one-kocher-verbrennt-holz-spiritus-und-esbit-tabs foil windscreen on Four Dog stove
gearlist.outdoorseiten.net 301 Windscreen elevated with extensions and clips
cascadealpinist.com improve-stove-effeciencies-part-ii Insulted platform and square windscreen
sailfar.net 8658 - Hanging Pail
Build a Stove Cozy
If you are hiking and cooking in the bitter cold, your stove will need a bit of help staying warm. There are a number of methods of achieving this. One is to build and insulating jacket around your stove.
Rob Endicott points out:
"Zen seeker, I have learned a trick that you may want to verify and post regarding the open top center wall alcohol stove, but might apply to others as well. I made one such alcohol stove about 5 years ago and was immediately happy. Sadly I often camp in places and times where cold is the condition. My stove failed awfully. Last fall this simple rule occurred to me. That the rate of evaporation and hence flame, is directly proportional to the temperature of the alcohol in the stove. Wave a torch across the the belly of a burning stove and you will see the flames intensify as you do this.
What I did after realizing this was to simply insulate the whole stove (below the burners) by applying a thin layer of fiberglass insulation and wrapping it loosely with metal tape. Basically, cold weather extracts heat from the alcohol making it too cool to evaporate quickly enough and stoves work poorly. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat as well. By insulating you theoretically will be able to keep the alcohol temperature higher. The whole idea is like a "Stove cozy."
I took my stove on a trip this December and was able to get a cup of boiling water in under 10 minutes at 28 degrees F with insulation applied. It's now an any season stove for me."
"I put the insulation right up to the burners. Before I sent you this I did a few tests to make sure I was right about this. It is 35 outside now and 75 in my kitchen. With the cozy it took 30 seconds more to boil a cup of water at 35 than at 75. Without the cozy the little jets won't even catch outside. Once I made this it was sort sort of like a no brainer. Why would you not do this? It's like not insulating your hot water heater and wondering why it uses more power in winter. This open stove design is by far the best as well. Props to the designer. You couldn't insulate a stove that needed priming very easily and this one works without any fiddling from cold tired fingers."
A stove can also be wrapped with other heat resistant material such as fiberglass, carbon felt or Kevlar cord, wick, cloth, tape, etc.
Build a Stove Platform
Winterized Alcohol Stove Test
Snow platforms are also important if cooking on snow and nice to have to insulate against the cold ground. They can be made from an assortment of materials, but aluminum over close cell foam seems to work. See Winterized Alcohol Stove Test.
Mark Jurey's Penny Stove 2.0
A stove can be elevated with part of another can to distance it from the cold ground with or without a platform.
Build a Simmer Accessory
This is nice to have if you need to simmer a special dish for a long time. A more fuel sparing alternative might be to use a pot cozy to keep food at near boiling temperature longer.
The following methods work well with open jet stoves. You may also be able to get a simmer attachment to work on a pressurized jet stove, but it can be difficult as you must find a way to balance having enough heat to keep the stove in operation and not so much as to burn your meal, plus you must be able to do this with different environmental conditions (what works on your stove top, may not work on the trail).
For many stove designs, you may wish to use a system that covers all or your jets (except with pressurized jet stoves). Covering your jets should help decrease the amount of wasted fuel leaking out of your jets and helps to prevent stove fire ups. This can be difficult if you have jets on the side of your stove and isn't completely required for safe simmering. Just make sure that you allow your stove to cool down enough that the jets don't fire up when you relight it with the simmer attachment. If you want to cover your side jets or vents, make sure that the simmer accessory you use doesn't fit too tightly, as you may not be able to remove it. You may also want to polish (SOS pad or metal polish) off the side of your can to remove any browning that might adhere to your simmer attachment. Test out your setup and if it continues to relight to full operation, you may need a smaller opening in your simmer attachment.
To get your simmer accessory to work properly, you may need to put out a hot stove a let it cool for a couple of seconds before relighting it.
Use this template to cut out a piece of aluminum flashing to be riveted to a can bottom with the center section cut out. Make sure that you stretch it out or cut it short enough that it flits nicely without becoming stuck. You can use a rivet (use J-B weld to hold it in place or only partially set the rivet and cut off the exposed rod) or use a small nut and bolt to secure your pivot point.
Instead of cutting out the entire center section and riveting on a pivoting top, just cut out a hole in your can bottom and enlarge to your desired size after experimenting with your stove.
You can get fancy and bolt or rivet a section of a center portion of the can bottom under a cut open bottom of another can.
You can use two can bottoms. Cut out half circles or another shape into the inner depressions of each. These can be stacked and rotated to allow for an adjustable opening size.
The sidewalls of the simmer adapter shown above has been stretched out with a dilator tool to allow it to easily slip over your stove. If you decide to go this route, make sure that you stretch your simmer adapter enough that won't get stuck on your stove.
Form heavy duty aluminum foil or a disposable bake pan over the top of your can and cut out a hole in the top. You can conform it to the top of your stove as shown or just place it on top of your stove and hope it doesn't fall off.
Trailquest's Adjustable Simmer Attachment
Get two 2.25" muffin tins and cut out a half circle on each top. Rotate one on top of the other as needed/desired. This will work for mini stoves made from 5.5oz V8 cans or Red Bull cans.
You can use a can top from your can or a larger one and make it work (you may need to enlarge the hole and/or do some hammering). Most 12oz can tops will fit well on a stove made of 6oz cans.
You can use a small binder clip to secure a strip of sheet metal around sideburner jets or side vents in an open flame stove. If you cut out tabs on the end of your strip to wrap around the binder clip, you will be able to easily adjust the height of the ring - just don't use bare fingers to squeeze the hot metal.
Paolo Adjustable Simmer Tool - Italian Site
A tealight is a simple system that can simmer for many hours and can be used to preheat your stove in the winter.
If you are using a wind screen with a row of holes at its base, you can use a strip of aluminum rolled in a ring to slip over your holes to limit air flow to the stove. Adjusted correctly, you can tune heat output of your stove and simmer away.
Build a Stove Snuffer
This is a nice to have accessory which makes is easier and safer to put out your stove.
Variant of Perry Michael Koussiafes' Stove Snuffer
Can bottoms with or without a nice little handle (Aluminum foil tape used to hold two ends of handle together).
Disposable muffin tins or pot pie pans (you may need to reshape them to fit your stove if you can't find the perfect size).
Amazing things can be created with heavy duty aluminum foil.
A cut down can with a larger diameter than your stove may be used (12oz pop can for a mini 6 oz can stove)
If you have a simmer accessory, this will make blowing out your stove a lot easier (unless you have a side burner stove that may burn out of control).
In an pinch, you can use your pot flipped over to cover a small fireball.
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