I like messing around with the different types of camping stoves out there. One that I picked up a couple years ago was an alcohol stove called the Gram Weenie Pro (no longer in production). If you pay attention to the ultralight backpacking community, alcohol stoves are pretty popular. If decreasing weight is your primary goal then it is extremely easy to see why these tiny alcohol stoves are popular. My gram weenie weighs 1.2 oz with the windscreen, and 0.5 oz without. Compare that one of my favorites the Pocket Rocket which is 3.0 oz with no windscreen.
There are loads of tutorials out there on how to build a basic alcohol stove out of a pop can. Many of the small time manufacturers of these stoves use other re-purposed items. I believe the guy that used to make the Gram Weenies used those aluminum Budweiser bottles to fabricate the stoves. I haven’t made my own yet, but that does some like a fun Saturday project at some point.
Overall, I would say I am not a huge fan of alcohol stoves for practical use. They are fun to mess around with, and many cost less than $15 to buy. Here are some of issues I ran into with mine:
- Impossible to light in the wind. The stove has to prime itself (heat up) before the liquid gasifies and starts coming out of the jets. If it is windy it will go out before the stove is primed.
- If you add too little fuel in the beginning, there is no way to add more without risking setting your shirt on fire. Even once it runs out of fuel it is still quite dangerous to add new fuel to the hot stove.
- Long water boil times. No worries though, you can borrow some hot water for coffee from your buddy since his stove will likely beat your’s to a boil in a half or a third of the time.
- Fuel bottle leakage. Most of the small plastic bottles people use with these stoves will leak if any pressure is applied to the closed container. The best I’ve found so far is a bottle that used to contain Camp Soap (see photo).
- You cannot see or hear the stove when you are outdoors. Generally, the only way to see if it is still running is to slowly lower the back of your hand above the stove to check for heat.
Was it worth $15? Sure. Do I use one on a regular basis? No.