I have heard that alcohol stoves struggle in cold weather. Is that true?

Actually, alcohol stoves do work just as well in cold weather once you get them started. It just takes some understanding about how alcohol stoves work to get them going. Denatured alcohol has to physically get hot in order catch fire, where other types of fuel simply have to be exposed to flame to ignite. Here are some tips for successful cold weather ignition of an alcohol stove:

  • Use a primer pan for faster, safer lighting. Not only will it prevent you from putting yourself in a compromising position to light your stove, it also heats the alcohol and stove much faster.
  • Use a wind screen to reflect heat back toward the stove.
  • In cold weather, wait to place your pot on top of the stove until after the stove has bloomed. This way the cool metal from your pot won’t interfere with the stove coming to temp. Be careful, the initial flame is a little bigger for a few seconds until the stove settles in.
  • Put your stove under your shirt for a couple of minutes to warm the metal up a bit before igniting.
  • Keep your alcohol warm by sleeping with your fuel bottle at night (make sure you have a quality, leak free fuel bottle with the lid secured tightly – – of course).
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