Trangia stove and Vango bio-ethanol runaway flames!

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tracker1972

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Jun 21, 2008
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Matlock
Hello! I'm wondering if anyone else has had this problem. I've used meths in the Trangia for years without issue but last time I was rushing for a bottle there was none in the shop, but they did have this bio-ethanol from Vango. Alcohol is alcohol right? Or so I thought and picked it up. I'd used it a couple of times and maybe it was slightly different but not in any way I really registered, well, it registered this time!
After running the stove on full for a while I attempted to use the simmer ring, it didn't work, it really didn't work. In fact the flames were licking all the way up past the entire stove and higher than the windshield I place around my Trangia Mini! When I removed the pan I could clearly see the fuel boiling in the burner so it's no wonder it was a bit... energetic? I have no recollection of this level of eruption with meths!
I've had one conversation online with someone who has experienced the same and as a result has moved on to a different bio-ethanol supplier who may have a subtly different blend and seems to have solved the problem for them. I assume lots of people simply run the Trangia burner on full until they are done and then snuff out, so it may not have caused them issues but as I often cook, for a long period, it may be a problem unique to me. Slow and low hasn't been an issue in the past but as a result of the runaway burning I got through a lot of fuel! It's not the cost that is the issue but the bulk. nearly 400ml of fuel for two meals and a coffee! Never did that much with meths.
 

Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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I presume you were using the liquid rather than the gel? One tip I have been given is to put a small amount of water about a teaspoon full and mix it with the fuel in the burner. I've never tried this as I now use the gel which is less smelly and won't spill. This apparently prolongs burn time and makes it burn cooler. Try it but I can't guarantee it will work as I say as I used normal meths which is a lot cheaper untill I awitched to the gel. Good luck.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I have had problems opposite from you.
Slow burning, yellow, sooty flame, lots of ‘fat’ soot on the bottom and sides of the Trangia pots.
I used a brand name Meths from an Norwegian outdoor shop.

You can not use a gel in the Trangia burner, the gel does not get soaked up in the fabric/fibers that are placed inbetween the walls. Only the middle open area will burn.
 

Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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Strange... i swear i made a cuppa on my walk yesterday... strong hallucinations :) You can if you have a trangia gel burner ! Though granted it does not work well in the standard meths burner. It is only a few pounds to buy a gel burner or you can easily make one from a coke can which is what I did to save money and weight.
 

tracker1972

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Jun 21, 2008
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I presume you were using the liquid rather than the gel? One tip I have been given is to put a small amount of water about a teaspoon full and mix it with the fuel in the burner. I've never tried this as I now use the gel which is less smelly and won't spill. This apparently prolongs burn time and makes it burn cooler. Try it but I can't guarantee it will work as I say as I used normal meths which is a lot cheaper untill I awitched to the gel. Good luck.
Yep, was considering a little water just to dilute rather than any soot control, thank you!

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tracker1972

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Jun 21, 2008
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Another suggestion that I've been given (thanks Emma & J Law on YouTube) was to leave the burner in a tray/dish of water to absorb excess heat. As I usea Trangia mini it basically Congress with a mini dish already, so I'm looking forward to that experiment, asking with another brand of bio-ethanol which may have a slightly different formulation. Thanks again Emma & J :)

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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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More likely to avoid alcohol taxes so the ethanol is "denatured" with something very toxic.
Waste industrial solvent, Jet B come to mind.
The methanol is toxic as is. Humans metabolize that to formaldehyde.

Some of our lab processes required a level of purity.
We ran up against all sorts of crap additives.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The additives are nit so toxic, it will only make you to throw up.
The taste alone will do that.

Yes, the Trangia will work, but the gel will not produce any flsmes through those small holes along the rim.

Bio Ethanol - another sales improving BS?

All Ethanol is the same. Be it from fermentation or from Ethane!

I wonder if the Vango bio ethanol also contains other alcohols than Ethanol? One that burns easier?
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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The secret is what solvent is used to denature the ethanol.
It could be crap washings from cleaning printed circuit board flux.
It is unreasonable to believe the labels on cans of denatured fuel ethanols.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
I used but don't own a Trangia set.
And because I usually only cook over wood or gas I read about spiritus burners from time to time, because I know that this is a lightweight option compared with a gas set up.
But where I can't light a fire, it isn't allowed to use spiritus burners, so I am every thing else than an expert.

But:

This burner is optimised for normal Swedish spiritus.

If I use another fuel, I get of course another result.

The supermarkets sell this Bio ethanol for cleaning the house, and that will probably work well.
It isn't made to burn well in a Trangia.

In forums of the ultra light trekking community that question fills miles of threads. But my impression is, that it's simply the wrong stuff!

If the supermarket doesn't offer it, go to another one or buy on a hike the expensive stuff in the pharmacie!

But as I wrote: I usually cook over wood fire or gas. In this point I have as good as no experiences.
 
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Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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But why does the modern Norwegian alco burner stuff not work properly in mine Swedish Trangia ( vintage mid to late 1970’
and the Vango bio alcohol not in OP’s stove?

All commercial alcohols should work, be it pure Ethanol, denat Erhanol, Pure Methanol, denat Meth. and mixes?

A hot fast burn indicates a low flashpoint, correct?

I have used my Trangia, and the Optimus, ( same stuff, different Swedish factories) from Arctic Swedish winter to a hot Caribbean summer.
 

tracker1972

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Jun 21, 2008
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Matlock
I've been using EkoFuel bioethanol in my trangia and not had this problem. So maybe change the brand?
EkoFuel was the stuff I was recommended. The fact that I had it pretty closed down with a wind shield may have trapped more heat as well. A less l likely problem with the full sized Trangia kits I'm also guessing.

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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Never believe that the list on the fuel can is actually what's in the fuel can.
We ran our ethanol(?) through a gas chromatograph to see what was really mixed in it.
Epoxy propane, all kinds of crap. Every order was different.
They are liars.
 
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tracker1972

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Jun 21, 2008
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...The supermarkets sell this Bio ethanol for cleaning the house, and that will probably work well.
It isn't made to burn well in a Trangia...
However Vango sell thisa suitable fuel for spirit burners, not as a household cleaner. So an expectation of reasonable performance is, reasonable.

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Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
Most trekking equipment on the market can't be used for trekking. Why should stove fuel work with the most iconic spiritus stove in the world?
It's important that you buy it, not that you are satisfied!

Janne, like Austrians can't make proper Fischbrötchen, also Norway isn't the better Sweden in every point.
I read several times, that the Norwegian fuel doesn't work with the Swedish burner.

But I have to tell you, that I was in school so good in every faculty, that I could allow myself to sleep in the chemical lessons.

I guess @Robson Valley has the necessary knowledge to explane the differences.

I just know, that my gas burner works well in the French summer, where it is the only thing that's allowed on camping grounds.
And everywhere else I stick with wood fires, because that always works pretty well and is the lightest option. Homo Semi Sapiens Semi Neanderthalensis, you know?
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Larger trangia we use copes well with vango bioethanol. Even with the simmer ring. No issues like you describe.

We started off with meths (left in the burner from last trip) then topped up with vango stuff several times. It was clear liquid by the time we did it last day's cooking so only vango burning.

Personally I didn't like the mini trangia. IMHO it's no good without a separate windshield which defeats the point somehow. I used it for one trip then fortunately I had packed my gas burner which took over cooking duties mid trip.

BTW mine was a mini trangia clone. Actually better made than the original that a mate had for the same trip. I've noticed trangia of late aren't rolling the pot edges over enough. If you're unlucky you'll cut your fingers on the pot lip. That was the issue with the original mini trangia my mate had The clone I had was finished a lot better. I also initially refused to get a larger trangia for family trips 5 years ago because my partners smaller trangia had caused a few cut fingers. Trust me they're nasty little cuts that take a long time to heal and weal up badly.

Anyway I digress. I'm certainly happy to use proper meths or vango stuff. IMHO it doesn't seem to burn any different in the larger trangia. Perhaps change your meths burner? Trangia triangle or go for some other system like a caldera cone?
 

stevec

Full Member
Oct 30, 2003
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Sheffield
there are many different allowed recipes for denatured alcohol (meths) one or more will use the addition of methanol to ethanol in order to make it unfit for consumption (up to about 5% if memory serves) some "meths" has isopropanol as the denatureant. allow that in the UK it is very unlikely that you will ever use methanol to cook on, it is more common in the USA for the long distance trails where people use HEET from petrol stations.
most of the bio-ethanol suppliers are quite cagey with their own particular recipe.
as to the thermal run-away, you could add some vents at the bottom of the windshield, the full size trangia has quite a bit of ventilation round that base i think?

have you seen the stuff that gary at speedster stoves makes? you could try one of those (3 main sizes, 50ml, 30ml and 20ml) they are very light especially cf. the trangia and are spill proof as long as you don't over fill them.