Using bio ethanol in an enclosed space

  • Hey Guest, We're having our annual Winter Moot and we'd love you to come. PLEASE LOOK HERE to secure your place and get more information.
    For forum threads CLICK HERE

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
My trusty old Super Bleuet having finally broken down irretrievably, i've been looking around for a replacement. I fancy using an alcohol stove (i've got a couple) but it is principally to use in the lorry cab when i brew myself a cuppa while i'm waiting to load and the warnings about fumes from using meths in an enclosed space have always put me off as i don't fancy a headache on a daily basis. I've done a lot of searches and there's lot of info on the net that seems to suggest that bio ethanol is non toxic and safe to use inside without too much ventilation being required and so it would seem to be a good fuel to use. It would only be for 10 minutes or so at a time while i have a brew. So - bio ethanol in an enclosed space - yay or nay? Ok or not ok? Any advice would be appreciated.
 

Adze

Native
Oct 9, 2009
1,874
0
Cumbria
www.adamhughes.net
Any combustion in an enclosed space is potentially risky - it's CO that's the problem not nasties from the combusted material (ok burning paint might be worse than meths for that but you get the drift)

If you've got it vented properly, then why not? FWIW most of meths is exactly the same 'bio ethanol' as more or less any ethanol that's not synthesized from crude oil derivatives.
 

Alan 13~7

Settler
Oct 2, 2014
572
5
Prestwick, Scotland
I use bio from B&Q
B&Q Bio- Ethanol For Trangia stoves https://www.flickr.com/photos/53502716@N06/,
primarily designed for use indoors in decorative fires... Ergo supposedly YAY OK I've used it indoors in my trangia burner with a little ventilation & no ill affects & no nasty after smells, where as with meths indoors it stank & left the place hoatchin long after. Ive even baked bread in the kitchen on top of the kitchen sink drainer using Bio so I personalty don't have any issues using Bio ethanol in doors or in confined spaces. I use it for a brew in the caravan regularly just ventalate & make sure everything is protected against scorching it burns just a little hotter than meths least wise the B&Q stuff does... so with windows open an inch or two To ventilate give it a try...
 
Last edited:

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
Thanks for the replies. I've usually got the window open a tad to stop the windows steaming up too much & hadn't given much thought to the co2 level. Funnily enough I quite like the smell of meths which I put down to using a toy steam engine as a kid which was heated by a little meths burner, but after reading some stuff on the internet I started to have misgivings about using it on a regular basis inside. I'll give ethanol a go, it's not too expensive & the camping shop next to the depot stocks plenty of it. Cheers.
 

Adze

Native
Oct 9, 2009
1,874
0
Cumbria
www.adamhughes.net
It's the partial carbon combustion CO (Carbon monoxide) not complete combustion CO2 (Carbon dioxide) level which is the real killer.

CO2 is toxic, or our bodies wouldn't need to excrete it - CO is WILDLY toxic by comparison though - for about £15 you can get a CO meter and alarm which you could (should!) keep in the cab if you're using an open flame.

Be safe, not an insurance statistic.
 

Alan 13~7

Settler
Oct 2, 2014
572
5
Prestwick, Scotland
+
I for about £15 you can get a CO meter and alarm which you could (should!) keep in the cab if you're using an open flame.

Be safe, not an insurance statistic.

+1 Good call! I never thought to factor these in to the equation, mine never went off after an hour of indoor B&Q bio cooking/burning I do have pre back boiler ventilation
as well as having opened the windows throughout the process & I also have one in the caravan sort of forgot it was there TBH,,,
 
Last edited:

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,468
2,212
McBride, BC
Carbon Monoxide sticks to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Kinda permanent. Your rbc's cannot carry oxygen any more. You go to sleep then die.
CM is a combustion product of FIRE of any kind. Crack a window.
I've got a 1-burner butane cartridge stove to boil a cuppa in no time. I like air & oxygen. Can't be too careful.
 

Andy BB

Full Member
Apr 19, 2010
3,290
0
Hampshire
Not strictly true. Yes, CO attaches to haemoglobin (carboxyhaemoglobin), but is not cumulative as red blood cells are replaced by the body on a regular basis, and more so when oxygen levels in the body start to decrease. Otherwise smokers would die in about a week!

However, it is very nasty stuff, and too much in a confined space will kill you. so yes, ventilation is the key.
 

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
I think I've got the hang of it. To say that bio ethanol is safe and non-toxic may be somewhat misleading as while it may well be less toxic in itself than, say, methanol, it still produces carbon dioxide & carbon monoxide when it burns and is therefore potentially dangerous in an enclosed space. Thanks for the replies. Cheers.
 

Nohoval_Turrets

Full Member
Sep 28, 2004
348
10
50
Ireland
This page has good information on how biofuels burn. CO is the big concern of course, but it's not the only one:

The inefficient combustion of alcohol produces carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, and other toxic chemicals.

Lovely. While Methanol is more toxic, it does burn cleaner with a blue flame. All the other alcohols burn with various degrees of yellowness and produce soot.

I don't think any of this is a concern so long as you ventilate properly.
 

Andy BB

Full Member
Apr 19, 2010
3,290
0
Hampshire
To be host, I've never noticed any difference in flame colour or practical heat output between meths/bioethanol and methanol.
 

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
This page has good information on how biofuels burn. CO is the big concern of course, but it's not the only one:



Lovely. While Methanol is more toxic, it does burn cleaner with a blue flame. All the other alcohols burn with various degrees of yellowness and produce soot.

I don't think any of this is a concern so long as you ventilate properly.

Interesting article.

The problem with methanol for me is that i'm pretty clumsy and at some point or other i'm bound to spill some, probably over myself and the seat i'm sitting on and methanol is pretty nasty stuff to be getting on your skin.
 

Nohoval_Turrets

Full Member
Sep 28, 2004
348
10
50
Ireland
bivouac said:
The problem with methanol for me is that i'm pretty clumsy and at some point or other i'm bound to spill some, probably over myself and the seat i'm sitting on and methanol is pretty nasty stuff to be getting on your skin.

That's my thinking too. So I'm willing to accept the slightly dirtier burn. But really, any alcohol fuel is FINE so long as you crack a window - or better yet two to get a cross-draught.

mrcharly said:
Surely the canonical answer to this requirement is a jetboil or similar

This stuff about CO and other nasties applies to any stove that burns a hydrocarbon, even a jetboil type. No fuel burns completely clean. Crack a window.
 

Hultafors Outdoor knife for Sale

We have a a number of Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteels for sale.

You can see more details here in this thread OUTDOOR KNIVES The price is £27 posted to the UK. Pay via the paypal button below.