When you go camping having a light and portable space heater on hand is valuable. They are easy to use, produce lots of heat and fill in quite well when your other heaters do not work. These heaters use alcohol and not gas making them very safe for indoor use.
One option you can turn to when you are out of other heat sources is the Dometic Origo heat pal 5100. This non-pressurized heater uses denatured alcohol as a fuel source and burns cleanly. Plus, it only weighs 5 pounds making it easy to pack wherever you go.
To learn more about alcohol-based heaters, just continue to read our article. It gives you the information you need so you can find the right heater for your camping situation. Alcohol does not burn as hot as other fuels but it will take the chill out of the air.
When you want an alternative heat source, especially for small places, you can choose to go with an alcohol burner. Not only do these heaters burn cleanly, but they are also safe to use indoors. The alcohol produces very little soot as well.
The best alcohol to use is denatured alcohol. This is not that expensive and if you seal the container properly, you can store it for a long period. Its shelf life depends on the type of container you use for storage.
You will want to stay away from isopropyl alcohol as when it burns it lets off a very bad odor. Plus, it gives off dirty yellow soot that will get all over your things and the interior of your tent or camper.
What makes this alcohol option attractive is that it is the cheapest of all alcohol options you can choose from.
This is a good option to use when your regular heater goes out in the middle of the night and you want to get the chill out of the air before starting your more powerful heaters. Usually, indoor alcohol heaters will burn 2 ounces of fuel in about 15 minutes.
That time frame will depend on the type of alcohol you use. Then when you do not need the heater any longer, all you have to do is place the cap over the flame to put it out.
Be careful though, as it is hard to see the flame at times. Many flames from alcohol burners are invisible or clear. Let the heater cool down after placing the cap over it. You don't want to burn your fingers while tightening the cap.
These burners are not that expensive and come in very handy when you are in an emergency.
1. Esbit 5-Piece Lightweight Cooking Set -- see it here
This burner and cooking set comes with a brass burner. It is easy to clean and comes with a low fuel indicator. That indicator lets you know when you need to add more denature alcohol.
Made from aluminum, this 15-ounce set is easy to pack and carry. All the pieces fit together nicely making sure you don't lose any vital parts while traveling.
2. Trangia Spirit Burner- see it here
This 4-ounce model is supposed to be the gold standard for all alcohol burners. It is small, compact, and has a simmer option allowing you to turn the heat down. Then it is possible to store your fuel inside this burner without spilling any of it as you move about.
The biggest drawback is that it needs a stand. That stand is not included in your purchase price and you will have to pay an additional amount of money to get it.
3. REDCAMP Mini Alcohol Stove- see it here
Also made from brass, this heater/cooker will burn for about 50 minutes using 100ml of alcohol. Its aluminum alloy stand is strong enough to hold a pot large enough to boil some water.
Plus, it comes with its own carrying bag to make packing easier. The 5-ounce weight will not weigh you down as you hike.
4. Whitebox-- see it here
This heater’s claim to fame is that it is made from recycled materials. On top of that, it has a side flame that really produces the heat. You should be able to boil water quicker than other heaters while heating up your tent at the same time.
It's a pressurized alcohol heater that works best with wider pots and pans. There is a bit of a risk that the flames will catch nearby flammable objects and start a little fire.
5. Vargo Decagon Alcohol Stove-- see it here
Simplicity is best and this is a very simple heater to use. Plus, its titanium construction material makes it a very strong, hard-to-break heater. Even with that strength, the heater only weighs approx. 8 ounces
Its large center hole makes filling and lighting very easy to do. The flames come out the side so be careful.
6. Vargo Triad-- see it here
Another simple design that is also very practical. The burner and stand are an all-in-one design. The center hole makes it easy to light and the flame comes out of the little holes on the top.
Then the stand keeps everything stable and balances the pot on top in the same manner. The 1-ounce weight means you will not feel its presence in your backpack.
7. Solo Stove Alcohol Burner-- see it here
This little heater/cooker is ideal for first-time users. The twist-on cap has an O ring to prevent evaporation, as well as a pull top to adjust and control your flame. With a medium setting and full tank, you get about 25 minutes of burn time.
Then its compact size means you will always have room for this 3 1/2 ounce burner.
8. Evernew-- see it here
The dual flame system makes this a very hot heater to use. Those double flame outlets give you a very strong and stable flame so you can get warm quickly or boil water even faster.
The drawback to this just over 1-ounce heater is that there is no screw-on lid. You have to empty the tank and let it cool down before packing it up.
Making your own little alcohol heater just takes a little skill, a little time, the right tools, and materials. One simple design calls for using 2 16 ounce aluminum soft drink bottles, a penny, marker, epoxy, metal mesh, and a jar lid.
The first step is to cut the cans to make the stove. You can use a variety of methods to do this step. The next step once you get the stove to size is to mark where you want your holes for the flame.
You may need to make a template for this just to keep the holes at an even distance apart. Then take a penny and draw a circle around it. mark 4 holes on the circle with a 5th larger one inside the circle.
Once that is done, drill the holes. The center hole should be drilled at 3/16ths size while all the flame holes should be drilled at 1/16th of an inch size. After that take the second can and create your stove’s base.
If you want to make a snuffer, use a larger 24-ounce bottle. Now that the stove is ready, take some fiberglass insulation and cut off a small square. Don’t make it too large and do not make it too small.
Once you have the square, insert it into the base of the stove. This will act as the wick for your fuel. At this point, you can assemble your stove. To make the stand, take the wire mesh and cut off enough length to wrap around the stove.
Cut off any excess wire but leave two pieces extended over one side. Bend those two pieces to form a hook. Those hooks will hold the two sides of the mesh together and form a circle. And you are done.
The answer is with a little common sense and a little ingenuity. It is not hard to make an alcohol burner as even the store-bought ones are very simple in design. All you need is a place to put the fuel, a few holes for the flame to come out and that is about it.
You will also want to have a little lid holding the fuel tank to keep any alcohol or flames from spreading to other areas. Plus, you will want a little fiberglass insulation to act as a wick.
Then some people take a little chicken wire to circle around the heater. This chicken wire will hold your pot so you can have some coffee in the morning. With the right tools and components, it mostly takes a little time to make your own little alcohol heater.
It is best to go with denature alcohol although other alcohol options will provide you with enough heat to get going.
You have several different types of alcohol sources you can use. The one you pick will depend on the budget you have as you will need a lot of alcohol if you are going to use the heater a lot.
The first choice you have is denatured alcohol. it is the best of them all as it does burn clean and it is very safe to use inside closed spaces. This option costs about 16 cents per ounce making it affordable
Next, there is safeheat or Sterno. This alcohol comes in a can already and all you have to do is light it to get some heat. Its drawback is that it doesn't cook as hot as other options. Its cost is about 17 cents per ounce.
Number three is ethanol or Everclear. Its cost is really out most camper’s reach as you will have to pay about 96 cents per ounce. But it burns nice and hot and makes for a nice heating and cooking fuel.
Finally, there is isopropyl alcohol and it is the cheapest of all alcohol options. You will only pay 8 cents per ounce but you get what you pay for. The best version is the kind that has a high amount of alcohol in it. 91% is better than 70%.
This will depend on the version of alcohol fuel you buy. For example, the cheapest of all is also the dirtiest of them all. Isopropyl alcohol does not burn clean and produces a dirty yellow soot that can land just about anywhere. It also produces a foul odor.
The other three alcohol options are all said to burn cleanly, leave no soot lying around, and don't produce any foul odors. If you can afford it, the ethanol burns the hottest and has a blue flame.
The canned alcohol has a long shelf life if stored correctly. You can pick them up in bulk and use them as you need them. The thing to be wary of with this option is that not all canned alcohol is safe for indoor use. Read the labels to make sure.
Alcohol heaters are great for emergencies and when you want to boil water fast. They are lightweight, fairly inexpensive, and very easy to use. The key will be in picking the right alcohol to use as your fuel.
The good news is that there are many different models for you to choose from. That is if you do not decide to build your own.