The Trangia Alcohol Stove

Here is an article from C.E. Harris on alcohol stoves.

Trangia Alcohol Stove

Howard

Another viable option is the military surplus Trangia burner which is made in Sweden and also used by several NATO militaries. I have used one for over 25 years since I was first introduced by the ski patrol when I lived in New Hampshire. It is inexpensive, reliable, compact, and suitable for year-round use as a backpacker stove. It is as small, rugged and simple as a stove can get.

While it is true that alcohol does not have the heat output of gas, comparing fuel volume, and burner weight, cooking / boil times are very reasonable. I use my Trangia mostly for boiling water to heat and hydrate Mountain House or US military cold weather rations or alternately to heat my 1.5L Hawkins pressure cooker, which is another great piece of backpacking kit, worthy of an article itself.

The Trangia is favored by special operation troops because it produces little smoke or light, is absolutely silent in operation and weighs next to nothing. Alcohol spills evaporate without leaving any residual smell. I find that the lower heat output of alcohol is actually an advantage, because it results in less burned food.

While it is true that alcohol is several times more expensive (about $8 per gallon at the hardware store) than white gas, suitable fuel is available just about everywhere. Boil times are longer in windy conditions if you try to use the burner without a wind screen. At first you may have difficulty predicting how much fuel to put into the stove, balancing between fuel waste and early flame-out. Use of the windscreen is highly recommended, because it saves fuel and also reduces cooking time. Military units come with an O-ring cap, which permits fuel to be transported in the stove. Using a simmer top also helps to extinguish or regulate the flame. Appropriate care is necessary, because burning alcohol may spill, if accidentally knocked over, but the Trangia is generally stable.

To improve winter ignition, carry the burner and its fuel bottle in your parka pocket, so your stove will be kept above freezing and then will light instantly. In below freezing conditions the stove cooks more slowly, but a useful trick is to use the lid as an pre-heating burner by first removing its O-ring, then lighting an eye dropper full of fuel in it, placing it under the lit burner, to preheat the fuel. This yields impressive results quickly, but for safety sake, do so only outside the tent!!

The directions say to dilute the methanol fuel with 10% water to reduce soot. I’ve never done this, because higher proof alcohol produces more heat. If you rub some liquid soap on the pan bottom, any soot cleans off easily. Another tip is to light the stove from a wooden splint dipped in the pool of alcohol, holding the flame over the pool of fuel, until it vaporizes enough to ignite. This is more effective than trying to light pooled fuel directly with a match so that preheating is unnecessary, even in subzero weather. On snow, use pot supports, resting the burner on a piece of plywood glued to a piece of insulating foam. Use another insulated support to rest set your pot on, so that it does not sink into the snow.

Never screw the cap onto a hot stove, but always wait until the burner cools, to avoid damage to the O-ring seal. A bit of silicone grease on the O-ring and threads helps sealing and eases assembly and disassembly. Best part of the Trangia is that you won’t ever need a wrench or spare parts kit. It is truly the “AK47 of backpacking stoves.”

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6 Responses to The Trangia Alcohol Stove

  1. Dear Mr. Howard Godfrey and your readers,

    Where can I get three or four of these stoves?

    Thanks in advance.

    Sincerely, SYK

    • Mika says:

      You can find Tragia stoves and burners from Amazon. It’s truly awesome stove. Me and my wife use it on camping trips and we also bring it for longer hiking trips to cook food or to boil water for freeze dried food.

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  3. Peter says:

    I have owned a Trangia model 27 for 40 Years now and I use it every year when skiing,mountaineering and hiking. It has never failed. The simplicity of the stove is the winning concept. Almoust all swedes have one at home just in case there is a longer elecricity fault. The only thing You have to think about is not to refill the burner when it is still hot.

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    Now this blog is definitely one of the best I’ve come across so far. I really enjoyed perusing this and I hope to discover many more blogposts that are just as interesting.

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