Choosing the Right Fuel for Your Alcohol Stove


By law, ethanol is subject to considerable taxes and restrictions on sale unless denatured (rendered undrinkable) by adding solvents or other unpalatable ingredients. The list of ingredients used for denaturing is long and contains many toxic solvents, including acetone, benzaldehyde, n-butyl alcohol, methyl isobutyl ketone, and gasoline. It’s no surprise then that the denatured alcohol that we buy in the paint department to burn in our alcohol stove stinks and sometimes burns with an odor; it’s formulated as a solvent, not as a fuel. These denatured alcohol blends can contain as little as 50-percent ethanol, with the balance most often being methanol.

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Drew Frye
Drew Frye, Practical Sailor’s technical editor, has used his background in chemistry and engineering to help guide Practical Sailor toward some of the most important topics covered during the past 10 years. His in-depth reporting on everything from anchors to safety tethers to fuel additives have netted multiple awards from Boating Writers International. With more than three decades of experience as a refinery engineer and a sailor, he has a knack for discovering money-saving “home-brew” products or “hacks” that make boating affordable for almost anyone. He has conducted dozens of tests for Practical Sailor and published over 200 articles on sailing equipment. His rigorous testing has prompted the improvement and introduction of several marine products that might not exist without his input. His book “Rigging Modern Anchors” has won wide praise for introducing the use of modern materials and novel techniques to solve an array of anchoring challenges.