View Full Version : Has anyone used this as a fuel?

2005-09-28, 16:54
Has anyone used this as a fuel?

95% Ethanol + 5% Camphor as a Backpacking Fuel / Rubbing Alcohol

I have found what I think might make excellent camp fuel at my local grocery store / pharmacy. It is rubbing alcohol with the ingredients marked as 95% Ethanol and Camphor as the principle denaturing ingredient. I am not sure if it is 5% Camphor or if there is any water or any other trace ingredients. In its purest chemical form it is a hydrocarbon C10H16O, but since it comes from a tree and not a laboratory it is more likey a combination of this and many other things. My understanding of Camphor is that it has a very strong but not unpleasant smell and that it is poisonous if ingested, but not as bad as some other denaturing ingredients. (Less dead? ) It can be ingested in very very small doses for medicinal purposes (see below), but I would interpret that as safer to handle but still poisonous to ingest. You definitely wouldn't drink it, but it is probably safer for skin contact than most other alcohols, since rubbing alcohol is actually what it is intended for. I am not sure about cleaning deep wounds, but if you dilute it with purified water this would be good first aid for all but the deepest wounds. Camphor originally came from a Camphor Tree, but most camphor today is derived from turpentine, so it will likely have some trace ingredients found in turpentine.

As a camp fuel it is relatively cheap, and untaxed, and available in convenient sizes, and it has alternative household and hiking uses (first aid). It may not be as available as Iso-Heet for thru-hiking, but it might be a better fuel when and where it is available.

I am not sure how it will burn. I haven't tried it yet. I know that Ethanol is a little more difficult than Methanol but higher in BTU. If it is 95% Ethanol and 5% Camphor, which I hope, it should have a very good BTU/pound.

Pure Methanol = CH3OH = 10,000 BTU/pound - Burns easily
Pure Ethanol = C2H5OH = 12,500 BTU/pound - Burns tricky
Pure Propanol = C3H7OH = 14,000 BTU/pound - Burns smokey

Pure Camphor = C10H16O = ??? BTU/pound - probably ~15,000 BTU/pound

95% Ethanol / 5% Camphor = should burn as well as 100% Ethanol.

Camphor the Chemical:
Boiling point: 204C
Melting point: 180C
Sublimes at 20C (goes directly from solid to gas)
Density: 0.99 g/cm3
Solubility in water, g/100 ml at 25C: 0.12
Vapour pressure, Pa at 20C: 27
Relative vapour density (air = 1): 5.24
Relative density of the vapour/air-mixture at 20C (air = 1): 1
Flash point: 66C c.c. ( i.e. can form explosive mixture with air )
Auto-ignition temperature: 466C
Explosive limits, vol% in air: 0.6-3.5

Camphor the Drug (not neccessarily what is derived from turpentine):

2005-09-29, 00:35
i've heard that alcohol with additives smells really bad when burned, and leaves a nasty film of soot, sometimes sticky (guess it depends on the additive) on your pot, and isn't a good sub for plain alcohol.

that said, i've not tried it myself. good luck.

2005-09-29, 14:46
hmmm... may have to look into that... if they're marketing it as rubbing alcohol is should be less toxic than denatured... denatured often has benzene or other additives that can soot up (rather than being denatured with methanol)...

2005-10-01, 14:29
Heet gas line antifreeze. 97 cents per 12 oz bottle at Wal-Mart. Pure Methanol. No smell.

2005-10-02, 05:12
Heet gas line antifreeze. 97 cents per 12 oz bottle at Wal-Mart. Pure Methanol. No smell.

You should look at the ingredients before you buy - years ago I bought some no-name gas line antifreeze (for my car) and it was isopropyl.

I usually just buy denatured from the local hardware store, once you break down cost to amount it's usually about the same as you pay for small bottles, or sometimes less.
-my stove has an attached fuel tank, and I use an old hydrogen peroxide bottle for carrying any extra I might need.

hint: also look under shallac thinner at the hardware store.