The Worlds Lightest Alcohol Stove!


These days most ultralight backpackers have decided to go to either alcohol, solid fuel such as hexamine or Esbit® fuel, or isobutene. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages.


Isobutene stoves require you to carry a canister that weighs about 3 - 7 ounces empty plus the weight of the stove which can be from about 2.5 - 5 ounces. Isobutene has more BTUs per ounce than alcohol and can achieve a boil faster than alcohol or hexamine. But the stoves do not perform as well when the canister is low on fuel or the temperature is very low, then you may not be able to achieve boil for a long time if at all. Canister stove fuel can only be purchased at an outfitter or store that carries camping gear. The cost for each boil can be anywhere from 20¢ to 40¢ for a pint of hot water.

Solid Fuel

Hexamine fuel has plenty of BTUs and doesn't even really require a stove, simply a stand for the pot and a good windscreen. A half ounce block of hexamine will boil a pint of water, but it costs about 50¢ per pint of water boiled. Plus hexamine can smell like dead fish, a bad smell to get into your pack!



Alcohol is available in various forms such as denatured alcohol, fuel line de-icer, or drinking alcohol. The purer the alcohol, the better the burn. Alcohol is available at a number of trail re-supply stores since it has become the fuel of choice for numerous long distance ultralight hikers. It is also available at any store that sells painting supplies as lacquer thinner, stores that sell fuel line additives as gas line dryer and de=icer, and at beverage stores as Everclear hi proof alcohol. Alcohol can be hard to light in cold weather, but if proper precautions are taken it will perform. Sherpas in the Himalayas and mushers in the Iditarod both use alcohol stoves. But not only is the fuel easy to find, it is also cheap. Boiling a pint of water with alcohol can cost anywhere from 5¢ to 14¢ depending on the stove and the price of fuel.

The 7 Day Comparison

As a comparison, I have listed three of the most popular ultralight stoves as a comparison to the Ion Stove: the JetBoil® which is the most fuel efficient of the isobutene stoves, the Trangia® Westwind which is the oldest and most popular of the alcohol stoves, and the Esbit® Wing stove which is the lightest solid fuel stove on the market that I could find.

Each stove is required to boil 2 pints of water a day for a week so the backpacker can have a hot breakfast and dinner.

Ion Stove Esbit® Wing Stove Trangia® Westwind JetBoil®

Note: For the alcohol and solid fuel stoves, these numbers include a 0.9L pot (4.05 ounces/114 grams), a windscreen (0.53 ounces/15 grams), and a cozy (1.2 ounces/34 grams). The alcohol stoves also include a 9 ounce soda bottle (0.8 ounces/23 grams) and a generous +10% for extra fuel for error. The JetBoil® includes a pot/cup and an integrated windscreen and an integrated cozy,



Copyright Ernest Engman and, all rights reserved.The Worlds Lightest Alcohols Stove