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Trangia question - Meths or Ethanol?

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 Tony the Blade 04 Sep 2020

I have recently bought a job lot of used Trangia stoves (63 of them!!!), with it came 5L bottles of both Meths and Ethanol. I've only ever used Meths and have never come across Ethanol use before.

Is it safe to use Ethanol instead of Meths?

If so, can I mix the two? (In the red storage bottles rather than the burners)

Should I use all the Meths first as that's what's in the storage bottles, then move on to the Ethanol.

The Trangia website suggests I can use either, but give no indication of storage etc.

TIA Tony

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In reply to Tony the Blade:

Meths is basically ethanol contaminated by methanol and with other stuff and a dye added to make it undrinkable.  We used to use lab ethanol in our Trangias when we had easy access to it.

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 LastBoyScout 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Tony the Blade:

That's a lot of gas conversion kits to buy ;-)

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 Tony the Blade 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Thanks Dave, so assuming I don't mix the two in the storage bottles I should be ok to use them in the burner.

Cheers

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 Tony the Blade 04 Sep 2020
In reply to LastBoyScout:

The deal also came with 40 gas kits, however I'm saving them for silver and gold students... bronze = meths ;-)

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 LastBoyScout 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Tony the Blade:

> Thanks Dave, so assuming I don't mix the two in the storage bottles I should be ok to use them in the burner.

Pretty sure you can mix them all you like - all you'll do is dilute the methanol (and other additives) in the meths.

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 Tony the Blade 04 Sep 2020
In reply to LastBoyScout:

Even better! VMT

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In reply to Tony the Blade:

Are you sure it's not 'denatured ethanol'?

Pure ethanol is unusual to find, because it is what we commonly call 'alcohol' that we drink (it's the member of the chemical alcohol family with two carbon atoms), and is thus subject to significant duty.

Meths is, as explained above, denatured ethanol. The denaturant can vary; can be methanol, can be MEK, can be other alcohols. Will also include Bitrex to deter drinking.

Your source may have bought it as a chemical reagent, or had access to bioethanol.

The fact that ethanol is booze means you might need to take care with who you give it to, if it isn't denatured; you may end up with drunk DofEs... Provided it really is ethanol, mix away.

Post edited at 12:10
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In reply to captain paranoia:

> Pure ethanol is unusual to find, because it is what we commonly call 'alcohol' that we drink (it's the member of the chemical alcohol family with two carbon atoms), and is thus subject to significant duty.

Unless it's laboratory 'spec eth' (spectroscopically pure ethanol) it's not safe to drink and, unless the duty's been paid, illegal even if it is.

The French use alcool à brûler for stoves, which smells nicer and isn't a funny colour but is just as poisonous (10% methanol).

Post edited at 13:21
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In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Unless it's laboratory 'spec eth' (spectroscopically pure ethanol) it's not safe to drink

I wasnt suggesting he consider drinking it... I was pointing out why ethanol, on its own, tends to be expensive (duty), and therefore unusual to be used as a fuel. Hence asking if it wasnt, in fact, denatured ethanol.

Post edited at 14:12
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In reply to Tony the Blade:

It won't be pure ethanol .  Difficult to get without a home office license .  I know from work.

I suspect that you will have been given meths mixes which will be a mix as stated above of methanol/ethanol so that it cannot be drunk.

The ethanol will also be a mix but maybe a lower proportion. Like industrial denatured alcohol.

Both perfectly mixable..

Pure alcohol is very expensive stuff.

Post edited at 19:21
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 John2 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Many years ago, I went to the pub with the people from work on a Friday lunchtime. On the way back I called into Boots to buy some meths for my Trangia, dressed in the tattered anorak in which I used to climb in those days. I marched up to the counter, smelling of beer and dressed tattily and asked for a bottle of meths. The assistant gave me a pitying look and said, 'I'm sorry, we don't sell meths'.

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In reply to LastBoyScout:

What sort of person would use gas kits when meths burners are so much more fun?

To the OP - if inexperienced people are going to be using them mix the clear fuel with the purple so they don't confuse the clear with water. Also, do a test run with the fuel to see if it burns sootily, if it does you can dilute it with water a little to stop that, although it makes it harder to light in winter.

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 mattyP 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Ive had trouble getting meths on the continent before (I don’t speak Slovenian...) so ended up burning surgical alcohol (which I think was ethanol) in the trangia. 
 

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 elsewhere 04 Sep 2020
In reply to mattyP:

I still remember the word I learnt for buying meths in Greece in 1990.

oinopnevma

οινοπνευμα

Weird the things that sticks for three decades when so much is forgotten.

Post edited at 23:35
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In reply to Tony the Blade:

Once, having found I couldn't get meths for my Trangia in the US, I tried petrol in it. This was not a good idea.

Post edited at 07:45
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In reply to Toerag:

> To the OP - if inexperienced people are going to be using them mix the clear fuel with the purple so they don't confuse the clear with water.  

A friend of mine once confused his water with his meths in an alpine bivi and boiled a pan of meths. This was not a good idea.

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 Swirly 05 Sep 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Are you sure it's not 'denatured ethanol'?

> Pure ethanol is unusual to find, because it is what we commonly call 'alcohol' that we drink (it's the member of the chemical alcohol family with two carbon atoms), and is thus subject to significant duty.

This, the difference in price between 'pure' ethanol and IMS (99% ethanol with 1% methanol added) is astounding (£12 for 100ml vs £7.50 a litre) pretty much entirely down to the duty as the pure ethanol is drinkable* while adding the methanol makes it toxic.

I would doubt the ethanol is pure just on the cost alone.

To the OP, either will work fine as fuel and I wouldn't be worried about mixing them.

* I wouldn't recommend this without diluting also I doubt the substance in question is pure ethanol.

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In reply to Robert Durran:

> A friend of mine once confused his water with his meths in an alpine bivi and boiled a pan of meths. This was not a good idea.

I’ve actually got as far as making tea with a kettle full of boiling meths (the clear French kind).  It was green and curdled the milk.

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 HeMa 06 Sep 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

Nope. Meths contains methanol (single carbon alcohol), and it’s denaturated by by itself. Unfortunately you’ll go blind. 
 

The standard hiking ethanol is indeed denaturated with additives, They’ll taste really foul and excessive vomiting might occur If drank enough, but That’s about it. 

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In reply to HeMa:

> Nope

Not quite sure what your 'Nope' refers to.

If you want to understand what is allowed in 'methylated spirits' in the UK, have a look at the following documents:

The Denatured  Alcohol Regulations 2005

Excise Information Sheet (13) 06 Changes to Denatured Alcohol from 1 July  2013

I looked into this is some detail when I was making meths burners about 10 years ago.

The whole point of denaturing ethanol is to allow it to be used as a fuel, or for industrial processes. In order to avoid duty on 'spirit', it has to be compliant with the above Customs & Excise regulations. The 2013 regulations were to unify with European formulations.

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In reply to mattyP:

> Ive had trouble getting meths on the continent before (I don’t speak Slovenian...) so ended up burning surgical alcohol (which I think was ethanol) in the trangia.

I once (as an experiment) burnt Stroh 80 (Austrian 80% alcohol rum) in a Trangia.  It burnt better than meths.

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In reply to Neil Williams:

Many of the US alcohol stovies use 'Everclear', a similarly high % spirit. That or yellow HEET.

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 Mick Bradshaw 07 Sep 2020
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Interesting that you intend your bronze d of e students using meths and then silver/ golds being allowed to use gas conversions; there have been some really nasty accidents involving meths being used by similar students and meths definitely needs more/ better training and closer supervision than gas. (They'll never forget what noodles tainted with meths taste like either!)

I haven't used meths with students for quite a while now, but if you do then beware them using the screw cap (rather than the simmer ring) to extinguish the flame - as this melts the 'o'ring that then blocks the holes in the burner very effectively.

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In reply to Mick Bradshaw:

> meths definitely needs more/ better training and closer supervision than gas.

Different stoves have different risks, and require specific risk-based training. Gas has different risks (poisoning, explosions), with significant severity.

Ours use gas, but I'd be quite happy for them to use meths.

One risk common to all cooking, and often forgotten, is the pan of boiling water. Given the energy content, this can be the biggest risk.

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 LastBoyScout 08 Sep 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

At the risk of going off at a tangent, I once saw someone make a total cock-up of replacing the gas canister in one of the old Camping Gaz stoves with the pierceable cartridge - cue the entire contents of the canister being sprayed around a New Forest campsite and a surprising amount of frost on the canister!

And a friend of mine ended up calling out the fire brigade due to an issue with a petrol stove with a knackered seal!

But yes, all stoves can be dangerous, if not properly used and I agree with your comment about considering the risks of what you're preparing - not forgetting hot oil, either.

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In reply to captain paranoia:

Ah HEET, used to get that from walmart for camping in Joshua Tree. It’s some sort of fuel additive? Added to stop diesel waxing in low temps? Not sure why you’d need that in CA but it was cheap, available everywhere and burnt well. IIRC there was a red bottled one too, dunno the difference

Post edited at 11:32
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In reply to wilkie14c:

Red HEET is isopropyl alcohol. Doesn't burn as well.

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In reply to LastBoyScout:

Not seen a DofE group bring a chip pan and bag of potatoes. Yet...

I know the risk of a pan of water, because one of the lads next door to my childhood home had a back that was an entire mass of scar tissue, caused by a kettle being spilled down his back. That sticks in my mind when I'm doing risk assessments. That and the fact that a pan of water takes the full power of a burner running for n minutes. That gives an idea of the amount of energy in that pan, relative to a splash of meths, or a squirt of gas.

The issue of meths on hands/clothing is often mentioned, but a squirt of gas up a sleeve can be just as dangerous, and fairly easy to do when connecting canisters.

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 Tony the Blade 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Tony the Blade:

I'm happy to report that the burners worked well with a mix of the two ingredients.

The pans were just as sooty as they ever were, the kids especially enjoyed cleaning the pans haha

Thank you all for the input to this chat.

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