An Alcohol Stove That Burns Rubbing Alcohol?!

Yesterday I found an unexpected surprise in the mail box, a small box that was shipped from Jon at Flat Cat Gear. Upon opening it, I found  an even greater surprise, one of his ISO-Clean stoves that he sells! As most anyone that follows my blog probably already knows, I love tinkering with different alcohol stoves and different set-ups, so this turned out to be a very cool, unexpected surprise!

Typical alcohol stoves use either Methyl (methanol), Denatured or even Grain alcohol to operate, however, Isopropyl fuels are not recommended in ordinary alcohol stoves. I assume that this is due to the high water content which is found in Isopropyl alcohol. Although, some sites say that 91% Isopropyl alcohol can work in a pinch, but still advise to stay away from 70% Isopropyl. On the other hand, Jon has created the ISO-Clean stove to run on just that…Isopropyl Alcohol, either the 70% or the 91%!

Jon has designed the ISO-Clean stove to work by using Isopropyl alcohol only, so in this case, the other above mentioned alcohols (or any alcohol other than Iso for that matter), is not recommended in this stove. As well, when using this stove with a smaller system, such as his Snow Leopard System, he even recommends using the 70% Iso, however, when using a larger system such as the Bobcat system, he recommends using 91% Iso. However, he also states that if 91% (or even the Red Bottle HEET) is all that is available, it can still be used in the smaller systems, but to simply dilute it first with a little bit of water first.

The ISO-Clean stove is made from stainless steel and weighs 1 oz on the dot. Of course, it could weigh a bit less if he used aluminum or some other form of metal, however, due to the water residue from using Isopropyl fuels, stainless steel is a more sensible way to go.

Also, Jon describes this stove as a “fair-weather” stove, meaning that he recommends using this stove in temps above 35 F and at elevations lower than 5,000 ft. I imagine that if the fuel is kept warm (remember, there is water content in ISO) then the stove should be ok to use in temps below 35 F, however, I am not sure how the stove is affected when using above 5,000 ft of elevation.

I find that the simple fact that this stove can burn efficiently on Isopropyl alcohol simply awesome! Iso is very easy to find…walk into just about any grocery, convenient or department store and it will more-than-likely be there. As well, it is very inexpensive. (I paid less than $2 for a 32 oz bottle of 70%). However, one of the most attractive features is that Iso burns cleaner and is less toxic than the other mentioned alcohols (aside from Grain alcohol, which is very expensive and can be hard to find).

So, of course after opening the box, I had to rummage around looking for some rubbing alcohol…which by the way, we didn’t happen to have…so I ran to the big box store and picked up a bottle of 70%. Then I took it home and began trying it out…

After using this set-up a few times, I will admit that the boil times for 2 cups of water is a bit longer than any other set-up that I have used, coming in at around 12-14 minutes… However, each time I have been able to bring the water (2 cups) to a boil with approximately 3/4 oz of fuel. Considering this though, along with the fact that it does indeed use Iso, I am still pretty excited about it. I typically get to camp and get my water boiling first. While it is coming to a boil, I am going about my other camp chores, such as setting up my camp. So, for me, the actual time to boil is not as important to me as much as say the amount of fuel used to boil the water. The fact that this fuel is cheaper, easier to find and less toxic is simply an added bonus…

Thanks for reading/watching!


Disclaimer: I did not purchase this ISO-Clean stove. This stove was sent (unexpectedly) to me from Jon at Flat Cat Gear. I am under no obligation to write a review for this product, however, I wanted to share this info because I think that it is an innovative product. I plan to use it some more and if I continue to like it, I will post updates to it in the future.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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10 Responses to An Alcohol Stove That Burns Rubbing Alcohol?!

  1. jsmac says:

    Is the Alcohol a safe method to cook over directly, say to cook some hotdogs, rather than in a pot?


    • Stick says:

      I can’t say for sure, but my guess would be no. At least I wouldn’t do it. If I were to cook hot dogs directly over an alcohol flame, it would be from Everclear, and still not quite so sure I would want to do that…



  2. George Richter says:

    I use a Swedish Army alcohol stove. The kit works in windy conditions, Has a pot and cover (skillet) and packs into the wind screen. About $20 on ebay


  3. Gizmo Joe says:

    As usual awesome post!


  4. mudpoet says:

    What’s different about this stove that makes ISO efficient? Is it simply the fact that it’s stainless steel?


    • Stick says:

      That I cannot answer…I can only assume that it has something to do with the hole pattern as well as the height from stove to pan, and maybe more than that? I have not personally tried ISO in my other stoves, or other fuels in this stove, but others have confirmed that using ISO on ordinary alky stoves is not a good idea…


    • Jon Fong says:

      The diffference is the hole patterns as well as the thermal conductivity of the stainless steel. Balancing the airflow and vaporization rate is the trick to getting isopropyl to burn cleanly. BTW, some customers have been successful burning DA, however; I have not validated this yet. Jon


    • Stick says:

      Thanks for the explanation Jon!


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