Trangia Fuel Information
This page aims to give some background information on the fuel used with trangia stoves.
Methylated spirit (or denatured alcohol is ethanol that has been made undrinkable through the means of additional additives. The main additive tends to be methanol, hence the name Methylated Spirits.
There are a wide range of industrial uses for ethanol, and therefore literally hundreds of recipes for denaturing ethanol. Typical additives for denaturing are methanol, denatonium, isopropanol, methylethylketone, methylisobutylketone, and even aviation gasoline is sometimes used.
Despite methylated spirits poisonous nature, it is sometimes consumed due to its alcohol contents, however it can result in blindness or death. To help prevent this, Denatonium is often added to produce a bitter taste. Chemicals such as Pyridine and/or ipecac can also be added to give an unpleasant smell, and to induce vomiting.
Methanol is not toxic but it is the accumulation of its metabolites, formaldehyde and formic acid. Nevertheless the metabolic pathways used by are bodies for ethanol and methanol both share a common enzyme. Therefore, ethanol can be used to treat methanol poisoning by blocking the same enzyme until the body can through the lungs and skin excrete enough methanol.
So why is this important to us Trangia stove users? Well it is used as fuel for our trangia spirit burners and other alcohol camping stoves. The advantage of using this as fuel for camping stoves is its low cost, able to be put out by water, not in an explosive form, and can be transported without special containers.
Methylated spirits readily vaporises from its liquid form to create a flammable vapour gas that is denser than air. Nearby flames can ignite this vapour so when filling the trangia stove you should be away from any naked flames. As tempting as it might seem never use methylated spirits to revive an open fire as catastrophic results is inevitable if flashback to the fuel bottle occurs.
Methylated spirits is a mixture of ethyl alcohol (95%) and methyl alcohol (%5). The methyl is poisonous and is added to prevent the methylated spirits being used as alternative drinking alcohol.
Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is produced by the fermentation of sugars, or from direct synthesis from ethylene. Therefore, it is a renewable energy source. Ethanol's chemical formula is C2H5OH. The boiling and melting point are 78.5 deg C, and -117.3 deg C. The energy expended by burning ethanol is approximately 30 kJ/g. In comparison to the burning of propane and butane of around 50kJ/g. Hence, this give rise to why some people choose alternative camping stove to the trangia as less weight is needed to be carried for the same amount of output heat.
When ethanol burns it produces a hot, very pale-blue flame. As most of us know it is miscible with water and most famous use is in alcoholic beverages. Other uses range from being a solvent, an anti-freeze solution, and as a fuel source. When Ethanol is burnt the byproducts are carbon dioxide and water.
Methyl alcohol, or methanol, is also sometimes called wood spirit. It is produced by the destructive distillation of wood, or by a synthetic process which involves reacting carbon monoxide with hydrogen gas. Methanol's formula is CH3OH. The boiling and melting point is 64.6 deg C, and -97 deg C, so is very close to that of ethanol.
Methanol burns with a pale, non-luminous flame. However, as mentioned earlier it is poisonous. It is commonly used as a denaturant for ethyl alcohol, and is also miscible with water.