A while back I did a post on how to light and operate a white gas stove. You can see the post here. In this post I want to demonstrate the basics of using one of the popular alcohol stove designs. In particular, I will be using the Trangia Mini 28 stove. All the Trangia stoves are similar in design, with size and accessory variations.
The Trangia stoves are made out of bras, and feature an open jet design. They have an opening on top, where the alcohol can be accessed, but they also have jets on the side from where pressurized gas can be released. For more information on alcohol stove designs, check out this site.
The Trangia stoves come with a cap, which allows you to keep alcohol in them when not in use. They also have a simmering cover. The type of base of the stove depends on the type of model you get. Some can be quite elaborate. The one I am using here, model 28, or Mini Trangia, comes with just the pot stand. The pure model 28 is no longer made, but you can get it on ebay for about $15.00. What they have now is the model 28-t, which comes with the stand and a 0.8L aluminum pot. It costs about $30.00. The burner itself weighs 3.9 oz, while the burner and pot stand assembly weighs 5.8 oz.
To use the stove, simply remove the cap, place it in the pot stand, and light the alcohol inside. You can put your pot on the stand at this point, but I have kept it off so you can see the flame pattern.
After about 30 seconds to a minute, the stove heats up, and the pressurized alcohol starts to come out of the jets, increasing the heat output.
There is nothing more to it. Just wait for the food to cook. The total burn time for the stove is about 25 minutes. It will boil a litter of water in about 12 minutes. These are very rough estimates, because all the burn and boil times will depend on many factors, such as the type of pot you are using, and the wind conditions.
To simmer with the stove, take the simmering cover, and open it a bit. Place it on top of the lit stove, and the flame will be reduced. Keep in mind that if the stove is very hot, the alcohol will be pressurized, and simmering may not be possible because the alcohol will get pushed out through the opening at a high rate.
To turn off the stove before the fuel has run out, close the simmering cover and place it on top of the stove. It will extinguish the flame.
These stoves are excellent for solo trips. They are very durable, and there isn’t much that can go wrong with them. Operating them is not as easy as it might appear. I’ve burned myself a number of times, trying to put one out by tossing the simmering cover on top of a flame. Also make sure to bring a wind screen. One time I forgot to bring mine, and it was impossible to bring water to a boil. Alcohol is a fairly low energy fuel, and these stoves need to work near the top of their efficiency in order to get the job done. A wind coming across and dissipating the heat, will keep your food cold.