Tobin Van Pelt tobin.van.pelt at mac.com
Fri Apr 17 09:33:58 CDT 2009

I want to shout out here as well.

To Robert Reiss, I TOTALLY AGREE with Numael (see below):

I am not a chemist ... but do indeed have an extensive rocket science  

Any type of motor fuel, even E/85 with only 15% gasoline is a bad idea:

a. not likely to burn properly with a light weight stove - fuel to air  
ratios will be all wrong

b. are very volatile fuels - you'll be carrying a bomb on your back!   
Big difference between a vapor burning such as alcohol and a vapor  
exploding such as gasoline.  E85 won't be that explosive by itself ...  
BUT the gasoline vapors could come out of the fuel much faster and  
accumulate somewhere (like in your pack) ... and then it is not 15%  
anymore ... bad situation.  Marine explosions happen in this  
manner ... gasoline boats sometimes explode ... this is why most boats  
use diesel.  Diesel vapors are not flammable unless they are under  

c. worse are the flame stability issues - if you did get one to light  
with a tuna can stove and burn ... it could burn stable for a few  
seconds (making you think it was safe and stable), then build up a  
rich gasoline fuel pocket in the flow pattern and then explode later  
with no notice.  Like a chugging effect. It could exhibit very  
UNSTABLE thermal/aero dynamic burn patterns.

d. there is no real cost tradeoff argument here - even if you did get  
E85 to burn stable ... it would do so less efficiently for purposes of  
heating food (more volatile, faster burn initially, less time for heat  
transfer, etc) - so your factor of $14/gal savings ... could be closer  
to $8/gal or less.  You will go through 12 gallons on a thru hike.   
We're in the $100 saving region.  Not worth it! Plastic surgery and  
fines for burning down national forests are too high.

e. there is a culture of expert alcohol stove builders that has  
emerged.  I have studied these guys designs.  Built a few myself.   
They are GREAT trial and error inventors.  If E85 worked in anything  
close to existing tuna can style configurations - TRUST ME ... they  
would have discovered it by now!  SuperCat inventor Jim Wood at http://www.jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html 
  says this:

"I've not personally tried E85 in a Super Cat stove, but I've heard  
from those who have. They've reported that although the fuel contains  
only about 15% gasoline, it burns with substantially the same  
properties as regular gasoline. The resultant low-temperature, sooty  
flame apparently burns mostly yellow and fails to pressurize in the  
stove, making E85 largely unsuitable for use in a Super Cat."

(This rather benign warning was conducted in a laboratory setting in a  
garage somewhere - and doesn't event touch on safety considerations.   
It does point out that people have tries it and it does not work.)

In summary - rethink this PLEASE and BE CAREFUL.  With all of that  
being said ... it would be fun to do VERY CONTROLLED experiment with  
the right equipment to find out what happens ... could be a great  
"funniest home video" clip :-)

See you on the trail.

PCT -09

On Apr 16, 2009, at 10:13 PM, pct-l-request at backcountry.net wrote:

> Greetings,
> I am the father of a PCT hiker (and have hiked portions of the PCT  
> myself),
> but have posted here very seldom, so please forgive the intrusion.   
> I want
> to speak against using fuels that are not intended for a particular  
> stove or
> cooking mechanism, in particular against using motor fuel as a  
> substitute
> for another fuel (unless the stove manufacturer recommends it  
> explicitly).
> Motor fuel is a totally different animal: its vapors are explosive,  
> it burns
> much hotter, and it's much harder to extinguish.  A friend had an  
> accidental
> ignition of motor fuel in a can, which unfortunately splashed on his  
> leg as
> he tried to put it out.  From this accident he has had several  
> operations,
> therapy, skin transplants adding up to hundreds of thousands of  
> dollars, and
> he will never be the same.
> Please stay safe on the trail, and have a wonderful journey!
> Numael

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