People love to cook with alcohol to add extra flavor, but did you know that you can use alcohol as cooking fuel as well? Alcohol creates a blue flame and sometimes is completely invisible which means it burns clean and is safe for indoor use. It is, in fact, one of the safest fuels for cooking indoors. Simply use this as fuel with an alcohol stove.
Cooking fuel includes denatured, ethanol/ethyl, and isopropyl alcohol. Not all alcohol is created equal when it comes to cooking, however. If you want to use this excellent form of backup fuel, learn the differences and make an educated choice.
Types of Alcohol
Denatured alcohol is ethanol that has additives to make it poisonous, bad-tasting, foul-smelling, or nauseating to discourage its recreational consumption. It has many uses but for our purposes, it works great as a cooking fuel.
Denatured alcohol comes in 1-quart, 1-gallon, and 5-gallon containers. It can be found in camping stores under the label of alcohol fuel. It can also be found in a store’s paint section under the label of denatured alcohol, except in the State of California where the state has banned its sale.
Denatured alcohol burns very clean and hot. It produces no observable odor or soot and is reasonbly priced.
Ethanol and alcohol are one and the same. Alcohol, in its pure state (200-proof), cannot be safely or legally ingested. This is why most pure alcohol products come “denatured” to discourage its drinking.
The only alcohol on the market that can be both legally ingested and still strong enough to use as a cooking fuel is called Everclear. It is 190-proof, meaning it is 95% alcohol. By comparison, rum and vodka are 40% to 60%. So, it’s not just alcohol that you are after when searching for fuel, it must be the right kind - or proof. You should be able to find Everclear at almost any liquor store. Check the label for 190-proof as it comes in lesser proofs as well. Everclear is pricey and may be cost-prohibitive to store in larger quantities. However, it makes for a great bartering tool.
If you’d rather store Ethyl alcohol straight up in its non-denatured state, look online for availability.
While Isopropyl is an alcohol, just like ethanol, they have different molecular structures and properties. Ethanol is stable and Isopropyl is not and is deadly if swallowed.
Isopropyl alcohol includes both Isopropyl alcohol in its purest form with a 99% to 100% alcohol content, and also rubbing alcohol at 91%. Because they both contain Isopropyl, the two liquids have similar properties but are not the same.
Isopropyl alcohol at 100% is pure alcohol with no other ingredients. This burns the best due to the higher concentration of alcohol but is a bit difficult to find. Check Amazon if you're interested.
Rubbing alcohol is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water and is much easier to find. It comes in two strengths. If you plan on using rubbing alcohol as your choice of cooking fuel, make sure you purchase the 91% strength as the 70% will not burn. 91% is widely available in grocery stores and pharmacies.
How it compares
As a fuel, isopropyl does not perform as well as the other two. It does not burn as hot, has an offensive odor while buring, and produces a large amount of soot that builds up at the bottom of the pan, creating a bit of a mess.
Regardless of type, how much do I need?
Alcohol needed to bring two cups of water to a boil, 3 times per day:
per day: 3.6 ounces | per week: 1 quart | per month: 4 quarts
1 ounce of alcohol burns for 10-12 minutes.credit: the provident prepper
- Do not use any cooking device other than an alcohol stove.
- Store in a cool, dry place.
- Do not store near a source of heat or open flame, furnace, stove, or pilot light.
- All grain alcohol should be stored in a locked flammable storage cabinet to ensure safe and secure storage.
Alcohol is a great storage fuel and has an indefinite shelf life if stored in a tightly sealed container.