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  • Switching Stoves

    September 06, 2023

    Switching Stoves

    Prompted by the single-use plastic elimination challenge for the month, I decided to switch out my MSR PocketRocket stove for an alcohol stove. The MSR uses an isobutane fuel canister, and it can be difficult to dispose of the empty containers. The guidance for disposal of isobutane containers states that the can should be punctured and can then be recycled at facilities that accept mixed metals. This presents two problems; one, it’s difficult to find a tool to puncture the metal can. A gear shop in Mount Shasta, CA had a tool that they allowed me to use to puncture the canister and then they were able to recycle it for me. However, in my experience this service is seldom available. The second challenge is that local recycling programs vary in the types of material they accept; in fact, few curbside recycling programs handle mixed metals, and even fewer recognize and recycle fuel canisters. These reasons result in hikers leaving fuel cans at hostels or hotels for those working there to dispose of, which is an unfair method of dealing with the problem. I often see nearly empty fuel canisters in hiker boxes. Some hikers carry a FlipFuel tool, which allows you to transfer leftover fuel into your less-than-full can. This helps helps save fuel, but it doesn’t solve the can disposal issue.

    I switched out my MSR stove for the titanium Vargo Triad Multi-Fuel Stove and fuel bottle. The products were shipped without plastic packaging. The stove requires denatured alcohol. I purchase HEET fuel, which is regularly available at gas stations and convenience stores. It was an adjustment at first to determine how much fuel I needed to cook my meals; usually one ounce of fuel does the trick. I decanter the HEET fuel into the Vargo fuel bottle because it has measurement marks on the side. The plastic HEET bottle is recyclable, which doesn’t eliminate waste entirely, but it is easier than the process of recycling the isobutane canister. I use aluminum foil as a wind shield.

    Once I figured out some best practices for using the Vargo stove (e.g., the amount of fuel to use and the use of a wind shield), I have been loving it!! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to using an isobutane stove.

    - Mantis

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