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View Full Version : What is it with mini-wood stoves.



Old Dog
18-11-2014, 05:24 PM
I have notice a proliferation of, IMHO, ludicrously small wood stoves. I cannot see the point over say using meths when you get down to that size. I have a wildstove's woodgas stove and that seems a decent size and absolutely slayed the 4 dogs bushcooker I used to have. I also have a firebox, my favorite but it is heavy. But these dinky little ones of three inches or the Ti hex one's with little doors - what is the point?

My brew up kit consists of a clic-stand, trangia burner (old faithful) and a stanley Bushpot thingee (excellent and underrated for idealogical reasons) and it works a treat. OK if I ran out of fuel I would be stuck or I would have to make a fire but I don't need something the size of espresso cup to do that in.

I am not trying to raise a storm or cause offence and I accept that some people might like that sort of thing but I cannot see a truly practical rational.

Anyone care to enlighten me please?

FishyFolk
18-11-2014, 06:18 PM
I think most poeple use them as windscreens and pot holders for their meths stoves...and then if meths run out they can use bits of wood instead...but yeah, then I'd rather just build a small fire.
But sometimes that is not possible due to the fire hazard. One of these mini stoves you can just plaze on a small stone and be fairly safe that the fire won't spread. But personally I preffer a larger one...

Dreward
18-11-2014, 06:32 PM
One thing you have got watch...before you go into the woods...is people who profess to know Everything about the woods and want You to Buy things from them...There's Nothing Better than taking a Free Stroll in the Woods and making Up Your Own Mind as to What You Will Need...If Camping Out.....

saxonaxe
18-11-2014, 08:04 PM
With some kit I sometimes get the feeling that people buy it almost to experiment with. They see it on You Tube or somewhere, it's described as the answer to everyones dream, so they buy it. I read an article on Honey stoves, casually mentioned it to my Daughter and next thing I know I got a pressie...:shocked:
Daft thing, you need an engineering degree to assemble it and three hands to put the various sections together by which time I could have lit a fire, had my grub and been on the trail again...:D :D

FishyFolk
18-11-2014, 08:43 PM
With some kit I sometimes get the feeling that people buy it almost to experiment with. They see it on You Tube or somewhere, it's described as the answer to everyones dream, so they buy it. I read an article on Honey stoves, casually mentioned it to my Daughter and next thing I know I got a pressie...:shocked:
Daft thing, you need an engineering degree to assemble it and three hands to put the various sections together by which time I could have lit a fire, had my grub and been on the trail again...:D :D

Ha ha, the story of my life. I got a shed full of useless stuff I've bought that I've used once or twice. It's all listed in the "What have you bought now thread" lol.

Well, some of it would be quite usefull, if I did not allready have a better thing...or if it was not replaced by something I felt worked better for me.
I gu8ess that's part of the problem too.

But take a celebrated item like the humble Zebra billy can. If you boil water in it, it's almost impossible to pour the hot water into a cup without spilling half of it, and/or risk scolding yourself in the process.
And that useless handle takes upp tons of space. Yes you can modify it or bring or make a tool to hold it with. But why not just get a tea kettle instead? One width a big lid so you can also cook your stew or noodles or what people cook in their billy cans.

Oh my negativity....have to work on that, lol

Dreward
18-11-2014, 09:22 PM
Most people do experiment....that's part of camping...but, to be bombarded by sales reps that have never gone camping is a rather large turn-off....

OakAshandThorn
18-11-2014, 11:07 PM
12644
My Emberlit is fairly small but not tiny, and not only can I burn wood in it, but I can also use the parts for a denatured alcohol/meths system. A lot of consideration went into that purchase. But personally, anything smaller than the Emberlit Mini is just too small for the cooking capabilities I would want...but that's just me.

Bernie
19-11-2014, 08:52 AM
What size is that OAT? Looks about the same size as my Nimblewill Nomad Little Dandy Wood Stove (http://www.naturalbushcraft.co.uk/kit/reviews/nimblewill-nomads-little-dandy-wood-stove.html).

As for the purpose/usefulness of a small wood burning stove, I think others have said that they make great wind shields and ground protectors for meths pop can stoves, but I see another benefit: learning to manage a small fire is a good skill to have. We might not always have the luxury of ample fuel (purchased or found in the woods). I'll be the first to admit that I'm not nearly as capable at maintaining a small fire as a huge roaring bonfire with a bed of coals that could dry soaked wood sufficiently to burn it.

One of the things I like most about my storm kettle is that it uses very little fuel, can burn almost anything, and is fairly easy to manage thanks to the large chimney that the kettle is.

Tigger004
19-11-2014, 11:51 AM
I agree with Bernie that chimney type kettles are ideal for boiling water, I have a large Ghillie with cooking attachments (I don't get on with using it to cook on, it needs to be full of water....ask Mr Fish :shocked: )

For just a brew my "Mkettle" is great and my most grabbed choice, it's very quick,cleanish and smells divine :ashamed:. (and it will work in pouring rain)

But for cooking I regularly use one of two choices my wild woodgas stove or Nimblewill 6" type (which many of you would have seen my take on it's build/design on this forum) Both make excellent wood stoves and also wind shields for a meths burner, my nimblewill nearly fits in a vinyl CD wallet ( it goes in but is difficult to get out )

I would agree with Old Dog and Bernie that 3" stoves would be very difficult to manage, I've tried homemade gasifiers and they will burn out if not carefully watched and tended

FishyFolk
19-11-2014, 01:42 PM
I agree with Bernie that chimney type kettles are ideal for boiling water, I have a large Ghillie with cooking attachments (I don't get on with using it to cook on, it needs to be full of water....ask Mr Fish :shocked: )

For just a brew my "Mkettle" is great and my most grabbed choice, it's very quick,cleanish and smells divine :ashamed:. (and it will work in pouring rain)

But for cooking I regularly use one of two choices my wild woodgas stove or Nimblewill 6" type (which many of you would have seen my take on it's build/design on this forum) Both make excellent wood stoves and also wind shields for a meths burner, my nimblewill nearly fits in a vinyl CD wallet ( it goes in but is difficult to get out )

I would agree with Old Dog and Bernie that 3" stoves would be very difficult to manage, I've tried homemade gasifiers and they will burn out if not carefully watched and tended

I was very sceptical to wood gas stoves until I got a proper one that worked. But yes, they are a bit tedious to use. Specially when things are a bit damp to begin with. I've not tested mine in winter conditions yet, but think I will prefer to use my Optimus 111...acttually just given both of mine a once over to make sure they are ready for the winter which is already here.

I could use meths stoves. The only count against them is that they can be hard to light in the cold. But not if you know the tricks. And I use meths to pre-heat the optimus anyway :-)
But it's something special about the real deal. Same with those little wood stoves. They do give off that cosy glow and the smell of a real fire. Sometimes it does not feel like a real day out if I do not come home smelling of wood smoke :-)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ami4xhfvHxg&list=UU9FgRZL78CerC9y9ql6HAug

Shewie
19-11-2014, 01:49 PM
I use a Bushbuddy for most of my backpacking trips to the woods, If I know there's plenty of fuel about then it's a no brainer.

A lot of folk myself included, will carry a lightweight DIY meths stove and a small amount of fuel for back up, but mostly relying on the wood burner.

I had a play with the BPL pocket stove which I found a step too far, the Honey is a good little stove but I didn't rate the pocket version.

Humakt
19-11-2014, 02:15 PM
I'm not entirely sure anyone would use something like a Pocket Stove for lighting a fire. I know the sellers say you can, but I doubt anyone bothers.
I do have a Pocket Stove (and love it and would highly recommend it) but I use it solely as a combined pot stand/wind shield, which is where its true value is.

I do also have a Nimblewill stove (I made mine about 6" square), which I DO use for wood burning. And it's spot on for that. If anyone doesn't 'get it' than that's their problem, not mine, and I have no intention of trying to convince anyone about something I like, use, and value highly.

Shewie
19-11-2014, 02:28 PM
It's a pocket wood stove which is what Bob designed it for, most people should use it for a wood burner otherwise it's just another alternative to a pot stand/windshield, I think there are better options for that.

I have a titanium nimblewell stove but it's too big for backpacking, the Bushbuddy is the best woodgas burner I've tried yet

Tigger004
19-11-2014, 06:08 PM
The wild woodgas stove really needs a wind screen or they take ages to do anything, I pack my stove with wood and light it from the top for a long burn, I've seen a lot of people feeding with wood as they go, I don't know which way is correct!

Any comments welcome

Ehecatl
19-11-2014, 06:14 PM
The wild woodgas stove really needs a wind screen or they take ages to do anything, I pack my stove with wood and light it from the top for a long burn, I've seen a lot of people feeding with wood as they go, I don't know which way is correct!

Any comments welcome

It may have been Bruce Lee (when referring to Jeet Kune do) who said "If it works, use it". So if it works for you then it is correct for you :o

FishyFolk
19-11-2014, 07:08 PM
The wild woodgas stove really needs a wind screen or they take ages to do anything, I pack my stove with wood and light it from the top for a long burn, I've seen a lot of people feeding with wood as they go, I don't know which way is correct!

Any comments welcome

I do both. But it's normaly burnt out before my water is up to a boil...so I have to sit an feed it. And here is a problem. If it's a little wet oustide, and it always is, the fire is sometimes...or quite often snuffed out when I put more fuel in...irritating!

OakAshandThorn
19-11-2014, 09:55 PM
What size is that OAT? Looks about the same size as my Nimblewill Nomad Little Dandy Wood Stove (http://www.naturalbushcraft.co.uk/kit/reviews/nimblewill-nomads-little-dandy-wood-stove.html).
It's about 15 cm in height, and the panels are 10cm x 14 cm.

Bernie
20-11-2014, 10:10 AM
It's about 15 cm in height, and the panels are 10cm x 14 cm.

That's bigger than my little 11 cm high, 9 x 13 cm floor. Sounds like I need to try it again to see how much work is involved in boiling some water on a little stove like this so I can answer Old Dog's original post.

Makes me wonder whether this falls into the "mini wood stove" category or is it too big - are there even smaller stoves? :confused2:

OakAshandThorn
20-11-2014, 05:47 PM
I'd say that's about average in size...small enough for one person, but not too small that it couldn't handle some "real" cooking.
The Emberlit Mini (Fireant) is what I would consider tiny, 10 cm height, panels are 6.4 cm x 11.2 cm, and the floor about 6.4 cm x 6.4 cm. I doubt it would be able to sustain a heat source for prolonged cooking without constant tending, but I could always be wrong...haven't tested it out.

DuxDawg
22-11-2014, 08:09 PM
Both the Stainless Steel EmberLit (SS) and FireAnt (FA) need feeding whether you're boiling or cooking. Used the SS hundreds of times in all seasons over several years. Just got the FA so used maybe 30+ times. Pan fried, baked, etc on both using only wood. I've cooked full meals for four people on each, wasn't any more arduous than using any other single burner. With any personal (mini) wood stove the heat is so high one is stirring frequently anyhow so I fall into a rhythm of prepping some more sticks for fuel or prepping food for the next dish, stir, prep some more, feed the stove, repeat. Seems like the FA consumes wood more quickly but then I've found that it prefers smaller sticks than the SS.

With either you're talking roughly 6 min to boil 2 cups of water in an uncovered stainless steel nesting cup. Tending the EmberLits is simple: when I see flames *outside* the feedport, shove the sticks in until they touch the back wall. That's all, however this needs to be done every few minutes. Neither constant nor arduous but one does need to be mindful. Hardwoods and larger sized pieces minimize the feeding, but not by much. The main advantage to hardwoods is less smoke. Birch burns beautifully in the EmberLits. When pan frying I mix hard and soft woods to control the heat. Beyond not packing in fuel mini wood stoves keep me in touch with the locations and characteristics of natural materials. And who doesn't like staring into the coals or flames??

The main advantages with alkie stoves for me are: "set it and forget it" and "no smoke". Wet woods or softwoods can produce an abundance of smoke. Recently learning about various types of simmer rings with alkie stoves. Which has me excited about their application to dry baking in the field. Wet baking is safer over a wood fire. I've made tea or stew and bannock simultaneously in my 12cm Zebra over wood stoves and campfires hundreds of times. "Set it and forget it" sounds pretty nice sometimes. Dry baking's allure is that it yields much nicer crusts.

Hope this is helpful. Happy Trails. :campfire:

DuxDawg
24-11-2014, 10:18 PM
Some of the better vids about the EmberLit SS and FA.

http://youtu.be/_exG7f12sas

http://youtu.be/kZOdwJPiqnQ

http://youtu.be/8sqSLCWA5zA

http://youtu.be/ddp2fu7IOGc



But take a celebrated item like the humble Zebra billy can. If you boil water in it, it's almost impossible to pour the hot water into a cup without spilling half of it, and/or risk scolding yourself in the process And that useless handle takes upp tons of space. Yes you can modify it or bring or make a tool to hold it with.

A rag to tilt the bottom works for me. True, not having a pour spout means a lil more care and attention are needed. I easily replaced the silly stock handle with a wire bail. I enjoy steaming wild edibles in my Zebra in a DIY stainless steel mesh basket (from a grease screen) or wet baking bannock in the included lil pan all the while boiling for tea or stew. Haven't seen many other pots those things can be as easily done in. In short, love my 12cm Zebra.



But why not just get a tea kettle instead? One width a big lid so you can also cook your stew or noodles or what people cook in their billy cans.

How about the GSI Glacier Tea Kettle?

I found the epinion review here worth expanding and reading.

http://www.epinions.com/review/GSI_Outdoors_Glacier_Stainless_Steel_Tea_Kettle_ep i/content_599172025988?sb=1

http://www.gsioutdoors.com/products/pdp/glacier_stainless_tea_kettle_-_1_qt/

http://www.campsaver.com/glacier-stainless-tea-kettle-1-quart

They say the shape is to hold a canister and its stove inside the kettle. I don't use canisters so I cannot speak to that. My Glacier has served me well for years. Boil, pan fry, etc. The opening is large enough but the bottom is bit thin for pan frying over wood. Works but my thick bottomed fry pans work much better. Lose a little volume due to spout being below lip but being able to pour easily and accurately counterbalances that. Much easier to pan fri in Glacier than Zebra. Glacier is not quite as bullet proof, not quite as packable. For me Glacier sees more use on dayhikes or single nighters. Zebra and small fry pan are more likely to be brought along on multi nighters especially when winter, canoe or car camping.

Cheers. :camping:

FishyFolk
25-11-2014, 07:52 PM
Like I said, modifying it works. But after a couple of trips using it, I got myself *drumroll* the GSI Glacier tea kettle, for excactly the reason that it has a proper spout a good a handle and that enourmous lid opening :-)

So I carry that and a folding handle frying pan. In the GSI kettle I stuff a small cotton bag with some salt, pepper, sugar, tea, and some instant hot chockolate and some instant soups. Also the GSI and my wild wood gas stove clone fits perfectly in the main compartment of the little molle shoulder bag I carry for few hours out. Alternatively I can throw in my meths burner and cook kit. It's jjust a little bag that I carry my brew kit in, + the Leuku fits nicely under the lid, secured with a carbine hook. Also got a map and compass, and my hi-tech fire kit and a rudimentary first aid kit in there, plus a small dry bag with a slingshot, ammo for it, and some basic "survival" items...but my survival tactic is to go home...failing tayt....call 112, so I will never actually use it, lol...it's just for fun.

Old Dog
05-12-2014, 01:05 PM
Quick update, after the discussion here I went out and bought an emberlit (full size) in SS. Gave it a first run today and on the whole I liked it. It is about as small as I would like to go and wood out here seems to me to be always marginal and definitely damp. The side window feed will take some practice and it suffered like all stoves from needing to get properly hot before it could cope with bigger stuff. I started out using my Swiss army knife and ended up splitting a birch log with an axe for chips but once you got it going it went well and boiled my kettle in no time. With one relight and resort to the axe the whole process took an hour. I am thinking of some simple mods to have it take a trangia burner; I am not buying a fire-ant; nor would I want to go any smaller. For the time being my clickstand is safe in my brew kit but I will definately be giving the emberlit further outings.

OakAshandThorn
05-12-2014, 06:17 PM
Quick update, after the discussion here I went out and bought an emberlit (full size) in SS. Gave it a first run today and on the whole I liked it. It is about as small as I would like to go and wood out here seems to me to be always marginal and definitely damp. The side window feed will take some practice and it suffered like all stoves from needing to get properly hot before it could cope with bigger stuff. I started out using my Swiss army knife and ended up splitting a birch log with an axe for chips but once you got it going it went well and boiled my kettle in no time. With one relight and resort to the axe the whole process took an hour. I am thinking of some simple mods to have it take a trangia burner; I am not buying a fire-ant; nor would I want to go any smaller. For the time being my clickstand is safe in my brew kit but I will definately be giving the emberlit further outings.
You probably won't need to mod it...those two cross-pieces that form the "x" on the top of the stove can make a pot stand, the bottom square can be a priming platform, and the three walls can be connected to make a wind shield ;).

DuxDawg
11-05-2015, 09:04 PM
Having spent more time with my SS EmberLit, FireAnt and a Firebox Gen2 Nano, I've figured out a few more things. I also see even more clearly the wisdom in the first four posts in this thread.

Let's start with a few thoughts and experiences with thise three stoves.

Having trouble finding anything good to say about the Nano. The holes in the bottom are so big the coals drop out. I cut a piece of hardware cloth to cover the bottom which helps a lot. The "cross feed" system flat out doesn't work. The ports are so small and so high off the ground you can't keep enough wood in there to have a continuous burn going. Another huge mistake was wasting all that space between the legs and the stove. Between that and the part of the legs that act as a pot stand, there ends up being 1/3 the stove walls that there could be. A key point to not overlook here is that it is the stove walls that do all of the work in channeling the heat to the pot. By comparison the FA is about the same size and vastly outperforms the Nano. Boiling with the Nano ends up being: pack the Nano with sticks, light the Nano, maybe get two cups to a boil, Nano goes out. Repeat. The manufacturer should have figured all of this out before bringing the original to market, much less as a Gen2.

The FA is better for dayhiking than multi night camping. It is small enough that it actually is more likely to come along when a boil is a possibility, rather than planned upon. The FA is an excellent windscreen for meths stoves. Packs smaller than most and can be used with other fuels, such as sticks, if you only brought enough meths for a boil or two and end up wanting to do more. A quick boil or two then cooling down suits it well. After boiling the third GSI nesting cup with two cups of water in it the very thin Ti walls get soft from being hot too long and bend easily. Even from something as simple as taking a GSI nesting cup full of water on and off. In my opinion the walls should be 3x thicker than they are if we're going to cook full meals on it.

Ah, yes, my old stand by. Watching vids and reading about other stoves had me wondering if my tried and true combo of a SS EmberLit and SS GSI Glacier kettle were all I had come to think they were cracked up to be. Succinctly put: Yup.

True, they don't pack as small as the FA and nesting cup. But they do a better job more quickly. (The boil times for the Glacier are typically about half that of the GSI nesting cup with equal water and any stove. Wide bottoms rule the boiling game!!) The EL burns just as many types of fuels as the FA, is just as good of a windscreen, burns wood much better and will cook as long as you want without getting weak.

Lately I have been using a square of hardware cloth as large as will fit inside the EL with one row of squares turned down to raise it off the bottom. The top of the hardware cloth is barely above the bottom of the feed port in this configuration which means it doesn't limit the feeding of the stove. This nicely addresses the ash build up I get with the softwoods that I typically use. The rule here on public lands is if it's "dead and down" we can use it for firewood. Which ends up being mostly the branches of softwoods unless you want to do quite a lot of processing on the trunks of mature oaks. I sure don't!!

Thus, dropping a bit of coin followed by a lot of cooking and experimenting has me back at square one. Quite happily so as it turns out. Cheers y'all. :camping:

Thumbcrusher
12-05-2015, 07:25 PM
Nice write up mate. Thanks!T^

DuxDawg
15-05-2015, 02:28 AM
Much obliged kind sir.