assistance in testing stoves

Dan_Millsip

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We've got a bit of a surprise in store for all you stove junkies who will be at the Portland Island campout. :twisted:

*****
 

Chris_Hvid

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Methanol is poison

Yes...you are quite right Astoria Dave, it is a deadly poison...by "drinking the methanol koolaid" I was of course referring figuratively to that massive paradigm shift which occurred in the sixties when certain mind-altering substances were ingested - stoveology is like that - and the messianic feeling one gets when the "ideal" stove is discovered (or improved upon previous attempts)...the methanol stove people on the Appalachian Trail are often like that...

NEVER INGEST METHANOL - (and try to keep it off your skin). Blindness may result - always store methanol in a container which differentiates it from other liquids with lurid colours or skull and cross bones and the like - it is indistinquishable from water.
 

Doug

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DarenN said:
there is one other plus to alcohol stoves. alcohol is a renewable resource, unlike petroleum based fuels. it is distilled from wood.
DarenN......
I think almost all methanol purchased these days is made from natural gas. Ethanol is the eco-friendly fuel. Absolute ethanol is the eco-friendly fuel that you can also drink, but you'll need a liquor license to purchase absolute ethanol. Otherwise you are stuck with denatured ethanol, which contains amounts of methanol or other yucky poisonous stuff.
 

Chris_Hvid

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You're right Doug...

Doug...I've been scouring Victoria to find denatured ethanol, which has a higher energy density than methanol...it seems to be commonly available in the U.S. as "SLX" Shellac Thinner...nowhere have I seen such a product in Victoria - could you tell me if there a Federal restriction on its availability? A strange inversion of the history of Prohibition visa vis the US...purely safety related? I'd rather use that for a stove fuel. I think it is theoretically possible that methanol could be produced catalytically or enzymatically directly from cellulose in some sort of bioreactor but I don't know if this is close to commercialization?
 

Astoriadave

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Yes, denatured alcohol (ethanol) is an off-the-shelf hardware store item down here. No clue why it is difficult to obtain in Canada. Chemists use it. You might check with the stock room personnel at a chemistry department at a university and see what their sources are. Won't be cheap, that way.
 

Mark_Schilling

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I've tried getting it here before. I was told the only place to get it in quantity (ie more than a few ml for medical use) was from the liquor distribution branch (ie the big liquor stores?), and you'd need a prescription from a physician or other 'valid' document detailing why you wanted it.

In short, good luck! :roll:
 

DarenN

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Can tire used to carry it in the marine department. not any more. i've been using methyl hydrate which you can get in the paint department. it says "alcohol stove fuel" on the bottle.
 

Astoriadave

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That wikipedia link I posted a few messages back may help to get you two on the same page. "Methylated spirits" is mainly ethanol, but with some methanol added to denature it. I believe that is what Daren means.

It stuns me the stuff is no longer available for stove fuel.
 

Doug

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The only ethanol you are going to get easily in Canada is denatured. Absolute ethanol requires a liquor license. I suppose you could distill your own but that's probably illegal. As Dave mentioned, denatured ethanol is maybe around 90% ethanol and 10% methanol. Some benzene type stuff is sometimes added. This prevents you from drinking it. I am willing to bet the problem with denatured ethanol is that people still try to drink it. In fact, I was informed by a friend (chemical analysis tech support guy) of some abuse issues with pure methanol. Apparently it is somewhat common for people to drink methanol because the typical treatment is to be in a hospital for a 1 week with an IV of ethanol. ie poison yourself and you get a free 7 day bender.

You can buy denatured ethanol in Canada. It's possible that it requires a business license. You can get it through companies such as VWR (www.vwrcanlab.com) and anachemia. Anachemia is in Richmond. They may need some information prior to setting up an account. I also think that the stuff you buy from them would be expensive because it is made for chemists, labs, etc. Having said this, I bet there are places in Canada where you can buy denatured ethanol with not so much hassle.

One other nice thing about ethanol is that it is 5X less potent for personel exposure limits as compared to methanol. Perhaps this doesn't matter very much since you're supposed to be burning it, not sniffing it.
 

Astoriadave

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Doug's summary fits what I know about denatured alcohol. I bet a visit to a university's chemistry department storeroom supervisor might net the info needed to make a contact.

As the the toxicity of methanol: definitely a big concern; we quit using it years ago in the academic lab I supervised because we could not handle it and meet the US-OSHA requirements. I find it ironic that it is available in hardware stores as shellac solvent, while much less toxic denatured ethanol is not.
 

Doug

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Dave, out of curiosity do you know the particulars in how you did not meet the safety standards of handling methanol? I'm interested in this (not for stove reasons).

You could actually get absolute ethanol from universities. Just ask the right people!

Methanol is relatively toxic. It is similar to THF, worse than acetone. Worse than many petroleum type products, and similar to xylene and hexane.
 

Astoriadave

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Doug said:
Dave, out of curiosity do you know the particulars in how you did not meet the safety standards of handling methanol? I'm interested in this (not for stove reasons).
We could not afford or justify the expense of the monitoring needed to make sure we were holding down vapor levels low enough to meet health standards. This was a teaching lab for introductory level college students; our budget was tight as it was, and we were able to substitute other experiments and activities using safer solvents, at about the same cost, so we eliminated all methanol from our inventory.

It is worth noting that our fume hoods got trested regularly, and our handling protocols were good, and almost certainly "safe," but to follow the rules on working with methanol, the testing materials and apparatus needed to measure vapor levels just cost too much.

In the US, some items available for use "by consumers" have few restrictions or requirements on monitoring. But, whenever a workplace is involved, the need to document the existence of safe levels increases. Methanol fits into that category. As a matter of policy in my department, we decided to use "workplace" criteria for safeguarding students, even though in many cases the law did not demand that.
 

Doug

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Any idea of what kind of situation in your lab would result in levels above what is considered unsafe? ie one bottle open outside a fume hood for an extended period of time? a few ml of methanol evaporated over an hour? or ???
 
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