I graduated university with a degree in Environmental Engineering and decided I'd rather travel than work in an office for the time being. That being said I'm committed to addressing environmental problems and subsequently social problems. I've always been a traveler at heart and for a number of reasons I find myself typically traveling the road less travelled and frequently getting by on creativity, resourcefulness and patience more than anything else. I often look to do things differently and while my adventurous side relishes in this, I often find myself cursing my youthful naive judgement.
Currently, you find me in the Himalayas where I've often dreamt of bicycle touring. I ended up here finishing up field work in Bhutan. So I went to Siliguri India, a dump of a city, spent a week finding a bike, and I've now set off. Ofcourse having no tools, bike gear, and having never cycle toured is adding up to again a foolish youthful adventure. I hope you enjoy my foolhardy travel stories...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All for hot oatmeal.

I arrived in India with no real bike gear beyond a hiking backpack. After 5 days on the road, 158 kms, and about 2000 meters of climbing I'm starting to figure out my shortcomings in gear and what is working so far. I've spent that last couple days working on cooking stuff. The crux is a stove and this post is my exploration of the true and false of building alcohol stoves, because the internet is far less real than trying to build a stove here in India.

I decided on attempting an alcohol stove. The first problem was finding alcohol and appropriate tins or pop cans to make the stove from. I went exploring in the Darjeeling market and found some canned sardines for tins and eventually found rubbing alcohol at my third pharmacy. What i've realized is that while the store owner first looks at your with a blank face and says no, often this is just a temporary answer as he dolls change to a customer. Here patience paid off as I explained my goal.

A tuna tin, alcohol, and swiss army knive in hand I went for it. I did my darndest to burn down my Guesthouse only to fail. Yesterday I tried again and finally found success with a two tin system and some mystery fuel along the lines of mineral spirits. I'm not sure what I'm burning but it works, best not ask too many questions in India. 

I started the holes with my knive, then expanded them with the screwdriver. 2-3 rows with bigger holes on the bottom finally worked.
The Final stove has a smaller tin with 2 rows of holes as the fuel burner, then a larger diameter tin with 3 rows of holes as a chimney and pot stand. The large aluminum cup serves as a pot.

After two days of failures I finally was able to cook a dinner of noodles complimented with some veggies and some amazing unpasturized yack cheese that tastes alot like swiss rachlet. It was late, I was exhausted from failured attempts so my first home cooked meal will live in my memory as the best tasting meal i've cooked in a long time. Today I bought a metal roti container for packed lunches, aka my second pot, and will try a curry and rice, can't wait.

Detailed Information:
Best stove type that worked: Two Cat Can Stove
More Information at: http://zenstoves.net/Stoves.htm
  • 5oz Tuna Tin
  • Smaller diameter sturdy drink container cut to the ~ size of 3 oz Cat tin size
  • Knive
  • Blunt intrument for expanding holes
  • Fuel (Isopropal rubbing alcohol, mineral spirits)
  • Large metal mug for pot (2 cup capacity)
  • Alcohol was much harder to use mineral spirits, plus the added colouring for medical purposes smelt bad when burnt
  • One can, low pressure sideburner. Works only if the can is taller than it is wider but poorly.
  • Fancy aluminum can pennie stoves.
Key Lessons:
  • Burner needs to be taller than it is wide.
  • Mineral Spirits burn better than the rubbing Alcohol available in India.
  • Stacked two can system works.
  • Placing second larger can over first smaller one instead of stacked ontop makes more of a simmer setting.
  • Large holes right above the fuel line are important.
  • You must create draft with large low holes low and lots of upper holes in order to boil water.

No comments:

Post a Comment