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Archive for September, 2010

Aluminium cooking pots vs Titanium cooking pots .

Five years ago when I first started to get into lightweight bushwalking I replaced my super heavy MSR Alpine Stainless Steel pots (741.5g) with a two lighter Titanium Snow Peak pots (316.7g), this was a saving of 424.8g, after several years of faithful use, on one trip I wanted to cook a gourmet meal where I needed some slightly larger pots. I therefore went through my collection of pots, carefully weighing each one to work out which combination of two pots gave me the volume that I needed with the lightest combination, the combination that I ended up with was two cheap aluminium pots which I had purchased from my local camping shop. While the Ti pots are very tough, Ti is a very poor conductor of heat and whenever I tried to reheat a meal like a curry the food got burnt where the stove flame had contact with the bottom of the pot and was very hard to clean. After using the cheap Al pots I have never gone back to the Ti as the food does not burn in the Al pots and after several years of use the Al pots are still in good condition.

 Moving on a couple of years, to complete a series of tests on pots for a BPL article, I borrowed a set of lightweight MSR Titan pots, this kit includes pots of 1l and 1.5l volume, this set retails in Australia for A$189. The two MSR Titan pots came with one lid with a total weight of 306.6 grams, this includes the pot grabber or the storage bag.

My two cheap Al pots that I normally take use, a 1.5l pot and a 1.75l pot with one lid come to total weight of 243.6 grams, and have a cost of A$24.00 (these pots have had the wire handle removed and some of the lugs that the wire handle attached to removed).

If I use some Al pots with the same volume as the Titan pots a 1l pot and a 1.5l pot with one lid the total weight is 219.6 grams, this is a saving of over 30 grams just for the pots, the two Al pots with pot grabber and storage bag from the Snow peak Ti pots, the saving is even greater at 255.2g this is a saving of 51.4 g over the 306.6g Titan pot set, the 1l pot cost A$8 and the 1.5l pot costs A$10 so this twp pot set comes to A$18 .

Now are Ti pots more efficient than Al pots, from my tests Ti pots appear to be slightly more efficient that Al pots but this is very small. As Ti is a much poorer conductor than Al, why are Ti pots not less efficient than Al pots, I am not quite sure but I do have some thoughts and it has something to do with the emissivity of the pot surfaces, the Ti pots have a darker and slightly rougher surface than the Aluminum pots.

With my Al pots, instead of the wire handles which I have removed I use a lightened pot gripper that I purchased from the same shop as the pots, gripper cost the A$7, the pot gripper that came with the MSR titan kit weighs 28.1g and my modified gripper weighs 28.5g.

 Now for the big question “are Ti pots really worth the money” as far as I am concerned NO, for a given volume they are no lighter, they may or may not be a little more efficient, it is very easy to burn food in Ti pots and they cost much more.

 For now I am going to stick to my cheap aluminium pots.

The MSR Titan pots et left and my cheap Aluminium pot set on right

MSR Titan 2 pot set

My two well used 1.5l and 1.75l aluminium pots

The lighter 1.5l and 1l aluminium pots

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This is the results of some test that I did to compare Alcohol, Petrol (White gas or Shellite) and Gas (Canister) stoves.

I tested a Trangia 27-1, a MSR Whistperlite and MSR Pocket Rocket all of them are considered to be classic stoves and are available in most countries of the world.

I tested them through a range of adjustment settings from the fastest to the slowest that I could get the stoves to operate with in reason. I used a 1l Snowpeak Titanium pot 150 mm diameter with a specially made Stainless Steel lid with a hole in the middle so I could place my temperature measurement probe into the water.

In all test I raised 1liter of water 80C, the ambient temperature was about 20C.

Adjustment

With the Trangia I used the simmering ring to choke the flame down to produce the slower heating rates, the fastest heating rate used was with no simmer ring.

The Whisperlite was the hardest to adjust, I did this by pumping different number of pumps into the fuel tank from a few pumps at a time to about 40 pumps and the valve was opened fully in all tests.

With the Pocket Rocket, this was simple I adjusted the heating rate by adjusting the valve from very fast to very slow, if the valve was opened too much lift off of the flame was experienced

Petrol vs Alcohol vs canister gas

Results

The results show the amount of fuel used in each test in grams vs time.

Trangia

Note that no matter how slow I adjusted the heating rate it used the same amount of fuel from 12 minutes to 30 minutes. 23-24 grams, Note the Trangia used nearly twice as much fuel as the correctly adjusted Pocket Rocket.

Whisperlite

The Whisperlite showed great improvement in efficiency 25% with slowing down the heating rate, this stove is not design to simmer and is very inefficient at the normal setting, though it has the advantage of working in very cold conditions.

Pocket Rocket

The Pocket Rocket also benefited from slowing down the heating rate a 25% improvement was seen. Note as can be seen from the curve (yellow line) that using the Pocket Rocket at too high a heating rate is a waste of energy, a time of around 12 minutes seems to be the optimum and heating rate faster was a waste of fuel and slower was a waste of time. Please note the most efficient fuel/time point 12 minutes coincides with the fastest heating rate from the Trangia 12 minutes, I am not sure if this means anything though but I found it an interesting point. Upright canister stoves have problems working in cold conditions but they can still work in the cold if used correctly

I hope this information is of some help to stove users and prospective stove buyers.

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