DIY: Little Tweaks to Improve Cooking Set Fuel Efficiency - Alta Outdoors


Backcountry adventures via kayaking and backpacking


Monday, April 10, 2017

DIY: Little Tweaks to Improve Cooking Set Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency of your cooking set is very important because it directly defines how much fuel you carry in your backpack and how long it will take to prepare your food. Weight and time, right? So, it makes total sense to improve the efficiency especially when all it takes is a very little investment of time and money.

What you need for this project

1. A piece of Reflectix material (buy a small DIY package in your local hardware store)
2. A piece of a titanium foil (cut from a titanium windscreen if you have one and it's large enough or buy a small roll on Amazon or eBay)
3. A piece of aluminum duct tape (buy in your local hardware store)
4. Scissors
5. A Sharpie pen

What we are going to do

1. Improve your pot thermal efficiency by increasing its insulation with a a piece of Reflectix material.
  • Measure  a pot circumference by rolling it 360 degrees along a length of Reflectix.
  • Cut a piece of Reflectix of the pot's circumference in length and the pot's height less one centimeter in width. The shorter width is required so the Reflectix does not burn when the pot is on a stove.
  • Put the Reflectix wrap under a pot's neoprene sleeve (see the picture above) or, if you don't have one, wrap a length of the aluminum duct tape around it.
2. Improve pot lid thermal efficiency by replacing it with a DIY Reflectix lid.
  • Set a pot upside down on a piece of Reflectix and draw a circle around its edge using a Sharpie pen.
  • Visually assess how thick the pot's top edge
  • Cut a circle from the piece of Reflectix along the drawn line slightly smaller so the circle would tightly fit into the pot's edge. Try and correct if necessary.
  • Cut a small piece of an aluminum duct tape and attach it to the center of the lid as a lifting handle.
3. Improve the stove's heat efficiency by installing a titanium foil ring beneath the burner. This improvement reflects some heat from the flame back to a pot and protects a fuel canister from overheating.
  • Acquire a piece of titanium foil first. Most likely you'll need to buy it on the Internet. Once you have it, use a small butane canister bottom edge circumference as a cutting template and cut the circle from the foil. This size will ensure that the ring fits inside a pot where a butane canister can fit.
  • Next, find a center of the titanium circle and punch a whole there. Use small scissors to cut a small of the diameter of the stove center post right below the burner head.
  • Cut across a radius to the center. Now you can install the foil ring below the burner and it will hold there even when warped by heat.
4. This step is optional and only applicable if you have a pot with a heat exchanger (see picture above).
  • Make a ring of the pot's heat exchanger dimensions and use it when setting a pot on top of your stove for increased support.

The Result

Here are all the components that we made.
Together they weigh about 12 grams and improve fuel efficiency/decrease boiling time by ~25% as experimentally measured by Alta Outdoors team during our trips. That efficiency increase produces roughly 3 grams of fuel saving per a food break which accounts for 12 grams on a single overnight trip but on a 5 days trip would come to about 50 grams of fuel which is almost a half of a small butane canister. Over multiple trips you'll save a lot of fuel as well as some weight in your backpack and cook your food a bit faster.

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