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A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Tue 18 May, 2021 6:39 pm

I begrudge carrying too much alcohol or spilling it as I fill the 5-7g of alcohol in my tiny 3-5g alcohol burner that can be made from a 'booze' bottle lid. “It is easy to spill more than you use.” I mainly use alcohol as a backup fuel when I can’t or am not allowed to use wood in my tiny and powerful wood stoves.


The photo below shows a little alcohol burner in action within a stove body that primarily is designed to burn sticks.


A rather complex DIY alcohol fuel bottle was described in an article on BPL. I noted a final comment from the author that the hot glue used for a seal failed and leakage became a problem. “Such is an innovator's lot in life.”

This gave me the stimulus to share with you my much simpler solution that has stood the test of many years.


It is:
Waste-free (no spills while stove filling),
Explosion-free ( low risk of burn back through fine filler tube) and
Easy to adjust bottle volume according to cooking requirements and walk or ski trip duration.

It is so simple, that it is a bit embarrassing, but it did take me 50 years to ‘discover’ it despite making hundreds of similar devices during my laboratory career.

I use drink bottles and lids with universal threads. Keep one intact lid for when the bottle is to be sealed tightly and carried. The other lid must have a ‘clean’ hole put through it. This can be done by careful drilling, punching or by heat melting with a hot nail. The hole diameter must be substantially smaller than the OD of the tube that will form the spill-free filler tube.

To make the filler tube cut off a small length (~40mm) of a fine soft plastic tube. It should be cut with a long clean sloping cut. The point can easily be threaded through the hole in the lid so that the tube can then be pulled through to form a tight leak-free seal.

Another little trick is to make another fine hole on the outer rim of the lid so that fishing line or fine cord can be tied through the hole so that the pouring lid can be tethered around the neck of the bottle, using a slip ring, so that it will never be left behind and still can be screwed up (not shown in photo).

Remember to label the bottle well, so that you don’t make the mistake that I made. I had skied up to the top of Mt St Gwinear ahead of my ski buddies and thought that I would take a quick drink before they caught up. I would be refreshed and be first to have a ‘fresh’ untouched slope to telemark down.

In my haste, I took a sip of stove fuel, which was spat out like a rocket. The lesson was don’t be sneaky about getting first tracks and label your bottles well!

For more details of my filler bottle please see:
For more details of my tiny alcohol burners please see: ... wer-stove/



Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Tue 18 May, 2021 8:10 pm

I just use a mouthwash bottle - 300mL from memory.
The cap makes a useful measuring device.

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Thu 20 May, 2021 7:24 pm

Tim, would you be able to elaborate about the bottle cap stove? I’ve never heard of one, and interested in its effectiveness. What’s within the bottle top?

Andrew A

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Thu 20 May, 2021 8:39 pm

I too am interested in the tiny tiny stove!
Is the top made of copper?
More photos please.

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Thu 20 May, 2021 9:27 pm

Hi Andrew,
I would be delighted to elaborate, I think I know what that word means. Not like the young ignorant lad, who for his new job, was asked to show his testimonials by the lady of the house. He did so and immediately lost his job!!!!

I plan to do a post on the little stove if there are interests in such tinkering. This was a side issue to the filler bottle that I think is the bee's knees. By the way, I can still take the lid of the bottle and spill the alcohol just as well as a mouth wash bottle as previously suggested.

Back to the stoves. Not to get too technical, they are burners rather than stoves as they do not support the pot as I think a stove must. They are used in a windshield or in my case a tiny wood stove, I will insert the photo to talk to.

There are three burners, left to right: But before I start I should explain I am no expert on booze as I am a 'born-again, lapsed, reformed non-teetotaler, wowser.'

All the lids have had the round sealing disk removed to leave more space for alcohol and to stop it burning and making nasty smells.

Next, I use a long metal rod or tube to roll the thread as flat as possible. It makes more space and makes the shape better for fitting the flame guide (chimney) if used.

The second burner has a rock wool stuffing that reduces spills and possibly makes startup easier.

The last burner has stuffing and also a telescopic flame guide. It can be slipped up to the optimum spacing from the pot to get that mushroom flat bottom-hugging low-soot flame. It can be collapsed down for lean & mean backpacking. Lastly, it protects the flame from lateral air movement.

Regarding effectiveness, ~7g alcohol/250ml coffee. Much lighter and smaller than a Trangia type burner that wastes a lot of heat and 'overheats' the fuel, much smaller than a Coke can burner.

Lastly, you can enjoy the bottle contents to obtain the lid.

I hope this is a suitable elaboration, Tim

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Thu 20 May, 2021 9:48 pm

Neo wrote:I too am interested in the tiny tiny stove!
Is the top made of copper?
More photos please.

Hi Neon, Please see my reply to Andrew. I think I put the reply in the wrong place.
No, it is not anything as special as copper, just a booze bottle top from the rubbish!
Regarding more photos, will do a full post on the burner as it sounds as though there will be enough interest.

It will take a little time, but here is an ode from the post as the first instalment:

For an ultralight stove, alcohol’s a choice gentle fuel,
A whisky bottle lid makes a sweet burning tool,
Whisky burning’s expensive and non-wowsers offensive,
Moonshine’s the fuel. The cook can nick a spare Joule.


Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Fri 21 May, 2021 7:31 am

The making of the chimney is the bit.

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Fri 21 May, 2021 11:32 pm

Hi Neon, Ahhhhh... you mean the top chimney thing....... not the bottle-top top thing. Silly me. Isn't English funny.

The chimney thing that I prefer to call a flame guide is made from 0.1mm thick stainless steel or titanium foil. I roll the foil with a 10mm pipe against a firm foam rubber mat until it becomes a cylinder with a small overlap. I weld the overlap to make the rigid flame guide tube and weld on two little saddle things to slip the mounting legs into. Similarly, I make another slim ring to go around the lid and weld the mounting legs to it. The legs insert into the saddles and the flame guide can be slipped down while backpacking and lifted up to within about 5mm of the pot to get that lovely hot blue mushroom flame as shown in the video. The red tip of the top of the guide is reaching 500C. You could make one out of aluminium foil from a coffee can without the welding as I used to. But then it would not be quite as cool and it would be close to it melting point.

Neon, I am very happy to share photos and all the mysteries and secrets of the burner. But that will be for another topic. Remember that this topic is about the wonderful bottle to fill the damn thing with and no one seems to give a sh.... about the wonder of this technology that took me 50years to discover!

"Just tell us bout the burner!" .....Could have been a line from Monty Python.

If you wish to see a truly magical burner have a look at the Tiny Aussie Tent Stove Topic, and YES it can use the same burner with the chimney. Ha Ha

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Wed 23 Jun, 2021 8:09 pm

Would a small syringe work equally well? Suck up whatever volume of fuel and squirt into the stove/burner?

Re: A spill-free alcohol fuel bottle

Wed 23 Jun, 2021 9:45 pm

ggorgeman wrote:Would a small syringe work equally well? Suck up whatever volume of fuel and squirt into the stove/burner?

Hi Ggorgeman, Probably it would work quite well, but you would be carrying three items (syringe, needle and bottle) and the syringe needle would need to be quite long to get the fuel out of any reasonably sized fuel bottle. I was going for zero cost and MYOG simplicity based on years of practical experience. Tim
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