9/03/2008

New Woodgas Stove: A first look

When we returned home from our long weekend of visiting family in Phoenix (and the Grand Canyon on our trip home), we found that our new Woodgas Stove from Spenton LLC had arrived. Frankly, I was too beat from the drive to do anything about it then. On Tuesday night, my son and I unpacked it and gave it a try. I'll be writing a more detailed review later, but I wanted to get my first impressions out right away.

The stove is fairly small, and certainly lighter than our current coleman setup. If you've got to pack your fuel with you you'll quickly add the weight back though — of course, you won't have to pack spent fuel cartridges back out either.

After reading the directions, we gathered up some fuel:
  • a napkin and a half stick of fatwood to get things started
  • 2 fruitwood sticks about the size of my thumb cut into 3-4 inch lengths
  • 2 fruitwood stick about an inch in diameter cut into 3-4 inch lengths
I tucked the napkin and fatwood into the combustion chamber of the stove and lit it, then added the fruitwood chunks. Once they were all burning well (about 2 minutes), I attached the battery pack and set the fan to high.

Within a minute, the amount of smoke had been reduced to almost nothing. At that point, we put a pot of cold water on to boil. Even with this small amount of fuel we were able to boil 3 cups of cold water (the amount my son and I usually use for a dinner) in about 6 minutes.

The stove continued to burn for another 15 minutes or so. We could have easily heated up more water for a drink or dishwater, or we could have turned the fan to low and used the stove to warm our hands.

All in all, we had a good first experience, and are looking forward to using our new stove 'in the field', maybe even this weekend.

2 comments:

John said...

If you're taking it into an area with fire restrictions that are set at the no open fires, but stoves are OK level, would you call that a stove or a fire?

I suppose that if you're back packing, you're often up in high elevations where (in my limited experience) the restrictions are often less strict.

It's a fantastic idea--a portable pellet stove, in essence. And if you know you'll be in an area that will have a supply of fuel you can rely on, you'll save all that weight. I wonder if you could pack a small, one-meal's worth of those pellets for an emergency back up and not have added too much weight.

I'll also be interested to see what you think of it in a year when it's seen many fires.

pate said...

Hey John, thanks for the comment.

I think this counts as a fire, not a stove — I can't turn it on and off.

In a bake-off at the last LNT trainer course the gas stoves were a bit faster, but this one beat the normal fires. We also used less fuel and drew a bigger crowd.

My take is that it's a better LNT-style fire, and a good bet for long trips in places where you're not looking at a burn restriction.