Gear reviews

Best fuel for alcohol stoves

Alcohol stoves are a great way to cook food out on the trail, on the water, or as an emergency stove. Here are the best Alcohol fuels you can use and where to get them.

Alcohol itself everybody is familiar with, you can not however just use any alcohol in an alcohol stove and expect them to work or function the most efficiently. You have several different options to choose from, and pretty much anywhere in the world you should be able to find them easily. Here is what to use and what to look out for to use for fuel in your alcohol stove. And remember, even if you are not able to find the perfect fuel, the best type of fuel is what you have access to.

Fuel that can be used in Alcohol stoves has various names and can be a mix of several different components. For fuel used in Alcohol stoves, you will need to have a strength higher than 70% Alcohol, Ethanol, or Methanol.


Methanol is considered by many the king of alcohol stove fuel, this is because it burns the cleanest and hottest, you can notice shorter boil times when using pure Methanol and there will be less soot underneath your pot. Methanol is in different countries and locations easy to find, and other times not so easy. Outdoor stores will carry it most of the time when they are also a supplier of alcohol stoves themselves, like the Trangia models.

Methanol is however toxic stuff, and should be handled with care and attention. You can read about the harmful effects of Methanol in the article by the CDC. I rarely use it myself, due to those risks and its price. As a bottle will be quite pricey compared to other options.

Alcohol Fuel in gas stations

Alcohol in gas stations is sometimes available in the Yellow Bottles of HEET, or gas line anti-freeze, and is an option to use for your alcohol stoves. Avoid the red bottle of HEET, since that has different components. And will burn quite violently.

HEET is mostly used and sold in the United States, and outside of the states, it is not easy to find. At least not in my experience in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Your country can vary of course. It is often also not the cheapest out there. I found HEET on my section hike of a part of the Appalachian Trail in a Hardware and Auto parts store. And used it throughout with great success.

Alcohol Fuel in hardware and DIY stores

Denatured Alcohol can be found in hardware and DIY stores and is also a solid option for any hiker, camper, or boater. Often comes in bigger volumes, and can be transferred over to your fuel bottle or bottles.


Pharmacies and drug stores

Alcohol fuel in pharmacies and drug stores is also an option when in a pinch, and can often be found in small bottles marked as nail polish remover, or denatured alcohol used for cleaning wounds and cuts, sterilizing equipment, removing nail polish, removing stickers, etc. Both should be marked with the percentage of alcohol or ethanol, 70% is usual, but often times you can also get it in higher percentages. The rest is made up of water.


My favorite type of stove fuel is the one I can get easily and cheaply, and that is oftentimes in Germany and the Netherlands the fuel type Spiritus. Spiritus is ~ 85% ethanol and can be had for a few euros, at the time of writing €2,05 for a liter. It is therefore easy to get in the area where I camp out the most, cheap, and burns reliably.

Take a look in the cleaning supply of your grocery store or supermarket and look out for the name Spiritus, Denatured alcohol, and in Germany Brennspiritus.


In liquor stores around the world, you can also try and find alcohol that is higher than 70% alcohol, but that is often extremely pricy, because of all the taxes involved. Grain alcohol can be drunk, and is, therefore, a multifunctional piece of kit in that regard. Beer tastes best on a hike anyway in my opinion, so I am always not the biggest fan of this option.

Fuel bottles, mark them well

Always mark your fuel bottles well when storing, carrying, and using them. Fuel bottles for Alcohol fuel are best Plastic and can be anything that you find easy to use and light. From a PET or recycled bottle to a Trangia Fuel bottle with a pouring spout. There are also flip-top bottles available. In any case, do not use metal bottles since they will corrode, and can leak when used for longer periods. And always mark them clearly as fuel bottles. You can use some painter’s tape or duct tape to write the name of the fuel on them and mark them with DANGER. To not get confused yourself or other persons.


Codes mark the contents

When in doubt, look at the codes on the back of the bottles and Google them real quick on your phone. You can then see what the contents of the bottle are based on, and what type of fuel you are getting. Ethanol is for example known under the following international CAS code: CAS-Nr-64-17-5 and Methanol as CAS-Nr-67-56-1


Pay attention to what you’re doing with alcohol stoves and fuel, like any other stove or fuel type, they are by nature highly flammable or explosive. And should be handled and stored with care.

Do you have any more tips or suggestions for fuel types? What is your favorite Fuel to use? Let everybody know in the comments!

Happy hiking and hike for purpose!

I'm Frank, the main guy and owner of this website. Loves hiking, gear and bushcraft. And can get quite nerdy about them. In the woods several times a week preparing for my next hike. Always searching for another hill, which is quite difficult in the Netherlands. That's why I search around several countries. More about me on the about page.

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