ORIGINAL URLs NOTED
KEROSENE COOKERS or STOVES
(NOTE: Some of these models may no longer be available.)
By Miles Stair
There are quite a few different brands and styles of kerosene cookers on the market, and I have purchased and used most of them, including with the Korean made Alpaca, the Indonesian made Butterfly (models 2457, 2628, 2413 and 2418), the Swastik multi wick stove, and various pressure stoves such as the Butterfly #2412 and the larger Karan #212. My favorite is the Swastik and its stainless steel cousin, the Premier.
The Butterfly #2413 and 2418 models are extremely unique, using a sturdy wick standing on it's edge, with gravity flow from a glass reservoir flowing through a simple cone shaped shut off valve to control the amount of fuel flowing to the wick. Wicks last for years, and when the top edge of the wick gets a bit ratty, the wick can be turned upside down and have a fresh surface! The fuel reservoir, however, is glass, and the wicks are only available from Butterfly. Kerosene pressure stoves
It is sometimes possible to find the older Butterfly #2457 and #2628 multi wick stoves at garage sales or on e-Bay. These stoves use multiple cotton mop wick strands as wicks, and a single medium O Cedar mop head will yield 64 wicks, each 23 inches in length -- a lifetime supply for about $3.00. The Swastik can also use the same cotton wick, but it comes with wicks installed and a spare set too.
An Alpaca and four spare wicks can cost $130 delivered -- compared with about $100 for a Premier with a lifetime supply of wicks. As I feel everyone should have a kerosene cook stove, and the Premier stove is stainless steel and thus stores well, it must be recommended above all others. Coming in second would be the Swastik, as it is made of electroplated steel and stores very well.
Butterfly stoves are inexpensive and efficient to operate, so they should not be overlooked, even if they are now difficult to find. I purchased three Butterfly cookers during Y2K at the same cost as my Alpaca and 4 wicks. But the Butterfly is not for everyone! They do not come assembled, and the #2457 ad #2628 need a gasket built for the fuel pan and the wicks need to be installed and adjusted prior to use. This can get tricky, so please read the instructions for Setting Up A Butterfly Stove before use. Note that these instructions apply only to multi wick stoves such as the Butterfly #2457 and #2628, not the single wick Butterfly stoves such as the #2413 and #2418. The Swastik and Premier stoves have a sealed fuel tank and the wicks are installed, so they are ready to use as purchased.
All kerosene cookers and heaters will smoke and smell a little when first lighted, as the burner unit needs to heat up to provide maximum efficient. Just open some windows for a few minutes and the air clears quickly. Likewise, when you turn off the unit, it smells a tad bit, and opened windows solve that problem. DO NOT blow out a kerosene cooker when you are through using it: turn down the wick and let it burn out by itself, which takes a few minutes. The burner unit contains unburned hydrocarbons (kerosene), and if it cools down naturally it burns them up with few fumes. Turn down the wick and blow it out, however, and those fumes are released into the house...the smell is horrible. But that is your fault, not that of the kerosene cooker.
Kerosene pressure stoves such as the Butterfly #2412 and Karan #212 share common features with gasoline torches of old -- the generator is preheated by burning alcohol in a cup, then the stove is lit. Unlike the silent operation of a wick type stove, the pressure stoves do produce quite a bit of noise when in use. Except for the pressure pump, pressure stoves have no moving parts, are made of solid brass for years of service, and will burn virtually any fuel -- but kerosene indoors because of carbon monoxide. For emergency use, almost nothing beats a kerosene pressure stove. Their only "problem" is keeping the jet clean, but if the fuel tank is rinsed out once a year and only filtered fuel used in them, that usually isn't a problem. Besides, they come with jet picks or cleaners.
BUILD A SUPPORT STAND FOR YOUR COOKER:
None of the kerosene stoves are sturdy enough, in my opinion, to support heavy loads like a full pressure cooker or water bath canner. It is relatively easy to build a cooking stand for a single burner stove to support any size or weight of pot or pan. The double burner Butterfly #2418 is an exception -- it is intended for daily use for years with normal size pots and pans, but is a large stove and quite sturdy when assembled properly.
I used 1 ½" angle steel with pre drilled holes for the framework, and a piece of expanded metal for the top, all screwed together with 3/8" bolts 3/4" long, lock washers and nuts. The angle iron is easy to cut with a hack saw and deburr with a file. A short flat 1 ½" steel strap is cut on the bias and bolted across each top corner, from the top frame to the leg, providing ample side bracing support.
The stand for the Alpaca should be at least 14 inches square and 14 inches tall. The smaller Butterfly stand should be at least 12 inches square and 10 inches high, and the Swastik multi wick stove stand should be 11 inches high.
This is really basic, straightforward building, like an erector set from years gone by, and requires few tools. A properly maintained kerosene cooker with a strong support stand to relieve it of any strain should last for decades of constant use.
USING A KEROSENE COOKER AS A HEATER:
Kerosene cookers can be used as an emergency heat source. I have used the Alpaca, the Butterfly units and the Swastik stoves as heaters in my greenhouse on extremely cold winter days. And yes, I have used them in the house for heating as well. The burner unit on a cooker lacks a flame plate on top, as do kerosene heaters: the flame is designed to impact a solid surface directly at the cooking surface. I use an 8" x 8" x 3 5/8" concrete block (or a round steel plate) on top of the units when using them for heating. The flame is adjusted to a bright blue, with no yellow showing, and the concrete block acts as a heat sink, moderating and dissipating the heat. Don't laugh -- it works. The Alpaca needs to be burned at nearly maximum heat output, however, or the fiberglass wick will foul with tar balls and burn poorly. In fact, I've had them literally go out when used for extended periods of time as heaters because of tar ball buildup on the wicks. Then the tar balls need to be crunched with a pair of smooth, paddle bladed pliers just so the wick can retract! I don't like the Alpaca.... With a multi-wick stove like the Swastik, you can simply snip off the top of the wicks, pull them up a little, and have a fresh surface to burn. You don't do that with an expensive Alpaca wick!
It would be a mistake to think that any kerosene cooker can equal the efficiency of a "pure" kerosene heater for heating, as they cannot do so, period. But they do provide heat and can be used for that purpose in an emergency. Let us assume that the electric power is out, it is winter, and you do not want to attract attention to yourself by using a wood stove and putting up smoke signals, and you have a kerosene cooker. At a maximum of 8,500 BTU output, the cooker is not going to heat an entire home, but it will heat a large room well enough to keep it comfortable. I would not recommend sleeping with a cooker going simply because they are not as safe and efficient as a heater, but if the choice is freezing to death, well....be very careful, have the stove well away from any bedding, curtains or combustible materials, on a firm base (not sitting on a rug), etc.
As with any appliance that uses oxygen in the process of combustion, be sure to have several windows cracked an inch or so to provide adequate ventilation.
(From: www.endtimesreport.com/recommendationstestresults.html )
RECOMMENDATIONS AND TEST RESULTS
Everyone has a different survival plan, so a "one size fits all" approach to equipment obviously won't work. That, of course, is why there is such a variety of cook stoves, lanterns and heaters available. Because of this problem, I have chosen to concentrate on equipment which will meet the needs of the most divergent ideologies - mobile survival mode or fixed location survival.
MOBILE SURVIVAL MODE:
Let us assume someone from Southern California is gathering survival equipment. What hazards to they face? The San Andreas "Big One" earthquake is an obvious reason to be prepared, as if it fractured there would be no water, electricity, natural gas or food available. In addition, the vast population of the area would become like a cloud of locusts, devouring everything available almost immediately. [This could apply to many scenarios = war, terrorism, etc.] The smart move would be to evacuate the area at the first opportunity, and that means having portable survival equipment already packed and ready to go. This subject is covered very well, complete with lists and "how to" information, in my booklet "Evacuation and Relocation."
Which kerosene cooker/stove in this case becomes obvious...the Butterfly #2412 Pressure kerosene stove. Only 8.5 inches wide and 7.25 inches high and weighing less than 3 pounds with a full tank of fuel, this little all brass stove is extremely durable, designed with 3 legs to sit level on almost any surface, and will burn kerosene, diesel fuel, lamp oil, or even citronella fuel to keep bugs away. The heat output is more than enough to cook meals, and because it burns kerosene instead of the more common white gas, it can be used indoors as well.
Butterfly #2412 Pressure Stove
Disassembles for portability.
The Butterfly #2412 stove can be assembled quickly for use, then disassembled if required for packing up to move if necessary. To assemble the stove, the three "L" shaped legs are first fitted into corresponding slots on the bottom of the top plate, then lined up and inserted into the hollow pegs soldered to the sides of the fuel tank. There is a cap with a gasket on the top center of the tank: remove and save the cap by screwing it onto the end of the pump handle, then use the supplied wrench and screw in the burner assembly and tighten it with the wrench.
To light the #2412, first fill the tank with clean fuel through a filter funnel* until it is about 3/4ths full. Pour some alcohol* into the alcohol cup, make sure the air bleed valve on the filler cap is OPEN, then light the alcohol. Just before the alcohol burns up (easily visible), tighten the air bleed valve on the filler cap, pump the manual pump on the side of the fuel tank, and the stove should easily begin putting out heat. If the ambient temperature is very low (below 40 F), it may take two fillings and burnings of the alcohol cup to preheat the burner assembly properly.
In just a minute or so you can begin cooking with the #2412. If you need more heat, just pump a few additional times to build more pressure in the tank. You can hear the heat output differential, so there isn't a problem regulating the BTU output. To lower the temperature, simply unscrew the bleed valve a quarter turn and listen as the pressure lowers and therefore the BYU output decreases, and tighten the bleed valve when you have lowered the temperature sufficiently.
Let me give you an illustration. Bette wanted to cook some rice on the little #2412. The first thing you need to do is boil water, so I had the stove pumped up to produce a high heat. The water started boiling in only a few minutes, and then the rice and butter was put into the boiling water, which of course immediately cooled the water below the boiling point. In a couple of minutes it was boiling again, so I opened the bleed valve to lower the temperature output to a gentle simmer, then tightened the bleed valve again. The rice cooked perfectly without scorching on the bottom, a perfect job, and I had some nicely cooked rice for lunch. Bette wanted to heat some beans, so they went into small pan, I pumped up the stove about 5 strokes, and the beans heated to boiling quickly, as which time I lowered the temperature so they could simmer, and ate my lunch. When the beans were cooked, Bette turned off the stove by simply opening the bleed valve a half turn and leaving it open.
With 0.6 L of fuel in the tank, you have about 4 hours of cooking time available: obviously, this stove is extremely fuel efficient! One liter equals 1.0567 quarts, so a gallon of kerosene will yield from 24 to 32 hours of operation, depending upon the pressure at which the stove is operated. Considering most meals take less than an hour of stove use even with multiple courses to be heated (remember, this is a single burner stove), and cooking 3 meals a day, a single gallon of kerosene will cook meals for well over a week. If used for emergency cooking of dehydrated foods or heating canned foods (and boiling water for washing) while on the move, a gallon of fuel would last for about two weeks of cooking three meals a day!
The Butterfly #2412 pressure stove follows the time honored design principles of the old style gasoline torches: The fuel is preheated in a tube until it volatizes, the vapor is blown through a very small venturi jet in a nipple and burns completely as a vaporized fuel/air mixture. Safety in terms of pressure is not a factor, as the jet is always open...it is virtually impossible to build up too much pressure in the tank. But that open jet design means the tank is not sealed, so if the stove is to be transported after use and fuel remains in the tank, be sure to transport the stove in the upright position and with the bleed valve open. If you are hiking or carrying the stove in such a way that it cannot be carried upright, then use the supplied wrench to remove the burner assembly and replace it with the brass cap, and tighten the bleed valve on the filler cap. Store the burner unit in a Zip Lock bag or similar to keep the inside clean. It only takes a couple of minutes to perform this procedure, so it isn't time consuming or difficult if you let the stove cool for a few minutes first.
Notice the "*" above? Those were put there to alert you to avoid potential problems. The #2412 vaporizes the fuel through a tiny jet hole, remember? The stove comes with a jet cleaner in case the jet becomes clogged. That, of course, is why you should use a filter funnel when filling the fuel tank...why borrow trouble with dirty fuel? Preheating with alcohol is best done with the highest temperature burning alcohol, which means 91 to 95% alcohol, not 70% rubbing alcohol. Alcohol burns very hot, without much of a visible flame and produces almost no soot. In an emergency you could preheat using kerosene in the alcohol preheat cup, but expect it to leave a soot deposit on the burner and require several cups of fuel to achieve adequate preheating.
Can the Butterfly #2412 pressure stove be used indoors in an emergency? Certainly. This little stove is the largest selling cook stove in India! It burns without noticeable fumes, and because it burns kerosene it does not produce excessive carbon monoxide as do gasoline stoves. [Always open a window a bit when using any device with an open flame...they burn oxygen, too.] It is too small to support the oven, but with a support stand (see "kerosene" my web site) to hold the oven with the stove beneath, it does put out enough heat to properly heat the oven...it just isn't ideal for that purpose. And the #2412 is a pressure stove...it does have a sound. It isn't as loud as a Coleman stove or lantern, but you can hear the mild roar of the burner unit in operation, just as you can with a Primus kerosene stove. Unlike the tiny Primus, however, the Butterfly #2412 is large enough to use for daily cooking, if required.
You've seen my (Miles Stair) web site. I've mentioned a half dozen different models of single burner kerosene stoves. I've also used three varieties of Coleman stoves. Of them all, the Butterfly #2412 kerosene pressure stove is by far the best one for portable use, and the one I can recommend highly for this use. The simplicity of the operating system combined with quality all brass construction means this little stove will be ready to use whenever you need it.
KARAN #212 PRESSURE STOVE:
This multi-fuel brass pressure stove is made in India (it is not a Butterfly brand) and is basically a larger version of the Butterfly #2412. It has a 2.0 liter fuel tank and a number 2 burner, so it will burn longer and hotter than the Butterfly - I estimate about 9,000 BTU output is quite realistic. Instead of having the bleed valve in the filler cap, the Karan has a separate bleed valve beneath the cap. The Karan is also a one piece unit - it does not disassemble, nor does it have a cap to seal off the tank for portability.
Since the jet is always open, the bleed valve must be kept open when the stove is not in use, or fuel will rise through the jet due to temperature or barometric pressure changes. The same is true of the Butterfly, of course, if the burner is not removed and replaced with the tank cap.
The Karan is all brass except for the three solid steel support rods soldered to the side of the tank. The bottom of the rods are the legs upon which the stove stands, and the top of the rods support the cooking platform. That all combines to make this a very sturdy stove that can be used for everyday use for decades, and the brass construction means it can be stored for years without fear of degradation, but "portability" is limited to an upright carry position.
The Karan #212 stove puts out a tremendous amount of heat if pumped up to full pressure. It will easily boil a large pot of water quickly, melt lead for making cast bullets, etc, so it is extremely versatile and useful...the heat output is regulated by the pressure, so opening the bleed valve to reduce pressure will lower the heat to a simmer level, for example. For use as an emergency stove, the Karan #212 is highly recommended.
(#212 Karan pressure stove has been found selling for: $65.00. 4 lbs. Shipping: $10.00 Total: $75.00)
FIXED BASE COOKING STOVES
PREMIER STAINLESS STEEL STOVE:
From manufacturer's description: "Premier Stainless Steel multi-wick kerosene stove, with no glass or fragile parts, and comes with spare wicks, a funnel, and lighter wand. Excellent for everyday use, the Premier is perhaps the best stove available for storage for emergency use because of its non-rusting, stainless steel construction."
What is written about the Swastik stove (below) applies in spades to the Premier Stainless Steel stove, so it need not be repeated. The Premier is a 10 wick stove, all but the frame is stainless steel, so it will last in storage until needed without the fear of rust. The Premier is a little stronger and has a better wick raising system than the Swastik -- note vertical lever on the front side -- so it is well suited for daily use. The Premier has a 4.0 L fuel tank, with a good 3.5 L useable with complete safety, for more than 16 hours of burn time.
SWASTIK PERFECT STOVE:
(From a circa 2002 ad, provided here for a ballpark price. "Google" keywords to find a source):
SWASTIK PERFECT STOVE PRICE: $84.00. 9 lbs. Approx. SHIPPING: $15.00. TOTAL: $99.00
For every day home use , a silent, non pressure stove system is preferred. This means a wick type stove, and the multi-wick stoves such as the Swastik which can use an O Cedar mop strand for a wick are ideal, as then wick supply is absolutely not a concern for the future.
There is a "new" multi-wick stove on the American market available, the "Swastik Perfect Stove." This stove is obviously a clone of a German model from the 1930s , copied right down to the swastika! A 12 wick stove, this one is very well made in India (not a Butterfly brand or make) and comes completely assembled. The wicks can be lit without removing the burner, thanks to a unique supplied wand (A vast improvement over the Butterfly #2457 and #2628 multi wick stoves!). The wick rising mechanism is a simple lever actuation system, far more reliable than the cog toothed wheel and notched rod of the Butterfly multi-wick stoves.
The " Swastik Perfect Stove" is very well made and finished . It is all steel, fully nickel-chromium and zinc electroplated. The catalytic converter is carbon steel and in two pieces, so it is easy to clean. Because the catalytic converter can be easily oiled and all other surfaces are rust free, this is an ideal stove for storage. It is even supplied with an extra set of wicks. And given the wick system where cotton mop strands may be used as wicks, you have a stove that will give decades of reliable service with virtually no maintenance cost.
Now the most important question: Why this stove? These stoves can be burned at virtually any heat setting - and will hold that heat setting for hours. [Try that with an Alpaca!] Since a lot of cooking is done on a simmer setting, this is a very important feature in their favor. They are silent in operation, so people who don't want to have the noise of a pressure stove, yet still want a relatively compact single burner design, can have an ideal kerosene cook stove. The Swastik stove may also be used as an emergency portable space heater, producing about 8,500 BTU's of heat, but care must be used because of the exposed flame.
The 3 liter fuel tank on the Swastik stove is ample for long periods of cooking between refills, and the inside of the tank is also plated, so it will not rust as can happen with the cheaper Butterfly stoves. The tank is vented at the cap and will not spill with normal carrying and use, which is a vast improvement over the #2457 and #2628 stoves, which lacked even a gasket above the fuel tank.
As with any wick stove, the Swastik burns kerosene or red dye #1 stove oil. In an extreme emergency, diesel can be used, but there will be some fumes and the wicks will carbon up quickly. Because this stove can be used with mop wicks , however, that is not a major penalty to pay for using it with diesel in an emergency. DO NOT burn diesel in a round-wicked kerosene stove like the Alpaca, however, as it will destroy an expensive wick. Burning diesel fuel produces carbon monoxide, so if diesel is the only fuel available, the stove should be used outdoors on a patio or in front of an open window.
I like this stove! In fact, I gave my Butterfly #2628 multi-wick stove to a friend, as I just didn't use it any more after using the Swastik Perfect Stove. But as with any open flame heat source, common sense and care must be exercised at all times.
Everything considered, the Swastik Perfect stove is a very good choice for everyday use for those who want a compact single burner to store until it is needed, and its electroplated construction will ensure that it is ready for use when needed. The only better model I can recommend for everyday home use would be the Premier Stainless Steel stove, as the larger fuel tank capacity and improved wick rising system just make it easier to use.
Butterfly #2418 double burner stove. Large stove with gravity flow system. These are excellent stoves for everyday use, but because of the size and difficult assembly, I only have one left in stock. These stoves are excellent for use in emergency food banks, group shelters, etc.
When reading the above descriptions of the stoves and lanterns, you will note that I have made reference to the "multi-fuel" capabilities of the Butterfly #2412, the Karan #212, etc. "Multi-fuel" means kerosene, diesel, #1 stove oil, and other assorted fuel oils, including alcohol, and in extreme emergencies, gasoline. Gasoline is a highly volatile fuel, however, so I DO NOT recommend its use. Due to the inherent burning qualities of the fuels themselves, only kerosene should be used when the stoves or lantern are used indoors, as the other fuels produce excessive quantities of carbon monoxide. If used outdoors, or even in garage with the door open, ANY place with adequate ventilation, the other fuels may be burned without danger.
You may encounter the phrase "dual fuel" in conjunction with some Coleman stoves and lanterns. That refers to unleaded gasoline and white gas, also called "Coleman Fuel."
Gasoline in all its forms produces explosive vapors and can explode. Kerosene and other fuels used in "multi-fuel" stoves is NOT explosive, does NOT produce explosive fumes, and IS stable in storage. There is no comparison in safety between what I offer for sale and "dual fuel" gasoline appliances!
Alpaca - Portable Kerosene Cook Stove (Item # AWCS-85)
This Kerosene cook stove utilizes innovative heating technology to provide operating costs that are 1/3 the cost of conventional gas camp stoves. Easily capable of boiling several gallons of water in minutes, this stove will provide you with additional canning capacity and the comfort of knowing you will have cooking means should an emergency situation arise. Also Great for camping!
* .9 gallon fuel tank /
* 16 hours of cooking time / tank /
* 8,500 BTU heat output /
* Blue Flame adjustable fiberglass wick /
* Easily boils gallons of water in minutes /
* 13" diameter x 13" tall /
* Replacement wicks available (see below) /
Alpaca Portable Kerosene Stove
Part No: AWCS-85 Qty: Price: $79.95
Replacement Wick for Alpaca AWCS-85 Cook Stove (Item # 7C)
Replacement Wick for AWCS-85 Stove
Part No: 7C Qty: Price: $9.95
Lehmans kerosene stove page
Woodland Products: Alpaca stove
"Butterfly" kerosene stoves (St. Paul Mercantile)
Google: Kerosene Stove Sellers