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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen the articles and videos about making a portable emergency heater using a roll of toilet paper in a coffee can saturated with alcohol (Isopropyl or denatured). I've also seen videos where the alcohol was simply poured straight into a can without a toilet paper roll, and was lit. Is there really any difference? I've read that the toilet paper roll is supposed to act as a "wick" for the alcohol to burn, but it seems to burn just fine without it. So, what's the difference?

My reason for asking is because my prepping should include emergency heating during the Winter, and I don't have a fireplace or wood stove. I've also read that denatured alcohol burns the cleanest and is best when using indoors. I was thinking that simply putting some denatured alcohol into something like a cleaned out soup can and lit could be useful for heat. I've seen the method of doing it with a toilet paper roll sometimes not work for whatever reason, so I figured just burning the alcohol poured into a can without it would simplify the process.

For the record, I wouldn't do this around other burnable things, and I know that denatured alcohol has a less visible flame. I also have seen that it burns hotter than 90% isopropyl does, and has an indefinate shelf life. For a price of $15 per gallon at my local store, that sounds like a pretty good prep to have in a Winter power outage in a northern climate!
 

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It wouldn't be tops on my list.
Id go with a kerosene heater.
Liquid White Automotive lighting Pet supply Cylinder
 

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The point of the wick is to keep the fire at the top of the container.
You can absolutely light alcohol on fire, and just let it burn down in its container, but is that going to give you usable energy from the flame/heat?

I've seen these same tp/alcohol/can stoves, I even made a few, but I've never seen them used for heating an area. I've seen them used for cooking. When cooking, you want the flame to stay near the item to be heated. The wicking of the TP draws the alcohol toward the end that is losing liquid (the top that you lit on fire and is burning it away).
If you wanted to make a heater out of this, then you don't really need a wick. You just need a means to retain and disperse the heat. Something like a terracotta pot covering the can would do this. Then it doesn't matter where the flame is, just that there is one. The heat produced is heating all sides of the container, and transferring that heat to the surrounding area. Supplying heat to a material that can slow down the release, like stone or terracotta, will create a much more mild gradient of heat dispersion, and will continue to put off its trapped heat even after the flame goes out.
It's the same principle as having a large stone hearth around a fireplace. The rocks get heated, and even when the fire dies down, the rocks continue to emanate the heat they accumulated into the room.
 

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Kerosene has a shelf life of 5 years.
Like most items, a little stock rotation takes care of thing.

Everything I've read on what you want to do comes with a warning...do not use this indoors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Kerosene has a shelf life of 5 years.
Like most items, a little stock rotation takes care of thing.

Everything I've read on what you want to do comes with a warning...do not use this indoors.
Ok. I thought I read somewhere that Kerosene had to be used within 3 months before it went bad, but I can't find it now. It was probably referring to something different.

On the subject of Kerosene, is that something that could be put in a can and lit on fire to provide heat the way I was thinking of doing with denatured alcohol? Or does it work differently when used in a heating unit? I've heard Kerosene heaters can be safely used indoors.
 

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It wouldn't be tops on my list.
Id go with a kerosene heater.
View attachment 113930
I have a kerosene heater that's gotten my family through two ice storms, a total of 12 days without electricity and temps below zero F for several days. Much better than a gas generator, during an ice storm there is limited gas availability and you can't drive out to find it. K1-kerosene lasts years properly stored and burns clean. Plus, you can toast bread on top of the thing.
 

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Ok. I thought I read somewhere that Kerosene had to be used within 3 months before it went bad, but I can't find it now. It was probably referring to something different.

On the subject of Kerosene, is that something that could be put in a can and lit on fire to provide heat the way I was thinking of doing with denatured alcohol? Or does it work differently when used in a heating unit? I've heard Kerosene heaters can be safely used indoors.
High quality kerosene without water contamination, stored in lined air-tight drums, can last more than a few years. I don't know how long. I burned some that was 10 years old last winter. When I first had to use a kerosene heater in a small house with no fireplace, during an ice storm, I had a CO monitor to be sure I wasn't overdoing it, and it never registered. They do smell up the place a bit but the carbon monoxide is not the danger you'd get from a generator placed on, say, a porch near a door or window. When I lived in the north we'd see people die from CO poisoning every winter, from misusing generators. One winter a family of 5 died. I've never heard of anyone dying from a kerosene heater though I'm sure it could happen under the right (wrong circumstances).
 

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Ok. I thought I read somewhere that Kerosene had to be used within 3 months before it went bad, but I can't find it now. It was probably referring to something different.

On the subject of Kerosene, is that something that could be put in a can and lit on fire to provide heat the way I was thinking of doing with denatured alcohol? Or does it work differently when used in a heating unit? I've heard Kerosene heaters can be safely used indoors.

IMO, you want to get could be put in a can and lit on fire to provide heat the way I was thinking of doing with denatured alcohol? out of your head.
It's just dangerous on a couple of fronts.

Outside? Go for it.
 
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Ok. I thought I read somewhere that Kerosene had to be used within 3 months before it went bad, but I can't find it now. It was probably referring to something different.

I've got a 2 gallon container of kerosene (the gas station variety) that I've had for probably 10 years.
Filled some lanterns up with it a few months ago and have used them several times.
No problems.
 
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Burn alcohol heck no. Get a wood burner and don't waste the brew.
 

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I heard a guy once say "It is better to weld on a full tank of gas then one with 90% fumes"

you can burn any combustible liquid in a container.. the secret is keeping the flame at the top and never lighting a partially full container without a wick...

fill a house with natural gas (vapor/fumes) and then let it hit an open flame of spark... this is what happens

 
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