Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Do you like to go on long hikes, take your camper van on holiday or go on a boat trip? A spirit stove allows you to easily prepare hot meals and drinks on all your adventures.

With our spirit stove test 2021 we want to help you find the best spirit cooker for you. We have compared single-flame and double-flame cookers and listed the advantages and disadvantages of each. This article should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Spirit cookers allow you to cook on the go without complications. It is perfect for camping holidays in a caravan, hiking trips lasting several days or short excursions.
  • Basically, you have to decide between single-flame and double-flame alcohol cookers. The two alternatives can be used in different situations.
  • Single-flame spirit cookers are very small and light. They are perfect for long hikes, bike tours and outdoor camping. Two-flame cookers allow you to cook comfortably on holiday with your camper van or boat.

The Best Spirit Stove in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for alcohol stoves

In this section, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare spirit cookers. In this way, you will easily find the perfect spirit cooker for you. The criteria that you can use to compare spirit cookers with each other include:

In the next chapters, the evaluation criteria for alcohol cookers will be explained in more detail.

Size & weight

Since alcohol cookers are mainly used on camping trips, the weight and size of the cooker is a decisive evaluation criterion. Especially if you like to go hiking and cook on the go, small weight and volume is an advantage. Nevertheless, smaller and lighter is not always better.

If you want to cook for several people, you need a larger hot plate. It is important that you buy a cooker that matches the size of your cooking utensils. When choosing a cooker, you should also consider the size of the pans and pots you would like to use.

Material

The most commonly used material for alcohol cookers is aluminium. Aluminium is a light metal with a silvery-white colour. Aluminium is not only very light, but also extremely conductive, which is especially important for camping pots.

Many spirit cookers are also made of titanium. Titanium is actually heavier than aluminium, but can be processed very finely because of its stability. This property makes it possible to make lighter products from titanium than from aluminium.

Titanium is heavier than aluminium, but is processed into finer and lighter products.

Another common material for alcohol cookers is stainless steel. This material is heavier than titanium and therefore less suitable if you like to travel light. However, stainless steel is stronger than aluminium and about as strong as titanium. This makes it well suited for immobile spirit cookers. Stainless steel is also a lot cheaper than titanium.

Some manufacturers have made their newer products partly from "Ultralight Aluminium". This is a harder alloy that makes it possible to use thinner materials. Ultralight aluminium can reduce the weight of the cooker by about 20 - 25 percent.

Handling

This criterion is especially important for beginners and hobby campers. Because even though spirit cookers are basically very easy to use, the models are different and there are a few things to consider. Above all, you need to know the safety risks of the cooker. Although alcohol cookers are rather simple, accidents happen all the time.

Tip: Make sure that the alcohol cooker is soot-free before you buy it. This can save you a lot of maintenance.

You should also consider how easy it is to clean the product and how well you can store it in small storage spaces. For example, if you buy a spirit cooker as a set, you can usually store the pots and the cooker inside each other and take up very little space.

Before buying, make sure that the spirit cooker is soot- and odour-free. If this is not the case, you will have to expect more maintenance and a bad smell during and after cooking.

Burning time

The burning time of spirit depends on the cooker and the ambient conditions. Generally, 20 ml of spirit is enough for a cooking time of about 12 minutes. Depending on the model, the fuel volume and thus also the possible burning time varies.

If you are satisfied with making tea or coffee, a low burning time is sufficient. However, if you prefer to cook real meals, it is advisable to keep an eye on the maximum burning time before buying.

Dishes such as risotto or lentils take a long time to cook. Pasta or canned dishes, on the other hand, are quick to prepare.

Safety

Although alcohol cookers are very easy to use, there are still great risks involved in cooking. To ensure safety, it is important that the alcohol cooker is of good quality. It should be made of robust material. If the cooker is damaged after some time, this can have a negative effect on safety.

Tip: If you buy a single-flame cooker but want to cook with larger pots, you should choose a model with an external fuel supply line. They are more stable and therefore safer.

An important criterion for the safety of an alcohol cooker is certainly a secure stand. If it is not stable, it can easily tip over. Under certain circumstances, this would lead to the burning spirit spilling out and setting fire to a large area.

Decision: What types of alcohol cookers are there and which one is right for you?

If you are interested in a spirit cooker, there are two different types you can choose between:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Single-flame Handy, lighter, suitable for hiking Only for one pot, more unstable
Two-flame Easy cooking, suitable for campers or boats Heavy and large, immobile.

The handling and use of the two different cookers each bring advantages and disadvantages. Depending on what you prefer and what you want to use the alcohol cooker for, a different type is suitable. The two alternatives are presented in more detail in the following sections.

Single-flame spirit stove

Single-flame spirit stove

The single-burner cookers are very small and handy. However, you can only heat one pot at a time. Nevertheless, single-flame spirit cookers are convincing because they take up very little space in your luggage, are light and can be used very flexibly.

Advantages
  • Handy, light
  • Inexpensive
  • Suitable for hiking
Disadvantages
  • Only for one pot
  • Only for 1-2 people
  • Unstable

If you like to go on hikes and cycling tours or make spontaneous small trips, a single-burner cooker is ideal for your adventures.

Two-flame spirit stove

Two-burner alcohol stove

If you prefer a cosy atmosphere, go on holiday with a car or motorhome, plan longer campsite holidays or large family campsites, two-burner alcohol cookers are better suited to you. Because the two-burner alcohol cooker gives you a little more luxury.

Advantages
  • Easy cooking
  • Suitable for campers or boats
  • For several people
Disadvantages
  • Heavy, large
  • More expensive
  • Immobil

A multiple cooker makes camping cooking easy and allows you to heat up two things at the same time. Especially if you are cooking for a group, two cooking flames are necessary. If the weight and size of the alcohol cooker are not so important to you and you prefer to cook in comfort, then we recommend a two-burner alcohol cooker.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about spirit cookers answered in detail

What is a spirit cooker?

A spirit cooker is a camping cooker that uses ethanol (spirit) for cooking. The cookers are very handy and easy to use, which is why they are popular with hobby campers, but also with professional campers.

Spirituskocher-1

The multiple cooker with two flames allows you to cook comfortably for several people.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Andrew Welch)

However, their disadvantage is that they only offer low efficiency. Their heating value is lower than that of other camping cookers.

Who is an alcohol cooker suitable for?

An alcohol cooker is suitable for you if you like to go camping and want to cook as simply and easily as possible on the move. Single-flame camping cookers are suitable for beginners, heating food for one or two people and preparing hot drinks.

Two-burner alcohol cookers, on the other hand, allow you to cook comfortably and easily in your motorhome, on your boat or on camping holidays lasting several days. You can also cook for several people and easily heat two things at the same time. Spirit stoves are generally very easy to use.

They are also very widespread in Europe, which makes it very easy to organise spirit on the road. It should be mentioned, however, that spirit cookers are not suitable for cooking in cold conditions because of their low calorific value.

How much does a spirit stove cost?

Spirit cookers come in a wide range of prices. The cost depends, among other things, on the manufacturer, the material, the quality and whether the cooker has one or two flames. The following table shows the usual price ranges of the two types of alcohol cookers.

Type Price range
Single-flame spirit cooker approx. 15 - 50 euros
Two-flame spirit cooker 50 - 150 euros

Most alcohol cookers are sold as part of a camping cooking set. If you don't already have cookware, these sets are highly recommended. This way you can be sure that your pots and cooker will fit together and that you can store everything inside each other to save space.

One litre of ethanol is enough to cook for two people for about a week.

Ethanol itself is very cheap and costs about 5 - 10 euros per litre, depending on the type. On average, you need about 25 ml per heated meal for one person and about 10 ml for heating a drink.

So if you want to prepare about two hot meals and one hot drink per day for two people, you need about one litre of methylated spirit per week.

What are the alternatives to an alcohol cooker?

If you are not sure whether an alcohol cooker is right for you, we will present some alternatives in this section. The most common camping cookers run on gas or petrol in addition to alcohol. The following table compares the three most common types of camping cookers:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Spirit cooker Robust and almost indestructible, cheap fuel, easy to use Unsafe because spirit can leak, low calorific value
Gas cooker Flame easy to regulate, low-maintenance operation Gas cartridges not available everywhere, heavy fuel container, lots of waste
Petrol cooker Suitable for sub-zero temperatures, high heat output Large and heavy, smelly, noisy, high maintenance

Gas cookers are very good alternatives to spirit cookers. They are somewhat larger and heavier, but also very suitable for hiking and touring. A big advantage of gas cookers is that you can easily regulate the temperature.

Unfortunately, however, the gas cartridges are not available everywhere and there is a lot of waste.

Spirituskocher-2

If you are planning a camping trip in cold temperatures, we recommend a petrol cooker. It has the highest heating capacity. (Image source: unsplash.com / Emily Hon)

Petrol cookers are a good alternative for professionals. The advantages of petrol cookers are that they can be used in sub-zero temperatures and that they have a very high heat output. However, you need to be trained to use them, they require a lot of maintenance and they are large and heavy.

What are the safety risks of cooking with alcohol?

Although spirit cookers are very easy to use, they do come with some safety risks. The following is a list of risks to watch out for when using alcohol cookers:

  • Spurting flame when refilling: When refilling the cooker, a pilot flame can occur if the cooker is still switched on or hot.
  • Flammable spirit spilled: Flammable spirit can easily be spilled when refilling.
  • Cooker tipped over: If a spirit cooker is tipped over, the burning spirit will spill out
  • High flame: When lit, a very high flame can be produced that lasts until the cooker is warmed up.
  • Invisible flame: The flame is often barely visible, so it is easy to forget or overlook it.

To avoid these safety risks, be sure to observe the following basic rules:

  1. Secure stand of the cooking set
  2. Sufficient safety distance
  3. Check cooker for damage
  4. Pack a fire blanket
  5. Escape route when cooking in a tent
  6. Observe regional fire regulations
  7. Proper maintenance

How do I operate a spirit cooker and how is it refilled?

Operating a spirit cooker is very simple and no problem even for beginners. All you have to do is fill the burner with ethanol, light it and you're done. The best way to find out exactly what you need to pay attention to when using your model is to consult the respective operating instructions.

Ethanol can be lit either with a lighter or a special outdoor match. But be careful! Before lighting the spirit, make sure that the spirit bottle is closed and stored at a safe distance from the spirit cooker.

In addition, be aware of all the safety hazards and basic cooking rules described above. Ethanol is very flammable and careless cooking can be very dangerous.

What accessories do I need with my alcohol cooker?

You cannot prepare meals with your alcohol cooker alone. You first need to buy some accessories. The following accessories can help you with outdoor cooking:

  • Pots
  • Frying pan
  • Kettle
  • Windscreen
  • Gas burner
  • Tongs and straps

It may be worthwhile for you to buy a whole cooking set including an alcohol cooker. This way you can ensure that the pots and pans are ideally suited for your cooker. In addition, sets are usually produced in such a way that you can store all the parts inside each other to save as much space as possible.

How do I clean an alcohol cooker?

To ensure that your cooker always works without problems and that no damage occurs, proper maintenance is essential. You can easily clean the spirit burner at home.

Tip: The sootiness of the spirit can be reduced by adding 10 percent water to the fuel. However, this also further reduces the heat output.

Image source: Koziol/ 123rf.com

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