What are the different names for camping stove alcohol and where can I get such a fuel?

Note, this is not about white gas (aka "Coleman" fuel).

There are four common types of stove alcohol: methanol, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and isopropanol. You can usually find them in hardware stores and (but not always) in camping stores. You can also get it as gas line antifreeze in automotive stores but be careful to read the label because antifreeze also comes in several other forms.

Methanol

Methanol is also commonly known as methyl alcohol, methyl hydrate, wood alcohol, or carbinol. It is toxic if consumed. It burns cleanly in an alcohol stove. It is colorless. Some brands of methanol are Heet (yellow bottle), Pyroil, Recochem and TurboPower

Ethanol

Ethanol is also commonly known as ethyl alcohol, ethyl hydrate, bio-ethanol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol. It is in alcoholic beverages. It burns cleanly in an alcohol stove. It is colorless. While many products are sold as ethanol, they usually have additives (see next). It is difficult to buy cheap forms of pure, liquid ethanol.

Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is also commonly known as methylated spirits ("meths"), or denatured rectified spirit. It is actually just ethanol with additives (such as methanol or isopropanol) to make it taste bad and toxic if consumed. It burns cleanly in an alcohol stove. It is often dyed purple. Some brands of denatured alcohol are Barrettine, Bio-Flame, Bird, Crown, Diggers, Eco-Feu, Econol, EkoFuel, Flying Tiger, Klean-Strip, La Hacienda, Mangers, Moko, Mylands, Nu-Flame, Parks, Polylab, Rain-X, Recochem, Rosak, S-L-X, Startex, Sunnyside, SupaDec, Vango and Vivek.

Isopropanol

Isopropanol is also commonly known as isopropyl alcohol, propan-2-ol, 2-propanol, IPA, or rubbing alcohol. It is somewhat toxic if consumed. It burns hot in an alcohol stove but leaves a dirty residue. It is colorless. Some brands of isopropanol are Chemtools, Diggers, Kleen-Flo, Heet (red bottle), Pyroil, Recochem, TurboPower and Uline.


Some wiki pages: Methanol, Ethanol, Denatured_alcohol, Isopropyl_alcohol, Ethanol_fuel.

Martin's answer is good. Adding a few tidbits:

Most alcohol stoves will burn other alcohols. Denatured alcohol usually refers to ethanol with an agent added that makes it undrinkable. The 3 carbon alcohols (propanols) also burn well. Iso-propanol is often marketed as rubbing alcohol. Read the label: Often comes as 70%, 90% and 99% alcohol. Higher alcohols may have problems at low temperatures.

Additional sources: Lacquer thinner is frequently a methanol blend. Try paint supply stores. Should be available in 5 gallon pails or 45 gallon drums.

Race cars run on pure methanol, and they use it in quantity. If you have a local track you would be able to get reasonable prices on it.

Alcohol used to be used as anti-freeze, before the glycols were in common use. May still be available.

  • 1
    While isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol) can be used, it is not as good as ethanol or methanol -- it will make a mess of the burner and pots. – Martin F Aug 4 at 22:36
  • I would avoid use anything for a (camping / food-intended) fuel unless it is marketed for use as such a fuel. There are some denaturants and additives which are poisonous when burned. Lacquer thinner is such a generic term that it can refer to many different kinds of alcohols. And isopropyl is dirty and dangerous to use. – Wigwam Aug 15 at 14:37
  • 1
    @wigwam All camp fuels are poisonous, with the exception of un denatured ethanol. Campfire smoke is a witches brew of toxic and carcinogenic substances. And if you believe marketing it as safe makes it safe, then you are chucking money away IMHO – Sherwood Botsford Aug 16 at 15:26

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