BSA Prohibits Use of Alcohol Stoves

Home made alcohol stove

Did you know that the use of alcohol stoves is against BSA policy?  Me neither.  Apparently, earlier this year Boy Scouts of America (BSA) published a document that effectively bans the use of commercial and home made alcohol stoves that use denatured alcohol or HEAT as fuel.  I was certainly not aware of this and I’m sure that there are many other BSA members and fellow backpackers that don’t know either. Here is the exact wording taken from the BSA Policy on Use of Chemical Fuels pdf document:

Prohibited Chemical-Fueled Equipment
Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.

Chemical Fuels not Recommended
Unleaded gasoline; liquid alcohol fuels, including isopropyl alcohol, denatured ethyl alcohol, and ethanol; and other flammable chemicals that are not in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions for chemical-fueled equipment.

Ironically the use of white gas is permitted because that fuel was specifically made for use with the stove, which blows my mind considering how incredibly dangerous white gas can be.  I guess the words “not recommended” mean you can technically still use denatured alcohol, but it will certainly be frowned upon.

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  • http://stick13.wordpress.com/ stick13

    I do believe I remember reading something similar to this a few months back on a thread at the Backpacker.com forums (or maybe at the Whitelaze forums) but it hasn’t crossed my mind again until I just read your post. Interestingly enough, I just finished watching the video’s that Jason Klass posted on his blog in which he gave a class on UL DIY gear to a group of BS leaders. Of course alcohol stoves was a big part of his presentation… Wonder if anyone mentioned it to him…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09628095804170935682 Brian

    Stick, actually it was because of Jason’s BSA DIY video post that I found out. Several of us were chatting with Jason on Facebook and it came up in a comment from Rich that BSA had ban the stoves at the beginning of this year – so there’s the direct connection for you.

    As geographically dispersed as we all are, the backpacking blogging community is a pretty small world and we tend to all know (or know of) each other :-)

  • http://stick13.wordpress.com/ stick13

    Gotcha. It is a small world huh? At least on the net… :)
    I am going to have to get on facebook… as much as I don’t want to… it seems like everyone else is…

  • Anonymous

    I just recently read the passage you show in the Guide to Safe Scouting regarding alcohol stoves. The way I read it is that the use of *homemade* stoves is banned. I take that to mean that an alcohol stove that was designed and built for this use is allowable. And as you said regarding the use of alcohol as a fuel it is not banned, just not recommended.

    Hugh

  • http://makais.com/ Todd

    interesting. i know white gas can be dangerous, because i’ve seen some buddies have some fun with it on a few backpacking trips. the alcohol route seems safer, although i don’t have experience with alcohol stoves. i always just use msr gas on my little pocket rocket stove. (i think thats the name) — Todd

  • Fred

    Actually, if you saw the state of Boy Scouts today, it wouldn’t matter what kind of stove they use. My son went through Eagle Scouts, and he never once went on a proper backpacking trip. All of his scout jamborees were car camping events where the parents brought along huge tents, generators, TV’s, etc, that they set up next to their vehicles. I went once and offered continually to take kids on backpacking / winter camping trips and never once had anyone accept (other than my son).

    Thinking that it was just my son’s troop, I had a co-worker heavily involved with her son’s troop (a different one) and it was the same thing. I believe some scouts do backpacking if they ever reach Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, but otherwise not. We also live in northern New Hanpshire, so it’s not exactly urban around here. Still, very little backpacking occurs.

    My childhood scouting was the complete opposite. We had the entire neighborhood of literally every boy involved. We had crappy equipment, little supervision, and loved camping at all times of the year (in Pennsylvania). Through much trial + error, we learned to pitch canvas tents in the rain, cook over open fires and keep ourselves dry and warm. I’d have given anything to have the kind of equipment taken for granted nowadays

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06693290671629192387 Jason Klass

    I’m disappointed by this policy. When I have a son, I want him to be a boy scout but I also want him to experience building his own alcohol stoves. This policy seems somewhat antithetical to the principles of self reliance and ingenuity the BSA teaches. The damn lawyers have once again turned a part of America into a nanny state. What’s next? Boy Scouts can’t learn to build a fire because they might burn themselves and sue?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09628095804170935682 Brian

    Jason, I’m right there with you! Most of the people (like ourselves) who take the time to research and understand the nuances of building an alcohol stove know a lot more than the folks that go out and buy a white gas stove and burn their eyebrows off, or worse.

    You may or may not recall that I joined the Boy Scouting movement (again) last fall so that I could get more involved with the activities of my son’s Tiger Cub den. As it turned out I was immediately promoted to den leader, which will teach me for opening my big mouth. I mention this because like you and your future son, I want the boys to experience the outdoors the right way, making fires, tying knots, observing nature and learning to appreciate the outdoors for what it is. But that doesn’t seem to align with where the BSA policy or program is going.

    I’m frustrated because on the one hand I want to get all the boys outside and pass along my love of being outdoors to them and help them develop the skills they will need, but on the other hand I am tied to the regulations and program structure of BSA that has turned our weekly activities into not much more than a weekly indoor craft building time.

    I’m hoping things get a little more exciting (read as flexible) as the boys get older and progress, but I hear you loud and clear when it comes to BSA. Growing up in the UK my experience of the Boy Scouts was completely different and better IMHO. Fortunately this new “policy” is not widely know or even understood by most BSA camp directors. So, as long as I don’t draw too much attention to what I am doing I can still use an alcohol stove in a safe and controlled manner. The Tiger Cubs are always excited to see how cool things like these little stoves work. I guess we never grow out of our love of small gadgets :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03966200423030833428 RieskeMathiasREC2400

    As someone who has worked for, and been a volunteer for the scouts. The program really depends on getting the adult and youth leaders trained. However, many adults nowadays didn’t have leaders that focused on many back country types of activities so they don’t when they are older. I had two scoutmasters growing up, one who was an eagle scout and had a rule that for every campout we had to hike at least a mile to get to camp, and the other was an immigrant who grew up in a grass shack. I learned great things from both men, but the immigrant didn’t want to hike to camp, so we didn’t. The stoves ‘recommendation/ban’ is probably do to the fact that most leaders don’t do the recommended training, and that most scouts spend more time on youtube than they do interacting with the real world. I can’t say why officially they came to the conclusion, but it’s more CYA than take it all away.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14564026914018457318 Aaron Mackley

    I just learned of the “Prohibited” nature of “alcohol-burning “can” stoves”. This is very disappointing, and somewhat aggravating to me.

    I have worked with more than one Scout Troop for nearly 15 years. The last troop has been for 6 years. I attend Roundtable every month and extra training courses annually. I was actually taught how to do the “can” stove from a Powderhorn, advanced training.

    The alcohol can stove, in my experience, is safer, more compact, and easier to use than just about any stove. Unless you want to shell out a minimum of $40.00 and much more.

    Although I understand the nature of the restrictions, it is just these restrictions that make me want to quite with the Scouting and just go backpacking.

    This one will be a hard one to swallow.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09628095804170935682 Brian

    Aaron, I hear you and pretty much agree with you sentiment. I was part of scouting for years in UK and just now getting back into it here in USA because of my son joining Tiger Cubs – I’m suddenly a Tiger Cub den leader.

    I very much enjoy teaching and shaping the young boys as they learn about Scouting, but I am having a hard time adjusting to the direction BSA is heading towards. They’re slowly removing all of the outdoors components of scouting and turning it into an indoor arts & crafts group. I’m more than a little concerned too.

  • http://backpackingfanatic.com/ Bill LeRoy

    Scout organizations do differ depending on region, interest, and leadership. My son’s troop was an active backpacking troop and we used both white gas and butyl/propyl stoves. The BSA frowns on liquid fuel stoves due to the possibility of fuel spills. Even manufactured backpacking stoves (e.g., Svea, MSR, etc.) must be used under adult supervision (another variable). This isn’t a new policy and due to the variability of individual scouts and leaders, I think it is a prudent decision on the part of the BSA.

    As both an avid backpacker (40 years now) and former scout leader, I wish it were otherwise. All of my son’s contemporaries were excellent backpackers and safe to boot!

    However my most recent troop was sorely lacking in leadership (no interest other than dropping the kids off), and only 1 in 5 scouts actually participated regularly. I would’nt have trusted them with any liquid-fueled stove.

    bl

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07035612515209418405 bholland

    I am a scoutmaster of a troop in Michigan and thought it would be great to build our own stoves and hike out for a lunch. I was disappointed when I learned about this rule.

    I went to some training in the last year where we “learned” how to light a backpacking stove and they required us to wear safety glasses!!

    Bryan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07035612515209418405 bholland

    I am a scoutmaster of a troop in Michigan and thought it would be great to build our own stoves and hike out for a lunch. I was disappointed when I learned about this rule.

    I went to some training in the last year where we “learned” how to light a backpacking stove and they required us to wear safety glasses!!

    Bryan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14564026914018457318 Aaron Mackley

    I just learned of the “Prohibited” nature of “alcohol-burning “can” stoves”. This is very disappointing, and somewhat aggravating to me.

    I have worked with more than one Scout Troop for nearly 15 years. The last troop has been for 6 years. I attend Roundtable every month and extra training courses annually. I was actually taught how to do the “can” stove from a Powderhorn, advanced training.

    The alcohol can stove, in my experience, is safer, more compact, and easier to use than just about any stove. Unless you want to shell out a minimum of $40.00 and much more.

    Although I understand the nature of the restrictions, it is just these restrictions that make me want to quite with the Scouting and just go backpacking.

    This one will be a hard one to swallow.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03966200423030833428 RieskeMathiasREC2400

    As someone who has worked for, and been a volunteer for the scouts. The program really depends on getting the adult and youth leaders trained. However, many adults nowadays didn’t have leaders that focused on many back country types of activities so they don’t when they are older. I had two scoutmasters growing up, one who was an eagle scout and had a rule that for every campout we had to hike at least a mile to get to camp, and the other was an immigrant who grew up in a grass shack. I learned great things from both men, but the immigrant didn’t want to hike to camp, so we didn’t. The stoves ‘recommendation/ban’ is probably do to the fact that most leaders don’t do the recommended training, and that most scouts spend more time on youtube than they do interacting with the real world. I can’t say why officially they came to the conclusion, but it’s more CYA than take it all away.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09628095804170935682 Brian

    Jason, I’m right there with you! Most of the people (like ourselves) who take the time to research and understand the nuances of building an alcohol stove know a lot more than the folks that go out and buy a white gas stove and burn their eyebrows off, or worse.

    You may or may not recall that I joined the Boy Scouting movement (again) last fall so that I could get more involved with the activities of my son’s Tiger Cub den. As it turned out I was immediately promoted to den leader, which will teach me for opening my big mouth. I mention this because like you and your future son, I want the boys to experience the outdoors the right way, making fires, tying knots, observing nature and learning to appreciate the outdoors for what it is. But that doesn’t seem to align with where the BSA policy or program is going.

    I’m frustrated because on the one hand I want to get all the boys outside and pass along my love of being outdoors to them and help them develop the skills they will need, but on the other hand I am tied to the regulations and program structure of BSA that has turned our weekly activities into not much more than a weekly indoor craft building time.

    I’m hoping things get a little more exciting (read as flexible) as the boys get older and progress, but I hear you loud and clear when it comes to BSA. Growing up in the UK my experience of the Boy Scouts was completely different and better IMHO. Fortunately this new “policy” is not widely know or even understood by most BSA camp directors. So, as long as I don’t draw too much attention to what I am doing I can still use an alcohol stove in a safe and controlled manner. The Tiger Cubs are always excited to see how cool things like these little stoves work. I guess we never grow out of our love of small gadgets :-)

  • Fred

    Actually, if you saw the state of Boy Scouts today, it wouldn’t matter what kind of stove they use. My son went through Eagle Scouts, and he never once went on a proper backpacking trip. All of his scout jamborees were car camping events where the parents brought along huge tents, generators, TV’s, etc, that they set up next to their vehicles. I went once and offered continually to take kids on backpacking / winter camping trips and never once had anyone accept (other than my son).

    Thinking that it was just my son’s troop, I had a co-worker heavily involved with her son’s troop (a different one) and it was the same thing. I believe some scouts do backpacking if they ever reach Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, but otherwise not. We also live in northern New Hanpshire, so it’s not exactly urban around here. Still, very little backpacking occurs.

    My childhood scouting was the complete opposite. We had the entire neighborhood of literally every boy involved. We had crappy equipment, little supervision, and loved camping at all times of the year (in Pennsylvania). Through much trial + error, we learned to pitch canvas tents in the rain, cook over open fires and keep ourselves dry and warm. I’d have given anything to have the kind of equipment taken for granted nowadays

  • Just some person

    I can understand this is a way to protect the BSA from legal issues (I would not be surprised if this came into being to diffuse or part  of a settlement of a legal issue) but it seems like an ‘easy way out’. As a youth and now as an adult leader in scouts I enjoyed the challenges that were offered by the BSA requirements.

    Now I have two ways to look at this:
    1) Accept the challenge to follow this rule I do not fully agree with.

    2) Pursue the challenge to see if it could be adjusted. Perhaps rather than an outright ban for homemade stoves, it could become a training issue. Create a patch and course that would qualify and allow one to use such items.

    Last thought – the ban is to USE not MAKE such items on BSA functions. Making these still provides a good education for knowledge hungry youth scouters. And then they have a nice piece of gear for non-BSA camp-outs/hikes.

  • http://www.pastprimitive.com Past Primitive™

    Certainly news to us.  But we’ve donate stoves to troops through the BSA office, so it doesn’t seem to be a universal policy.  Or perhaps ours aren’t considered “homemade.”  Either way its a shame because alcohol stoves are lighter and often safer.  The alcohol evaporates quickly, which prevents spills from becoming too dangerous.  We do understand the legal risks, but is it really that much worse than an open flamed fire in a pit or a butane stove?

    But it does sound a bit like its just homemade and not commercial alcohol stoves, as well as only recommending against chemical fuels that aren’t recommended by the manufacturer.

  • http://www.pastprimitive.com/ Past Primitive™

    Certainly news to us.  But we’ve donate stoves to troops through the BSA office, so it doesn’t seem to be a universal policy.  Or perhaps ours aren’t considered “homemade.”  Either way its a shame because alcohol stoves are lighter and often safer.  The alcohol evaporates quickly, which prevents spills from becoming too dangerous.  We do understand the legal risks, but is it really that much worse than an open flamed fire in a pit or a butane stove?

    But it does sound a bit like its just homemade and not commercial alcohol stoves, as well as only recommending against chemical fuels that aren’t recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Serpensphile

    Absolutely.  I’ve seen the Scouts today and in my area, they are nothing like what I went through.  It seems like it’s an extension of Cub Scouts.  Lots of hand holding……..

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Unfortunately yes. I ended up becoming a Cub Scout den leader when my son asked to join Tiger Cubs. I did it because I wanted to teach the Tigers the things that had endeared me to Scouting when I was young. It’s not always easy, but I’m doing my part to effect change from the inside out.

      • http://FossilBackpackingGear.com Clayton Hay

        I have been a leader in Boy Scouts for over 20 years. The troop my son and I joined in 1988 was just starting to get into backpacking. A group was going to Philmont that summer, so they started training for it. The adult leaders decided that the younger scouts could backpack just as well as the older scouts, so we started hiking. For many years, backpacking is all we did. Now it’s about 50-50 backpacking to “tailgate” camping. That’s what I call heavy impact camping. During all this time we used liquid fuel single burner coleman stoves and then moved into propane/butane stoves. I never got into the alchohol stoves for some reason.

        Most of the Troops in my area still do not backpack which is a shame. You can teach a boy different skills with both types of camping.

        Stick with the Boy Scouts. When you and your son graduate from Cubs, you can find a Troop that fits your style or create a new unit. The best way is to start backpacking and hiking in Webelos (4th and 5th grades). You can even start now taking short hikes and getting the boys used to walking and having fun outdoors and way from the TV and games.

        You make it fun and they will follow you.

        • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

          Clayton, well said: “You make it fun and they will follow you.” Exactly!

        • JT

          Agree with Clayton.  

          It all depends on the Troop and the Scoutmaster.  Each one is different.  Have your son visit a number of Troops before deciding which one to join.  My son is an Eagle Scout and developed a lifelong love for hiking, backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing through BSA.

          • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

            That’s very sound advice JT and can make all the difference between sticking with BSA or not. Great to hear your son achieved Eagle Scout, you should be very proud.

  • Serpensphile

    Absolutely.  I’ve seen the Scouts today and in my area, they are nothing like what I went through.  It seems like it’s an extension of Cub Scouts.  Lots of hand holding……..

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Unfortunately yes. I ended up becoming a Cub Scout den leader when my son asked to join Tiger Cubs. I did it because I wanted to teach the Tigers the things that had endeared me to Scouting when I was young. It’s not always easy, but I’m doing my part to effect change from the inside out.

  • http://fossilbackpackinggear.com/ Clayton Hay

    I have been a leader in Boy Scouts for over 20 years. The troop my son and I joined in 1988 was just starting to get into backpacking. A group was going to Philmont that summer, so they started training for it. The adult leaders decided that the younger scouts could backpack just as well as the older scouts, so we started hiking. For many years, backpacking is all we did. Now it’s about 50-50 backpacking to “tailgate” camping. That’s what I call heavy impact camping. During all this time we used liquid fuel single burner coleman stoves and then moved into propane/butane stoves. I never got into the alchohol stoves for some reason.

    Most of the Troops in my area still do not backpack which is a shame. You can teach a boy different skills with both types of camping.

    Stick with the Boy Scouts. When you and your son graduate from Cubs, you can find a Troop that fits your style or create a new unit. The best way is to start backpacking and hiking in Webelos (4th and 5th grades). You can even start now taking short hikes and getting the boys used to walking and having fun outdoors and way from the TV and games.

    You make it fun and they will follow you.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Clayton, well said: “You make it fun and they will follow you.” Exactly!

  • Just some person

    I can understand this is a way to protect the BSA from legal issues (I would not be surprised if this came into being to diffuse or part  of a settlement of a legal issue) but it seems like an ‘easy way out’. As a youth and now as an adult leader in scouts I enjoyed the challenges that were offered by the BSA requirements.

    Now I have two ways to look at this:
    1) Accept the challenge to follow this rule I do not fully agree with.

    2) Pursue the challenge to see if it could be adjusted. Perhaps rather than an outright ban for homemade stoves, it could become a training issue. Create a patch and course that would qualify and allow one to use such items.

    Last thought – the ban is to USE not MAKE such items on BSA functions. Making these still provides a good education for knowledge hungry youth scouters. And then they have a nice piece of gear for non-BSA camp-outs/hikes.

  • JMTSL5

    Hi Folks,  I’m a cub scout leader also.  I just learned of the stove ban this weekend myself at a scout camp out.  I do not agree with the rule.  But I do see where it came from.  The same place as the 2 leader deep rule, and the child protection training.  The same thing is in our schools and creeping into every aspect of our childs lives. 
         whe a childs lunch was made hot enough to blister, the microwaves were removed from my boys lunch room.  When a child fell from the monkeybars they playground was made safe by removing the equipment.  the legal system has made millions from reacionary fear pumped into our homes.  Law suits and bankrupting judgments have scared the scouts into hyper proactive mode. 
         I have cub scout books that go back about 40 yrs.  You can see every new publishing, a few things missing.  I would say that in a 10 years the use of pocket knives will dissapear from the cubs all together.   

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Hyper-protective and cover their ass modes for sure! I hate to think about it, but your prediction about pocket knives may well be spot on. Thanks for your feedback and perspective, I hope you stick around and read some more of my posts :-)

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    That’s very sound advice JT and can make all the difference between sticking with BSA or not. Great to hear your son achieved Eagle Scout, you should be very proud.

  • JT

    Agree with Clayton.  

    It all depends on the Troop and the Scoutmaster.  Each one is different.  Have your son visit a number of Troops before deciding which one to join.  My son is an Eagle Scout and developed a lifelong love for hiking, backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing through BSA.

  • David Cannon

    My Troop of 12 and 13 year olds have packed in on 6 of our last 10 trips. Generally we camp near the vehicles in the winter due to the difficulty of getting enough cheap cold weather gear into a youth size pack. The reason many troops never backpack is the leaders are not in good enough shape (height/weight) to pass the physical requirements for backcountry trips. The BSA then requires them to be within 15 minutes of ground transportation. The stove issue is not so bad I can find ISO Butane stoves for less then $20 on line. And I do not have to worry about a kid flipping the alcohal stove over and spilling the fuel on the ground and himself as has happened to me once.

  • David Cannon

    My Troop of 12 and 13 year olds have packed in on 6 of our last 10 trips. Generally we camp near the vehicles in the winter due to the difficulty of getting enough cheap cold weather gear into a youth size pack. The reason many troops never backpack is the leaders are not in good enough shape (height/weight) to pass the physical requirements for backcountry trips. The BSA then requires them to be within 15 minutes of ground transportation. The stove issue is not so bad I can find ISO Butane stoves for less then $20 on line. And I do not have to worry about a kid flipping the alcohal stove over and spilling the fuel on the ground and himself as has happened to me once.

  • James

    I believe the “not recommended” part comes from it being alcohol. ie some kids are stupid and will try drinking it. Other than that BSA has not recommended homemade or modified stoves or heaters for quit some time. The quality of homemade stoves is always in question.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      James, I get it trust me. The sad part about this is the typical story of a few spoiling it for the many and the need for BSA to impose such broad strokes. Are you part of the BSA or a volunteer in any capacity?

  • James

    I believe the “not recommended” part comes from it being alcohol. ie some kids are stupid and will try drinking it. Other than that BSA has not recommended homemade or modified stoves or heaters for quit some time. The quality of homemade stoves is always in question.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    James, I get it trust me. The sad part about this is the typical story of a few spoiling it for the many and the need for BSA to impose such broad strokes. Are you part of the BSA or a volunteer in any capacity?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000064337858 Bryan McCollum

    A commercially made alcohol stove using Denatured Alcohol “stove fuel” should not be prohibited according to what I read.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000064337858 Bryan McCollum

    A commercially made alcohol stove using Denatured Alcohol “stove fuel” should not be prohibited according to what I read.

  • Scoutmaster Dave

    BSA doesn’t prohibit commercial made alcohol stoves. They discourage the use of alcohol. Only the homemade stoves are prohibited. It is clearly stated in the document.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Buying a commercial alcohol stove just kinda misses the point in my opinion, and if the BSA are discouraging the use of alcohol as a stove fuel, then what’s the point if it’s commercial or not.

      I’m less concerned at this from the perspective of a backpacking stove, than I am of it being a missed opportunity for a great hands on instructional on how to improvise, make, and use readily available materials (soda cans) to make a functional and efficient stove. Meh!

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Buying a commercial alcohol stove just kinda misses the point in my opinion, and if the BSA are discouraging the use of alcohol as a stove fuel, then what’s the point if it’s commercial or not.

    I’m less concerned at this from the perspective of a backpacking stove, than I am of it being a missed opportunity for a great hands on instructional on how to improvise, make, and use readily available materials (soda cans) to make a functional and efficient stove. Meh!

  • paul

    I am a scoutmaster and I like the alcohol stoves I purchased on line for $4 dollars each. They are swedish army surplus brass with wide bases. I never let any scout put them on a table – only on the ground. That is because if a lit one gets knocked over, burning alcohol can end up on a kid. Denatured alcohol works great because it is not sooty at all.
    I agree with a lot of what is said on this forum. Scouting should be about camping and the outdoors. They get religion, citizenship, family life, communication, etc. in school and in church. It should be eliminated from scouts.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Paul, great to hear you are using alcohol stoves and in a sensible fashion – on the ground! I’m sure you are clearing the ground of any debris too.

      My kids were put off by the sheer amount of non-outdoor activities that were forced upon them and as I’m outdoors all the time anyway they just decided to come with me instead. It’s a shame, but seems to be the direction scouting is going toward. A far cry from when I was a cub scout.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryan-Taylor/1419111893 Bryan Taylor

      Scouts is about raising responsible citizens who are self-reliant, self-starters who look out for those around them. The Motto? The Law? The Oath? They are meaningless if our kids just become glorified campers and outdoorsmen. Our troop does endless amounts of camping, hiking, biking, boating, etc., plus service projects. I disagree, they don’t get religion, citizenship, family life, communication, etc in school, and only some of that in church. Scouts is still around and still great, precisely because they have held to their standards through time.

  • paul

    I am a scoutmaster and I like the alcohol stoves I purchased on line for $4 dollars each. They are swedish army surplus brass with wide bases. I never let any scout put them on a table – only on the ground. That is because if a lit one gets knocked over, burning alcohol can end up on a kid. Denatured alcohol works great because it is not sooty at all.
    I agree with a lot of what is said on this forum. Scouting should be about camping and the outdoors. They get religion, citizenship, family life, communication, etc. in school and in church. It should be eliminated from scouts.

  • David F

    The “wussification” of the country continues. When I was in scouts and went to a scout meeting when it was raining, was 90% sure what we were going to do. We were going to go out in the rain/cold and each of us was going to build a fire using ONE MATCH.

    And Fred, we were the same way because it was about improvisation. A warm dry boy learns little about character. People today think if their little boy gets cold and wet he might catch a cold…..awwwwwww!!! I just shake my head a weap.

  • David F

    The “wussification” of the country continues. When I was in scouts and went to a scout meeting when it was raining, was 90% sure what we were going to do. We were going to go out in the rain/cold and each of us was going to build a fire using ONE MATCH.

    And Fred, we were the same way because it was about improvisation. A warm dry boy learns little about character. People today think if their little boy gets cold and wet he might catch a cold…..awwwwwww!!! I just shake my head a weap.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Paul, great to hear you are using alcohol stoves and in a sensible fashion – on the ground! I’m sure you are clearing the ground of any debris too.

    My kids were put off by the sheer amount of non-outdoor activities that were forced upon them and as I’m outdoors all the time anyway they just decided to come with me instead. It’s a shame, but seems to be the direction scouting is going toward. A far cry from when I was a cub scout.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryan-Taylor/1419111893 Bryan Taylor

    Scouts is about raising responsible citizens who are self-reliant, self-starters who look out for those around them. The Motto? The Law? The Oath? They are meaningless if our kids just become glorified campers and outdoorsmen. Our troop does endless amounts of camping, hiking, biking, boating, etc., plus service projects. I disagree, they don’t get religion, citizenship, family life, communication, etc in school, and only some of that in church. Scouts is still around and still great, precisely because they have held to their standards through time.

  • David

    Despite the misleading title, alcohol stoves are NOT prohibited, as the writer later suggests. Commercial stoves are fine as long as they are not modified or installed improperly. And while alcohol fuel is not recommended, it is NOT prohibited either. Read: Proceed if you must, but with caution.

  • David

    Despite the misleading title, alcohol stoves are NOT prohibited, as the writer later suggests. Commercial stoves are fine as long as they are not modified or installed improperly. And while alcohol fuel is not recommended, it is NOT prohibited either. Read: Proceed if you must, but with caution.

  • Daniel

    This is why I’m not an Eagle Scout. I was about 6 months from achieving it, and I left my troop in disgust.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marty.conn Marty S Conn

    this is only for boy scouts and them right?
    I can still go make one and go camping right?

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Marty, you can still use them, and make them, anywhere cooking and fires are allowed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.w.knight.sr David Knight

    I just got back from a backpacking campout with 4 scouts and one other leader. One of the stoves we use along side a colman “white fuel” stove (that I had to pump forever so we could light it) was a denatured ethyl alcohol stove. Now it was made by a company and was made for this. It was also a part of “manufacturer’s stated design”. So we were still able to use it as it was 1. not home made and 2. made for the fuel we were using. I think you may be misunderstanding the above policy. BSA is first and foremost about the safety of the boys. So it would be wrong to let them hand make one or use one that is hand made. I do not see how you get from all this that they have banned the use of a stove that was made for said fuel? Only a home made stove and/or fuel that is not really fuel but stuff like heat which is sold to put into your cars fuel tank to keep it from freezing not to be used as a fuel for cooking or heating water.

  • Bryce

    Also note that BSA now has a newer branch called Venture Scouts. These are boys and girls age 14 to 21 and the scope includes more High Adventure activities. There is significantly more push in this direction than there was even 5 years ago. Still BSA has never been set up to be a backpacking organization. The program is far broader than that. You are going to get a lot of car camping because of the age differences in Boy Scouts. Venture Scouts may be what you are really wanting.

  • Matt

    I would bet it is a liability thing. Some moron nearly dies after using an alcohol stove (which in some ways is not exceptionally hard) and sues BSA because they didn’t tell him not to…… that may not end well for the scouts. On the other hand if someone nearly dies using a coleman burner it’s coleman’s liability

  • John McLeod VII

    Cub Scouts are more restricted in what they can do than Boy Scouts – mostly due to the age. However, a good pack will get them outdoors sevral times a year for tail gate camping and hikes. I was drafted as the Tiger Den leader myself, then the next year as Assistant Cub Master, Outdoor Chairman, and several other activities. Part of the restriction in the Cubs is that on every overnight event, one parent for each child must be along. Most of the parents are not into backpacking. In the Boy Scouts, you have to have one adult leader per ten scouts. It is much easier to find back packing parents for that.
    The year before I was Tiger Den leader, the required Tiger “hike” was around the playground in back of the meegting place. When I was offered “around the playgroud” as the hike, I merely raised an eyebrow. The year I was Tiger den leader, it was about 3 miles, and included about 1 mile of trail that was in really bad shape (no, I did not know this before I started). the parents had more difficulty that the kids…
    Most Tigers are not really going to be able to do much in the way of backpacking anyway. (Subtract 2 from age, and translate to miles for a hike is a good rule of thumb for a group less than 8 years old.)
    The Troop I was in as a young man did mostly backpacking. It still does. early on, the big event was the annual spring break to the Grand Canyon for a 5 day back pack trip, First Class and up only. There was also a long pack trip in the summer. Shorter pack trips once a month or so except in the snow (our favorite places were burried under many feet of snow, and the troop decided it would not be much fun).
    As to the DIY modifications to stoves, not everyone is going to be skilled at doing the conversion, and some people are going to be more confident than their skill level warrants.

  • Jerry Schleining

    OK… so I have read all of the comments and now feel the need to chime in.
    First. I am a Scoutmaster and have been for 10 years. The troop that I am with is a backpacking troop… that is the only style camping we do.. even at camporee and those kind of events.. we backpack.
    The use of “HOMEMADE” alcohol stove are prohibited. The use of a Trangia, Esbit, or other manufactured (Smokeater908 stove for example) are ok to use.
    I use an alcohol stove on every camp out and we used them on our Philmont trek last year. Our Ranger was curious about them and once she saw how well they worked, even or small group cooking she was sold on the idea.
    I had a lengthy discussion about the “safety” of the alcohol stove with our local camping committee. Once they understood that it is just as dangerous as using a whisperlite when not properly trained then they understood the value of the stove.
    When used correctly, the alcohol stove is just as safe.
    Denatured Alcohol… the issue there is that they fear it will be consumed. The question I asked is how many cases of white gas consumption do we have annually. The answer is NONE. And that is how many cases of Denatured alcohol consumption we have had in our Troop. We carry the fuel in appropriate containers and use the stoves the right way.
    More and more Scout leaders and Scouts are using alcohol stoves… That I know for sure.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Jerry, great update and common sense for the most part. If there is still concern over accidental consumption of denatured alcohol (and I’ve seen it happen) then may I suggest this simple little hack/solution – Making Denatured Alcohol User Friendly

  • robert baldor

    It’s unfortunate that the boyscouts don’t teach or endorse survival or self reliance any more. I’ll teach my sons that stuff at home.

  • sweerek

    = pop can pot + tomato paste can burner + windscreen

    Faced with the task of getting 34 young Scouts backpacking stoves + pots (to only boil water), a couple hours to do it, $ones per boy not $$hundreds, BSA’s alcohol fuel ban, and knowing how boys simply can’t maintain or tune stuff, I combined lots of postings to create a very simple, quickly built stove consisting of:

    Soda can (emptied by Scouts) as pot for boiling 1 cup water (it fits 1.5 cups but these are boys so you want less spilling and they eat smaller amounts.
    6 oz tomato paste can (emptied for pizza) as the burner & ‘pot’ stand
    10″ tall aluminum flashing as windscreen
    Hexamine fuel tablet (~1 Coghlans tablet boils 1 cup water)
    Handkerchief, cloth, glove, pliers, etc as pot holder

    Burner & Stand. Using a church key opener, punch 4 triangles on bottom of tomato paste can, plus 4-6 on top. This focuses flame upward to & around pop can and offer a bit of a standoff from the ground. The can’s bottom holds the solid –> liquified fuel well. Use a long needlenose pliers to hold the can next to where you punch the hole (else can bends too much). Later, you’ll burn the plastic liner outta it.

    Windscreen can be many things, but aluminum flashing seems best cuz its lightweight, easily cut with scissors, leaves few sharp edges, holes punched with cheap paper hole punch, and comes in right size from Lowes, Home Depot. Foil works but tedious to maintain. Galvanized steel (HVAC duct) stronger & cheaper but edges sharp, need tin snips, and hole punched w/ a hammer & punch. Big beer cans then cut apart work, but metal is thin and not quite big enough.

    On bottom of windscreen put many small holes. Roll flashing tight to fit around the pop can — if tighter than can, then cut a 1/8″ notch on top & bottom to keep it open. 10″ is a bit taller than burner & can stacked, but it really keeps the heat in, protects everything when jammed into the pack, and its one less cut to make building it. (Get 10″ tall flashing from Lowes, Home Depot).

    Pot. No changes to pop can (pot, boiling kettle). It fits ok atop stand. Easily replaced if crushed.

    Big Pot Option: A 24 Foster beer can also works fine atop the burner/stand. Leave as is to boil 2-3 cups water (with many tablets) or for more of a pot look, cut the top’s inner ring (inside the lip) by scoring a knife or razor blade inside the little trough around the top ~80 times. After the top separates, press backside of knife around edge to remove sharp stuff. Wash well to remove aluminum shavings.

    Light it! Put water in pop can, put fuel tab in burner, tip burner to ignite tablet with lighter, put pop can atop burner, wrap with windscreen (critical, not too tight, want flames up sides of pop can but not windscreen), watch water boil in few minutes, pour hot water into Ziploc and Cozy Cook (use a cloth or gripper to grab), blow out tab, cool, place all in plastic grocery bag for travel.

    Cautions & Caveats. Despite telling boys many times, several will grab a hot can & git a bit burned. Expect to find aluminum dots from punching holes for years. Its not optimized (like many do here to eke out a few seconds less boil time or drop a gram). This is meant to be a Webelos or Boy Scout stove, simple, cheap, tough, no worries if lost, easily replaced/made by boys.