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SOLO An Interesting Twig Stove

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
There are a lot of workable twig stoves out there. I have to wonder if mankind would have risen, say, 40,000 - 50,000 years quicker if he hadn’t had to gather stones to build a little fireplace before sticking a chunk of hairy mammoth, or some other tasty morsel on to cook?
Anyway, at www.solostove.com you can take a look for yourself.
 

oldsparkey

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Aug 25, 2003
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Central , Florida
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I've had a Solo Stove Lite for several years , probably longer. It's a nice multi fuel , backpacking , wood burning stove. It also can be used as a alcohol stove by either using the ash pan in the stove ( I'm sure that is not recommended by the manufacture but it works great ) or with a drop in burner like a Trangia.
To save a little weight a Snow Peak 900 ml titanium cup works as well as the 900 ml cup from Solo Stove. The lid for the Snow Peak Cup I located at Four Dog Stoves.

I liked my Solo Stove lite so much I got the Campfire for the kids to use on their canoe trips. It was during the pre-sale ( introduction ) when they were offering it with all of the accessories.

Tomsbackwoods did a video of the Bush Buddy stove ( Identical to the Solo Stove lite ) on how to use it as a alcohol burner.
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Like Tom, in the above video, I enjoy tinkering around, fiddling around with twig stoves. I have two of them - a Solo and a Littlbug. (Yes, the “e” is intentionally omitted.) both stoves are meant for one to two people. Both companies also have slightly larger versions for 3-4 people. In my opinion, both companies produce equipment that is well made of good materials' and well designed to do their jobs. They approach combustion a bit differently, and both have a little rack that holds a pot of water up to allow (1) flame or radiant heat to act on the bottom of the container, and (2) allow unfettered exhaust of the fire.

The formula for combustion hasn’t changed in the 100,000 or so years that we have been playing with fire: fuel, air, heat. I add: keep rain away, just as a precaution. The two companies both do a good job of containing the fire, thus concentrating the heat. It’s up to the fire builder to furnish fuel and heat.

Solo does a more complete job of channelling air to and around the actual combustion chamber. They claim secondary combustion. And color videos seem to support that. I suspect that, if a thermometer was to be inserted into the flames, a Solo stove is capable of a hotter flame. Can’t prove or disprove that.

The littlbug stove is simpler. Weight and cost are about 1/2 of the Solo. Air control of the fire is more up to the camper. I use a stick to scratch a small trench, say, 1 1/2” wide and deep, and about 8”-10” long, and set the assembled Littlbug astride it. Air flow is more than sufficient, longer sticks can be used, and a longer vertical combustion chamber is created.
Solo has a short, complex air flow system; Littlbug has a taller (about twice as tall) chimney. Both do a good job of ensuring full combustion (I’m assuming dry wood here, equal quality wood in both units). Final results are going to be pretty close - a very hot fire and boiling water.

If one stove boiled a pint or a quart of water a minute faster than the other one, what difference does it make? You’re setting in camp, relaxing anyway. What were you going to do during that minute? Maybe, another sip of that beer? Or another puff of that cigar?
 

oldsparkey

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Aug 25, 2003
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When the Solo Stove is operating as intended there is a 2nd series of flames or jets from the holes around the top. They are the unburden gasses that are normally wasted and escape. Interesting fact about the Solo Stove and the Bush Buddy along with the other gasifier ones. They are top light versions. You load the wood in the stove ( Ideally with the wood upright and just below the top holes ) then light the top of the wood and it will burn down. They are referred to as Down-Draft Gasifier. The mistake most folks make is to light the wood from the bottom of the stove , the old standard way.
The greatest advantage of these stoves is the ability to leave the fuel worries at home , get the fuel from the area around you. I camp in a hammock so small twigs and branches are always available. If not then just fill a sandwich zip lock bag with them as you walk along the trail , anything from 3/8 inch thick on down works quite well. The Solo Stove light takes them about 2 1/2 inches long.

I have used the alcohol in mine and all it takes is 3/4 of an ounce to reach the boiling point. That's about the half way mark on the ash pan or so it appears looking at it. Having that ability it's a nice system to be able to fall back on.

I have to agree with Jack , if you are going out in the woods to relax then why get in a hurry. The idea is to enjoy being out there and having the ability to sit back , relax and leave the rush of the world behind you.
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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It’s nice to have these choices! Twig stoves let the 14 year old kid who is still living inside of us, play with fire, and it’s OK!

(sounds of giggling drift back as I saunter off to have a beer with Chuckie)
 

jdupre'

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Sep 9, 2007
2,143
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South Louisiana
Twig stoves are fun. I've made a couple of different kinds. I like them, but keep coming back to a plain old metal grill. I cut one of those Walmart ones down to a little smaller size just big enough for two pots. It folds flat and it's not too heavy if you're boat camping.

I went one step further than that on a short day trip recently. I just built a small fire right on the ground with sticks up to 1 and 1/2" in diameter. Burnt down to coals pretty fast due to the small kindling size. Then, I just plopped the pot right on top of the coals and made a pot of coffee. Worked great. In Louisiana we don't really have to worry about forest fires. This method wouldn't be allowed elsewhere.

I also found that good, clean coals don't soot up your pots near as much as burning twigs.
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Similarly, when the wood gets down to coals, just lay the meat directly onto the coals. Not carrying a pan or a rack lightens the load. But, limits other options. Preplanning helps us to lay out what to take, and what to leave.

Note to self: remember single malt and seegars. Even if I DIDN’T deserve them.
 

oldsparkey

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Aug 25, 2003
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I just built a small fire right on the ground with sticks up to 1 and 1/2" in diameter. Burnt down to coals pretty fast due to the small kindling size. Then, I just plopped the pot right on top of the coals and made a pot of coffee. Worked great. In Louisiana we don't really have to worry about forest fires. This method wouldn't be allowed elsewhere.

I also found that good, clean coals don't soot up your pots near as much as burning twigs.
Around here sometimes a trench fire is used in place of the conventional ground fire for cooking. Florida's sugar sand is great for a fire like this , especially on the rivers sand bars. A small trench with a small grid/grill over it works darn well. When you are done just put the dirt you dug you removed back.
One that stands out in my memory is in the book ( From Here to There on the florida Trail ). The late 90's two gals walked the 1,300 miles of the Florida Trail and one gal used trench fires to do the cooking when she could. Each had stoves , one had a canister stove and the other had a alcohol stove for when she could not have a trench fire.
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
In mineral soils, a ground fire is a great way of doing it. In. Carbonaceous soils, no. Around here there are “pockets” of muck. They can be from a few yards across, to a couple of miles. If it gets afire, it burns underground for hours, days, weeks.

Sometimes, I don’t dig a hole. Just buy a few postholes at the hardware. Take out one, unfold it, and lay it down sideways if you want a short trench. Easy peasey.
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Almost lost a toe one day, Mike; I dropped a post hole. Luckily, it fluttered a bit on the way down, and I had time to dance back a half-step. I was so grateful, that I didn’t do any more work for the rest of the month.

I repeat that celebratory gratefulness often, noawadays.
 

mike

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Jun 29, 2009
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TEXAS!
No snow yet here in East Texas. They say it's coming, but it isn't cold enough for it to last.
 

oldsparkey

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Aug 25, 2003
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Here in good old central Florida , this morning , everything was white. Roof tops , the yards , vehicles and basically anything that was out in the open and sitting still. If you were camping and under a tree that area isn't covered in Frost. Around here the trees keep the frost from the ground , just one more good reason to camp in a hammock. :)
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
I sleep well in a hammock; it conforms to my back instead of the other way around. Practice naps are better in a hammock too. FOR THE RECORD: time spent in practice naps, doesn’t count off your Lifetime.

It’s easier (for me) to change clothes in a tent than in a hammock. Similarly, taking a “baby wipe bath” is easier (again, for me) in a tent.

An amazing sensation to me is when, daydreaming in a hammock, it swings in a breeze. With eyes closed, it may feel like an arc of a foot, maybe TWO feet. Opening my eyes ruins the feel - usually only about an inch or so!! sigh
 

oldsparkey

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Aug 25, 2003
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Central , Florida
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An amazing sensation to me is when, daydreaming in a hammock, it swings in a breeze. With eyes closed, it may feel like an arc of a foot, maybe TWO feet. Opening my eyes ruins the feel - usually only about an inch or so!! sigh
I was in the hammock on the St Mary's River when a sever storm came threw. The wind was blowing along the tops of the trees ( we call it a roller ) which makes the tops of the trees sway. In the hammock tied to two of the trees which were moving apart ( different directions ) from each other , my hammock was not swaying but rising and dropping as the wind made the 2 trees move.
Each roller sounds like a train moving over the tops of the trees , you can hear each wave of wind coming , overhead and passing just the same as if it was a wave in the ocean. The weird thing is there isn't any breeze down at ground level or any that's worth mentioning.