HPV Salsa regulating alcohol stove

At some point in history alcohol stoves or Spiritus stoves with a controllable flame were widely manufactured and used. These stoves are also called gravity fed alcohol stoves or valve controlled alcohol burners. The alcohol fuel isn’t under pressure as it is in petrol stoves. In the past many of them were manufactured in Germany. Today there is only one factory left that is still producing a classic proven design: Heidersdorfer Produktions- und Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH

The current model HPV Salsa was previously sold under the name BAT 55 and Enders Cooky 1. Besides the single burner version there has always been a double burner version. The current model is named HPV Flüssiggaskocher Mambo or Spirituskocher Mambo.


Working principle
The alcohol flows by gravity through a pipe with a wick into a burner cap. On its route to there the liquid alcohol is heated into a gas. Just before entering the burner cap it is mixed with air. The result is a hot blue burning flame. No smell and no soot. The amount of gas that reaches the burner cap and therefore the intensity of the flame can be controlled with a needle valve.

HPV Spiritusbrenner Needle Valve
The needle valve with its sharp point that controls the alcohol flow and therefore the flame intensity.

In order to start the stove it is necessary to pre-heat the burner cap. This is done by igniting some liquid alcohol the can be dropped on the black pan under the burner cap. Once the burner cap is hot enough all the alcohol will evaporate into a gas and orderly flames will come out of the small holes on top of the burner cap.

HPV Spiritusbrenner burner cap 03
Working principle of the burner cap on the HPV Salsa controllable alcohol stove.



Why Alcohol stoves ?
1) Alcohol burns a lot cleaner with lesser soot compared to oil based fuels. This is why petrol stoves are pre heated with alcohol. Also when fuel is spilled or incompletely burned during start up and shutdown there is almost no smell or annoying fumes. This makes alcohol stoves suitable for indoor use. A popular usage is on board ships and sail yachts.
2) Alcohol burners have a very simple and robust design. Only one moving part. No essential rubber rings. No pump that can brake. This makes alcohol stoves very reliable. It is not unusual that old rusty alcohol stoves that have been stored for decades will fire up at the very first attempt. Petrol stoves usually come with a kit of tools and spare parts. In the manuals you’ll find usually a whole list with possible malfunctions and how to solve them. With a regulating alcohol stove you don’t have to worry about that.
3) No risk for clogging. A common malfunction on petrol stoves is clogging of the fuel spraying nozzle. However this can easily be solved by cleaning the jet with a needle pricker. This clogging is caused by incomplete burning, impurities in the fuel and additives for car engines. Especially normal car Diesel is notorious for causing clogging of the fuel spray nozzle. Alcohol doesn’t come with these problems.
4) No noise of the flame. Since the fuel is not under pressure there is no noise. Maybe on high flame you can here something but it is nothing compared to petrol stoves or gas canister stoves.

Which fuel should I use ?
Alcohol burners use so called methylated spirits or denatured alcohol as fuel. This is normal alcohol (ethanol) combined with small or large amounts of methanol. The methanol makes it dangerous to use as consumption alcohol. Denatured alcohol without colorant and not too much additives works best.  In many counties supermarkets sell denatured alcohol in the form of Spiritus. Hence the German warning Nur für Spiritus, only for Spiritus. Usually this is a mix of alcohol and methanol with a blue colorant. Besides methanol there are more additives to make it unsuitable for consumption. One of them is a substance that causes puking when the liquid is swallowed. This can avoid serious intoxication when Spiritus is mistakenly seen as lemonade by small children for example. However this gives a terrible smell and the blue color can cause cause a blue sediment when the solvents are evaporated. Therefore it is better to use Bio-Ethanol. This is a colorless substance with normal alcohol (Ethanol) percentages as high as 95%. The smell is between vodka and acetone. A list with the names of different types of denatured alcohol in various counties around the word can be found on:  www.mark-ju.net

More info:






Coffee culture in Thailand

Royal Projects
The relatively cool mountains in the north of Thailand (close to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai) are very suitable for coffee and tea production. The royal family launched several projects to support the hill tribes who lived in these mountains. One of the things was the introduction of coffee growing as a replacement for the opium growing. The small coffee farms try to focus on the production of high quality (single estate) coffees rather than big volumes of cheaper blend coffees. Some brands are Doi Tung, Phu kha, Doi Chaang, Nacha Coffee and Akha Ama.

Royal Project Coffee as sold in Royal Project product shops across Thailand. Source: www.thaiorganiccoffee.com

More info about Thai Royal Projects
Travel review by Mark Wiens: Doi Chaang – How To Visit Thailand’s Coffee Paradise.
Travel report: Coffee Journey: A tour to a remote coffee village in Thailand.

Coffee shops
Coffee shops in Thailand can be found in all sizes and shapes. From simple street vendors to luxury bakeries with a shady garden. One of the biggest Thai coffee shop chains is Black Canyon Coffee. Besides coffee you can also buy food here. When you are exhausted from the heat, look around for a shop with a glass front window and door. This is very often a coffee shop with air conditioning inside ! Sometimes you can also recognize coffee shops by the drying of used coffee powder outside the shop. This is used as a natural skin scrubbing agent. Especially in the smaller streets (sois) this can be seen.

Top 5 Specialty Coffee Shops to Visit in Thailand.
Best little coffee shops in thailand.
The 8 best coffee shops in Bangkok
7 excellent coffee places outside Chang Mai’s old town

Picture source: GRAPH CAFÉ in Chiang Mai.

Iced coffee
Iced coffees in Thailand are usually prepared with condensed milk and a lot of sugar. It is so popular that there is even a page about it on Wikipedia. Pailin “Pai” Chongchitnant from www.hot-thai-kitchen.com shows how you can prepare these coffees by yourself.

Canned and instant coffee from the 7-Eleven supermarket
In every supermarket from 7-Eleven you can buy instant coffee and canned ice coffee. Usually it comes with milk and lots of sugar.

Canned ice coffee. Source: Tripque

More information:
Coffee culture in Thailand blog by www.gogoflorist.com