Outdoor kettle setup - research thread


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Outdoor kettle setup - research thread

Postby tenuki » May 25th, '08, 04:18

Image<-click to view video.

Some people asked me about my earthenware kettle and alcohol burner (shown above) in my 'gong fu garden' video. I forgot where I purchased it, but remember it being someplace in the neighborhood of 90 bucks. Hou De is the likely source, and they are currently sold out. I love it, but got to thinking what I would do if I ever broke it ( I have a 7 yr old son who is usually outdoor playing with me, so this is a very likely scenario.. ;D ) It took me hours of searching on the internet, but this is what I came up with so far for round one of research...

Goal: Nice portable alchohol powered hot water kit capable of keeping water near a boil for at least an hour for under 50 bucks and reasonably rugged/durable.

Please note: This is theoretical at this point. I've ordered these parts out of curiosity and will post my ongoing research here.

Cost breatkdown of round 1 testing:

Joyce Chen Ceramic Kettle - 33.50 ( free shipping at amazon )
???? tin can ??? - 0.00
Wickless Alcohol Burner - 11.75 (includes 5 dollar shipping at url below)
-----------------------------------------
45.25

The Joyce Chen Ceramic Kettle is probably the best on the US market, readily available and only 35-40 bucks. It can also be used directly on an electric or gas stovetop to boil water and doesn't flavor water like metal kettles can. Your current kettle would probably work fine, but i tend to think the ceramic ones will be better for this application. Will test with both when I get the burner/base set up.

There are any number of sterno folding stoves on the market that could be used as the base, or you could make your own out of ??? coffee can, etc.

Alcohol burners of both wick and wickless variety in glass and stainless are readily available from scientific supply companies. I chose one that has a screw on lid, no wick and will not spill even if tipped over. It's also on the large side, which may end up being a problem, we'll see.

If you are really crazy you can make a fantastic little alcohol stove out of a pepsi can.

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Image
Last edited by tenuki on May 28th, '08, 15:40, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby MarshalN » May 25th, '08, 09:02

The only problem with the Joyce Chan thing is that it is quite large -- too large for one or two person drinking tea. Otherwise though, I agree it's a good substitute.

I use an alcohol burner/stand setup that I bought in China for about $7. It came with a glass kettle that has since shattered. The alcohol burner has a wick and works fairly well, although when it's windy it doesn't work quite as well.
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Postby tenuki » May 25th, '08, 14:24

MarshalN wrote:The only problem with the Joyce Chan thing is that it is quite large -- too large for one or two person drinking tea. Otherwise though, I agree it's a good substitute.

I use an alcohol burner/stand setup that I bought in China for about $7. It came with a glass kettle that has since shattered. The alcohol burner has a wick and works fairly well, although when it's windy it doesn't work quite as well.



The kettle of the set I have now is 1.6 qts and I find it perfect, the Joyce Chen is 2 qts, will be interesting to see the difference.

It's very possible to make a wicked burner out of a mason jar for essentially free. I plan on adding that example during my research. The same place I linked to for the wickless burner has wicked glass body burners for the same price (6.75 + shipping). But after some experience with my current setup I think I want a non-glass option that is a bit more rugged. The unbreakable and unspillable characteristics of the burner I chose are very attractive, we'll see how it works.

How big was the glass kettle you had and what size/type kettle have you used to replace it? I'll have to take a gander around for a smaller option, although 2 qts actually doesn't seem big to me, it's just a water kettle and I drink like a fish. :D Think about it - 15 infusions of a 120ml pot = 2 qts.

Thanks Marshal! Keep the thoughts coming, this is a research thread.
Last edited by tenuki on May 25th, '08, 15:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tenuki » May 25th, '08, 14:47

Glass kettles open up a large floodgate of opportunity. I imagine using a old small bodum french press with the plunger removed and lid replaced would be totally ok. There are also a bunch of 2-6 cup glass kettles on the market that could work. However, I ruled glass out as too breakable ( realize ceramic is a close second, may end up with stainless :( ).

Example vintage pyrex 6 cup kettle on ebay:
Image

Help me find a ceramic/earthenware option that is smaller folks! :)

(A nice japanese antique silver kettle would be perfect, but I ain't got 1000 bucks to spend on heating my water just now...)
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Re: Outdoor kettle setup - research thread

Postby wyardley » May 28th, '08, 01:23

Give Imen at Tea Habitat (http://teahabitat.com/ has her contact info) a call; aside from the very expensive earthenware charcoal stove / kettle sets that she sometimes has in stock, I think she may have a less expensive clay stove with an alcohol burner. It doesn't come with a kettle, but you could get that separately.

There's a store in Taiwan that sells really nice ones (I think they've been linked to on here maybe; I don't remember the URL off the top of my head), but IIRC, the prices are fairly high.
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Postby tenuki » May 28th, '08, 01:36

I'm expecting to be able to make the stove part for less than 15 bucks and have it be more durable, hotter, longer lasting and more stable than the clay one I paid 90 bucks + shipping for from Hou De. I have yet to see a tea shop sell anything like this cheaply. The word 'gouge' comes to mind. So I'm setting out to give people an option they can put together easily and is inexpensive but still decent quality. :D

I'm currently researching an easy to find wick material to make an almost free stove element from a mason jar + paint can that you could use with any kettle. So far it looks like fiberglass insulation is the best choice, but I don't like dealing with it, trying to find something else. I was trying stranded copper wire, but it got too hot. next on the menu is a trip to the craft store.

Did I mention I was bored?
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Postby wyardley » May 28th, '08, 11:48

tenuki wrote:I have yet to see a tea shop sell anything like this cheaply. The word 'gouge' comes to mind.


There's a shop here in LA that has such a stove fairly cheaply IIRC, and they look nice to boot. The more general issue with alcohol burners is that (even with a pretty small kettle), they are more useful for keeping already hot water warm than for bringing water to a boil quickly (which is what you want). I have a cheap (small) glass kettle for mine.

In terms of a cheaper and / or more DIY approach, what about a small camp stove (or even a small gas burner)?
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Postby tenuki » May 28th, '08, 12:44

wyardley wrote:
tenuki wrote:I have yet to see a tea shop sell anything like this cheaply. The word 'gouge' comes to mind.


There's a shop here in LA that has such a stove fairly cheaply IIRC, and they look nice to boot. The more general issue with alcohol burners is that (even with a pretty small kettle), they are more useful for keeping already hot water warm than for bringing water to a boil quickly (which is what you want). I have a cheap (small) glass kettle for mine.

In terms of a cheaper and / or more DIY approach, what about a small camp stove (or even a small gas burner)?


Actually I'm looking to duplicate my current outdoor set, which is a low effeciency alcohol burner and can not get water to a boil. I put boiling water in the kettle from my zoji or stovetop, and the burner has enough BTU to keep it there. This is to extend tea to other rooms or to the garden, not for camping.

Yup, camp stoves are on the list eventually, sterno, etc. I plan on summarizing the options when I get done researching and break them down by cost, etc. You can make really cool compact alcohol stoves out of pop cans for pennies that can actually boil water (takes like 10 minutes, but still possible), but my target is just keeping it there not getting it there. The best option for non-do-it-yourselfers is probably a simple collapsible sterno stove like this that can be picked up just about anywhere for around 10 bucks + the kettle they already have or a second hand one.

Image

I also am planning on commissioning a etsy potter to make a ceramic base if I can't find a attractive/suitable one to match the chen kettle once I have the optimal burner figured out and know it's dimensions.

A lot of this is common sense of course, but some people don't have the mindset to discover the options on their own so will purchase (like I did) a very expensive set online simply because it appears to be the only option.
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Postby Victoria » May 28th, '08, 12:46

I like the sterno idea myself. But then I'm a girl.
It just seems easier and more simple.
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Postby tenuki » May 28th, '08, 12:49

wyardley wrote:
tenuki wrote:I have yet to see a tea shop sell anything like this cheaply. The word 'gouge' comes to mind.


There's a shop here in LA that has such a stove fairly cheaply IIRC, and they look nice to boot.


Not to helpful if you don't live in LA. Is it a shop that sells online or is national in the US?
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Postby tenuki » May 28th, '08, 12:56

Victoria wrote:I like the sterno idea myself. But then I'm a girl.
It just seems easier and more simple.


Yup, and I have found a couple of existing cheap ceramic bases that would probably pair perfectly with a small sterno can and the chen kettle, stay tuned. :D


(btw, sterno is just alcohol gel, and you can make your own, hehheheehe )
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Postby MarshalN » May 28th, '08, 17:56

Slightly beside the point.... but how about just getting a portable brazier and use charcoal?
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Postby tenuki » May 28th, '08, 18:14

MarshalN wrote:Slightly beside the point.... but how about just getting a portable brazier and use charcoal?


I'm exploring all ideas, links please. :)

I kinda ruled out charcoal as too hot/messy/futzy for me I think, I like alcohol because it burns at exactly the right temp and can't go higher, is easily contained/controled (wick,etc). No futzing either, at least for the wickless options and the wick one I have is pretty maintenance free. Just light it and forget it.

PS: I'm exploring charcoal as fuel for a mini anagama kiln so I'll be gaining more experience with it this year besides just grilling.
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Postby tenuki » May 28th, '08, 22:06

MarshalN wrote:
I use an alcohol burner/stand setup that I bought in China for about $7. It came with a glass kettle that has since shattered. The alcohol burner has a wick and works fairly well, although when it's windy it doesn't work quite as well.


I wonder if you couldn't post a picture of it? Pretty please?
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Postby tenuki » May 30th, '08, 04:12

Image

This came today, so I can say these guys ship fast and have a good web buying experience - sample size 1. I'd order from them again.

It is also not large as I feared, more in the range of an exact replacement for the glass one I have now. Perfect size. So that is very good news, except it may have a slightly smaller tank, which may reduce the time afire. We'll see when I test it.
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