What to Look For in a Titanium Stove

Titanium is great for many outdoor gear applications—but it especially shines in the world of stoves.

Camping and hiking stoves must endure tremendous heat, must be durable enough rattle around in your pack and have to handle extreme shifts in temperature in short periods of time—all while maintaining the lowest possible weight. Thankfully, titanium excels at all of these tasks! Here’s a great primer to buying the best titanium stoves for outdoor adventures

What is titanium and why is it awesome for stoves?

Titanium is a “transition metal” that was discovered in 1722. It has an atomic number of 22.

Titanium is super light.

It’s more than 40% lighter than steel, which makes is an awesome material to replace traditionally heavy metal equipment when out on the trail.

Titanium is super-strong.

Better than simply light-weight, titanium has incredible strength-to-weight ratio. This material is so strong, in fact, that it’s used to shield and protect the pilots of military aircraft!

Titanium has a very high melting point.

Titanium melts at more than 3000 °F, more than twice the melting point of aluminum. This quality is important for stoves which easily reach high operating temperatures.

Titanium is durable.

More than twice as hard as aluminum, this metal is seriously hard to scratch! I’ve seen a hiker cooking tea in a titanium cook pot that a bear attempted to eat. It still held water, and the only damage were some tooth-shaped dents.

Titanium is non-reactive.

Titanium doesn’t rust, and doesn’t react with common chemicals and acids. Acids as weak as tomato sauce can cause corrosion in stoves manufactured from un-coated steel or aluminum.

How Does Titanium Compare to Other Metals?

Melting
Point
Thermal
Conductivity
Young’s modulus
(Stiffness)
Mohs
hardness
Density Cost
Aluminum 1220.58 °F 237 W/(m·K) 70 GPa 2.75 2.70 g/cm³ $
Titanium 3034 °F 21.9 W/(m·K) 116 GPa 6.0 4.506 g/cm³ $$$
Stainless Steel* 2552 °F 16.2 W/(m·K) 193 – 200 GPa 4 8g/cm³ $$

   *All stainless steel characteristics are approximate, since there are so many alloys in use.
   Information sourced from Wikipedia

What kind of stoves are made from titanium?

Alcohol Stoves

Alcohol stoves are come in a variety of designs, ranging from simple open dishes to complex systems with multiple walls, jets, other features like simmer rings. Even the most complex alcohol stoves have no moving parts. Most will accept a variety of different alcohols as fuels: methyl, ethyl, and isopropyl.

Advantages

  • No moving parts—nothing to clog, jam or break
  • Light-weight
  • Simple to use

Disadvantages

  • Invisible flame can lead to accidents
  • Relatively slow boil times
  • Refueling can be tricky
  • Some requiring priming
  • Inefficient in cold weather

Why does titanium make it awesome-er?

Many home-made alcohol stoves are made from beverage cans, and commercial examples are sometimes constructed from heavier metals like brass. Because titanium is so light and strong, it’s an ideal material from which to construct an alcohol stove. Additionally, titanium heats up very rapidly and transmits heat well. Since many alcohol stoves depend on heating alcohol to the point of vaporization, the ease with which titanium transmits heat is a tremendous advantage.

Solid Fuel Stoves

Solid fuels stoves are the simplest possible backpacking and hiking stoves. They are merely platforms that support a burning cube of a solid fuel: trioxane, hexamine, or related compounds.

Advantages

  • Simplest possible design
  • Light weight
  • Easy to operate
  • Fuel stores easily and can be mailed

Disadvantages

  • Very slow to boil
  • Fuel smells weird
  • Very sensitive to wind
  • Completely non-adjustable

Why does titanium make it awesome-er?

Solid fuel stoves are the essence of simplicity and the ultra-light-weight philosophy. With one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios, titanium is an obvious choice to take this philosophy to its logical conclusion.

Wood-Burning Stoves

Wood burning stoves are just a step removed from the familiar campfire. They are constructed to maximize the heat given off my burning wood, while minimizing the inconvenience and impact of maintaining a full-scale campfire.

Advantages

  • Free fuel!
  • Lightest possible system (stove is light and fuel is found on-site)
  • Fuel is a renewable resource

Disadvantages

  • Tricky to light
  • Can be subject to fire restriction
  • Covers pans with soot

Why does titanium make it awesome-er?

Wood burning stoves have to be very strong to endure disassembly and storage, and to resist the heat and alkali residue of a direct wood fire. Thankfully, titanium excels at both of these tasks. Resistance to corrosion is the characteristic that makes titanium the best metal for this application. Wood burning stoves also have a large surface area, and are often covered with moisture and the caustic byproducts of wood combustion—conditions under which even stainless steel will suffer.

Hybrid Stoves

Hybrid stove designs combine characteristics of Solid Fuel, Wood Burning, and/or Alcohol Stoves. These versatile stoves burn multiple types of fuel, providing a lot of flexibility.

Advantages

  • Includes all the advantages of different types of stoves

Disadvantages

  • Includes all the disadvantages of the different types of stoves
  • Typically heavier
  • Typically more expensive

Why does titanium make it awesome-er?

 

need all of the features required to burn different varieties of fuel. If they were made of a material other than titanium, they’d be too heavy. Additionally, many of these stoves include options that allow them to be reconfigured. Since titanium is so strong and stiff, it can be disassembled and reconfigured easily, without metal fatigue.

How do you find the best titanium stove for your needs?

Titanium stoves are all light, strong and good-looking. But, some of them have features that make them uniquely well suited to different kinds of outdoor adventures. Here are a few guidelines that will help you chose the best titanium stoves for your needs:

Stove Weight

If stove weight is your primary concern, Solid Fuel Stoves and Alcohol Stoves should be top choices.

Trip Duration

For long trips, overall weight (the weight of the stove system and the fuel together) is a priority. Even though it’s heavier, a Wood Burning Stove will save the most weight over time.

Convenience

If convenience is your top priority, a Solid Fuel Stove is a top choice. Nothing is simpler than unwrapping a pellet and lighting it on fire.

Fuel Weight

If the weight of your fuel is a top priority, a Wood Burning Stove is the choice for you. The fuel weight is zero!

Fuel Diversity

Perhaps you’re journeying to a far-away land, where fuel availability is sporadic or unknown. In this case, a Hybrid Stove is a top choice. It will burn alcohol, fuel tablets, or scrap wood you find on your travels.

Temperature

If you’re headed to a snowy, cold environment, an Alcohol Stove or a Solid Fuel Stove are top choices. Alcohol isn’t particularly efficient in cold weather, but has a slightly faster boil time than solid fuel. Since you’re not going to find much wood under all the snow, a Wood Burning Stove isn’t an option.

Re-Supply

Perhaps you’re going on a journey deep into a remote area, with no stores. In this case, a Solid Fuel Stove, a Hybrid Stove or a Wood Burning Stove are top choices, since alcohol might not be available.

Qualities to look for in a well-made titanium stove.

Titanium is a relatively uncommon metal, and it’s so hard, durable, and non-reactive that it’s uniquely difficult to work with. Manufacturers need special techniques and experience to make the best of this material. Here are a few things to look for to make sure you get the best possible titanium camping stove.

Design

Titanium is a fundamentally different material than steel or aluminum—so you want to look for producers that design with the characteristics of this metal in mind. If you’re buying the titanium versions of a product that was originally designed as a aluminum product, ask yourself if you’re getting a product that uses this unique material to the max.

Experience

You don’t learn to work with titanium overnight. Look for a manufacturer that has a wide variety of titanium products, and has been working with the material for a long time.

Weld quality

Titanium is tricky to weld. Look for welds that don’t have a huge, bulky bead, are even, and don’t significantly discolor the material. Manufacturers that machine-weld get especially durable, consistent results with titanium.

Price

Expect to pay more for titanium products. This material is harder to work with, costs more to source, and lasts longer. If you’re considering the purchase of a titanium stove that costs suspiciously little, think again!

By | 2018-05-17T18:06:22+00:00 April 10th, 2018|Buyer's Guide|0 Comments

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