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Melting Snow for Water

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melt?

Postby sharperblue » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:19 pm

"use an aluminum pan"

i know this might sound overly paranoid (not the first time i've been named that..) but i've heard anecdotally of melting aluminum pots when melting snow for water over an extended session (8+ liters) with a powerful stove (eg, MSR's heavy-duty models)

as the melting point of aluminum is about 1200 F this seems unlikley, BUT what does sound plausible is baking off teflon coating on alum. pots, which begins to melt at around 500F. thoughts?

on an aside, i also just read that most airlines will not allow the transport of used stoves, even empty, even in checked luggage - any experience there, anyone?

Thx!
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Postby BrunoM » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:31 pm

Not really an issue here in Europe, as long as the fuel bottle is clean and washed out with water and soap and there's no gas smell in it.
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Postby Hotoven » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:14 pm

I didn't have a problem flying my stove out to Portland from JFK this past summer...
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Re: melt?

Postby Wastral » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:19 am

Some old Aluminum pans are very thin, and yes they did "burn" through. They also were made from a type of aluminum that coroded. I have several aluminum pots that have corrosion holes in them and another that I burned a hole in cooking cornbread!

The newer aluminum pans they make are heavier and use a different alloy of aluminum that does not corrode. I have personally not used the newer types of aluminum pans, but simply stating the rep who told me about the burn through solved issue.

Personally in all my time using aluminum pots I have never even come close to burning through an aluminum pan when melting snow. The reason is the pan temperture never even goes much higher than what you can touch due to its great thermal heat transfer qualities.

Enjoy
sharperblue wrote:"use an aluminum pan"

i know this might sound overly paranoid (not the first time i've been named that..) but i've heard anecdotally of melting aluminum pots when melting snow for water over an extended session (8+ liters) with a powerful stove (eg, MSR's heavy-duty models)

as the melting point of aluminum is about 1200 F this seems unlikley, BUT what does sound plausible is baking off teflon coating on alum. pots, which begins to melt at around 500F. thoughts?

on an aside, i also just read that most airlines will not allow the transport of used stoves, even empty, even in checked luggage - any experience there, anyone?

Thx!
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Postby kiwiw » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:27 am

BrunoM wrote:Always start out with a little water in the pot/pan before throwing snow in.

That way the heat conducts better and the snow will melt faster than if you just throw snow into an empty pan.

Don't put too much snow in at once while melting, you want that water in your pan while melting.


also, if you don't the snow will taste weird, like it's burned...
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Postby RayMondo » Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:35 pm

If the lid is loose fitting, add some weight to it, which will increase efficiency.
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Postby bdynkin » Sat Dec 19, 2009 11:08 pm

If you will camp in "real" winter backcountry conditions, say Presidentials traverse, then make a stove base from a thin (1/8" to 3/16") piece of plywood with the top covered by aluminum foil. Treat plywood with water sealer first. Use wingnuts or something similar to secure stove's legs to the base. I made 2 of these contraptions for our Denali trip and it was a huge success.
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Postby HeyItsBen » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:24 am

How many people are boiling the water they've melted from snow? If I know the snow is clean, I'll usually just melt it and call it good.
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Postby T Sharp » Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:15 am

BrunoM wrote:Oh, and make sure you have a good and properly set up windscreen & ground reflector.

A quality pan makes a difference as well probably. And a lid to put on it :)


I invert my lid and add more snow on top to pre-heat the snow just a bit, and use up any btu`s that might escape through convection 8)
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Postby rockymtnclimber » Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:43 am

I know it costs a few bucks, but doesn't the base plate made for many of these stoves make a much lighter and smaller platform than a pine plank or plywood with aluminum foil? Maybe I'm just too lazy to build it.

Anyway, I've melted snow for hours upon end, and never had any issues with melting the pot, burning the snow, or any others concerns. Yes, it helps to add water to the pan first. It prevents scorching the pan (not the snow), and will speed the process along, but I even melted snow on top of Rainier without adding water, due to the fact that all of our water bottles were frozen.

I generally don't concern myself with actually boiling the snow. With water, you can't really see what's in it. With snow, I figure that if I stay away from yellow snow or watermelon snow I should be relatively safe. One caveat: if it's late in the season and there is a bunch of junk in the snow (not fresh in the slightest) I will sometimes boil it. But usually I'm not that patient, and I'm still alive! :D
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Re: melt?

Postby mconnell » Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:54 pm

sharperblue wrote:"use an aluminum pan"

i know this might sound overly paranoid (not the first time i've been named that..) but i've heard anecdotally of melting aluminum pots when melting snow for water over an extended session (8+ liters) with a powerful stove (eg, MSR's heavy-duty models)


If there's water in the pan, you won't burn it. You can boil water in a paper cup.
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thx!

Postby sharperblue » Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:16 pm

all, thanks for the responses and input!
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Postby Cascade Scrambler » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:43 pm

benjamingray wrote:How many people are boiling the water they've melted from snow? If I know the snow is clean, I'll usually just melt it and call it good.
Clean looking snow isn't always clean- just ask someone who's had Giardia from "clean looking snow" that wasn't boiled.
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Postby rasgoat » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:54 pm

I never boil fresh snow. All good advice above, I think full throttle is best or you'll be there all night or morning. And in the middle of winter here, cannister stoves are close to useless compared to the whisperlite.

Another thing is I carry a low profile thermos of boiled water and when my nalgene is out, I stuff it with snow and pour the boiling water into it, melting the snow and requiring less hot water to fill the nalgene, a nice refreshing snow cocktail.
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