Sunday, 6 April 2014

Late entry in the battle of the stoves leaves the field standing

I'm just back from a weekend spent preparing Chertsey to set off to Foxton next week, and the most exciting thing I have to report on is Jim's new purchase - a two burner Origo stove. He's been quite keen on getting one for a while; they are all the rage with the lumpy water mob, apparently, and Alan Fincher was waxing lyrical about his, which he showed us at Braunston last year. I of course was dubious but I am happy to admit that I am completely won over.

The Origo is fuelled with alcohol, giving a hot, virtually soot free flame. It is as easy to light as gas - just turn the knob and poke a long lighter down into the burner. When the kettle boils, turning the knob back puts it out. The flame is adjustable - not quite as finely as gas, but it goes low enough to cook a squash curry without catching it. It boils a kettle pretty quickly, comparing favourably with the Primus and certainly faster than the Beatrice, although possibly not as fast as gas. You sometimes get some condensation from the flame if the kettle's cold, but it does no harm.

The unit is compact and stable, as it is designed to be used at sea. The alcohol is held in a kind of wadding so it is completely spill-proof, making it very safe. The only downside I can think of is the cost - they are expensive to buy, ours having been on offer on Amazon at £135 - and to run. Jim bought a case of 12 x 1 litre bottles of fuel for around £36 and we got through one of them in the time I was there, cooking one dinner and making lots of tea. But for the convenience, cleanness, speed and lack of worry about safety, I think it's worth every penny, and we will probably find cheaper sources of fuel. The alcohol is uses isn't meths, by the way, and compared to meths hardly smells at all.

One Beatrice is being kept in case we run out of alcohol; we have just stocked up on paraffin for the Tilley lamps so there is still a frisson of danger to keep life interesting. Particularly the danger of banging your head on one. The Primus (which was actually a Monitor, bought unused, boxed and dated 1953) appears however to have sprung a leak. I haven't investigated in any detail, but the bottom of its windproof biscuit tin was swimming in oil - so it's lucky we didn't need it. I have three other old pressurised paraffin stoves, including a genuine Primus, so I shall keep one for display, but I don't think I would really mind if I never had to light one again. On the other hand though, I'm glad that it's a skill I've mastered. But it's mod cons all the way now!


  1. At Foxton for the Easter boat show? Hope to see you there on our way back from blacking.

  2. Yes, we're always running out of alcohol too, but for a different reason.


  3. It was £129 and the bioethanol was £32.

  4. Bulk buy meths at somewhere like this (John Penny Restoration).

    Bought in multiples 5 litres comes down to £7.95 + VAT, which sounds a lot better than 12 litres for £32!

    (Of course there is carriage, but I think once you go over a couple of kilos the price is fixed, so the more you buy, the less the overall cost per litre)

    (I'm wondering if we have enough for the next few weeks now!)