Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Alcohol burner

Burner - I use an alcohol burner on a daily basis. I don't own an electric water kettle, however I have one of those electric boiler that keeps water at 190 degrees and it's stored away. I personally prefer open flame burner, the warmth and vibrance of the flame add an other layer to the tea experience. It's raw as the ancient days, minimizes modern day tech influence on my tea.

The red clay burner can be found at Wing Hop Fung, comes with a glass bottle and a wick. It's compact, portable and heat efficient, the enclosed small space with a little air hole keeps the heat at bottom of the pot to the maximum. Flame size is adjustable by lifting up the wick or lower it. It can boil 750ml of water in less than 10 minutes with large flame.

The other set up is inspired by Japanese burners. Using a flower pot as the base, a bottle with small neck, a metal pin to stabilize the wick, a metal rack that elevates above the flame for setting the teapot on. I use the big globs of cotton that fill up medicine bottles as wicks, they are lengthy enough to dip into the bottom of the bottle and very absorbent, which means large flame. I use this set up when I use a larger pot for more people. All parts together cost under $10. Not heat efficient due to large open space.

Since I wasn't sure whether I should use the top part of this tetsubin burner previously, I had to improvise by simply placing a rack inside the base to hold a kettle. I am also on the out look for a large enough pot that can sit on top of the rim without the rack, glass preferred. It's $120 plus tax for this tetsubin at Marukai. It does not come with the lamp, I made my own with an apple juice bottle. Not heat efficient either.

Burning fuel I use is Denatured Alcohol, available in hardware stores with a paint section next to the thinner. Home depot has the gallon size for $15. I buy stove fuel from Boater's World here by the marina, $14 per gallon. Soot free and odor free, well, it leaves a brown/black spot where the flame burns, but nothing is flying in the air like rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol will burn with 70% or more alcohol content, but the soot it releases can ruin your carpet and furniture. You can see the black stains on my clay burner, those were from my early days of using rubbing alcohol before I discovered denatured alcohol. 200ml can last for hours to half a day of burning depending on the flame size.


Tess Grey said...

Bless your heart! This post is super. Now I need to figure out how to get my hands on one of those cunning clay burners, and I'm all set. Right now, the only thing keeping my tea harnessed to my ugly kitchen counter instead of my pretty living room (or a nearby park!) is the cord on my blasted electric kettle. Your setup is far more elegant.

Imen said...


I lived in Chicago area for more than 10 years. I doubt you can find a clay burner in that area. Even here in LA there are limited choices. The best way is probably make your own using a smaller pot in diameter and medium in height to keep the heat enclosed, where a teapot sits half way into the flower pot. This might be best for using at a park, because it shelters the flame and heat from the breeze.

I can also pick up the exact same burner and send it to you if you are okay with the style. I wish there are more choices of design, however this little thing works exceptionally well.

One more thing, do not fill up your water kettle all the way to the top. Water splash when boiling will crack the glass bottle. Are you wondering how I found out? :P Just say I went through quite a few baby food jars.

~ Phyll said...

Imen, this is a very useful post. I'm still searching for that "perfect" burner, but have always hesitated because I don't quite know the ideal fuel type I can use it with. Now if I see a burner/warmer I like, I will grab it.

PS: If you live in M-D-R area (sounds like you do from your previous posts), Los Angeles Wine Company near LAX is a good place to grab wines. Their price mark-ups is one of the lowest in town, and it's nearby from you.

Imen said...


Imen said...


Please let me know if you found a vendor with more burner sellections.

Thanks for the info on the conundrum!

Imen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
~ Phyll said...

M-D-R...ummm...Marina del Rey. I missed?

I'll keep an eye on the burner too, in addition to the poussin.

Imen said...


Belmont shore. sorry, you don't get a prize... :P

~ Phyll said...

Oh, I see. Your comment about liking the banana pancake at Shutters on a lazy Sunday morning, and several mentions of "marina" made me guess that you live in Marina del Rey or Santa Monica.

I don't know any wine store around your area...but several in Orange County are very good.

If you are interested in wines (hardcore or not) may I invite you to join We are a bunch of winos whose backgrounds vary from being food scientist, lawyer, federal law enforcement agent, published writer, CPAs, grape grower, etc. But basically, we are over-indulging wine heads. :)

Imen said...


I'll go anywhere for good food. There aren't enough good restaurants here in Belmont area. I have only 2 favorites locally, Lasher is my first choice, then Madison.

The marina I was referring to is by Naples island. A zoo here on July 4th, water balloom fights on the water, blocks and blocks of street party full with girls in bikinis and topless guys drinking beer, bbqing. What a scene!

I do not know much about wine, not a regular wine drinker either. Every time I eat out, I ask for recommendations from the waiter, usually red. I came across 2 white wine that I really like to have again. Conundrum is a recent discovery at Lasher, the other I had in Paris, Robert something which I may never find it again. That's why I was eager to find out before forgeting about it totally.

I join your wine site, hopefully I'll learn about wine like I know about tea. Thanks for the info!

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