Cooking Options For Live-aboard Voyagers—Part 2, Liquid Fuel

The kerosene (paraffin) cooker that Phyllis and I cooked on for a month, including Christmas dinner, while taking care of a friend's boat in Greenland.

In Part 1 I looked at induction electric cooking and concluded that for most cruiser usage profiles, particularly for us live-to-eat types, propane was still a far better solution, and greener, too.

By the way, before you read any further, and even if you have no interest in induction/electric, you need to read Part 1 to find out if you are a live-to-eat or an eat-to-live person, and why figuring this out is the most important step in selecting the best cooking fuel for you.

So what about liquid fuels:

  • Alcohol
  • Kerosene
  • Diesel?

My personal experience with liquid fuel is limited to kerosene and alcohol. The latter was years ago in the bad old days of pressurized alcohol stoves, which, ironically, since they were touted to be safer, were damned dangerous because the pressurized fuel could leak, particularly during the lighting process, and then ignite, say behind the stove. Several boats were lost this way before pressurized alcohol went out of favour.

Here's what I have concluded based on the above experience and a bunch of research and reading, as well as many good comments from members—hoping we will get more first-hand experience in the comments to this article—who use liquid fuels to cook:

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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