(This is a cross-post of an article I originally posted to The High Road in October 2005. The links are still valid as of today, 6/30/06.)
A month or so ago I picked up two Swedish military surplus mess kits from Cheaper Than Dirt for my BOB (which in my case is a bug out box). The kit contains an aluminum pot, bowl/pan, windscreen/pot stand, brass alcohol burning stove, and a plastic bottle to carry alcohol fuel in. Total weight w/o any fuel is ~2 lbs. I finally got to use the kit today.
I used denatured alcohol in the stove. You should be able to buy this by the quart or gallon at a hardware store. You can use isopropyl rubbing alchohol, but this is usually diluted with water and therefore you'll get fewer BTUs per ounce. I paid about $5 for a quart of denatured alcohol at Lowe's IIRC. The stove is made of brass and is a few inches across. It's stable when you put it on the ground.
After filling the stove I held a match over the center opening and it immediately lit. Don't forget that alcohol burns with an invisible flame, so be careful. After a few seconds I heard the alcohol inside the stove boiling and the flame became a visible orange color.
Next, I placed the windscreen over the stove, after unfolding the legs inside it to hold the pot a few inches over the flame. Time to start cooking.
Lunch today was a can of Hormel's chile, which was cooked in the pot over the alcohol flame. It took about 3.5 - 4 minutes before the chile started to boil. I had the pot covered with the bowl/pan, so expect cooking time to be longer if you leave the pot uncovered.
After taking the pot off I wanted to extinguish the stove, both to be safe and to save fuel. You don't blow out an alcohol stove, unless you want burning fuel everywhere. Snuff it out. I had to use a stick to pick up the hot windscreen, then careful dropped the stove's cap on it, putting it out.
I left some fuel in the stove and will check on it tomorrow to see if it evaporates. In a review of this set on AR15.com, one poster mentioned that the plastic fuel bottle supplied with the kit allows alcohol to evaporate. I'm planning to put my two kits in my BOB, along with the quart of fuel in the original can.
CTD appears to be out of stock but these Swedish mess kits are listed at Major Surplus & Survival and Loadup.com , which has a good photo of the kit. Both have the kits for under $10.