Here is a list of fuels NOT TO USE IN ALCOHOL STOVES:
1. Beer, vodka, pretty much any kind of alcoholic drink.
2. Petroleum fuels (gasoline, ligher fluid, naptha, kerosene, jet fuel, etc.)
3. Hand sanitizer (although if you get your hands on some pure ethyl alcohol, it will work but not recomended)
4. waxes (bees wax, paraffin, etc.)
5. Stuff like isobutane, (this stuff will definately blow up in your face) benzene, etc.
Here is a list of fuels that can be used with alcohol stoves:
1. HEET: this fuel is by far, the best fuel for alcohol stoves.
Advantages: burns hot, clean (leaves little to NO soot at all on pots and pans), repeatable (alcohol content does not vary from batch to batch).
Disadvantages: a bit on the pricey side (about $1.00 for a bottle), highly toxic if taken internally
HEET is sold as gas line antifreeze. It is sold at most stores (eg. Walmart, Kmart, etc.), drug stores (eg. Walgreens), grocery stores, and is sold at nearly any gas station. VERY IMPORTANT!!! ALWAYS BUY HEET IN THE YELLOW BOTTLE!!!
HEET in a red bottle is "isoHEET" (made from isopropanol) and is not methanol.
2. Denatured Alcohol (methylated spirits): this fuel is second best to HEET
Advantages: burns hot also, sold in bulk (often 1 gallon or more), slightly cheaper than HEET (about $13 a gallon).
Disadvantages: alcohol content varies from batch to batch, containing anywhere from 1% methanol to 80% methanol. Like HEET, this fuel is also highly toxic if taken internally.
Denatured alcohol is a little more diffcult to find, as it is not sold at gas stations or drug stores. Stores like Walmart might carry it, but the safest place to go is home improvement centers (eg. The Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc.) Some denatured alcohols burn cleaner than others. One trick is to place some alcohol in a dish and burn it. Reject alcohol that leaves any residue (eg. oil, water, some gummy substance, etc) I know oil sounds a little far fetched, but it has happened before.
3. Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol, IPA, iso): this is the cheapest fuel option, but definately not the best.
Advantages: can be used as a first aid antiseptic, cheap, repeatable, readily available
Disadvantages: leaves a lot of soot on pots, burns with a much lower heat output than other fuels, if you are using 70%, water left over will further decrease alcohol content with the next burn (the left over water dillutes the alcohol being added).
Isopropanol can be found at almost all stores like Walmart, grocery stores, and drugstores. If you do decide to use this fuel, buy Isopropanol in a 90% concentration. This concentration contains less water and will not leave the excess water after burns. If you end up using 70%, be prepared for a time where, after several burns, you will have to empty out the excess water, because if you add alcohol, the stove will not ignite. This fuel leaves a LOT of soot. So much that it cakes up. 70% Isopropanol is perhaps the poorest fuel for alcohol stoves. With this concentration, be prepared for failure.