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Syzygies

Solo Stove

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Solo Stove Campfire

Souss Tagine

I broke down and bought the Solo Stove Campfire on their 4th Of July Sale. Not really sure why, except the engineering fascinated me. Anyone familiar with the difference between a fireplace and a Vigilant wood-burning stove (intelligent recirculating airflow for radically improved efficiency) will see a Solo Stove as a charcoal chimney of the Gods.

The Solo Stove product line is intended for wood, but other customers had already reported good results with charcoal. Now, when I asked about bending the stove support flanges, and using it as a tagine majmar, they acted like no one had ever asked that before! Go figure.

My backup plan was to use the Solo Stove as an ember incubator, moving embers to an actual clay majmar as needed. It's tricky to refuel a clay majmar: Add enough charcoal to get everything to light, and one ends up with too much fire. In contrast, the Solo Stove offers such a protected environment that one can add a single piece of lump charcoal at a time, confident that it will light. I was worried that the fire would be too hot, or too quick. Neither is the case: There's an ample window where the fire is big enough to sustain itself as one dribbles in fuel, but small enough to cook at a faint simmer as needed. So I'll be using the Solo Stove directly as a majmar.

It's also a great chimney for getting a modest amount of charcoal fully lit in a hurry. Shown is an alcohol start. It's pretty astonishing reading the caution on the interwebs about alcohol as a starter fluid, given how completely it burns off compared to any other starter. You'd think the pyromaniac in somebody would have just tried it? We started some accidental alcohol fires in high school science classes, and the one thing I remember is they weren't that dangerous. The real issue with isopropyl alcohol is its complexity relative to ethanol: It produces carbon monoxide as it burns, while ethanol just produces CO2 and water. So hold your breath and step away. The beautiful convection effect of the Solo Stove means that no fanning is required; it is the ideal chimney for lump charcoal alcohol starts.

I'm sure I'll find other uses. The pyromaniac engineer in me just had to have one of these!

 

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You've really got me thinking about this, especially with the sale... I'm thinking about the Titan size for starting coals for my Konro grill when it comes in... Looks much safer than using a traditional chimney to pour from, into a cooker on a porch. What are your thoughts as to transferring coals out of it, as opposed to using it to cook on directly? Looks better than a cast iron pot on a gas portable stovetop also for starting coals. Thanks for the post! 

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17 hours ago, amusedtodeath said:

I'm thinking about the Titan size for starting coals for my Konro grill when it comes in... Looks much safer than using a traditional chimney to pour from, into a cooker on a porch. What are your thoughts as to transferring coals out of it, as opposed to using it to cook on directly?

The Titan or the Campfire. If you can wait till your Konro grill comes, you'll have an idea what volume charcoal you'll need. Or work from the Konro and Solo Stove dimensions. I don't know the interior dimensions of the Titan, but they answer email fast.

My Campfire has a 6 3/8" diameter by 4 1/4" tall interior chamber for fuel (measuring down to the grate, filling to the brim). That translates to 2.35 quarts.

It would be very easy to pour embers, with good gloves such as Mastrad Orka Plus or similar silicone mitts. When I bought mine, I imagined this would be its flagship application. More likely, I'll use it most often to grill peppers, as there's no inertia to using it. Zero effort to light or clean, ready quickly.

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On 6/26/2018 at 9:43 PM, amusedtodeath said:

You've really got me thinking about this, especially with the sale... I'm thinking about the Titan size for starting coals for my Konro grill when it comes in... Looks much safer than using a traditional chimney to pour from, into a cooker on a porch. What are your thoughts as to transferring coals out of it, as opposed to using it to cook on directly? Looks better than a cast iron pot on a gas portable stovetop also for starting coals. Thanks for the post! 

 

17 hours ago, Syzygies said:

The Titan or the Campfire. If you can wait till your Konro grill comes, you'll have an idea what volume charcoal you'll need. Or work from the Konro and Solo Stove dimensions. I don't know the interior dimensions of the Titan, but they answer email fast.

My Campfire has a 6 3/8" diameter by 4 1/4" tall interior chamber for fuel (measuring down to the grate, filling to the brim). That translates to 2.35 quarts.

It would be very easy to pour embers, with good gloves such as Mastrad Orka Plus or similar silicone mitts. When I bought mine, I imagined this would be its flagship application. More likely, I'll use it most often to grill peppers, as there's no inertia to using it. Zero effort to light or clean, ready quickly.

 

If this helps, a MD sized Konro (2 vents per side) needs a Normal sized chimney worth of coals (maybe a little less). My LG Konro (3 vents per side) needs a XL weber chimney worth of coals. I usually load up one side of the Konro full for extra high heat and the other side not so much for MD high heat. 

 

Edited by ckreef
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30 minutes ago, Syzygies said:

 

You say that like it's a bad thing!

I guess not really a bad thing although I do feel chimneys tend to have limited uses. Of course who am I to talk as I have a few one trick ponies myself. 

 

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6 hours ago, ckreef said:

 

 

If this helps, a MD sized Konro (2 vents per side) needs a Normal sized chimney worth of coals (maybe a little less). My LG Konro (3 vents per side) needs a XL weber chimney worth of coals. I usually load up one side of the Konro full for extra high heat and the other side not so much for MD high heat. 

 

@Syzygies, would you say that your campfire model is equivalent to a "normal sized chimney worth of coals", or more, or less? 

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I measured my chimney. (I knocked the handle and grates off, so I could use it "in place" and just lift up with channel lock pliers to free the embers, but I guessed.)

My chimney's working volume is 8" tall by 7.5" diameter, for a bit over 6 quarts, much more than the Solo Stove Campfire (2.35 quarts). On the other hand, that's enough charcoal for a full 23" KK load. Now that I mainly use the basket splitter, 2.35 quarts is just fine. Add more on top after distributing, if needed.

The Solo Stove Bonfire interior is 9.5" tall by 17.75 diameter, for over 40 quarts.

Edited by Syzygies
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4 hours ago, amusedtodeath said:

@Syzygies, How exactly did you go about your "alcohol start" when you did that fire? 

Load up charcoal. Leave room for airflow, like for any fire. Pour over a few ounces of 99% isopropyl alcohol. Don't worry if some drips through; it serves a useful purpose from the floor of the Solo Stove, unlike a regular chimney. Now throw in a match, and get away from the fumes before breathing.

I wouldn't say it is much faster than a regular chimney. The quality of the embers is what stands out. For a Konro grill, that's what matters.

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7 hours ago, MacKenzie said:

If you were using a regular Weber chimney would you get the same results if you did a quick soak of the lump in the alcohol before putting them in the chimney?

Pour carefully so very little falls through. Let it soak in, and light. I do this all the time. The "whomp" sound is different from cooker to cooker.

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A friend wanted me to source some of these Thai charcoal stoves. They are used for outdoor kitchen cooking mostly with woks and pots but also for grilling..
Made from clay with a galvanized bucket cost about $8 - $12

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Thai stove being used roadside for grilling

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Bought a bunch of them for him..

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Indonesian customs balked and rejected them..  ARGH and DOUBLE ARGH...

So I made this up myself with my refractory hot-face material

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Then we tiled it to make it Komodo Kamado purdy!
Yes I changed that leg design ;-)

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Will get better images of the finished beauty..

 

 

 

 

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