Product Review: Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel

Comparing Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel with Methylated Spirit Product Overview Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel Cost: £2.50 Store: Woodstock Outdoors  Woodstock Outdoors, a provider of kit for Scout and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, recently asked Scout Expeditions

Comparing Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel with Methylated Spirit

Product Overview

Woodstock Outdoors, a provider of kit for Scout and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, recently asked Scout Expeditions to take a look at some of their new products.
We know Vango for tents.  We didn’t realise until Woodstock Outdoors told us, that Vango also produces a Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel.
The best way to really take a look at this was to test it against our normal kit – Methylated Spirit. This test is to cook 300 millilitres of water to make a rehydrated meal that you might take on a Scout Expedition.
Quite simply, we want to compare how much fuel it takes to cook the food and see which is the more effective fuel.
We will also test Fire Dragon’s solid fuel.

The Test

A pack of Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel FuelVango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel, in an easy to reseal pack. The wrapper claims the contents has up to 90 minutes burn time.

Methylated Spirit being poured in to a Trangia Fuel cupOur normal fuel for Trangias, Methylated Spirit.

Fire Drangon's Solid Fuel and burnerNew to us is Fire Dragon’s Solid Fuel. A small bar that doubles as a soap!

To keep the test as fair as possible, there is a measured amount of 100 millilitres of the gel and of the Methylated Spirit. The Dragon Fuel uses a burner device that holds one bar.

The first test is quite simple: which fuel brings the 300 millilitres of water to the boil first. The second will test which flame burns the longest.

As an aside, the Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel claims to be safer, as it is non-toxic. The pack even has markers on the outside to indicate approximate burning times.
In contrast, Methylated Spirit is poisonous – purely to act as a deterrent to avoid consumption! Because we use generic fuel holders for the meths, there is no way to tell how much fuel is required. Except experience.

Time to Boil

Boiling water on the Trangia using Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel came to the boil in an impressive 5 minutes.

Water boiling on the Trangia using MethsThe Methylated Spirit was not far behind, boiling after 6 minutes.

The solid fuel was not hot enough to boilThe Fire Dragon Solid Fuel failed to boil 300 millilitres of water.

Burn Time!

The Trangia using Methylated Spirit lasted for 13 minutesThe Methylated Spirit lasted an impressive 13 and a half minutes. You certainly get value for money.

The Dragon Solid Fuel lasted for 10 minutes.

The Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel last for just over 8 minutes.

The Verdict

In our stores we have quite a few canisters and for the use and safe storage of Methylated Spirit. For so long the spirit has been the mainstay of camp cooking. All leaders have, at least once, eaten from a pan that meths has spilled in to at some point. The taste lasts beyond any Scout-led washing up, and boy is it foul?!

I think that the Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel could change this. A safe amount can be given to each Scout for packing in their kit. It provides more heat than the same volume of meths, meaning that they can get a hot drink or hot food quicker. In such expedition situations, the gel is a viable alternative. I think in camp situations meths will remain the favourite. If storage is not a problem or where meat (sausages, for example) needs to be cooked slowly, meths will provide more options as it is cheaper and burns longer.

Scout Expeditions Rating:Scout Expeditions Rating


Thanks to Woodstock Outdoors for providing the Vango Bio-Ethanol Gel Fuel. Follow Woodstock Outdoors, which has been set up by a Scout Leader, on Facebook.


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