How to Make Solid Alcohol
Solid alcohol is a product many of us are familiar with under its trade name Sterno® that is used for cooking in the great outdoors or to heat chafing dishes for keeping food ingredients warm. The makers of solid alcohol obviously do not want their customers to know how this stuff is made, but it is really simple.
This product was developed during the 1920s by mixing ethyl alcohol with soap. A very effective solid alcohol can be made easily from:
1 pint of denatured alcohol
1 pound of soap flakes (Ivory soap is the best)
Mix the ingredients in a large bowl by adding the soap to the alcohol slowly while stirring the whole time you are pouring the soap into the denatured alcohol.
When it is first mixed this product is fairly liquid so it can be poured into small cans with press top lids and allowed to gel.
To use this product take the lid off the can and lite the solid alcohol with a match. An even better device for lighting the solid alcohol is made by tearing a strip about a foot long off of a newspaper and twisting it into a rope. Lite the end of this twisted newspaper, and just hold the flaming end onto the surface of the solid alcohol.
Generally solid alcohol is packaged in a container holding about 3 ounces that will burn for approximately half hour. There isn't actually any limit to the size of the solid alcohol this is a function of the size of the container used.
Once you have lit solid alcohol be careful you do not `container over while it is burning. When solid alcohol is burning it are the first cousins of napalm causing the resulting fire to run like water as it is burning, which spreads very quickly in all the nooks and crannies.
Solid alcohol burns with a blue flame that is hardly visible to the naked eye, so once you have lite the stuff you have to assume that it is burning, so by being careless you can get some very bad burns.
It is very easy to extinguish the flames of solid alcohol simply by covering them with the lid on the can containing it, or by placing a airtight cover over the burning solid alcohol. It can also be extinguished with a sprinkling of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or water. In the case of the sodium bicarbonate that heat of combustion drives off the non-flammable gas carbon dioxide that will extinguish the flame. Any regular fire extinguisher that you keep in your kitchen is also capable of extinguishing solid alcohol.