Survival Car Heater – Carbon Monoxide Testing Results

by Erich

For those who are just joining me now (just to give you some background), I had written an article and created a video on how to make a survival heater for your car if you were ever stranded somewhere in the winter and required heat.

Being someone who doesn’t like to give survival advice without first having tested it myself, I wanted to make sure to try out the stove as soon as I could and report back to you guys. This spawned another article called Testing out the Survival Stove.

In that article, I proved the effectiveness of the stove. It took a car from 16 degrees Fahrenheit to around 60 degrees in 20 minutes. However, toward the end of the 20 min test, I began feeling a headache and was concerned that it may be due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Unfortunately I didn’t have a carbon monoxide tester with me to be certain. Which brings me to this article…

This evening I took the stove out to the car again along with a carbon monoxide tester and instead of having two door windows open a crack, I only opened one. I also extended the test period from 20 minutes to a full half hour. My results?

No carbon monoxide alarms.

Also, I didn’t have a headache this time despite having less air circulation on top of being in the car longer. And the headaches I got last time — a fluke? I don’t know.

However, all in all I’m confident in saying that I feel the stove is indeed safe as an emergency car heater if you were ever stranded somewhere. Again, just be sure to open the window about an inch — preferably the window closest to the stove.

Despite these tests, I recommend packing in your car a carbon-monoxide tester along with your survival stove — just in case. I also would suggest that every-so-often you breath in some fresh air (by temporarily opening the driver-side window a crack and taking a few breaths) while operating the stove. There may be no dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, but there could be potentially harmful vapors being emitted by the burning alcohol. Just my 2 cents.

You can never be too safe!

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Comment by Gray
2010-01-28 09:25:17

Two very important points you should also stress. Be careful to not spill alcohol in your car, especially in the day time. It can be very hard to see alcohol flames as it burns very clean. The last thing you need is to be standing outside in the cold warming yourself with the last glowing embers of your car. The second thing is that an alcohol fire can be put out by splashing water on it. Unlike petroleum water mixes with alcohol and quickly dilutes it below the burning point. If you do spill some, just dilute it and it will not be flammable.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-01-31 18:38:24


Thanks for the great tips. Very true indeed about the need for safety due to the ‘invisible’ flame.

Comment by Jason
2011-07-09 19:52:02

Thanks for risking your lungs for us! That’s why you’re on my favorites. 😛

Comment by bob
2014-03-06 09:27:02

a spritzer spray bottle puts out alcohol fire almost instantly, just spritz with water, kills the fire

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Comment by 超A品
2017-11-29 07:20:29


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