Unpressurized alcohol stoves are not suitable for melting snow. That is one of the most common statements one can find from a countless number of camping stove reviews.
Well, I happen to have a Mini Trangia, I don’t have funds to get any nuclear powered wonder devices, and where I hike, the most convenient way to get water, about six to seven months of the year, is to melt some snow. Therefore, I absolutely had to test whether my poor little Trangia really is useless for melting the snow.
The test conditions were not very wintery, only -8.2 C below freezing, but on the coolish side anyway, and enough snow to perform the test. (I’ll repeat the test in colder conditions as soon as it gets cold, however, the weather forecast for the next 15 days is somewhat summery, from +1 to -5 C, so this is the best I can do right now).
Alcohol is a bit tricky fuel in cold environment, therefore, I used my home made winterizer for the Mini Trangia in my test. With the winterizer, the fire was easy to light up. Then I loaded the mini Trangia 800 ml pot with fresh snow, and started cooking, or melting in this case. I kept filling up the pot with more snow till I had 500 ml of water. To get half a liter of water from snow, in -8.2 C temperature, took 6 minutes and 30 seconds, which, in my opinion, is not bad. Then I placed the lid on top of the pot and continued cooking. 8 minutes and 38 seconds later, I had 500 ml of boiling water, not bad either.
Total time from snow to boiling was 15 minutes and 8 seconds, which is not lightning fast, but, again in my opinion, not ridiculously slow either. I have had slower boiling times in the middle of the summer (in windy conditions, without the winterizer, of course, and without the lid, though).
Of course, most of the multifuel burners, and some gas burners are a lot quicker, but, based on my test, announcing that one cannot melt snow with unpressurized alcohol stove, is wrong.
In -8.2 C, melting snow with the Mini Trangia is absolutely possible, and not even that slow.
Longer report of the Mini Trangia’s behavior in various conditions will be published sometime in the future.