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#167430 - 02/20/09 03:39 PM Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
Greetings.

I'm in the process of brushing up some survival methods for fires and cooking. While I was looking at my old survival books, I noticed a couple of things that I've never tried personally.

1) The Bengazi Stove
The basic idea is to put some sand into a container, and then pour in some gasoline (petrol). I'm guessing that you only want to add enough gasoline to keep it immersed below the sand level. Then light the gasoline. I've never tried this type of stove - and am naturally a bit cautious about putting a match to a container with gasoline in it. But maybe the sand really does prevent an explosion. Has anybody actually tried out this kind of stove ... got any practical tips?

2) The Oil-Water Fire
Really a brilliant concept because it's so simple. Just drip a combination of water and oil onto a very hot metal plate and the mixture burns with great heat. Or at least that's what the books say. I guess the only drawback is that you need a starter fire to get the metal plate hot at the beginning of the operation. Anybody got any advice on this method? Again, I'v never tried it. It's one of those seems-almost-too-good-to-be-true ideas.

This weekend I'll try to give both of these ideas a practical test in my backyard. Any feedback would be welcome!

Pete, California

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#167434 - 02/20/09 03:55 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires [Re: ]
Johno Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 213
Loc: Scotland
Benghazi Burner works well, but is very dirty.
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#167440 - 02/20/09 05:15 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires [Re: Johno]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
The water and oil drip burner works, but it is a real pain to set up and get lit.

The steel plate has to be red hot before the water and oil hit it and then it is just a few drops at a time.
So you need a container for water, a container for oil, metal tubing, a steel plate with a fire under it able to heat it to red.

_________________________
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#167447 - 02/20/09 08:25 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires [Re: scafool]
CANOEDOGS Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852
Loc: MINNESOTA

we tried to warm up our bunkers in Korea--1969--with the sand in a bucket and kerosene method..no good..a 10 or so below they made more smoke than heat.

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#167451 - 02/20/09 09:04 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fir [Re: scafool]
Desperado Offline
Veteran

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 1530
Loc: DFW, Texas
Originally Posted By: scafool
The water and oil drip burner works, but it is a real pain to set up and get lit.

The steel plate has to be red hot before the water and oil hit it and then it is just a few drops at a time.
So you need a container for water, a container for oil, metal tubing, a steel plate with a fire under it able to heat it to red.



Just curious...

If one already has the ability to heat the plate to red hot, why are we needing an oil/water fire?
_________________________
I do the things that I must, and really regret, are unfortunately necessary.

RIP OBG

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#167463 - 02/21/09 02:46 AM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fir [Re: Desperado]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
Lighting, heat.
The oil and the water together burn bright white. The steel plate has to be hot enough to explode the water into steam and it combines with the oil to make a kind of fuel gas before burning. Once you get the oil/water drip burning it provides enough heat to the steel to keep itself going (usually).

(it burns about two units water to one unit oil fed as a steady drip)


You might want to do it if you had a supply of oil but not much wood or other fuel, but it is such a PITA to set up and regulate that I would just use a wick in the oil instead.
_________________________
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#167467 - 02/21/09 05:06 AM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fir [Re: scafool]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
A standard field expedient water heater cooker is a oil/water heated plate unit. In essence teh water exploding into steam causes the oil to be atomized and so you can burn oils that wouldn't normally work. A common used combination is diesel fuel, or kerosene mixed with as much used motor oil, bunker fuel, or waste oil as will burn smoothly.

The advantage of a fuel/water burner is that it works well for heating water and cooking, can be assembled in the field from scrap metal, and it greatly extends your fuel supply by effectively burning thick waste oil, grease and anything else as long as it is mixed with a bit of the good stuff so it can drip and be metered.

The key to lighting it is to preheat the burner plate with a small pile of wood soaked with kerosene or diesel. It really needn't be red hot, perhaps just a dull red if seen in the dark. It is hot enough if a drop of spit explodes on contact. If it sticks to the plate and then boils off it isn't hot enough yet.

I have previously seen DOD publications that give instructions for assembling and running one but don't have the location handy. You can probably find it by Googling some mix/combination of "water heating", "oil-water burner", "flash burner" "Special Forces", "sanitation", "field expedient" should work.

I would do it for you but the exercise will do you good.


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#167483 - 02/21/09 04:05 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires [Re: Pete]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
First, thanks to all the people who replied here. There were a lot of good comments. Let me add some quick info:

1) Benghazi Stoves (gasoline-sand burners)
First, it would have helped if I spelled the name right. It's Benghazi (not Bengazi). There is some info on the Web about these stoves or burners, mostly posted by really old British chaps who served in North Africa in WW2. Apparently the good old Benghazi stove was absolutely indispensable back then. For some odd reason, the original Benghazi design does not seem to have caught on here in America. Maybe not too many people live in the desert - that might have something to do with it. Sand is an essential ingredient.

I'll be playing around with Benghazi stove designs over the next couple of weekends. So I'll post back with what I find out. The basic idea is to take a large can, fill it almost to the top with dry sand, and add about 10% gasoline (petrol) by volume. Give the gasoline a few minutes to soak to the bottom of the can, and then light the top of the stove above the sand (by using a long stick and standing well back from the top during ignition). The stove essentially runs on gasoline vapors, which migrate up through the sand and burn at the top surface where the sand reaches the atmosphere. A pretty simple idea really.

Someone mentioned that they had tried the Benghazi burner with kerosene in the Korean war when it was very cold - and it didn't work. This seems quite plausible. If conditions are just too darn cold, then the kerosene vapors would be weak and they might not percolate through the sand much (so you would get weak, ineffective burning).

I'll start by building some small Benghazi's in soda cans, and expand to larger models - once I've got the idea working well.

2) Oil-Water Fires

For some good comments on oil-water fires see the following link:

http://randsco.com/index.php/2007/05/30/p442

This link is basically explaining the physics to home owners ... so they can understand why they shouldn't throw a glass of water on an oil fire in their kitchen. But the basic physics is all the same ... and interesting. I think that Art in Florida got it all completely right. The water vaporizes and atomizes the oil, allowing the oil to flash burn intensely when it mixes with the atmosphere. He's also right on target with the observation that you could use a steady small feedstock of oil to keep this fire going once it's started, and it's pretty interesting that you can actually burn a variety of heavy oils.

I'll put some elbow grease into the oil-water fire techniques in a month or two ... preferably when I can find an abandoned area that has no fire hazards. It's more of a curiousity, really. I could see some survival situations (e.g. aircraft crash, military camp) where an oil-water fire might be quite effective. But since you need another fire just to get the oil-water fire started, it's not an essential survival tool.

all the best,
Pete, California

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#167496 - 02/21/09 06:03 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires [Re: Pete]
Andrew_S Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 59
Be warned: the Benghazi stove was one of the major causes of non-combat casualties in the North African campaign.

I think that's related to the bit about lighting with a stick and standing well back. Just like lighting those wonderful immersion heaters.

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#167510 - 02/21/09 08:35 PM Re: Question on Bengazi Stoves and Oil & Water Fires [Re: Andrew_S]
PureSurvival Offline
Member

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 149
Loc: UK
I have used the Benghazi Stoves many times in the past; I first came across it outside of survival manuals on my first trip to Africa when I was 18. We used them to mark the Helo LZ at our FOB out in the bush.

The biggest risk of injury is not from lighting them but when adding fuel to them after you think they have gone out.

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