Back to the original topic of a GHB stove.

I see one very crucial point that has been missed by all in regards to alcohol stoves in cold weather. Before I get into that, Bacpacjac mentioned that the temps where she is (southern Ontario?) can drop down to -40C. Given that this area is one of the most densely populated areas of Canada, I really question why any person would be wanting to get home in -20C temps, let downwards to -40C. If you have never been out walking or ever holed up a tent or even in a car for any length of time at either of these temps, you don't have any idea of how cold it really is. For those metrically challenged, -40C is the same as -40F.

That aside, the crucial point with alcohol stoves is the very possible of severe risk of frostbite if you spill alcohol on your skin at these temperatures. Like gas or many other flammable liquids, alcohol does not freeze as water does. In fact, alcohol does not freeze until well past -80C. Chances are when using any small stove, you may have to fuel up the stove. If you spill alcohol directly on exposed skin you will get frostbite as that liquid alcohol is far below the freezing point. If you have gloves on and the it seeps through, you still have a very good chance of frostbite. The only thing that may save your skin is to keep that alcohol as warm as you possible in your packsack or in an inner coat pocket.

In extreme cold, your body and thinking is impaired to a degree and one slight second of inattention and could really compound an already tough, extreme cold situation. So for me, an alcohol stove is not worth the risk, but then again at those temps and in an urban environment, I would not be trying to make it home and would be seeking warm shelter in any numerable buildings in an urban area.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock