There are many types of alternative-fuel stoves in the market but what we see commonly are; alcohol stoves, solid fuel stoves or Esbit and wood stoves.
Alcohol Stoves: This type of stove appeals more to backpackers and ultralight backpackers due to its weight; on an average they weigh an ounce or two at maximum. There are no special contraptions involved for alcohol stoves; just the stove and the alcohol as fuel. Check out Keweis Mini Alcohol Stove weighing only 5 oz best for ultralight backpackers.
Alcohol stoves are cheap to buy or make, and their fuel is easy to find. Heet (the one in the yellow bottle) is a gas-line antifreeze made for cars that is commonly used as fuel for alcohol stoves. You can also use methanol or denatured alcohol as fuel.
One major pitfall with alcohol stoves are the slow cook times, poor performance in wind and cold, and less efficient fuel.
Also, extra precaution should be used when using alcohol stoves because their fuel burns clean blue and can be very hard to see. This has been known to cause injuries and accidents. Always make sure your stove has fully burned out before handling it or attempting to re-fuel.
Solid fuel stoves or Esbit: This type is also popular with backpackers and ultralight backpackers. Some models are so small they are the size of a coin purse and can fit in yur pocket. The more common model is the Esbit model that uses Esbit fuel tabs, which burn a low-medium flame for about twelve minutes.
They are very easy to operate; what you need to do is open up a fuel tab, light it on fire, and place your pot on a stand over the flame and wait until your water boils. Solid fuel stoves are compact and easy to make.
Like the alcohol stoves or the canister stoves, solid fuel stoves are very susceptible to wind. A good windscreen is essential. Along with alcohol stoves, solid fuel stoves have much slower cooking times. Thus in the long run, solid fuel stoves might not be the economical choice as the fuel tabs are very pricey and not commonly available.
There is a sticky residue left in the pot when using solid fuels making it hard to clean and eventually the residue will pile up. The tabs also give off an unpleasant odor.