Sunday, January 11, 2009

Easy alcohol stove

Do you need a lightweight, cheap, easy to make, portable stove solution? I was messing around on arfcom today and came across a post on how to build an alcohol backpacking stove out of a couple of beer cans. I've made a few of these but I tend to give them away. Since they're so easy to make I don't think anything of it and then my BOB sits for weeks without an alcohol stove in it. The only reason that this is even remotely justifiable is because I also keep a Primus multifuel stove in it with a full bottle of Coleman camp fuel. The Primus is certainly a higher quality stove but it's also heavier, much more expensive (about $100) and it's got a lot of small parts that can fail (although mine has always worked for me without having to rebuild it).

So, anyway, I saw this post over at arfcom and it inspired me to go make another alcohol stove for my BOB. All that you need is a sharp knife, a 2x4 block and a couple of beer cans (the 2x4 block is really just a convenience). Stabilize the knife on the block and cut the bottoms off of a couple of beer (or soda) cans.

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Once you have a couple of beer can bottoms just put one inside of the other with the bottoms facing out. Then push them together to seat them. This is a lot harder than it sounds but eventually you'll get them to fit. Once the cans are seated properly you need to drill some holes for the burners. Start by putting a big hole in the center of the top. You can use a nail for this or just drill a hole with a 3/8" drill bit. You'll want to put a penny over this hole when you light the stove. Once you have the hole in the center you'll want to put several small holes along the rim. You can use a thumbtack, a very small nail or anything that's capable of poking small holes for this. I used a small hand drill that I use for modeling. If you're using a can that has numbers or letters stamped into the bottom then you'll have to sand it smooth around the area where you'll place the penny. After the holes are drilled and the bottom is smooth then just get a piece of aluminum foil and mold it around a tuna can so that it will hold a small amount of fuel. You can also just use a tuna can.

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Put the stove inside of the piece of foil or tuna can. Fill the stove with alcohol. You want to let a little bit of it overflow and collect in the primer area but not too much. Just pour it slowly until a couple of ounces drains into the center hole. After it's full put a penny over the hole. Next light the fuel in the primer area. The primer will burn off and the burners will continue to burn. How long it takes for the primer to burn depends on how much overflow you had. If you end up with too much overflow don't worry about it. Just go ahead and start boiling. Eventually, it will burn off. Here are a couple of pics. The first one was taken with the light on. The second one was taken with the lights and the flash off to show the flames.

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After the water started boiling I decided that I didn't want to waste a shot of everclear. I threw in some ramen and some cut up carrots and celery. Cooking dinner didn't take long at all.

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The pot is just a stainless steel pot that came in one of those chinsy camp pot sets. It's lightweight and I can unscrew the knob on the lid and screw it to the inside so that it doesn't snag on stuff in my pack. The stand is aluminum wire and aluminum tubing that's cut and bent to hold the pot properly over the stove. The windscreen is a coors light can. I just cut the top and bottom off and then split it down the middle. Everything fits easily into the pot which fits easily into my pack. Just carry a small flask full of everclear and you've got a fuel source that should last you at least a few days during an emergency. You can even take a nip or two off of it if the stress of bugging out is getting to you.


Cygnus MacLlyr said...


I'm on an alternative stove/fuel/heat bent of late; GREAT TIMING!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, great post! I have made many of these for myself and compared it to a swedish Trangia stove and I found out this is more powerful and fuel efficient so I dumped the trangia and use only this now.

Anonymous said...

I noted that you use everclear for fuel. Is there any other fuel,such as rubbing alchohol to use?

The Urban Survivalist said...

91% rubbing alcohol works. Just make sure that it doesn't have any methanol in it. Heet is supposed to work. You can get that at most gas stations, grocery stores, automotive stores, etc. I've also heard that Coleman white gas works but I've never bothered to try it. Anything with very high alcohol content should work. YMMV. Please don't blow yourself up while experimenting.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm Ramen noodles

katty said...

I love the big stove specially because i like to cook all kind of recipe, how ever i prefer to have a reasonable place. Actually i saw a beautiful stove in a house that was published in costa rica homes for sale it was big and beautiful, i think i will go there because it catched my attention.

kimberly said...

wonderful blog!!! i really like the stove, specially the big ones because i think they are more comfortable for me and I feel identify with my stove all the time. Actually my boyfriend cooked for me once after to
buy viagra , then he gave me the surprise.