If you have never made a soda can stove before, you may wonder whether this is possible. Luckily for you, soda can alcohol stoves can be made at home using just basic raw materials.
Soda can stoves are easy to operate, cheap to make, and their weight rarely exceeds 2 ounces. These qualities make using alcohol for fuel and aluminum cans for a backpacking stove an excellent idea for most ultralight backpackers.
In this article, we will focus on showing you how to make a soda can stove. If you are on a budget, this should hopefully help you avoid buying a new backpacking stove. Also, it should reduce the weight of the backpacking gear significantly.
- The lid of a can or jar
- Metal mesh
- Fiberglass pipe insulation
- High heat epoxy
- A piece of paper
- A 24-ounce beverage can (optional) – It is ideal for making a snuffer
- 3 wood screws (optional)
- 5-inch thick wood block (optional)
- Two 16- or 12-ounce aluminum beverage cans
- Denatured alcohol
- Wire cutters
- Drill with 3/16-inch and 1/16-inch drill bits
- Marker pen
- Utility knife or razor blade
- Steel wool or sandpaper
How to Make Soda Can Alcohol Stoves – A Step by Step Guide
Compared to the factory-produced camping stoves, the alcohol stove we will be making using the steps below will be fairly simple. It will be composed of only 2 main pieces.
The bottoms of the 2 smaller cans will serve as the bottom and top of the stove. The top piece will feature burner holes while the bottom will serve as the base. The top will slide into the base and will be secured using the epoxy.
Step 1: Prepare the Cans
If you would like to have a clean metal look on the soda can stove, you will need to sand off the finish on the bottom, two inches of the 2 smaller cans. This will be easy if you do it while the cans are still full and whole – this will prevent crumbling.
Once you are done with the sanding, you can go ahead and empty the cans. Next, rinse the cans with water.
Step 2: Cut the Top of the Stove to Size (Piece #1)
Using 3 screws, secure your razor blade to the 1.5-inch woodblock. Ensure that one edge of the blade extends just beyond the woodblock. Using a clamp, secure the block to a flat surface while ensuring that you have enough space for the can to sit next to the protruding razor edge. Rotate your can against the blade to score the can’s metal all around – be sure to repeat a number of times.
Make a small hole along the already scored line (you can use the corner of a blade) and then use your thumb to press the metal gently, just above your scored line. This should help you separate the 2 halves.
Step 3: Make the Burner Holes
After turning one of the cans upside down, place a piece of paper on the can. Using the bottom of the can as the guide, trace a circle on your paper. Cut out this circle and then folder it 4 times.
Unfold the paper and then place it on the bottom of the can again. Use a marker to dot the beverage can on every fold – you should get 16 evenly spaced marks. Using a 1/16-inch drill bit, drill every dot.
Step 4: Make the Fuel Port
To make your one-pot camping meal, you will need to use fuel. The fuel port on soda can alcohol stoves makes this possible.
To make the fuel port, you will need to place a penny in the center of the beverage can bottom and then outline it with your marker. After removing the penny, put a dot in the center of the penny circle. Make 4 additional dots around your center dot.
Use the 3/16-inch bit to drill the center hole. Use the 1/16 bit to drill the 4 outer holes.
Step 5: Make the Stove Base (Piece #2)
To create the base, you will need to repeat the method described in step 2 above on the second can.
Optional: If you do have the 24 ounces can, you can repeat the same step – this will help you make the snuffer. To ensure that the snuffer fits easily over your stove, make the snuffer about 2 inches tall.
Note: The snuffer is optional – soda can alcohol stoves work well without it. However, it can help improve convenience when you are cooking outdoors.
Step 6: Prepare Your 2 Pieces for Assembly
At this point, both the bottom and top of your stove should be ready. What you will need to do is prepare the 2 pieces to ensure that they can slide together easily.
Using your pliers, crimp all the way around the opening of the top piece. Using a different full beverage can or a different object, work around the bottom piece to make it wider – you will need to work on its inside edge to stretch it. When stretching the bottom piece, you need to keep in mind that too much stretching is not necessary.
Step 7: Insert the Wick
From your fiberglass insulation, cut a square piece and insert the piece into the base piece of the stove. This should act as the wick for your alcohol fuel. Once you set up your tent and decide you need to prepare some food, you will find the wick extremely handy.
Step 8: Assemble the Whole Steve
Mix up your high heat epoxy per the instructions available on the container and apply on the outside of the edge of the stove’s top piece. Carefully, slide the top piece into your base piece while pressing firmly and evenly.
Wipe off the excess epoxy and then give the stove time to cure as per the epoxy instructions. After curing, use the sandpaper to sand off the remaining dried epoxy.
Step 9: Make a Pot Stand
When you are out camping, you will need a stand to place your camping cookware when preparing your food. To make the pot stand, you will need to use the wire cutter to clip a piece of the metal mesh to about 17 inches long and 2.5 inches tall.
On the short side, clip off all but 2 of the metal threads. Bend the remaining 2 into hooks. Clip any remaining or extra threads.
Form your mesh into a circle and secure the hooks for improved stability. Place the cooking pot on the stand and adjust the size of the stand if needed.
Step 10: Get Cooking
Place your stove on a rimmed piece of metal or a jar lid. Use the denatured alcohol to fill the interior of the stove – for the filling, use the fuel port. One thing to keep in mind is that 1 ounce of denatured alcohol usually burns for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, depending on conditions like wind and temperature.
After filling the stove with alcohol, place a penny on top of the fuel port and then pour a few millimeters of alcohol on top of the penny. Also, consider pouring a small amount of alcohol on the rim of your metal lid. This helps prime your stove.
Light the fuel on the penny and on the lid. Next, carefully place your pot stand around your stove. Once the flames start coming out of the burner holes, go ahead and place your pot on the stand. If you are a vegetarian and do not know what to cook, consider using our vegetarian camping food recipes.
When you are done with using your backpacking cookware and the stove, you can use the snuffer to extinguish it. To extinguish the stove, simply drop the snuffer over the top of your stove. Now, you can grab your backpacking chair and enjoy some hot food.
When you are ready to pack up everything, the jar lid and the snuffer should make an ideal container for your stove. You can secure the penny using a rubber band.
Staying Safe When Using the Stove
One important thing you need to note about using alcohol stoves is that alcohol burns practically invisible in the daylight. For this reason, extreme caution is needed when using the stove.
When choosing a spot for cooking, you will need to use common sense. For example, flat rocks are generally great cooking spots. Try to avoid brush and also stay away from the dried leaves and any other flammable material.
Since alcohol stoves don’t feature an off switch (you can always make a snuffer), they are included in the burn bans. Some recreational areas do prohibit their use altogether. Always remember to check with the regulations of your destination before deciding to take along the alcohol stove.
Globo Surf Overview
Soda can alcohol stoves are easy to make and often provide an ideal alternative to people who are on a budget. They are capable of burning ethanol, denatured alcohol, and HEET, all of which are easy to find and fairly cheap. When making the stoves, you won’t need to invest in expensive supplies. In fact, you won’t need to go to the market for the majority of the materials you need.
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- How to Build a Soda Can Stove, Thesodacanstove.com