Introduction: Alcohol Burner

Picture of Alcohol Burner

Don't have a bunson burner? Don't feel like paying too much for fuel? Parents don't trust you with a bunson burner? Have some alcohol to burn? Than build yourself an alcohol burner for about a dollar or even free!

WARNING!!! I am not responsable for any damage caused by this, even though it is pretty safe.

Step 1: Materials/Equipment

Picture of Materials/Equipment

Most households will have all of the materials and equipment required to create this alcohol burner.

- A jar with lid, preferable a glass jar with a metal lid
- Alcohol, I used rubbing alcohol
- Paper Towels
- A drill bit, I used a 3/16 inch drill bit
- A drill or drill press
- Scissors

Step 2: Prepare the Jar

Picture of Prepare the Jar

First drill a hole into the lid of the jar, preferable near the center, but it really doesn't matter.

Step 3: Create a Wick

Picture of Create a Wick

Fill up the Jar with the alcohol about 7/8's the way up, just leave room for your wick.

To create the wick you have to cut a strip about 1 inch wide of a paper towel the long way.

Then dip the strip into the jar with the rubbing alcohol.

Next fold the paper towel in half (so that it's half as short, not thinner)

Twist the paper towel.

Step 4: Force the Wick Through the Jarlid

Picture of Force the Wick Through the Jarlid

The title of this step pretty much explains it, have about a quarter of an inch sticking through the lid.

Step 5: Screw on the Lid

Picture of Screw on the Lid

Screw on the lid

Step 6: Flame On!

Picture of Flame On!

Light it up!

Step 7: Saftey and Trouble Shooting

Heres just some facts about this alcohol burner

- Snip off burnt parts of the wick

- Glass breaks when it gets to hot, the glass won't break in this burner because the alcohol cools it.

- Whenever your outside with this it's extremely hard to see the flame, but it's still there.

- right after you blow out the flame the wick is warm to the touch, usually it's not hot enough to burn you.


The wick just burns up - You either didn't soak it in the alcohol or the alcohol evaporated.

Glass Shattered - You dropped it, shot it with a gun, put it in an oven, etc.

Enjoy your new alcohol burner!


TheBlackSharpie (author)2010-05-03

Can I use a plastic bottle? Or does it have to be glass?

if you used plastic it might melt

Oh okay, I've only waited 2 years for a reply.

Not to be mean, but if you see what he made and neede to ask that, how are you still alive? Darwin should have already taken you out. I am not saying you should die, but , can I use plastic bottle.......

AkbarC1 (author)smart person2016-03-25

at least you got an answer, be happy

person% (author)TheBlackSharpie2012-09-01


JordanB32 (author)2015-11-06

Some safety issues need to be addressed about this lamp design.

made the lamp. But, it "exploded" in a fire plume at periodic intervals violently enough so that the glass jar I was using almost tipped over. I suspect the oxygen in the lamp mixed with the evaporated methylated spirit vapour I was using and when the flame on the wick burnt down low enough the heat caused the mixture to ignite and explode. The methylated spirits then began to evaporate again until the mixture was the right proportion of air-alcohol at which point it exploded again. This design is not safe unless you can prevent air leaking in through the wick hole. I REPEAT, the wick hole must fit very snugly and be soaked with alcohol to prevent further oxygen entering the jar and also to stop the wick burning too low down. Also I advise to keep the jar mostly full at all times to limit the amount of air-alcohol mixture that can exist within the lamp body, thus reducing the risk of explosion. Also the liquid
alcohol will diffuse faster up the wick and keep it from burning down
too low.

spark master (author)JordanB322016-04-27

You over pressured the bottle, with a proper wick it doesn't happen , a true explosion would have truly hurt/killed you. If I take a pipe cap one end, then fill it with water then cap it and ross in a roaring fore, eventually it "explodes", due to vapor pressure, not oxygenated calories in a REDOX senario. reduction oxidation, can be real fast (bomb) real slow (rusting), alky stoves , JUUUSSST RIGHT

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-18

This sound just a bit dangerous. I would use a professional type of alcohol lamp from a scientific company.

Here is a picture.

spark master (author)SHOE00072016-04-27

That has a wick of somekind, I did my post b4 I saw this , thanks but still url?

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-18

Also I thought of reducing the risk of a fire so I bought a wickless flameproof alcohol burner from a scientitic company too. This is quite good and I think there could be some improvements here too.

spark master (author)SHOE00072016-04-27

can you put a picture of it or a url link so we can see one?

This is fine as is, a proper wick is cheap and better, but I am curious to see what you found.

Alcohol stoves and their fuel can not "explode", but a leak that catches fire can not be seen at all in very bright light, so there are bene's for other methods. That said a simple out of control alky fore can be put out with water or a wet mop or a water soaked towel, and you can get a mild woosh, but not an explosion or the woosh from say a gasoline fire. You can make really cool Alky stoves see, if you use a wick system using carbon fiber, you get something that will last an extremely long time, and can ge used with other toys as a stove to make a hot coco. or fry an egg, or cook a burger. I used to make a 2-3 egg omelets with spinach and ham and cheese,one plus hot tea /coca for my kid an a single cop of real coffee for me on the road. (little tiny pan, with home made domed lid, 3 alky stoves, 2 home made). I also have done corn cake with apple pie filling, powder sugar topped, in a 3 rock dutch oven using camping cook set.

Now that I have seen digitizer101's vids on how he makes the continuous fill wick burners, I am ready to bake. This guy with Zelph and Hiram Cook and Benniblueyes just to name a very few of the many, I have learned so much about combustion and fun stuff.

To the Gent who did this

Bravo molto buona

spark's a flying

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-20

Hello again I just bought a wickless alcohol burner from Prolab. It was fairly expensive.

Again the flame can be up to 4-5 cm and it generates a lot of heat. I always for SAFETY clamp down the flame unit. Shown in picture.

charlesd.parker.33 (author)2016-04-19

They sell fiberglass wicks for oil burning lamps.

suttiwit (author)2014-11-09

Well... I did exactly like the steps, and it did not work. It only burns the alcohol a bit on the paper towel and the paper towel just burns. It's the second time stuff on instructables did not work. Looks like you have to be an american to do all this things.

spark master (author)2011-03-13

simple and it works two items to offer use yellow bottle of HEET or any methlye alcohol NEVER use rubbing/isopropal alcohol since they tend to soot up and smell even. If you can get AIRBRAKE LINE ANTIFREEZE, it is pure denatured (methly) alcohol . SLX brand alcohol (from paint sore) works. The same maker has a really nice , but more expensive mix JUST for babies like this, it has a higher rate of ethyl in it so more calories per burned oune, with no additives and is sold in a green labled can (paint stores/big box stores)

second alcohol stove never explode. Over heated they pop (shatter if glass) that is due to pressure. You then can get a fire ball, but alky stoves usually just burn up real fast if they pop open, and this is dangerous, especially in day light hours when seeing the flames is near impossible.

Coleman fuel/white gas/gasoline butane/propane stove cannister can be detonated rather nastily, not true of an alky burner.

like this article

see for more flammable fun, beware though you can die playing with fire , rather painfully. So I say play , but I mean use wisely for pleasure.


372jpeg (author)2010-08-02

would the flame ever reach the jar to make a potential explosion? Good Instructable Two thumbs up.

beehard44 (author)372jpeg2010-11-15

you can make a shim out of aluminum foil if you are worried. I don't think that'll cause an explosion though because it's not in an enclosed space

Hightechk (author)beehard442011-01-08

yes, the alcohol would not explode, it would begin to burn, but not explode.

power (author)2010-05-23

 works great
it lasted like 5 hours on a small 10ml jar
now I need to find a bigger glass jar with a metal lid

chemy999 (author)2009-05-19

i have recently built a burner that is very similar to this and i am wanting to use it in a chemistry lab as a replacement for a Bunsen burner. i already have a screen to put the object to be heated on and all i need is a good stand that will not melt. please help. (also i would GREATLY prefer using stuff that can be found around the average house.)

itsthatsguy (author)chemy9992009-10-15

ZHmm unless yoru a welder not much home-brew things can withstand hightemps... btu a "Ring stand' as its called in science, is a cheapyholding device.

JimJong (author)2009-08-05

oh if you want to make the flame visible, all you have to do is add salt to the alcohol. itll make it burn bright yellow =p

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-05-27

Cool, i actually was just looking 4 1 yesterday. ( i was going to melt salt to make sodium) do you think i could put a tin can bottom on top and then melt salt with it??? or not high enouf temp!?

chemy999 (author)!Andrew_Modder!2009-04-30

how about you buy sodium or if you don't want to do that then you could dissolve salt in something other than water and then electrolosize. the reason you wouldnt use water would be that the sodium would react with the water and make sodium hydroxide also it would be a good idea to either not do it at all or do it in a super ventilated place with a gas mask because of the chlorine

Doesn't salt melt at like 4000 degrees centigrade?

melt 97.72 °C, 207.9 °F ... boil 883 °C, 1621 °F that is just plane sodium, so probably just a bit more for table salt, but you deffinatly can melt it in a pan.

it's actually way way way higher than just sodium, salt happens to be pretty damn stable on it but it melts at 801 degrees centigrade this means that it's within the reach of many of the toys sitting around the house, a craft torch would do it, I'm just after torching a penny and turning it red, get it glowing red hot and dip it int water, works with sterling anyway... basically your best bet is probably a really powerful butane torch or a burner such as this but more powerful, try some of the stove designs there's one that runs by capillary action and is likely to do the job, just burns alcohol aswell... remember that you'll have to do this in a safe place as half of the salt will suddenly be a poisonous gas floating around you...

Its not that tough to reach 800° and change to melt NaCl, the problem is doing it without carbon crud, and reactions with atmosphere is you want to do anything useful.. Vacuum, or inert atmophere setup if you can build that to withstand the heat.. Its actually possible to both melt, and electrolyse salt with the same electricity source, but a well engineered cell would be far superior..

Yeah, even a simple hood with Co2 in it would give you a much easier time of it...

well ya in no salt melts at a higher temp. but it doesnt matter cause you would already have a hot enof flame.. and ya i no you have to do this in a safe place, because i said it many times....

Lol did a good one earlier with a craft torch which would definitely be hot enough to do the job, I found out that it's hot enough to cut aluminium aswell, thin stuff just gets destroyed... As for melting the salt it would be alot of effort to use something like that, I would be going towards a hyped up stove of some description

well. ya the best thing is a mini propaine stove or even oxy-ace. welder.

Yeah it's not about peak temp so much as heat output, you need lots of energy put in to the salt to melt it all rather than little bits at a time...

try a lot more about 600 degrees C more. just google ho to make it, it its called a downs cell

jtobako (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-05-28

Melting salt will not isolate sodium-you just get melted salt.

Sunbanks (author)jtobako2007-12-01

You can melt salt?

!Andrew_Modder! (author)Sunbanks2007-12-02

yes, sodium is actually a Alkali metal :-) witch without chlorine to stabalize it, it blows up in water ( sodium= Na Salt: NaCl) the Cl is taken out by getting a molten pool of salt then running a dc current threw it :-D!!

Sunbanks (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-12-08


!Andrew_Modder! (author)Sunbanks2007-12-08

yes! salt is cheap, and amazing! :-D

Sunbanks (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-12-08

Have you ever done that?

!Andrew_Modder! (author)Sunbanks2007-12-08

yes. but it took me 4 ever, because i was using a small mini torch to melt the salt :-P Its best with a portable propane stove (or bunson burner)

!Andrew_Modder! (author)jtobako2007-05-28

dood. lol i just wanted to melt the salt so i could run 12v current into it to fog out the chlorine (((((VERY FRIGGEN DANGEROUS))))!! because i used to use my blowtorch which used an anus load of butane to run. heh

lemonie (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-05-29

I've tried melting salt with a blow-lamp (probably when I was your age, and definately for the same purpose). Don't bother trying, it's tough. L

jtobako (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-05-28

Well, since the energy density of butane is much higher than alcohol, you are going to need more alcohol than butane to get the same amount of heat out. I'm guessing that you will end up spending the same amount, but I'm not sure that this burner will get hot enough-I think you are going to need a blue flame for the temp you want.

xerxesx20 (author)2008-04-02

Remember them old kerosene (and paraffin variants too) lamps? (Really hard to get hold of now, :-( (note to self: do not use brackets and smilies as much as you do... sorry!)

They were great and never, EVER failed to do anything they were supposed to do. Cheap to run aswell, both fuel and wicks. Good ol' days. :-)

On topic however...

A chimney (I believe(correct me if I am wrong)) will help to keep the flame more stable and slightly away from the top of the jar (depending on it's construction of course) that way you can have the wick acting just as it should without the heat being quite so close to the construction of the burner/lamp/candle (the hot thingy okay? lol) you could even put fins on it so the fuel chamber and main construction were cool aswell which would decrease the amount of fuel lost to vaporisation, though with heavy oils and solid fuels (like butter as above -- madness, brilliant idea!) some heat generally tends to ease the vaporisation via the wick.

I'm not sure what the proper naming for it is, but I have some frying oil and an old Zippo wick (they have copper strands in to keep it straight in the lighter, when they burn they form big round lumps of copper once it's melted and deformed), once left burning for long enough, the wick becomes exempt from use and the oil itself starts to burn on it's own, once the ceramic dish and oil have heated up to the point where it begins to burn readily.

I think a smashed matchstick (so it's all fibre-e) also would work as a good wick for thinner liquid fuels, like wax, for oils (and solid fuels) a thinner, more porous wick works better.

Think I might go and make some sketches of a new candle for my room, an "invisicandle" running on Meths I think. Utterly pointless (but it'll give me something to do with old tin cans and bits and pieces), 'cos the flame is essentially invisible (meth flames tend to have a hot, blue burn your fingers type nature), but I could light incense, burn my brother and what not with it at least. :-P

I think i've jabbered crap-talk for long enough lol.

Peace out, my fellow tinkering brethren. :-)

Noodle93 (author)xerxesx202008-09-23

"Remember them old kerosene (and paraffin variants too) lamps? (Really hard to get hold of now, :-( (note to self: do not use brackets and smilies as much as you do... sorry!)" Sure do. I've got two. There's a whole store in Brisbane, Australia here dedicated to them :D. They are really good when the powers out or for more subtle outdoor table lighting :D

egriff (author)Noodle932009-01-21

my mom has about a half dozen of them.

xerxesx20 (author)Noodle932008-12-06

Alright for some eh?! I discovered a site a while back that sold them, was interesting having a shoofy about, none too cheap mind, still there are always ones at car boot sales -- and antique shop for the more.. wealthy. hehe. Your lamps look just like the ones in the antique shop across town/down the road, bloody dear they were, that is why they aren't sat on my mantelpiece. Glad to see there are still some in circulation, across the drink too, in Australia.

About This Instructable




More by guyfrom7up:Stylish Battery BeltCloth Covered EarbudsHow to Solder in 30 Seconds
Add instructable to: