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.
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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

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Screw on the lid

Step 6: Flame on!

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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!
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suttiwit4 months ago
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.
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.
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.

372jpeg4 years ago
would the flame ever reach the jar to make a potential explosion? Good Instructable Two thumbs up.
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
yes, the alcohol would not explode, it would begin to burn, but not explode.
power4 years ago
 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
chemy9995 years ago
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.)
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.
JimJong5 years ago
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
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!?
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
Melting salt will not isolate sodium-you just get melted salt.
You can melt salt?
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!!
yes! salt is cheap, and amazing! :-D
Have you ever done that?
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)
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
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
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.
xerxesx207 years ago
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. :-)
"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 Noodle936 years ago
my mom has about a half dozen of them.
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.
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