Picture of Altoids Sours BBQ Grill
I decided to try my hand at making an Altoids tin grill after reading about the eBq.  This one is powered by a standard-sized charcoal briquette and is capable of cooking a full-size hot dog (cut down to size) or smaller hamburger patties with ease.  It gets mighty hot after it's fired up so use plenty of caution and keep a large glass of water handy.

If you decide to make one of your own please post a picture in the comments!  I'd love to see what you guys are coming up with.  The propane version is coming soon! :D

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
step 01b - large grill.jpg
step 01c - small grill.jpg
step 01d - altoids sours.jpg
1 Altoids sours tin
4x 1.5" sheet metal screws with wide heads (or 4x washers to match)
8x nuts to thread on screws
70mm metal computer fan guard (similar style to the one shown)
92mm metal computer fan guard (similar style to the one shown)

* I scavenged my fan guards from an old computer power supply.  They just happened to be the correct size

** I think these are the same fan guards that I'm using: 70mm and 92mm

Dremel tool with cutting wheel
Drill with bit slightly bigger than screws
Tin snips
Pliers/Needle nose pliers
Safety goggles and gloves

donnyk made it!4 years ago
I was really impressed by your altoids BBQ grill. I wanted to do the same but couldn't find any altoid sours anywhere. I had some metal food containers laying around and decided to use those. Here's what I came up with.

It's a bit bigger. Holds 4 charcoal briquettes.

I also made a lid and used a drawer handle on top.

I grilled up some salmon today. It was ok. I think it needs to be hotter to get that delicious seared flesh thing going.


I think i'm going to do yours. really cool i love the handle

vmspionage (author)  donnyk4 years ago
Wow, that one turned out great! Thanks for sharing your project with us =)
yours looks awesome! what tin did u use?
I really don't know. It was part of a $99, 90-piece kitchen set from Fingerhut.
ch1pm0nk made it!4 years ago
Love the idea here. I just finished making my own, albeit a tad bit bigger. I made it out of a 1 cp measuring cup, some fan grills, and screws. Great job on the grill. I call mine the "No-Frills-Hill-Grill"
Mini Grill copy.jpg
vmspionage (author)  ch1pm0nk4 years ago
I love it! Looks like you did a great job putting this together. Did you make the upper grill yourself?
No the top grill part was cut out of another type of fan grill. Its a 120mm aluminum generic type, just a bit different from your typical circular fan grill.
-l WORK l-3 years ago
Nice grill but I was wondering what was the bottom fan part of the grill is for?

If you look in the actual instruction part for putting together the bottom fan part of the grill, it states that is where to put the charcoal briquette, since it is too thick to be inside the tin, beneath the cooking grill. The bottom of the top part of the box is cut out, so the heat from the briquette on the bottom grill goes through to the top grill.

to put little tools to clean the grill with
diycook3 years ago
I love the mini weber but is the coolest ever... but are the fan grills safe to cook on?? I know that some metal surfaces are unsafe once you heat them?? Just a question as I will be making one of these for my son and he WILL use it!!!!!!
rebecca_n diycook3 months ago

Some metals will leach into food etc in contact with them after heating. A public health official told me a fascinating story about a family with symptoms that looked a lot like food borne illness, but turned out to be heavy metal poisoning. They'd been using an old metal refrigerator shelf on top of a barrel as a charcoal grill..it was leaching heavy metals into the food as it cooked and built up in them over time. I dont remember which of the metal(s) were involved.

good question
rkrishnan73 months ago

Kudos to you for re purposing the fan guards!

gwestlun made it!4 years ago
Good news, Valentines day and Easter is putting out metal containers of M&M's
you can use instead of the Altoids tin. Made one today and it turned out great!
M & M grill.jpghand.jpgcover n grill.jpgside.jpgtop on.jpgtopside.jpg
Great job!!
what size fan fan guards did you use?
I used three and four inch, just cut down to the size that fits and away you go!
nice pics
Thanks for the compliment, I used a canvas paper as a backround. worked great!
How did you attach the handle to the top?

I have one of those tins, and I made one, but with shorter feet.

I just need to know...
I used a brass nail, it even had a slight twist to it's body so It looks special. I used JB weld underneath. holds great! good luck and pls post your pics, thanks!
Can you buy the containers online anywhere? If so please send me a link.
I haven't looked on line, just had some from Christmas, Easter, and Valentines day from Walgreens, target.
I have a few of these kicking around- I just may have to make one or two of these.
Looks good. Nice work.

a one brickette BBQ cool , love idea , great for a cupper,lol boil water or heat a can of stew ,cool

I see there haven't been comments in quite awhile, but had to comment! Made this for my son and son-in-law and packaged it in an "apocalypse" designed painted can (yes - they both watch that show) with other small survival items and it was a HUGE hit!!! I'll try to post a pic if they ever let them out of their sight!!

davidbarcomb9 months ago

Amazing project. Thank you very much

im gonna make this
That is so cool!!
c3ralki1l3r2 years ago
what kind of grill could you make form a square one?
BIGB3AR3 years ago
Works great. I love it. Cooks hotdogs well.
mason01903 years ago
Maybe if you used shorter screws this could be collapsible!
Chumlee4 years ago
i live in england an no way near me sells altoids sours, any ideas of other tins?

Frowney0014 years ago
I am soooo gonna make this before next weekend, so I can show it off at the camping trip with the other Boy Scouts in my troop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's exactly what I'm gonna' do!
Hi. I apologize for the lack of knowledge which led me to ask this question in the first place (thanks for the great gift idea btw!) but where does one find a fan guard in a computer (which computer part?) and do they need to be those particular sizes? thank you for any help!
vmspionage (author)  r3cycl3dartrat5 years ago
If you are trying to salvage them from an old computer that's about to go to the dump, you can usually find them on the back of the case and inside on the power supply. The thing is they are not always the same style and size, and what you find may not work for something like this. This website sells what looks to be the same ones I used, but I didn't purchase them so I can't say for sure. Mine came off a dead computer power supply and just happened to be the right size. 70mm http://www.frozencpu.com/products/9406/ffg-21/70mm_Fan_Grill.html?tl=g47c221s996 92mm http://www.frozencpu.com/products/2615/ffg-05/92mm_Fan_Grill.html?tl=g47c221s542 If all else fails, improvise! =)
vmspionage (author)  vmspionage5 years ago
any disscount codes?
K. Thanks
bbutler44 years ago
I have a candy tin and everything else but the Computer Fan Guards. I don't have an old computer. Any stores sell them seperate
profpat4 years ago
great for camping!! i like it!
kylekosan234 years ago
it really looks like a grill
if anyone has a pellet gun, you can use larger sized metal pellet containers, thats what i plan to use. should work just the same
You should probably wash them thoroughly, though, they may contain traces of a chemical (lead) that has been proven to cause birth defects in the state of California.
Lead is also poisonious right?
If you get too much of it in your system it can lead to problems
Chances are fairly good that he doesn't live in California, so he shouldn't have to worry about that. >_>
joeand4 years ago
What are the dimensions of the discontinued Altoid Sour tin container that you are using? :)
cberry2404 years ago
Just did another photoshoot with one that I built. You saw the summer shot with the 321. Here's a starry night camping...
vmspionage (author)  cberry2404 years ago
Great shot!
everyony your little grills are awesome
here is my fondue recipy for candles and things...
you need
1 big spoon
the grill
chees blocks
carrot celery, etc

light the fire
put your spoon on top of the grill
put chese in spoon
waite untill the chese is melted
dip carrot or things in chese

this recipy is good over a camp fire because the chees has a smokey taste. i did this all night once
yummmmmmm sooooooogooooood
biggsxlived4 years ago
hmmm well i have an altoids square tin hahah im sure that will work but :) i have to say this is definitely one of my favorites on here .
pak3274 years ago
I love this BBQ Grill!!!!!!!!
firefly684 years ago
I think this is my favorite of all the Instructables I've read so far. Way to go!! It's a shame about the Altoids but the m&m's tin is a very sweet alternative.

Someone was rather nastily ragged on for saying the grill might not be food safe. This is no small point! Many metals might be OK for the food to sit on, but once they're heated it could be a different matter. I think I would cut down a regular BBQ grill.
teche4 years ago
it would be awesome if you made it run on Altoids
ERNESTRIPIO4 years ago
cberry240 made it!4 years ago
I liked the idea and like others couldn't find an Altoid Sour tin.
So I put my on little twist to it and created a little Weber grill with vents and all a couple months ago but just got round to shooting it with it with a buddy.

Bought the little 5" and 3.5" cast iron skillets of Amazon. The 5" fits perfect and they work great.
can you please give a link where you got your materials? thanks in advance!
i will say that looks really freaking cool. if your about 3 feet tall then this is the thing for you. :O I just got and idea you should make a whole bunch of these and have mini-me market them..... gotta love the A.D.D.
vmspionage (author)  cberry2404 years ago
Wow, that looks amazing! Great job on that!
oldgrandpa4 years ago
Altoids Sours has been discontinued, per Wikipedia. after a search of local stores (40+), nobody carries them any longer. BUMMER. The Altoids company still has not responded ( a week +) to any inquiries about the sours.
Yep, Altoids HAS been discontinued, per the company. Finally got their email.
So that's why I haven't been able to find any of those awesome apple sours! That's irritating.
Try the Wonka Exceptionals Fruit Marvels tins... they look like they'd do just as well. I have one sitting in front of me now, but since it's been holding polymer clay, I don't think it would do well for this project. Not this particular one.

May have to pick up a new one on payday...
I think these tins would work too:


or something from here:


or here:

Ryutso4 years ago
What's also perfect for this is to get one of those Crystal Light juice mix container like this: http://s.shld.net/is/image/Sears/08710069000_20100722080121454?hei=600&wid=600&op_sharpen=1&qlt=90,0&resMode=sharp&op_usm=0.9,0.5,0,0 and drop a couple of briquets in there before pouring lighter fluid over them and letting them soak.
LordJustice4 years ago
Totally love the idea of a mini grill. Gonna make one outta a Strepsils mega can...the extra size can smoke stuff! Especially Donnyk's salmon :) did i mention i love salmon?
wiggle2344 years ago
sweet but i dont think i have all of the materials
iamjello74 years ago
great photography.
King Julien5 years ago
I want to do this really bad but I can't find the fan guards or screws and nuts.  Any one have ideas of what I should do?  I could use wire.
vmspionage (author)  King Julien5 years ago
Oh, and for the screws and nuts they usually sell combination packs at hardware stores.  Any size will work as long as it fits through the fan grill's holes and you have the nuts to match. (heh)

If you are trying to homebrew it you could probably make the grill from a wire clothes hanger, but be sure to scrape and sand all of the nasty plastic coating that usually comes on those things.  If you don't have the parts just use your imagination and work with what you got.  Good luck!
I like your ideas but my dad said some stuff could make toxic fumes.  I don't know what is safe!!!
vmspionage (author)  King Julien5 years ago
Well your dad is 100% right - lots of metal wire stuff found around the house is coated with various bad plasticy stuff for different reasons that was never intended on being heated and exposed to food, so there is a bit of risk.  You can mitigate that by sanding everything down to the bare metal and "burning in" your grill by running through a charcoal briquette or two, but that won't eliminate the risk of being contaminated by the metal itself (for example, if it contains lead or other hazardous metals as part of the alloy).  There's no way to be 100% guaranteed safe when doing any project like this that involves direct contact with food.
You can also run it through a cleaning cycle in your kitchen oven...
mnpctech has loads of fan grills for pc's :D

vmspionage (author)  calgarc5 years ago
Bwahahah, that's brilliant!  The sniper or flame grill would be EPIC!
vmspionage (author)  King Julien5 years ago
OK, I think I found them :-)

70mm fan grill and 92mm fan grill
Where can one buy the Altoid Sours to get the tin? I have checked everywhere in NYC, and can't find them. I have done a websearch and found that Altoids has recently discontinued the Sours, which makes it extremely difficult to buy. Does anyone have two extra tins that they can spare? If so, email me at: misobrilliant@gmail.com
yurfriend4 years ago
Hey you wee featured on coolest gadgets
also got listed here
JasonQ4 years ago
Cool! Wonder if you could bend the screw eyes on the grill over so it wouldn't be as prone to slide off the sours tin?

thepelton5 years ago
Cute! You could grill a single (Agaricus campestris) mushroom on it. that's the common commercial mushroom.
Broom thepelton4 years ago
I'm pretty sure they're Agaricus bisporus... but essentially that's no different from A. campestris.
ardrhi4 years ago
Do you mean "nut" where you keep saying "bolt"? You say "put 4 bolts through the holes and secure them with a bolt". I think you mean "put 4 bolts through the holes and secure them with a NUT". Then thread on another NUT. It's hard to thread a bolt onto a bolt, after all.
vmspionage (author)  ardrhi4 years ago
Thanks, I just fixed that.
zeppomarks4 years ago
Also, I absolutely love this and plan to make it!
zeppomarks4 years ago
Some of the folks on here do have a point about the fans possibly having chemicals on them that you wouldn't want in your food - however if you are nervous about that I found this possible solution: http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-LMS3-Logic-Miniature-Skillet/dp/B000LXA9YI
saehn4 years ago
Has anyone actually used one of these to cook food? Very neat instructable and cute results, but I'm note sure that it would be all that useful (especially compared to an alcohol stove or such). Having to pack in charcoal, lighter fluid, wait for the coals to ash over, etc... doesn't sound all that convenient, even if it worked.
milrtime834 years ago
Minor correction to the materials list: Those are machine screws, not sheet metal screws.
its the perfect marshmallow bbq!!!
Yeah, mini marshmallows on bamboo skewers!
Curtmandoo5 years ago
dude! backpack stove for cheap!
Shane K.5 years ago
this would be great for heating up soup and coffee
jwoo20235 years ago
Wow mini BBQ grill!
D35 years ago
The ingenuity, simplicity and elegance are inspiring! Ditto for most of the commentary and suggestions for what to cook on it.
so so so so so so s oo cute ... it looks like a weber but a lot smaller
doomsdayltd5 years ago
why would you need a grill that small i can even cook a tofu dog on it
Messican5 years ago
NICE! Perfect for a New Castle Burger...
Nice! Looks like a Weber Kettle.
Randomguy655 years ago
Brennn105 years ago
This looks beautiful. Nice work!
Lowney5 years ago
That. Is. Amazing.
SinAmos5 years ago
This is awesome and totally my style. Hahaha.
kolleenk5 years ago
love it
ilikepie=)5 years ago
Dats so awesome its like a mini replica of a real barbecue grill
Wazzupdoc5 years ago
Now, get the externals to fit inside. With a briquette! :) Nice job.
mattbomb5 years ago
 what does it burn. wood alcohol 
The real question is "what would you cook on it?"
Individual mussels you pull off the rocks while surf fishing? 2-3 shrimp? A Blue Gill or Sunfish? An Oyster? An aluminum foil pouch filled with cut up squid, garlic, onion and mayonnaise. Yum!
There are these little burgers available in Ontario called President’s Choice Angus Slider mini Angus Beef Burgers - that would fit perfectly on this grill!


Nice Work
I'll keep those in mind, I'm working on one now actually
a mini muffin. i dont know its just for fun. you could make allot of things on it, just got to have the imagination
Please read the instructable.  He clearly states that it burns a single charcoal briquette.
jhn475 years ago
That is AWSOME!
Kaelessin5 years ago
this is amazing! can't wait to make one!
knex_mepalm5 years ago
Damn, I always wanted a mini stove, so did my dad, if I make it bigger will it cook a steak, I want something for fathers day.
Prestidge5 years ago
Do you have any idea how long it takes to boil a cup of water? I'm quite interested in something like this for a camping stove!
vmspionage (author)  Prestidge5 years ago
Not sure off the top of my head, but next time I fire it up I'll check. A metal cup of small pot would probably work best... I'll have to look around to see if I have anything like that. Or maybe the bottom half of a soda can if anything else. I'll get back with you on that.
Soda cans are lined with BPH. I don't think you want to be heating that.
Yes, but all you have to do is put the can in an open flame and leave it there for about 10 minutes and then wash it out. The can may stink afterwards but it is a lot healthier afterwards. I discovered this by taking a propane torch across the outside of the can for about 30 seconds and the inside started to chip so I cut the can in half and discovered the aluminum was ok but the liner was gone. Hope this helps!!
Awesome I can't wait to hear your results!
Wasagi5 years ago
Great Job! It looks fantastic!
Sashi5 years ago
CAREFUL! Some fan guards are galvanized with a chrome coating. Before you cook anything on this grill be sure you do a few test burns first. If the fan guard develops a white (or slightly yellowish) coating on it while under flame it is not food safe. This is not white ash, white ash does not cling to hot metal, this is zinc oxide and it's a blood toxin! Be smart, be safe. I like the design of this project, it's cute and functional! Awesome job. I may make an alcohol version. Should have a GI Joe with a grill apron on, standing next to it with a little pair of tongs. xD
sabr6865 years ago
Gotta find that Altoids tin! I don't care if I've got 4 or 5 pocket/penny stoves already; this one is just cool lookin'. Kind of retro/funky style. It'll look nice just as a conversation piece (if you're into talking, that is). Nice ible!
lockpick5 years ago
This is amazing. The way it looks to cool for me not to build it. Once again amazing.
therealcedz5 years ago
*The bottom grill is 60mm*
Javin0075 years ago
I really don't even care HOW functional this is.  It's just too damned cute NOT to make it.  Awesome design!
DITTO! I'm SO going to do this!
guydie55 years ago
very clever
chuckr445 years ago
It's cute. I love it. Now my Ken doll can have burgers on the grill!
Lol^ yes, It is very cute. Maybe mt Barbie and your Ken can hook up? ^.-
D10D35 years ago
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this instructable. The zen simplicity and ingenuity of it is wonderful.
vmspionage (author)  D10D35 years ago
Your welcome =) Thanks to you and everyone else for the kind words
Would i be able to use a coat hanger
vmspionage (author)  SasquatchKid5 years ago
You sure can, but make sure you sand all the plastic coating off first. Search for the eBQ, that's how one guy made his.
thank you gonna sub
ch55 years ago
Haha, this thing is so cute ^^. I love it.
knektek5 years ago
You could use the penny stove to heat up the top bit to make fried eggs!
heating thing.jpg
vmspionage (author)  knektek5 years ago
That's a good idea!  I had a thought of making the tin's lid into a trying pan by flipping it over and installing a collapsible handle on it.  I was thinking of using one of those clips you can find on paper binders like this.  The only downside would be that it would burn the top of the lid up and wouldn't look as pretty.  Good thing I have lots of Altoids tins!
You could bake quail eggs, because they are so liliput! they would fit perfectly in the pan, an make a perfect foto! :-)
sachrioja5 years ago
altoids is my favorite brand hehehe
Sweet idea
Grey_Wolfe5 years ago
If I make one of these I'm roasting Lil' Smokies over it, because they are to scale. lol
Grey_Wolfe5 years ago
I have to say, the craftsmanship is stunning. Even more so being that it is a simple Altoids mod.

Clever work. :)
NomNoms5 years ago
SWEET BABY JESUS .... I think I just found the gift for my father for fathers day!
Flipyap5 years ago
sweet! i love using altoid tins
iPodGuy5 years ago

I'm dying to see the propane version.
 I thought Propane was a Pressurized gas ?
vmspionage (author)  albylovesscience5 years ago
I have a small "tank" (actually it's a mini butane torch) that has a twist-style regulator and torch burner cap that's easily removed.  With the torch cap removed you can install small tubing pressed over the fitting.  The tube will run to the new burner (basically just a metal tube capped at the end with small holes punched in it) and installed in an Altoids tin.
fuzvulf5 years ago
 Really good instructable!  Very creative.  I would kind of tend towards caution though as most of the metal muffin fan grills are made in countries where lead and other metals are not as regulated as they are in most of Europe, the UK and the US.  Especially since the little guards are not made for food handling they wouldn't be checked for dangerous substances.  I still think I'm going to make one just for the fun of it.
vmspionage (author)  fuzvulf5 years ago
That's a very good point!  I assumed that because they were chrome plated they would be safe, but if there's an inexpensive way to double check that would be great.  Maybe someone here works for a lab and could have them tested?
The grill is great.  Try perf (perferated) steel you can buy small quantities at Macmaster Carr (1 foot square) what you going to cook on this thing or is it decoration only?
vmspionage (author)  Rune Cutter5 years ago
Good idea, I'll check around for some alternatives the next time I'm at the hardware store.  So far I've cooked hot dogs (you can fit a whole hot dog on the grill if you cut it down to 1" lengths), small hamburger patties, and frozen mini pizzas.
TheChemiker5 years ago
I should really try this soon!  Propane version sounds good for camping!
netserv6665 years ago
 This made a crappy day into a happy day ...Thanks amazing nice craftsmanship ...

yoyology5 years ago
Do you have to use Match-Light type charcoal, already impregnated with lighter fluid?  It would seem to me that you'd need some kind of kindling or accelerant otherwise to get the charcoal hot enough to burn.

Great 'ible, great photos.  Thank you for sharing!
vmspionage (author)  yoyology5 years ago
As a matter of fact I sure do - Match-Light works great.  If you use regular charcoal you need to add plenty of lighter fluid, but it works too.  You just need to soak it and wait for the fluid to burn out.
you could put the accelerant in the bottom part
tecneeq5 years ago
I would love to see it in action. Grilling a shred of meat and a mini baguette maybe.
vmspionage (author)  tecneeq5 years ago
That can be done.  The next time I fire it up I'll try to shoot some video.
dkfa5 years ago
What's the bottom fan frame for?
vmspionage (author)  dkfa5 years ago
Stability is correct, but the main purpose is to hold the charcoal briquette and provide airflow.  If you didn't have the lower grill or the hole cut in the bottom the briquette would be too large to fit the top grill on.  In one of my beta versions I tried poking holes in the sides of the can and using crushed up charcoal instead of a whole piece and it didn't generate nearly enough heat to cook anything.  Also it was pretty unsafe - if it tipped the burning charcoal would go everywhere and create a mess.  By cutting out the bottom of the can and installing the lower grill the charcoal can fit low enough to install the top part and get plenty of air for proper combustion.
tecneeq dkfa5 years ago
Stability i guess.
limpach5 years ago
Not a normal response from me, but "Daw. . . Aint it cute?"
vmspionage (author)  limpach5 years ago
I held an impromptu BBQ at my local Starbucks a while back and that seemed to be the most common response.  :-)
tomm05055 years ago
Now you can have a BBQ alsmost anywhere!
afreeland5 years ago
 This is an excellent looking grill =) ... I have to say it looks like you did a pretty perfect job.
Reffner5 years ago
 Very cool.  I love this.  I have to get the stuff to do this.  I can't wait to see the propane version!