Picture of Aluminum Bottle Alcohol Stove
An Alcohol Stove made from Aluminum Bottles

There are plenty of aluminum can stove designs out there. This one is different in that it is not made from aluminum cans but rather from aluminum bottles (aluminum beer bottles to be specific) After building a few stoves myself I wanted to design one to address a few shortcomings of other can stoves:

1. Priming - A number of stoves require an external heat source to bring the alcohol to vaporization temperature. Some require heating the bottom for a few minutes or burning some alcohol in a separate "primer pan" or on the ground around the the can as a means to heat the exterior of the of the stove to achieve a self-sustaining burn.

2. Separate pot stands - A number of stoves have a low profile and are very compact however the smallest of the small require separate pot stands to cook with. Kind of defeats the purpose of a compact stove in my mind.

Sure there are side jetted designs that hold a pot however I wanted a design that would also address a third shortcoming.

3. Cold pan Flame-out - Of the can stove designs that do support a pot, I have seen them suffer from this condition. When a pan of cold water (fresh from the camp pump) is placed directly on a can stove, it acts as a large heat sink. Before the stove can warm the water, the cold pot cools the aluminum stove so much that it cannot maintain alcohol vaporization and the stove goes out.

Admittedly, there are are many great can stove designs out there; many are self priming (nothing new there) and some have integral pot stands. Each has pros and cons depending on your priorities. This is another design for consideration.

and besides, I just wanted an excuse to work with those cool aluminum beer bottles.

Update 9/15/09: Just posted an Instructable that that shows another stove related use for aluminum bottles
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Step 1: Aluminum Bottles

Picture of Aluminum Bottles
If you look hard enough you will find a local retailer that usually stocks at least a small quantity of these specialty aluminum beer bottles.

I prefer the use of these aluminum bottles over the traditional aluminum cans for the following reasons:

1. Stability - The overall diameter of a can is larger than a bottle, however, the bottles have a larger diameter where it counts, at the base were it contacts the ground. The wider base is important because we are making a stove to support a pot and every bit of width helps to prevent tipping.

2. Heavier Gauge - The bottles are a thicker gauge aluminum. The thicker metal is a little more challenging to work with (you can't cut it with a utility knife) however it brings a solid, durable feel that you just don't get from a can.
This also means more thermal mass to help counter the "cold pot flame-out" syndrome.
(Sure more metal is more weight however once you step away from a propane grill; a quarter of an ounce here or there is not my biggest priority. (By the way, don't forget to add the weight of a separate pot stand to those other designs)

The last photo show some of my trials with earlier aluminum bottle designs.

Step 2: Construction Section

Picture of Construction Section
This stove is built from (3) empty aluminum beer bottles (be sure to dispose of contents responsibly...)

No glue or epoxy

No tape

No flux capacitors...

The assembly is all press fit together. The cross section below shows the naming conventions for each of the four parts referenced in the following steps

Step 3: Bottom Cuts

Picture of Bottom Cuts
1. Cut the bottoms off of the three bottles. Cut two bottoms 1.5" tall and one bottom 1" tall

I found that because to the thicker aluminum, the bottles could not be cut easily with a utility knife.
A hack saw works well to make the cuts.

The fixture shown below helped to start the cuts and made sure they were straight around the can. Several turns with the blade pressed against the can started the cut; which was finished by carefully sawing around the outside of the can with a hack saw. (do not try to cut straight through the can as the blade will bend the edges of the can once it breaks through the skin.)

2. Finish the edge of the can to remove any sharp edges or nicks. Any nicks at the edge will initiate a split when the can is stretched.

Place emery cloth (sand paper for metal) on a flat surface. Place the entire edge of the bottle flat on the emery cloth and turn the bottle to evenly smooth the edge.

Step 4: Cut Burn Bowl

Picture of Cut Burn Bowl
This part is the BURN BOWL and serves two purposes. It initially is the internal primer area where alcohol burns to heat the alcohol to vaporization. It also serves as a heat sink, when heated by the jets, to keep the stove at at self-sustaining vaporization temperature.

1. Cut off the neck of one bottle. The cut should be at the tangent where the bottle neck just reaches full diameter.

2. Make a second cut at the top of the bottle opening as shown. This location is approximate. Start out with the cut a little long. it will be adjusted when fitting the burn bowl to the jet deck in step 8.

3. Smooth the edges as before.

Step 5: Jet Deck

Picture of Jet Deck
1. Drill a large hole in the center of the bottom of one of the 1.5" bottle bottoms. This will be the JET DECK.

2. With a file enlarge the hole to about 1 5/16" diameter (or a little smaller to leave room to tune)

3. This opening will need be tuned to create a force fit to the neck of the Burn Bowl

4. Drill (8) eight 1/16" diameter holes evenly spaced along the ridge of the bottle bottom. These are the jet holes

Step 6: Widen base

Picture of Widen base
1. Widen the opening of the shorter 1" bottle bottom. This is the BASE This opening should be widened to allow the jet deck to tightly telescope inside to the bottom.

I used a 1.5" diameter PVC pipe fitting to widen the aluminum "cup". Place the PVC pipe in the cup and by angeling the cup while pulling, the cup is "rolled" off the pipe. This is done repeatedly rotating the cup a few degrees each time to gradually increase the diameter of the cup.

Be careful not to "flare" the edge of the cup. You do not want to create a "lip" on the edge. The goal is to increase the whole diameter of the cup to slide tightly over the outside of the Jet Deck.

Step 7: Telescope Jet Deck to Base

Picture of Telescope Jet Deck to Base
1. Insert the Jet Deck into the Base.

2. Press evenly to fully set the Jet Deck to to bottom of the base. You may need to place a board over the assembly and use a hammer to finish stretching the base to fully seat the Jet Deck.

Be careful to force the two pieces together evenly. They need to be aligned or the side wall of the Base could split or the side wall of the Jet Deck could crease.

Step 8: Assembly

Picture of Assembly
Take the Burn Bowl from step 4 and remove material from the small end of the neck as necessary, until the neck is short enough to allow the tapered portion to fit tightly in the hole of the Jet Deck.

It should be a tight force fit without gaps. Also the narrow end of the Burn Bowl neck should be touching the bottom of the Base so do not remove too much material at once.

Step 9: Colonnade

Picture of Colonnade
This part will be the COLONNADE. Openings are cut in the sides to allow for the jet flames to burn while the remaining series of columns support the Burn Bowl.

At this point use emery cloth and steel wool to remove the paint (if you like the bare metal look). It is easier now before all the openings are cut.

1. Widen the opening of the remaining 1.5" tall bottom.

Only widen the first 1/2" of the opening so that it just fits tightly over the Jet Deck.

2. Drill a hole in the center of the bottom and widen it as described in step 5 however this hole is wider. Make it about 1.75" in diameter ( widen the hole to remove the "dish" in the bottom - just to the ridge at the edge.)

3. Cutout (8) openings in the side walls to form the Colonnade. These openings are approximately 0.5" wide by 0.75" tall. (Make sure they line up with the jet hole in the Jet Deck)

I could not find an easy way to make these openings. I started with a few drill holes and widened with a file from there.

4. Assemble the Colonnade over the Burn Bowl and press the bottom opening of the Colonnade over the top of the jet deck.

Note: the Colonnade should press tightly down on the top of the Burn Bowl. it bottoms out on the top of the base prematurely, material may need to be removed from the bottom of the Colonnade to allow it to seat down far enough on the Jet Deck. The goal is to clamp the burn bowl into the opening in the Jet Deck.

Step 10: Time to Cook

Picture of Time to Cook
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I use Ethyl rubbing alcohol as fuel. An old plastic film canister is a good dosing tool. It is the right amount for about a 10 minute burn (enough to boil a few cups of water.)

Safety note: Never use petroleum based fuels in this type stove. There explosive nature make them unsuitable for this type stove.

Pour the alcohol in the burn bowl and light.
After about 30 seconds the stove is hot enough to vaporize the alcohol and ignite the jets.
At this point the pot can be placed on top of the stove.
The jets will heat both the pot and the stove.
This continuous heating of the outside of the burn bowl is what keeps this stove lit when a cold pot is placed on it.

Make an option cap from another can bottom and then you can store a canister of fuel in the stove for transport.
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pmk2227 months ago

this is by far my favorite design for this type of homemade stove and I must say that not only does it seem like a good design (compared to the ones I have made in the past) but it also looks VERY cool

jamhat8 months ago

Here is another touch to consider. I managed to make a simmer ring for the stove out of an old cat food can rim, fit just to the diameter, with a small bent 'handle' fitted by cutting opposing slits into the top and bottom of the rim where it meets and joining the two pieces with JB weld. It rests on top of the bottom section, just, and I drilled in four 1/2 inch holes to correspond with about half the slots in the Collonade, about half way up. I start the stove to boil, then remove the pot and slide the simmer ring over top and align with the holes. It significantly reduces the flame output. I managed to boil two cups of water in five minutes and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Sounds like a batch of rice cooking time. Warning - you have to add the simmer ring quickly as the heat conducts fast.

mwchristian8 months ago

Just finished two stoves, one for me and one for a nephew. The dimensions of the 'beverage' cans displayed in this project have changed since this was posted so required smaller hole on the burner can, otherwise flawless.. However, this stove is brilliant! Thank you SO much for posting this project!

Green X10 months ago


enoc221 year ago

Just made this stove over the weekend. Great project. My only question is that you mentioned it would burn an film canisters worth of fuel for about 10 minutes, i'm lucky if i can get that much to burn for 3. Any ideas on why it might be burning so fast?

Grey_Wolfe1 year ago
I'm curious as to how sturdy the colonnade is before you bend it for fit but after the holes have been cut.

The reason I ask is that I have limited supplies and would like to try to combine the colonnade and base into a single component and roll the top edge to restrain the burn bowl.

This would reduce it to two bottles and, if the colonnade holds up to be rolled, perhaps make the structure sturdier overall. Not that it isn't sturdy as heck already.

Nice work. :)
Blacsdad2 years ago
I made it per your instructions and it works great. People ask me where I bought it! Thanks!
Default1175 years ago
Flux Capacitors :]
Epoxy :]
Algag murphypop3 years ago
Beer :D
Tape :D
Superglue = [-]
Duct Tape (o)_
Gelfling62 years ago
I have 2 bottles already, but it seems bottles are becoming more and more scarce... I think they may've found the aluminum bottle was a little TOO popular for other uses, like this.. :-/
Cancel that.. I now have 3!! Time to start building!
whait862 years ago
awesome 'ible
whait862 years ago
awesome 'ible
kbails843 years ago
can you just make and send me one!? I dont want to go through the trouble of this. How much would you charge!? lol
okto kbails842 years ago
Why don't you just buy a camp stove?
Maxwell Yun3 years ago
You should put a piezoelectric lighter so that it can light with the push of a button.
Great Idea
oldboyscout3 years ago
I like the design of the stove but I have one suggestion. I believe that pressurizing the stove would improve its performance. Two problems exist with most pressurized stoves. First, they require a priming bowl. Second, they require a syringe to add the fuel.
I would like to suggest a solution to both of these concerns. On the jet deck, instead of cutting a large diameter hole, mount two (2) of the beer bottle caps one on each side of the jet deck. Drill one 1/8 inch hole and one 3/16 inch hole through both bottle caps and the jet deck. Drill the holes as far apart as possible with enough room left for installation. Fabricate a sheet metal strip from a soft drink can large enough to cover both holes. Through the 1/8 inch hole install a blind rivet to fasten the upper bottle cap, the jet deck, the lower bottle cap and the thin sheet metal strip. Cut the head off a hollow 3/16 inch rivet leaving a small diameter tube. Install the tube into the 3/16 inch hole using epoxy to insure a tight fit and seal. Be careful not to get any adhesive on the thin sheet metal strip. Cut the length of the tube so that it can be installed flush with the bottom bottle cap and 1/8 inch or so higher than the surface of the upper bottle cap. Cut the necks from two (2) bottles and screw them into the bottle caps mounted on the jet deck. Cut the lenght of the necks so that they touch the base and the colonade. Cut a hole in the colonade smaller than the opening of the upper neck. Take a wooden dowel rod and bend the top of the colonade down to fit around the bottle neck.
To use the stove, pour fuel into the top of the stove. The 3/16 inch tube will allow the fuel to enter the lower pressurized chamber but since the upper end of the tube is higher than the bottom of the bottle cap a little fuel will be left in the upper bottle cap. The metal strip attached to the lower bottle cap may need to be adjusted so that the fuel flows easily into the lower chamber. Light the stove. The upper bottle neck serves as a primer bowl. When the stove is primed, pressure will build up in the lower chamber and force the metal strip against the 3/16 inch tube and seal the lower chamber. This will give you a pressurized jet stove that doen not require a separate priming bowl and does not require a syringe to add the fuel.
delmerp3 years ago
This author has lots of great ideas!

I found my Bud Light bottles at a local groccery store that ordered a case for me from their distributor. A little pricey, but I was then able to build several copies.

Just be sure to patiently stretch the bottoms with your pvc coupling; if not they will tear during assembly.

My son and I do some backpacking, and this works well even in winter. I use a piece of tinfoil for a windscreen, which is almost a necessity.

Of course, you could purchase an alcohol stove, but that's not really the point now, is it?
fczinkhan3 years ago
There is no way that your PVC pipe is 1.5" in the pictured bottle. Maybe the actual pipe is 1.5", but whatever is on the end, you failed to specify. The bottles are around 2.25" in diameter at the base. You cannot get a 1.5" pipe to even swivel in the 1" tall base piece to stretch it out. You just need to edit this section to include the larger fitting at the end of your pipe. Thanks for this 'ible, great job.
He did specify. He used a 1.5" PVC pipe FITTING to widen the aluminum cup. A PVC end cap or a straight coupler is what you need to add to the pipe. A 1.5" inch straight coupler is 2.215" in diameter and easily fits in the cup with room to rock it and press against the metal. The straight coupler works best since it has a somewhat sharp edge, the end cap has a radius on the edge and doesn't work very well.
max69power3 years ago
i user a 3/4 inch paddle bit to make the holes you just need to go very slowly. thanks for the great instrubles. your project looks great how long did it take you total time.
if you add salt to the alcohol you can see it in the light.
If you have a drill press you can use it like an arbor press. Heating the bottom piece will also help when you press fit the top. Or you can freeze the top piece and try to tap it in with a rubber hammer. Also, there is a special lining in all aluminum bottles, I used a muffle furnace set at 600 degrees to burn this lining out.
acoleman33 years ago
it would help to heat the base with a propane plumbers torch to eliminate the work hardening created by teh manufacturing process. this would return the aluminium to a relaxed state and soften it up a bit.
I'm not too sure on the numbers for aluminum heat treat (I work mostly with tool steels) or the average temperatures produced by the various fuels used in this, but it's at least hot enough to boil water, and if allowed to air cool, should result in an annealing process every time it is used. I've made thinner gauge aluminum camp stoves, but have never had a problem with cracking due to work hardening, but like OP mentioned, it's best to avoid/remove any crease points or sharp edges to void tearing the metal, and a good overall sanding is a good idea to prevent any paint/plastic from coming into contact with high heat, especially when cooking.
Remember, kiddos: aluminum is typically normalized the opposite of steel. You need to heat and quench to get rid of internal stresses. That said, it's not necessary for this sort of thing.
btimmerman3 years ago
could you please tell me the weight of this stove... im going ultra light and i love this plan but im looking to get a msr pocket rocket witch comes in at 3oz. if this is lighter or the same could you please let me know
JoshuaSmock3 years ago
so I built this instructable and it works like a charm, I used the venom bottles like I mentioned earlier. It's not as pretty as the one shown, I was kind of getting impatient while making it, but it's functional. I used high temp silicone to seal all the seams. Still need to make the colonnade though.
cwturtle3 years ago
The only place that stocks those aluminum bottles is Walmart.
Venom Energy drink has a thick gauge bottle
acoleman33 years ago
out of curiosity, why is it tht the mouth of the neck needs to touch the bottom.
Most likely for compression to aid in the evaporation of fuel.
cullenc19933 years ago
Yeah I would love to buy one of these from somebody. As long as you can get it to work as well as is advertised and preferably looks the same also. Send me a message and let me know you price and we'll work something out.
kbails843 years ago
Hey, I love this product, However I am having some trouble with the flow of the pieces. Is there a chance you could email me each individual part or attach an image of the whole stole pulled apart so as to better make sure that each piece is complete. Thank you
Airth3 years ago
I've been all over town, from convenience stores, liquor stores, groceries and everything in between--looks like no one makes the longneck bottles anymore!
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