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 http://www.instructables.com/id/Aluminum-Bottle-Tumbler-Cup-Cook-Pot/
Step 1: Aluminum 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.