Introduction: How to Make an Ammo Can Stove

Picture of How to Make an Ammo Can Stove

East to carry, setup and use.

Step 1: Packed Up

Picture of Packed Up

The ammo-can in its travel mode currently carries my 1 liter Billy-Can (inside the Billy-Can, I carry tea bags, sugar, fire making kit, Montreal steak spice, a can of milk) two cups, the skewers and hotdogs

Step 2: Construction

Picture of Construction

I started by drilled ten 1/2" diameter holes along both sides 1" above the bottom of the can and a 2" diameter hole in one end (to feed in the fuel) and ten 3/16" diameter holes along the top to put the skewers through (they would form the grill).

I use six stainless steel skewers cut to 1" longer than the width of the ammo-can and with the ten holes across the top I am able to make the grill as wide or as narrow as I need. Also they can be used as skewers to cook a shish-kabob if so desired.

Step 3: Getting the Fire Going

Picture of Getting the Fire Going

Because of the shape of the ammo-can (the heat is always redirected inward and up) and the small diameter of the fuel (tI usually use dead twigs and small branched, nothing bigger than the diameter of my thumb and a little birch bark to get it going) the fire burns hot, fast and clean and there is very little ash left and after the fire is finished the ammo-can cools down very quickly, so cleaning up and packing up is fast.

Step 4: Cooking

Picture of Cooking

The ammo-can stove will boil 1 liter of water in 3 to 5 minutes depending on the type of fuel that is used,

With the ammo-can stove perched on a couple of flat rocks there is no scorching of the earth below and because the fire is contained in the steel ammo-can it works well in wet or snow covered ground conditions. DO NOT USE INDOORS!


XMAN049 (author)2016-05-25

Great idea! Simple but effective.

darthbindy (author)2015-02-01

Fantastic idea! I'd been wanting to build one that would fold to save space, but this would double as a container, while probably being more sturdy than anything else... Love it.

scuddzy (author)2013-07-05


silveravnt (author)2013-02-10

This is brilliant!

cody27 (author)2011-10-16

like someone else i too have been into 4x4ing and outdoors most of my life and have used and seen these ammo cans re-purposed as many things but never this and at $5-10 a can ya cant go wrong.

thanks for the great idea, think ill have to make on of these.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2011-07-08

You've not only found a great way to reuse something, you've given a lot of other people inspiration to take what you've done and expand and improve upon your ideas.
Thank you.

Stanislaw (author)2011-06-22

I like the design that you have created! Neat portable concept!

sgt jacob j. (author)2011-03-17

well thats a smart desigh i like that butt have u ever thawt of maken one out of a biger amo can and ading a stove pipe that way u can use it to heat ur tent just saying

Yeah I've never seen any instructables on here on how to make a mini stove heater. A stove with a chimney to pipe the warm exhaust air into a tent

sockless (author)Callum Snowden2011-05-14

Pipe exhaust air into a test?

Sounds like a great way to gas yourself. If the soot etc doesn't kill you, the carbon monoxide will. That's also why you shouldn't use gas cookers inside without proper ventilation, and just never inside a tent unless you want to have a burnt down tent, with you inside.

nazo13 (author)2011-04-16

just curious if the paint is toxic or not

The Ideanator (author)2011-03-12

Well now that looks pretty cool, I'll have to build one for the next time I go camping. Also I noticed that the sides are messed up from the heat and rusted, do you know if switching the original paint with something like stove/grill or engine paint would eliminate that problem?

Schpool (author)2011-03-03

For the optimal size for cooking and portability I would recommend useing a .50 cal MG ammo can.

th3_v1k1ng (author)2010-11-01

HI, built this.. but made a slight modification.... above the lower holes I drilled a number of holes and pushed thru some sturdy steel tent pegs.. to make a "bed" for sticks, twigs, brickettes to sit on.. means that more air can get under the fuel also if its on the floor it wont "burn" the ground...
I also intend to get some threaded bar.. drill a hole in each corner and use 4x25cm bar as legs.. these legs can be pushed into the ground to stop it from falling over.. or overbalancing.
I tested the stove with a kettle on 1 side and found it a bit unstable.. I wanted to boil the kettle and have a pan on the other side with say soup in it... and have a brew and meal at the same time.

I'll pop some pics up as soon as I've finished.

th3_v1k1ng (author)th3_v1k1ng2010-11-10

Hi.. I've done the bits and pieces I said.... and have pics..
Changed my mind slightly about the bar and used 4 big bolts. Welded a nut on each corner to screw the bolts into.. which means they are slighly adjustable to make the top level to cook on.

Is a pic of the stove..
Great idea, going to be take this to a LOT of bike rallys and events, when I;m camping with the dog. Thank you Donkycat for the idea.

louisecross (author)th3_v1k1ng2011-02-06

Would banging a couple of tent pegs in against either side of the box work to stabilize it

th3_v1k1ng (author)louisecross2011-02-07

possibly, but that means its still on the ground.. and some places dont allow fires on those grounds. Pardon the grammer.. lol

With the legs on, it means its not damaging the ground and as such is ok to be used. I'm heading to the Dragon Rally this weekend, where they wont allow camp fires. I sent pics to the rally organisers, and they said fine, its ok as long as its off teh ground.
I've also made a modification to the legs, and welded a spike onto the underside of the bolt leg. That way, it sticks into the ground. and wont tip over.
Weathers likly to be wet this coming weekend, and the ground muddy, so having a stable fire that wont fall over is handy.

Kit Davenport (author)2009-11-21

Could you take a can of High Heat Engine paint or BBQ paint and give the out side a good coating to keep it from rusting up?  BBQ black spray paint would last a season or two and keep it in better shape....maybe. Just a thought.  I'll let you know after I get mine built.

A can of 'stove black' might do the trick

Harpistgod (author)2011-01-30

I'm probably one of the three people in the world who has an ammo case and isn't in direct relations to anyone in the military, so I should make use of it in the way you do. I was just using mine for ammo, stupid, eh?

Mrballeng (author)2011-01-17

Good Work. Take the rubber seal out of the lid and use it to make pancakes.

thebatman (author)2010-12-07

i like your design alot, very practical

Viaticus (author)2010-12-06

Brilliant - I'm going to share this one! Instructables should have an ammo box contest - this would be a winner!

evix (author)2010-12-02

Go to an electrical supply, and get a 2" KO seal to seal up the hole on the side when not in use....

beer694 (author)2010-12-02

like it really cool but along with burning off the paint u may want to make sure all gunpowder i gone

bloomautomatic (author)2010-12-02

Nice job. I'd recommend burning the paint off before cooking any food on it. Who knows what kinda fumes that might give off.


jtiagofabreu (author)2010-12-01

That's a cool idea! You almost can fit a kitchen there. :) It seems to be the right size for a stove... can you please tell me the size of the box?

Uncle Kudzu (author)2010-11-30

One question: is it easy to find an ammo can these days? That's a great idea for this kind of stove. Lots of good ideas in the comments, too. Good Stuff!

corey11 (author)Uncle Kudzu2010-11-30

Yes. Any surplus stores (their about $12 though. If your in the US) and online.

Uncle Kudzu (author)corey112010-11-30

Thanks, y'all. I thought those ammo boxes were from WWII or something. I'll ring up the surplus store tomorrow and find out what's available.

john209 (author)Uncle Kudzu2010-11-30

an army surplus store

caarntedd (author)2010-11-30

Awesome job, I'm making this.

th3_v1k1ng (author)2010-11-10

Awesome matey.

youngergrim (author)2010-06-26

Fantastic idea!! I've been scratching around for a small portable woodburner to carry on my Ural sidecar outfit; there's been a spare ammo box under my workbench for a while now. Top instructable donkeycat!!

ZEarwood (author)2010-05-14

making it this weekend!!! you cook sausages or burgers in this?

trike road poet (author)2010-02-07

I've built several like this, and a handy tip; line the sides and end (not the end where you feet the fuel in) with a single layer of clean aluminum foil (heavy like a restaurant uses) and the reflected heat from a smaller fire is amazing.  I've cooked whole meals with just twigs.  I also notch the lip of the end opposite the feed hole with several small notches filed in the lip, and you can rest skewers with fixings over the grill rods and keep them from rolling off the cooker.  This is a great idea and Instructables like this are outstanding.

Tip. Using a triangular file and square skewers make for much easier kabob cooking. You can roll them to cook evenly without them trying to roll themselves to the heaviest side down. Also riveting sheets of polished aluminum plate to the inside will eliminate the need to use foil each time. Haven't done it to mine yet but will be doing so soon. A one quart paint can stuffed with denim fabric scraps and filled with alcohol makes a great smoke free option for stealth use also. Easy to extinguish for fast bug out too.

I like the square skewer idea, easy way to 'index' the kabob for easy even cooking!

I use the foil for easy clean up, (just fold up the ashes), and to always have a bright surface for heat reflection.  Heat will oxidize the aluminum plate faster and you'll need to 'polish' it with sandpaper often.

The paint can, rags and alcohol trick sounds nifty, and I'd add a few shortened skewers to make a sort of pot support you could drop inside the can when not needed just to add to the functionality of the unit.

Now, about this fast bug out, you often camp out or stop for a cuppa where the neighbors are less then happy to see you???  I've had to deal with that a few times, but I put it down to the fact her father hadn't forgiven me yet!

I bum camp wherever I find a nice area so smoking fires attract too much attention. I also hang out in semi-residential areas where smoke may bring big red trucks full of eager men carrying axes and shovels. I occasionally make a small fire for cooking and warming up the old bones but only in heavily wooded areas so the smoke is dispersed. Not so easy this time of year with all the trees being nekid. As to the aluminum foil vs plate, I don't carry anything I have to carry out as trash. I repackage my food so I can burn any refuse I carry in. I generally leave zero trace other than footprints. Don't want my host's to become angry neighbors and therefore lose a great camp spot. I also camp in a lot of metro parks which don't allow camping so smoke is a big no no in such circumstances.

I understand the fire requirements for clean camping, and applaud your consideration for the situation, as well as the wisdom of being a good camper.  I find that asking the owners can surprise you with permission to camp if you explain your desire to camp of prep a snack, and the sort of stove you intend to use so as not to endanger their property.  I have in fact been granted permission to cook up a nice cuppa and have my lunch on private lands simply because I asked for the permission to do so, which put me in a far better light with the owners then the usual sort they had to clean up after!   I would take a bag in with me and take out some of the stuff I found there and that also was a solid way to get permission to come back.

Check out the stoves at  The solid fuel stoves have some small limits, but give a clean small heat source that has stood the test of time in two world wars and a million camps since their inception.  I use a small soup can to make my base for cooking with the solid fuel and can heat a quart of water to boil in eight minutes! 

Thanks for the tip. I'll incorporate it into my stove. I am also going to use the BBQ paint tip.

carnivore (author)2010-01-04

wow! thats the coolest stove i've ever seen . will be tacking one fishing with me as soon as i get done making it . the high temp paint is a great idea, thanks to you both.

sthealthraider (author)2010-01-03

GREAT!! portable bbq/stove for the army!!! 

SureShot (author)2009-11-18

Very very cool! I'm definitely going to be doing this with one of my spare cans. Thanks for the great post.

KyNaturalist4x4 (author)2009-09-09

This is a really neat idea! Ive been into 4x4's and outdoors for years and have seen and found thousands of uses for ammo cans, but ive yet to see this. ill be sure to make one of these up and throw it in my truck next time i hit the trails. A nice hot lunch would be nice on the trail, or a small fire to keep warm at night while broke down in the middle of no where lol.

scavanger (author)2009-09-09

This is a great idea, thanks for posting it. Now.......where did I put those ammo cans I had?

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