Introduction: Easy Single-Can Backpacking Stove

70$ for a simple stove? That's outrageous! Well, here is a simple stove design made from only a single can. This stove is ultra-light, has a 0% failure rate in normal to extreme conditions, is dirt cheap, and runs on readily available fuel. Don't empty your wallet for something worse than what you can make at home! Without further ado, here is your stove.

Step 1: 1. Materials

To make the stove, you will need a few things.

MATERIALS
     -Soda can (Doesn't matter what brand, as long as it's aluminum.)
     -Optional: Aluminum tape (Not pictured)
TOOLS
     -Dremel OR X-acto (or similar)
     -Dremel cutting wheel attachment
     -Vise
     -Needle nose pliers
     -Marker

Step 2: 2. Cut the Top Half

To begin, You must start with the top half.
PICTURE 1
Choose a measurement to be used throughout your build. We used 3.5 cm. Draw a line around your can. This is the cut line.

PICTURE 2
Cut along this line as neatly as possible using your Dremel or knife.

PICTURE 3
Result.

PICTURE 4
Using a knife (a Dremel would be hard to use here), cut out the top of the can around the inside.
EDIT: According to SpinWard, you can also use a can-opener to cut it out (Which would be smoother). Thanks!

PICTURE 5
End result of entire step 2.



Step 3: 3. the Bottom Half

Now, you must cut the bottom half from the leftover can. For demonstration purposes, I have shown how to cut with an x-acto blade, but a Dremel will also work. Be sure to draw a line around the 3.5 cm (or whatever measurement you choose) line.

PICTURE 2 
Demonstrating how to set up the blade by clamping the blade in the vise.

PICTURE 3
Cut around the line you drew by rotating the can around the blade.

PICTURE 4
Result of Picture 3.

PICTURE 5 
Crimp the edge of the can by grabbing the edge of the can with your pliers and twist every 1/2 inch of so.

PICTURE 6
Result of entire step 3.


Step 4: 4. the Inner Wall

This inner wall is used to separate the fuel jets (where the fuel vaporises and cooks your food) from the inner chamber, where you put in the fuel.

PICTURE 1
This is what you are making.

PICTURE 2
Measure the same distance from the edge as you did the other parts and cut, as shown in picture 3. We use 3.5 cm.

PICTURE 4
Cut picture 4 in a straight line any where on the ring.

PICTURE 5
Fit the ring around the inside edge of the top half and mark a spot where the two sides overlap on either side of the ring, as in picture 6.

PICTURE 7
Cut halfway up each place where you marked the overlap, and fit them together, like in picture 8.

PICTURE 9
Cut three holes on the ring about 120 degrees apart from each other. These allow the fuel to flow to the fuel jets.

PICTURE 10
Place the inner wall around the lip on the inside of the top half with the holes facing up.

Step 5: 5. Put It Together

To complete the stove as shown in picture 1, put the bottom half inside of the upside down top half sub-assembly, around the outside of the inner wall. If the fit is not perfect, squeeze it together overnight using the vise. After you take it out, don't forget to poke holes! 18 holes is a good number to start with, but you can poke more or less depending on what results you want.

CONGRATULATIONS! You now have a fully functional, lightweight backpacking stove! Proceed to the next step to find out how to use it.

Step 6: 6. How to Use Your Stove

To use your stove, first fill it with the flammable fuel of your choice. I used 70% Isopropyl alcohol. I fill it about halfway so I don't flood it. Next, Use a barbecue-style lighter to light the alcohol. After you light it, it will look more like the last picture, with nothing coming out of the jets. After a few minutes, it will get hot enough to vaporize to fuel and look like the first picture.

EDIT: To make a wind shield/Pot stand, go to http://zenstoves.net/PotStands.htm

Comments

author
13 made it! (author)2010-11-18

Just as a suggestion; it would probably burn hotter with Denatured Alcohol instead of hand sanitizer as it has a higher alcohol content and is made to be used as a fuel.

author
rich2871 made it! (author)rich28712011-01-18

I can say for sure that I used 70% rubbing alcohol in the one I made and used a thermal image camera on it, the camera only goes to 518 and as you can see in the photo the white hot area is sure to go well about 518F. Oh and the flames are all blue when using 70% denatured alcohol.

First lighting on left, after jets have ignited is the second photo.

If you want to see other fuels in thermal I will be able to when i return from Afghanistan and have access to them.

IR_0039.jpgIR_0055.jpg
author
KathrynS1 made it! (author)KathrynS12014-09-25

Thank you for your service. I hope you made it home by now

author
KathrynS1 made it! (author)KathrynS12014-09-25

Here is another option for campers. Get a small metal can of coffee, empty and squish full roll of toilet paper inside, you want it to fill the diameter. Now saturate with the 70% to 90% rubbing alcohol put plastic lid on until ready to use for a long lasting burner... also using a large coffee can, metal of course turn upside down and punch three holes near the original "bottom" of can. On rim cut a 2X3 inch notch. You now have a flat surface to cook on over a small fire, or even better yet one of these mini cook stoves! Plus if you did not want anyone to see your fire this would do the trick!

author
KathrynS1 made it! (author)KathrynS12014-09-25
Here is another option for campers. Get a small metal can of coffee, empty and squish full roll of toilet paper inside, you want it to fill the diameter. Now saturate with the 70% to 90% rubbing alcohol put plastic lid on until ready to use for a long lasting burner... also using a large coffee can, metal of course turn upside down and punch three holes near the original "bottom" of can. On rim cut a 2X3 inch notch. You now have a flat surface to cook on over a small fire, or even better yet one of these mini cook stoves! Plus if you did not want anyone to see your fire this would do the trick!


author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-01-30

Thats a cool picture. According to what other people have said, 70% Alcohol is much colder than 90% or Denaturated.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2010-12-20

Yeah, this is the only thing I had

author
KathrynS1 made it! (author)2014-09-25

Here is another option for campers. Get a small metal can of coffee, empty and squish full roll of toilet paper inside, you want it to fill the diameter. Now saturate with the 70% to 90% rubbing alcohol put plastic lid on until ready to use for a long lasting burner... also using a large coffee can, metal of course turn upside down and punch three holes near the original "bottom" of can. On rim cut a 2X3 inch notch. You now have a flat surface to cook on over a small fire, or even better yet one of these mini cook stoves! Plus if you did not want anyone to see your fire this would do the trick!


author
KathrynS1 made it! (author)2014-09-25

Here is another option for campers. Get a small metal can of coffee, empty and squish full roll of toilet paper inside, you want it to fill the diameter. Now saturate with the 70% to 90% rubbing alcohol put plastic lid on until ready to use for a long lasting burner... also using a large coffee can, metal of course turn upside down and punch three holes near the original "bottom" of can. On rim cut a 2X3 inch notch. You now have a flat surface to cook on over a small fire, or even better yet one of these mini cook stoves! Plus if you did not want anyone to see your fire this would do the trick!

author
mwumichael made it! (author)2014-03-12

I made one and put my pot over it and used it as a stand and stove setup, but the flow of oxygen seems to be restricted, is there any fix for this?

author
optox made it! (author)2010-11-30

I've made a couple of these before. definitely do not need a dremel. my dad is really into backpacking and found this a couple of years ago.
tip: add house insulation (the pink stuff) inside the wall of the stove. it is inflammable and absorbs the alcohol.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2010-12-01

Yeah, one of my earlier designs had fiberglass init so you did not need to drain the stove every time you pack it up. That would be nice, but any where you add the insulation in this design would not work well.

author
yellowcatt made it! (author)yellowcatt2012-06-03

The glass wool insulation is a good safety feature. It does not have much effect on the burning but helps prevent spills of burning fuel if you happen to knock your stove over.

author
fusion made it! (author)fusion2011-08-06

flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. i believe you mean flame retardant or fire-proof

author
elkhuntr made it! (author)2012-05-15

why do u have the giant hole in the middle....mine has 3 holes from a pinprick. harder to light but it looks cooler when it burns

author
KwartzKitten made it! (author)2011-01-29

This may seem like a dumb question, but how do you put it out once it's lit?

author
beehard44 made it! (author)beehard442011-11-24

best way is put a slightly larger can over it. That starves it of oxygen, therefore snuffing out the flame.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-01-30

Well, you have some options. You could blow it out if you are trying to conserve fuel, pour water on it, or let it burn out.

author
panzerfaust379 made it! (author)panzerfaust3792011-05-09

NEVER,NEVER THROW WATER ON A GAS, ALCOHOL OR GREASE FIRE. SMOTHER IT OR THROW SAND OR DIRT ON IT

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-05-09

This alcohol fire is too small for it to matter what you put on it. Also, I wouldn't recommend that you put dirt on your stove.

author
thingygoboom made it! (author)thingygoboom2011-09-23

The dirt really isn't a problem considering how large the release holes are, you could just wash it out with dirty water.
Though you are right that the alcohol fire isn't large enough to be a problem.

author
panzerfaust379 made it! (author)panzerfaust3792011-05-10

to each his own. :-)

author
KwartzKitten made it! (author)KwartzKitten2011-01-31

Oh, well that's simple enough. Thanks.

author
mason0190 made it! (author)mason01902011-03-28

you can also pee on it ;D

author
KwartzKitten made it! (author)KwartzKitten2011-04-26

I will keep that under advisement...

author
Eleniel made it! (author)2011-01-15

Very nice! i had a lot of fun making this, the only question i really have is- would the flames be toxic because of the chemicals? would it be safe to actually cook something over and potentially eat it?

thanks for the guide.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-01-30

Nope! Alcohol gives off water vapor when it is burned, so cook away!

author
DIY-Guy made it! (author)DIY-Guy2011-10-24

Charlie-
Can you comment on the plastic lining in aluminum beverage cans for toxicity? And what about the paint on the outside?

I am assuming that the aluminum itself is not in direct contact with food so there is a smaller risk of inducing Alzheimers disease.   :)

Nice design, I like it!

author
james4 made it! (author)james42011-04-23

your right i wonder the same thing now that i think of it but idk what the answer is

author
Mower made it! (author)Mower2011-02-24

There are many variations on this type of stove. Search around for "photon stove" and "pop can stove" on google and YouTube. My preferred fuel is denatured alcohol, found most anywhere that paint is sold.

author
nalk55 made it! (author)2011-05-14

Would Zippo Lighter Fluid work. I got a bunch of that for my zippos.

author
thingygoboom made it! (author)thingygoboom2011-09-23

Yes, it being naptha. It is a little toxic to breathe and you would have to wick it with that pink house insulation as optox said.

author
Editmefree made it! (author)2011-09-20

i really liked this project. it worked to heat up the food i took on a canoing trip. i used isoprople alcohol and found it sufficient to heat up beans and stuff like that but it didn't really boil water. great instructable for all campers

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-09-20

I find it sufficient to boil water; what type of alcohol are you using? Pecent, that is (e.g. 70, 90, etc.)

author
TheParadox made it! (author)2010-11-19

I just made one. Sadly It the sides don't ever light (the sides). I was using rubbing alcohol as a test. I let it burn until it ran out of fuel even. I tried it three times.

IMG_0378.JPG
author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2010-11-19

Awesome! Looks great!

author
TheParadox made it! (author)TheParadox2010-11-19

It doesn't work though lol.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2010-11-19

Try adjusting the holes you made in the inner wall. if it is too big, then the fuel won't vaporize before more fuel flows in, essentialy 'flooding' the stove.

author
TheParadox made it! (author)TheParadox2010-11-19

Are you refering to the 3 square slits?

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-09-07

Something else I learned is that you need to fill the alcohol to above the slits.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2010-11-21

Yes

author
trailslover made it! (author)trailslover2010-11-22

Rubbing alcohol (70%) doesn't burn well enough to get this type of stove really cooking. Use the 90 something or better yet, denatured.

author
rich2871 made it! (author)rich28712011-01-18

im using 70% in mine and it works like a charm, takes a minute or two to get the gas going and ignite but once it does it burns for 20+ minutes. Somthing that you may want to make sure is that the seals are good where the metal inner barrier makes contact. try pressing it together more and rolling the inner top of the can where you cut out the drinking hole so that it seals the inner wall.

When i get more time I will make an instructable on mine, but I did use this as a guideline.

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2010-11-23

I discovered that on my recent backpacking trip when I didn't have anything else :)

author
EnjoyLife95 made it! (author)EnjoyLife952010-11-23

Great Instructable! I will certainly be using this on camping trips to come!

author
TheParadox made it! (author)TheParadox2010-11-22

Thats why I just used it for a test. :) But the fuel is not vaporizing properly so I will need to make a new one with smaller slits inside like charlie suggested.

author
akarabinis made it! (author)2011-05-10

So I have a question, This design works flawlessly but I keep getting flames out of the bottom of the can where the two parts join together. Am I doing something wrong or has anybody experienced this issue before?

author
charlie.nourse made it! (author)charlie.nourse2011-05-11

It seems as if you are not getting a good enough seal.
In the parts list, I mentioned aluminum tape, which is some times used for HVAC systems. In your case, I would wrap the tape around the part where the two halves come together.

author
akarabinis made it! (author)akarabinis2011-05-11

Thanks for the advice!

author
jacepouncey made it! (author)2011-05-08

just tried this out and i used a can opener. it doesnt work if you use a can opener because the inner piece with the vents doesnt seat properly to create a seal. just thought id give a little heads up

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