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.
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Step 1: 1. Materials

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

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

Step 2: 2. Cut the Top Half

To begin, You must start with the top half.
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.

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


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!

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.

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

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

Result of Picture 3.

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

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.

This is what you are making.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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
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mwumichael6 months ago

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?

optox3 years ago
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.
charlie.nourse (author)  optox3 years ago
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.
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.
fusion optox3 years ago
flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. i believe you mean flame retardant or fire-proof
elkhuntr2 years ago
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
This may seem like a dumb question, but how do you put it out once it's lit?
best way is put a slightly larger can over it. That starves it of oxygen, therefore snuffing out the flame.
charlie.nourse (author)  KwartzKitten3 years ago
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.
charlie.nourse (author)  panzerfaust3793 years ago
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.
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.
to each his own. :-)
Oh, well that's simple enough. Thanks.
you can also pee on it ;D
I will keep that under advisement...
Eleniel3 years ago
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.
charlie.nourse (author)  Eleniel3 years ago
Nope! Alcohol gives off water vapor when it is burned, so cook away!
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!
james4 Eleniel3 years ago
your right i wonder the same thing now that i think of it but idk what the answer is
Mower Eleniel3 years ago
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.
nalk553 years ago
Would Zippo Lighter Fluid work. I got a bunch of that for my zippos.
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.
Editmefree2 years ago
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
charlie.nourse (author)  Editmefree2 years ago
I find it sufficient to boil water; what type of alcohol are you using? Pecent, that is (e.g. 70, 90, etc.)
TheParadox3 years ago
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.
charlie.nourse (author)  TheParadox3 years ago
Awesome! Looks great!
It doesn't work though lol.
charlie.nourse (author)  TheParadox3 years ago
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.
Are you refering to the 3 square slits?
charlie.nourse (author)  TheParadox3 years ago
Something else I learned is that you need to fill the alcohol to above the slits.
charlie.nourse (author)  TheParadox3 years ago
Rubbing alcohol (70%) doesn't burn well enough to get this type of stove really cooking. Use the 90 something or better yet, denatured.
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.
charlie.nourse (author)  trailslover3 years ago
I discovered that on my recent backpacking trip when I didn't have anything else :)
Great Instructable! I will certainly be using this on camping trips to come!
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.
akarabinis3 years ago
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?
charlie.nourse (author)  akarabinis3 years ago
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.
Thanks for the advice!
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