Introduction: How to Make an Aluminum Can Stove

Picture of How to Make an Aluminum Can Stove

I show how to make a very simple alcohol burning soda can stove. It can be made with two aluminum cans, something to make small holes with like a nail, some alcohol or fuel and a coin. A beverage-can stove, or pop-can stove, is a do it yourself, ultra-light, alcohol-burning portable stove. The design is made entirely from aluminum cans, lending itself to countless variations. I chose to show this design because it is one of the simplest to make which makes it more useful than the more complex designs.

The bottoms of the cans are cut at a desired height usually around 2 inches and holes are made in one of the pieces. The small holes are made around the rim of the bottom of a can section and some holes made in the center. The two cans are then put together and some heat resistant sealant can be used on the joint to ensure no leaks. Sealant is not necessary if it is a tight fit. Fuel is then added into the top which will drain down the hole in the center. Ignite the top and let the can stove heat up and ignite the side, flames should start to come out of the holes in the top.

The aluminum Can Stove is popular in ultra-light backpacking due to its low cost and lighter weight than commercial stoves. This advantage may be lost on long hiking trips, where a lot of fuel is packed, since alcohol has less energy per weight than some other stove fuels. Of the available fuels, methanol delivers the least energy, ethanol somewhat more, butanol is hardly ever used, and isopropanol delivers the most. All but isopropanol burn with a smokeless flame; it can provide both light and heat.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

-two aluminum cans

-Box cutter/Scissors

-Tape

-Nail (Or something to poke small holes with)

-A coin

-Alcohol or fuel

-Ruler or measuring tape

Step 2: Watch the Video

(The video may not show up for mobile viewers)

https://youtu.be/Owx8bWQ6n1o

Comments

DEEJAY642 (author)2015-08-31

what fuel do you use!!!!!!????????

THEJJRAT (author)2015-07-02

I misread as Austrailum...

STUPID NERDY MIND! STAHP THINKIN OF 2FORT

farmhero made it! (author)2015-06-30

COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

AwesomeChickenHacker (author)2014-10-16

Great recycling! I like it. l made them at scouts, and everyone got a new hike stove, for free!

You need to be aware that Boy Scouts of America have banned the use of homemade liquid fuel stoves on camp outs. There were too many incidents of burns and explosions from improperly made stoves. Commercial stoves using liquid fuel are still allowed.

I'm in Australia, and our scouts are very responsible. We also gave them a good safety talk.

rrr67 (author)2014-11-03

could you use hydrogen peroxide orrr....?

rrr67 (author)2014-11-02

I'm assuming rubbing alcohol?

maxom (author)2014-10-29

Pretty much an impractical, useless item....unless a pyromaniac might find a use for it. A Hobo stove at lest could be used to cook on.

porschef (author)2014-10-27

Instructions sounded like they were made by a seven year old

swiperfox (author)2014-10-27

I made several of those last year and gave one to my cousin.

Playing
with two soda burners, I placed a little amount of alcohol in both and
lighted them. With a pair of iron tongs, I placed one on top of the
other while both still burning. The top burner had burned like an
upward blowtorch until it ran out of fuel.

XD

swiperfox (author)2014-10-27

I made several of those last year and gave one to my cousin.

Playing
with two soda burners, I placed a little amount of alcohol in both and
lighted them. With a pair of iron tongs, I placed one on top of the
other while both still burning. The top burner had burned like an
upward blowtorch until it ran out of fuel.

XD

melvin.collins.963 (author)2014-10-19

This isn't exactly new. It is a minor variation on the "Hobo Stoves" we were making when I was a kid (to cook our dinosaur stew).

that's interesting? What I know as a Hobo Stove is made out of a food can with a side cut open and is ostensibly fuelled with wood (twigs) which is a very different device. I wonder if it's a regional thing? :)

Like I said, A minor variation. Wee used to use two cans; one inside the other. Fuel is fuel. They were fun though and alcohol would be quicker to light.

allwinkie (author)2014-10-22

works great with grain alcohol! and when camping in the state parks if some splashes in you mouth so be it

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

ELKUTHA (author)JoniP12014-10-19

Camp fuel does not burn as clean....that is why its orange. Alcahol burns complete and clean thats why it burns blue. During the day its a little safer to burn camp fuel because you can see if the stove is lit. Either way you should use caution when using a stove like this. It gets hot and will burn you if miss handled

spark master (author)ELKUTHA2014-10-21

Hi, pardon my denseness, but what is camp fuel?

OjoeMDC (author)spark master2014-10-21

Camp fuel is white gas.

spark master (author)JoniP12014-10-20

Nice remake!

many alky burners burn yellow at the start then heat up and burn blue. Methyl or Ethyl alcohol is what you want.

NEVER EVER use isoproply, unless you desire soot, stink and low power output.

Do not use indoors, yu can use alcohol sold in paint department, or you have a speed shop that sells methyl out of 100 gallon jugs but it very cheap from them. The Yellow bottle of HEET that you put in a car's gas tank , is fine, The RED bottle is isopropyl and useless to you.

If you want to make and see really cool ones go to

zenstoves.net, there is also an Italian site (I can't remember the URL ).

mind you, if you like to play with stuff, these things can be very very addictive, and then you learn to cook with them. But most Back Packers just use them to boil water for boil bag type meals. You can do any thin meats or eggs(over easy or fried dead, or a nice scamble. You can make a very usable lid for a One Egg Wonder, which will hold 2 jumbo eggs scrambled then added ham/spinacchio/cheese. That happens to work out to a perfect fit for a kaiser roll, as would a hamburger)

Using two of them at a rest area in CT on 91 I made jumbo eggs in omelet with goodies and hot coffee, and hot tea and cocoa, for me and one of my kids. On lookers looked hungry, one gent asked if he could buy a sandwhich I had to turn him down (I only had 4 eggs ;-( )

I used a stove for mine , and while you call yours a stove it is a burner. The stove supports the pot/pan. I know that is mincing words, but I have been corrected so may times I adjusted.

resist the urge to put any other fuel in this thing or you will take a chance to win a Darwin Award!

ttfn

ChefLamont (author)JoniP12014-10-20

The yellow flame has to do with the fuel/oxygen mix. If there is too much fuel (it is "rich") and not good mixing to incorporate oxygen, it will burn big and yellow like this. That is also why the yellow flames like this are very sooty. The are too rich and the unburned fuel is leaving black carbon deposits on the pot. I have been building these stoves for years, and the key to more blue flames is a smaller hole around the edge. Using a punch or nail link in the video makes a hole that is way too big. I use a straightened fish hook chucked in a drill press.

Interesting how the bottom cup went on the inside. I have always seen it the other way around. Glad to see it works just as well.

jeffmika (author)2014-10-21

You never want to use "camp fuel" commonly known as white gas..it will explode and possibly cause shrapnel..use methanol or denatured alcohol only...rubbing alcohol ( isopropynol) is 30% water..it burns incomplete and that is what causes soot...the orange flame is from water in the fuel..it causes it to burn incomplete... anhydrous alcohol ( free of water) burns blue but when it is exposed to air and is not lit will start absorbing moisture from the atmosphere which causes it to have incomplete combustion..

ruckus357 (author)2014-10-21

If I may make a suggestion... put some sort of material like fiberglass insulation inside the fuel chamber it will slow the rate of consumption down and give you a better burn with less waste

climbing made it! (author)2014-10-20
dbicher (author)2014-10-19

Great idea -- we were learning to sew on buttons in Girl Scouts, while you guys were playing with fire! Two questions: how long will the amount of fuel that you placed in the bottom can last, i.e. how long will the fire burn? Also how long will the entire stove last -- just a few fires or for quite awhile? Thanks!

bondebond (author)dbicher2014-10-19

It depends on how much you use in them. I either use denatured alcohol or HEET in the yellow bottle. Two ounces will last about six to seven minutes in most of my stoves. With the proper fuel, two cups of water will boil in four to five minutes. I used one this morning to boil water for four packets of instant oatmeal for my son and me.

bondebond (author)2014-10-19

Unfortunately, this is a poorly produced 'ible, lacking in instruction, safety precautions and execution. If you know it to not work as well with the wrong fuel, then why demonstrate it with the wrong fuel? Also, in your haste to make the video, you did not seal the bottom of the stove and fuel and open flames are seen leaking from the bottom seal. While spilling a little fuel on purpose at the beginning to assist the early vaporization process, having a leaking stove is counterproductive to creating the jets in the first place. May I suggest some safety warnings and cautions about using the proper fuel in the proper conditions and adding some written instructions to accompany the video? Having made dozens of these, I would be hesitant to send new makers to this 'ible for an alcohol "penny" stove.

With the melting point of aluminum at 1221 degrees F, I have yet to have an aluminum can stove melt or cause any problem. The can itself does not reach the extreme temperatures produced by the subsequent flames. Properly used, these are safe for food use.

snoopindaweb (author)2014-10-19

FIRE..! ~(:-})={> --- ]

pellepeloton (author)2014-10-19

I would not use aluminium cans anywhere near food. Aluminium cans melt on lower temperatures than steel and some of if can end up in food.

michiganhiker (author)2014-10-19

Nice job on the stove and the video really makes it easy for someone who has never made a pop can stove. Stoves such as these are intended to only use alcohol, not camping fuel. Though it obviously worked, it is dangerous to use what is essentially gasoline and it burns very dirty as you can see in the video. Alcohol on the other hand burns clean and is much safer. You can use denatured alcohol which is available in the paint section of most stores and you can also use HEET gas-line antifreeze in the yellow bottle. Only the yellow bottle of Heet. which you can find on sale pretty cheap some times much less than a quart or gallon of denatured alcohol, which is essentially the same thing.

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

JoniP1 (author)2014-10-19

I was wondering about the orange flame, since I know alcohol burns with a blue flame. What kind of fuel did you use in this stove? You said the camp fuel wasn't as good, why not? (Less efficient, smell, etc?) Thanks - good build!

About This Instructable

61,109views

849favorites

Add instructable to: