Instructables
Picture of Pocket Sized Camp Stove (The Improved
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This instructable actually came about through necessity. I love camping, and often go hiking in the woods. How often have you spent a day fishing, and wished you could throw some fresh fish into a pan right there on the dock?

For me, this always meant carrying a bulky, expensive kerosene or propane stove which themselves can be something of a pain to get warm enough to use.

There are numerous instructables here on how to make a "Penny Stove." However, there are a series of problems with the Penny Stove concept that need to be addressed. For instance:

1.) You cannot put a large pot on a penny stove without crushing it.
2.) Penny Stoves get very hot, so must be placed on something that will not burn to be used.
3.) Putting a Penny Stove in your pocket or backpack for a hike, it will get crushed fairly quickly.
4.) Penny Stoves are either difficult to light, or do not conserve fuel well.
5.) Penny Stoves are easily blown out in the wind.

As for the commercial "camp" stoves, the *only* ones I've found are either glorified penny stoves (with all the same problems) or require you to carry bulky, heavy, expensive canisters of propane or butane. (Or a mix of the two.) I never did get the point of spending $50 for a "3 oz stove" only to have to carry a 13 oz canister to use it for 1 hour.

Most DIY Camp Stoves I've been able to find use a separate wind screen that's generally a piece of aluminum that would get bent and banged up in my backpack, or no wind screen at all.

All of these issues have been addressed with the new and improved "Penny Stove" or as I like to call it, the "Pocket Sized Camp Stove." I do honestly prefer this over any commercial stove I've yet seen (and I've seen a lot). Better still, it was free. Even a cheap commercial camp stove starts at $30 and goes up quickly from there. I've seen less useful stoves selling for over $100. Considering that commercial stove fuel is also more than twice as expensive as denatured alcohol (calculated by burn time) and harder to come by, there's just simply no reason for me to purchase anything commercial.

While this isn't the size of an Altoids tin, and won't fit in your hip pocket, it will easily carry in a cargo pocket, or in the pocket of your backpack. I keep it in one of the smaller pockets of my ruck sack whenever I go hiking.

For $1.25, you can get a bottle of HEET, and numerous other fuels are even cheaper. (Though I'll tell you from experience, you'll get odd looks buying half a dozen bottles in the middle of the summer. I think the guy thought I was cooking meth.)

Compare this to the Esbit Stove that takes solid state tablets that burn (realistically) for approximately 10 minutes at $0.50 a piece. That's $3/hr, and it's not easy to come by.

While I haven't tested it, I'm pretty sure a $1.25 bottle of HEET (that can be picked up nearly anywhere, including gas stations) lasts me more than an hour.

My preferred fuel is Denatured Alcohol. (See the "Fuel" step.)

Finally, the problem I've had with solid state fuels is the time it takes them to heat up, the amount of heat they put out, and the amount of time it takes to put them away. This stove is ready to go in 1 minute, can be extinguished by blowing it out, or putting the measuring cup over it, and cools off in less than 3 minutes.

For a quick stop to fry up some lunch, this is my stove of choice.

If anyone has suggestions for improvements, I'm all ears.
 
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Step 1: WARNING!!!

Picture of WARNING!!!
I want to make it clear that Penny Stoves CAN detonate. This is not a minor warning, but a very serious one. Unless you take certain precautions, you *can* actually cause your stove to explode.

Just as with any gas that burns, vapors can be dangerous when you do not handle them properly. You should *NEVER* do the following:

1.) Attempt to fuel a lit stove. (Note that the flames of alcohol can be invisible.)

2.) Attempt to light a stove that is already nearly out of fuel.

3.) Bring a stove that has been saturated with fuel near fire (unless attempting to light as instructed)

4.) Bring a stove that has recently been extinguished near fire unless it has been refilled.

5.) Pack a stove that still has fuel in it.

6.) Place anything valuable (including the face) above the stove while lighting. (Generally, detonation will fire straight up.)

7.) Overfill an alcohol stove. As the stove heats up, it will spew flaming alcohol out of the vents.

Vaporized fuel lights quickly, and can actually cause the stove to detonate. While a stove this lightweight isn't likely to cause severe damage, it is possible that in the detonation, it could throw excess fuel around and catch the surroundings on fire.

Once a "Penny Stove" is extinguished (even if it "burns out") it is still hot, and thus, can still produce gas vapors. These vapors can collect in any space in the stove and detonate with force when lit. Always make sure that a stove that has been recently used is either completely refueled and set up properly prior to re-ignition, or is allowed to evaporate all fuel prior to storage.

I say again, use caution when playing with fire and fuels. Things can get dangerous when proper precautions are not taken. Watch the video, and read the instructions, and do not mess around with the stove otherwise. Always, always, always make sure no fuel is stored inside the stove.

Whenever using any kind of open flame stove, always have a method to extinguish a fire should one occur. (Well, obviously one will occur, but if it should occur where it shouldn't... erm... occur...)

Step 2: Required Materials

Picture of Required Materials
What you will need for this is the following:

  • Two (2) aluminum soda cans to make a very standard "Penny Stove"
  • Two (2) wire hangers (enamel finished, not the plastic covered ones)
  • One (1) Large Tin Can (Juice Cans work Well) - 4.25" (10.8 cm) diameter.
  • One (1) Medium Tin Can (Only very slightly smaller in diameter to the Large Can, I used the large sized refried beans can.) - 4" (10.16 cm) diameter
  • One (1) "Small" can. (Just large enough to fit around a soda can. For this, I used a diced tomato can.) 3" (7.62 cm) diameter.
  • One tube JB Weld (or any other liquid epoxy that can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees F (260 C). For those of you outside of the U.S. who still want to use JB Weld, here's where you can find it: They should pay me for this.

** Note: It is not important to get the exact size of the cans. All that matters is that the small can fits around the soda can. The medium can fits around the small can, and the big can fits around the medium can.

Step 3: Optional Materials

Picture of Optional Materials
JB Stik Weld is also an epoxy, but in a thicker, putty format. I would strongly recommend using this as well, although for the patient individual, it *is* possible to use the liquid epoxy by waiting until it has hardened to almost a putty consistency. This will, however, give you a weaker bond with the putty than if you had used an actual epoxy putty. I would recommend keeping some of this putty handy anyway, as it has a million and one uses.

Again, any heat resistant (500 F or 250 C) epoxy putty will suffice.

Step 4: Required Tools

Picture of Required Tools
The tools shown in the image are pretty much needed for this instructable. I know not everyone owns a Dremel, but I can't stress enough just how much any hobbiest needs one. Even a cheap one.

The wire snips and needle-nosed pliers are a must-have.

The clamps and slide square are semi-optional. You will need to come up with your own rig for holding the blade and needles if you don't have them.

I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Step 5: Optional Tools

While you can get away with using your wire snips and Dremel to prep the Penny Stove's top, I find it's much easier to use some heavy duty scissors and a hole punch.

Note that I have discovered that while a hole punch does will against an aluminum can, it does not fair so well against tin cans.

RIP Hole Punch... Your life was short, but productive...

The wet or dry erase marker will be invaluable for drilling all the necessary holes in the correct spots, as well as cutting the pieces to the right sizes.

Step 6: Fuel

There are a number of fuels that can be used in these stoves, but they are specifically designed to use alcohol based fuels.

The most common fuels seen are:

"Heet" Gas-Line Antifreeze and Water Remover - Easily found in the U.S. at virtually any gas station, this is mostly Methyl Alcohol. It burns well in alcohol stoves, but does have a small amount of petroleum additives, and leaves a bit of an odor behind. Great in a pinch, but not my favorite.

Denatured Alcohol - Denatured alcohol is the best choice for most alcohol based camp stoves. This can usually be found in the paint section (as a paint thinner) of a hardware store, and seems to burn slightly hotter and cleaner than Heet. I don't know if this is found under this name outside of the U.S. In the U.S. "denatured" means "poisoned." This is regular alcohol that has had poison added to it so people can't drink it, thus it does not get the alcohol tax, making it cheaper. (Still runs roughly the same price as Heet though.)
User Tips: telboyo - in the UK denatured lcohol is called Methylated Spirits and is colo(u)red purple

Transportation of Fuel - Many people have mentioned they prefer squirt bottles to take their fuel on hikes with them. My personal favorite container are old "5-hour energy drink" bottles. These are easily cleaned out, and hold almost exactly 30 minutes worth of fuel for me.

Step 7: Making the Penny Stove

Penny Stoves have been covered in length on this site, but I will go through the simple steps used to make the one I use for my own stove. Many cans were sacrificed to determine which stove was the most efficient for this rig. Some stoves that are more efficient outside of this rig do not fair well inside of it due to the unique "heat channeling" of the wind guard.

The best design discovered is made with 8 thumbtack holes instead of needles. (Though larger needles can be used.)

The Penny Stove I will show you how to make is, in summary, nothing more than the bottom of two cans with holes in one that's stuffed inside the other. Nothing more. No "wicking" inside such as fiberglass, cotton, lint, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make absolute sure that your cans are thoroughly cleaned before you start work on them. If there is any soda residue in the bottom of the cans, it will be evaporated by the alcohol and clog the vent holes. You will have to start all over.

Note that while there are many stove designs that tell you to first sand the paint off of the stoves, I very specifically do not want you to do this. At least not for the "top" of the stove. The paint will act as a "glue" the first time the stove is lit adding strength and stability.

Step 8: Making the Penny Stove (Cutting the Pieces)

1.) Using the razor blade rig (Image 1), score both cans approximately 1.5" from the bottom. Note that the score line does not have to be particularly deep, as it's just a "guide" that allows the can to split where you want it to. A couple of passes is usually sufficient. See Image 2.

2.) Once scored, poke a very small hole in the line with razor. (Image 3)

3.) Using your thumbs, gently press on the top portion of the can to cause the "hole" to continue to "tear" along the score line. (Image 4)

4.) The scoring will cause the can to continue to "tear" along the score line, giving you a very clean cut. (Image 5) Remove the bottoms from both cans this way.

Step 9: Making the Penny Stove (Prepping the Parts)

1.) Scoring the stove will cause the can to slightly bend "inward" where it was cut. While this is desirable for the top of the stove, you'll want to "stretch out" the opening of the bottom of the stove. Simply place a can inside of it, and "roll" it around a bit in a circular motion as shown in Image 1. Do not press hard or you will split the bottom. You do not need to stretch it much, just slowly work it around just enough to very, very slightly flair out the top.

That's all the prep necessary for the bottom of the stove.

2.) Using the hole punch, punch 8 evenly spaced holes approximately 1/4 of an inch (or 1 cm) down from the curve in the top of the stove. Then, using the scissors, cut a line from the bottom into each of these holes. (Image 2) The holes will keep the can from continuing to split along the line that you cut. The cut lines allow you to easily insert the top into the bottom.

3.) Using your wet/dry erase marker, put dots on the stove where the vent holes will belong. Be careful to space them evenly, and put them at the same height around the top (Image 3)

User Tips: Tetrafish - To evenly space the holes you could wrap a strip of paper around it, mark it's (circumference) length, then evenly divide them... 
                    jacksteal4 - ...just fold the paper into 16 or 8 parts [using the creases to get your even spacing]...

4.) You can use needles to punch holes by holding them in a clamp (Image 4). However, keep in mind that I've found that using a thumb tack to make the 8 holes works best with this stove.

5.) Using the Dremel, drill a 1/8" (3.25mm) hole in the center of the top piece. (Image 5)

That's all the prep for the pieces!

Step 10: Making the Penny Stove (Final Steps)

The assembly of the stove is by far the most delicate step in the instructable. Be very careful here.

1.) Slide the top into the bottom piece. (Image 1)

2.) Very, very carefully, start pressing the two pieces together evenly, a little bit at a time. When it starts to get tight, you will find that at the top of some of the holes that were punched you will need to use a shim cut from the spare parts of the can (Image 2) to work the two pieces down. Again, do this very, very slowly, a very small amount at a time. Do not use a lot of pressure. If the two parts seem to be too hard to push together, simply wait for a few more seconds. The two cans will slowly stretch ever so slightly allowing you to eventually work them together. I cannot stress enough how delicate you have to be, making sure that all sides evenly go in tiny fractions of an inch at a time. Attempting to force them too quickly will make either one of the cans split, or one end will pop out of the bottom while the other end goes in too deep. Slow and steady here.

3.) Gently, slowly, and evenly press the cans together until the bottom is even with the curve in the top. (Image 3)

Notes:

  • I say again, you do not want to sand the paint off of the top piece. As the paint heats up, it will actually act like "glue" and seal the top to the bottom piece the first time you use it.
  • As said above, you also do not need to use glue to make this.
  • Since this stove will not recieve ANY weight, it does not have to be reinforced, or otherwise made any stronger. (After its initial lighting, the paint on the inner can adhering to the outer can will still make it fairly sturdy.)
  • Note that I did not use any fillers such as cloth, fiberglass, etc.
     
Throw your favorite lucky penny (NOT quarters, dimes, or other ridged coins) in, and you're ready to go. This is as much as needs to be done to make the standard "Penny Stove."

Step 11: Making the Measuring Cup

The measuring cup is made out of the "small" tin can and is approximately the same size as the penny stove itself.

1.) There's no need to be too exacting here. Just set the small can next to the penny stove, and draw a line approximately the same height. (Image 1)

2.) Cut off the top (with the dremel, unless you're fortunate enough to own a large tube cutter) so it's close to even.

3.) Sand all of the edges of the cup so it's not sharp.

4.) "Pinch" the lip of the cup so it looks a bit like a spout (Image 2).

The measuring cup can be marked, though I just know by looking how much fuel I need to use in my stove. The ribbed lines around the edge can be used to figure out approximately how long the stove will burn through testing (it will be different for every stove).

I found that this cup was necessary, since the containers of fuel seldom want to pour smoothly, and I didn't feel like having a large fireball in my tent. (Yes, you can use this indoors, with the proper fuel and stability!)

Step 12: Make the Rack Pins

Picture of Make the Rack Pins
The rack pins are fairly simple. Take a straight piece of hanger wire and bend a hook into it as shown. The length of the pin should be approximately 1/2" (~13 mm) taller than the wind guard. (This will actually be made in the next step.)

Step 13: Making the Wind Guard

The Wind Guard serves two purposes. It will not only protect the stove from light winds when outdoors, but it will also help channel the heat upwards. This means more efficiency, which means less fuel consumed.

The most important part here is how the lid is removed from your large can. A standard can opener cuts the INSIDE of the can. More modern can openers now actually cut the OUTSIDE of the can. You absolutely will have to use one of these newer can openers and keep the lid or this will not work. You will need this lid later. I recommend one of the "One Touch" can openers for the most solid, stable lid.

The wind guard is quite simple:

1.) Set the Stove next to your Large can.

2.) Measure 1/2" to 3/4" above the stove and draw a line around the "down" part of the ribbing. You will need to do this for the lid to fit. (Image 1)

3.) Cut the top of the large can off with the Dremel.

Now is when you would create your rack pins from the previous step!

4.) Drill 16 evenly spaced 1/8" (approx 3.2 mm) holes on the "bottom" of the Wind Guard. These should be a few millimeters above the bottom so alcohol doesn't leak out during priming.

5.) Drill 2 rows of 8 evenly spaced 1/4" (~5 mm) holes (note emphasis) staggered on the "top" of the Wind Guard. (Image 2) Note: I used the hole punch for these holes. As it utterly destroyed the hole punch, I would not recommend this.

You will need to refer to Image 3 for the following steps. This looks much more complex than it is. Make sure you know what you're doing before trying, as the JB Stik has a fairly quick setting (hardening) time. If you mess up, you can use water to remove the putty, dry thoroughly, sand a bit, and try again.

6.) Pick two pairs of the "lower" holes that are across from each other. (blue circles) Now, draw a wet/dry erase line (red lines) on the bottom of the can from below one circle to its opposing circle. Now, approximately 1/2" (13 mm) towards the inside, drill four 1/8" (3.2 mm) holes that intersect this line (green circles). These will be the support holes for the pegs that will hold the rack.

7.) Apply a very small (smaller than pea sized) ball of the JB Stik to each of these holes on the "bottom" of the Wind Guard (Image 4) and flatten it out so it's close to flush with the bottom of the can. You can wet your fingers a little bit to keep the weld from sticking to them, but make sure not to get water on the putty where it needs to stick to the Wind Guard. Notice that I also sanded a bit around the hole just to rough up the surface to get a better stick. You should do this with anything you use the putty on.

8.) Going back to the inside, you will see that some of the weld has pushed through. Flatten this out as well, then slide a rack pin through the corresponding large hole, and make a small indentation in the putty. You do not want the rack pin to go all the way through the putty. A small indentation is all that is necessary. The indentation will need to be deep enough that the rack pins will not "slip" when an item is placed on the stove, but not so deep as to break through the bottom of the putty. I recommend holding a finger on the putty below so you can feel the pin getting close to breaking through. This should be sufficient. (If you do not feel that the hole is able to go deep enough without breaking through, you can add a very small amount of putty to the holes on the inside of the Wind Guard. Be careful not to use too much putty, though, as it is only able to handle temperatures up to 500 F (260 C) and will need the rest of the can to act as a heat-sink for it.)

The final indentations should look like those in Image 5.
User Tip: jacksteal4 - The trick was to wet the pegs when you put them in so it didn't stick to the epoxy.

Those who have been following this instructable will notice that this is a significant improvement over the original design. Originally, the JB Stik "nubs" stuck out on the sides of the wind guard. Not only did they block priming holes, but they had a tendency to get hooked on items while in the backpack and get broken off. This new design eliminates that problem, and makes the final stove look more "sleek."

Step 14: Creating the Base/Lid

The Base will also double as the lid for the stove.

The Base will allow you to use the stove on surfaces that would otherwise burn. It only ever gets lukewarm to the touch, and as you'll see in the end video, can be used to even hold the lit stove in the palm of your hand. Not sure why you would want to, other than to prove you can, though.

1.) Take your medium can, and cut the bottom of it off with a Dremel at about an inch and a half.

2.) Cut a hole in the middle of the bottom of the can large enough for the base of the small can (measuring cup) to fit through. This doesn't have to be particularly accurate, but don't make the hole so big that when put together, all the pieces will rattle around.

3.) VERY IMPORTANT: Use the JB Weld to "glue" the UPSIDE DOWN LID of the large can to the top (ie: part that was cut) of the medium can on the INSIDE. Make sure it is centered. Reread this, then look at the images to make sure you understand it. The large can lid will need to be flipped so the "lip" faces "upwards" on the base, or it will not be useful as a lid. I found that a piece of tape or clamps were handy to hold the parts in place while applying the JB Weld.

Step 15: Making the Pot Rack

The Pot Rack will enable you to put much larger pots and pans on your stove, making it functional for much more than just heating coffee. Between this, a mess kit, and some spices, you'll be ready to fry up some fish right out there on your little John Boat! (Do keep a fire extinguisher handy. No reason to be stupid.)

The rack doubles as both the rack that your pots and pans will rest on, as well as the "lock" for when the container is closed. (Image 2)

This is made by simply bending a piece of hanger around the stove when the lid is put on (Image 1) and then using a loop at the bottom to attach it. It's very important that this be very snug, as it will stretch over time.

(Optional)

As seen in Image 3 I like to use a small hooked piece of hanger to handle the rack when its hot. I curve it to fit inside the Wind Guard, and put a hook on it to allow me to pick up the rack when it's been heated. It's a handy tool for dealing with anything hot.

Step 16: Assembly (Packed)

Picture of Assembly (Packed)
When you're ready to put your stove in your pack, this is how it's assembled:

1.) Put your rack pins into the lid (Image 1)

2.) Put your measuring cup into the lid, and put in a coin (my lucky penny) (Image 2)

3.) Place the Penny Stove into the measuring cup upside down and put the Wind Guard over the whole rig. If you made a hook for holding your rack, this can also be put in at this point. (Image 3)

4.) Lock everything in place by sliding the rack over the whole unit. (Image 4)

That's all there is to it! You're ready to go camping!

As a final touch, to make your rig look more "professional" as well as extend its life, here's some great tips from some of the comments:

User Tip: GWESTMOR - ...you might want to paint the stove with grill paint to keep it from rusting
User Tip:  LCsDAD - I might just DuraCoat mine in a sweet olive drab or go the opposite direction with a 'hazard' orange...

 

Step 17: Usage (Video)

1.) Remove rack from around stove.
2.) Remove lid/base, and empty contents (rack pins).
3.) Place lid/base upright on stable surface.
4.) Remove fuel cup and set aside.
5.) Remove stove/penny.
6.) If you created the optional hook tool, remove this.
7.) Place wind guard on top of lid/base.
8.) Insert rack pins through appropriate holes, and set them in their "nubs."
9.) Place stove (sans penny) into center of wind guard.
10.) Slowly add fuel to stove (either with fuel cup, or squirt bottle) by dumping fuel into the top of it and letting it drain.
11.) Dump small amount (will differ for each stove, experiment) of fuel into wind guard as primer.
12.) Add penny to stove, covering fuel hole.
13.) Place rack into rack pins.
14.) Light with flint striker over stove, or bring lighter near a side hole.
15.) Stove will take approximately 30-45 seconds to heat up.
16.) Use only stable flat-bottomed pan/bowl/cup to cook.

Note that if desired, the penny stove itself can be turned upside down and used to burn solid state fuels such as esbit fuel tabs.

Notes when using:
  • The pictures of the lit stove were taken in a dim room. Keep in mind that outdoors, or in bright light, you will often not be able to see the flame at all. Take care not to burn yourself.
  • Read the 2nd step's warnings.
  • Try to measure your fuel so it burns out just as you're done with it.
  • The stove can be extinguished by placing the inverted "measuring cup" over it, or blowing it out. Water will also quickly put out any alcohol fires. (Make sure the measuring cup has no fuel left in it.) Do not store the stove with fluid in it.
  • When primed, it can be started with a flint striker.
  • The thinner/smaller the utensils used to cook on it, the faster and hotter they will get. Have gloves handy.
  • If using this indoors, make sure you have a *very* stable place for it to sit where it will not get knocked over. Have a method for putting out the fire handy just in case.
  • If you cannot understand how to build it by reading these instructions, do not attempt to do so. You shouldn't be playing with fire.
     
The attached video shows how to unpack and use your new stove.

Enjoy!

Any comments, improvements, or any critiques are welcome!


Step 18: Specs

Picture of Specs
After much experimentation, it was determined that for this particular design, the most efficient stove is one with 8 evenly spaced "thumbtack" sized holes. Even spacing is important for most efficient heat output. Also make sure your holes are all the same size.

  • The packed camp stove (when made with the same materials in this instructable) is 4.5" (11.43 cm) in diameter, and 3" (7.62 cm) high.
  • The stove with all options (cup/hook) weighs 6.5 oz (184.27 grams).
  • The stove can easily handle up to 5 lbs (2.27 kg). I did not bother testing further as you shouldn't need to cook anything over 5 lbs (2.27 kg). while camping/hiking, and I didn't want to destroy another stove.

When using denatured alcohol:

  • The stove can hold up to 2 oz (59 ml) safely.
  • 2 oz (59ml) will burn for roughly 30 minutes.
  • Stove should take 30-45 seconds to heat up enough to use.
  • Stove takes approximately 3 minutes to cool down after use.
  • 2 cups (16 oz, 1 lb, 473 ml, 453.59237 grams) of water at room temperature (70 F, 21.1111C) will boil (212 F, 100 C) in under 5 minutes (300 sec).
  • "Heet" burns slightly longer, but with less heat (ironic, no?) meaning longer boil times. It also has an off-putting odor. Not recommended, but works in a pinch.

Other Notes

The penny stove does have a good deal of "wasted space" in it. Particularly in the lid. If this stove is something you like to keep around "for emergencies" instead of to use regularly, consider using that space in the lid.

  • Rig a long, sturdy plastic bag (can be made with a FoodSaver) to hold 2 oz of alcohol, and stuff it into the empty space. Remove the "Fuel Cup" for even more space.
  • Add some waterproof matches or a small flint
  • Fishing hooks and fishing line
  • Band-Aids
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Water purifier tablets
  • A small compass
  • Sealed toilet paper
  • Lengths of nylon cord

See what all you can stuff into all the nooks and crannies, and you'll have the ultimate emergency kit, complete with stove! The stove can be used to get even the wettest wood started burning.
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Javin007 (author) 1 year ago
For anyone interested: It's been over three years since I've posted this 'ible. (And the response has been fantastic! Thank you all!)

To date, I still regularly use the stove that is in this video, and it doesn't seem any the worse for wear. I haven't even painted it or sealed it in any way. The rack pins have a small amount of rust on them, but other than that, it's still in great shape!
How is it holding up now?
Javin007 (author)  darman127 months ago

Still going strong! Haven't had to build a new one yet!

jef400dread5 months ago

When I tried drilling the 1/4" holes in the wind guard, my bit ran all over the place. Even after drilling 1/8" pilot holes for the 16 staggered holes, I have 16 different looking 1/4" holes. Oh well. For me, the most difficult part of the build was getting the 8 "thumbtack" holes in the burner. I didn't attempt these holes until the 2 can bottoms were fitted together, perhaps that made it more difficult. Brass thumbtacks didn't stand a chance. I went through 2 push pins to get 8 holes. The first one in a C clamp did 3 holes before breaking. Changed to a nail that made a bigger hole for 4 and 5. Pushpin number 2 I figured out that if I rotated it as I applied pressure, it was making progress. It got to the point that I was sharpening the point of the second pushpin. Then, the pin was spinning within it's plastic handle assembly. Once I noticed that, I held that portion in place with some needle nose pliers...Finally. 8 holes.

As other commenters suggested, I JB welded bolts to the inside bottom of the wind guard to hold the rack pins. I also used the paper folding method to keep my marks evenly spaced. I could use some practice using my dremel to cut cans. Even when trying to focus on the "down" ribs of the large can, I found my dremel cut-off bit wondering off the path.

Regarding the thumbtacks, I took the old-fashioned brass kind, and crushed them in my needle-nosed pliers, so that the sides bent inward. Then with the thumbtacks gripped in the pliers, I put two fingers inside the can, one on each side of where the hole would poke through, and pushed the thumbtack through with a twisting motion from the outside. Worked really well (after going through the same frustration as the rest of you).

bishopfamily3 months ago

For my cooking stove all I have is a tin can slightly bigger than my stove cut about an inch taller than my stove then drilled in holes so it would be a windscreen, chimney, and pot stand. I also don't use a stand because the bottom of the tin can is enough protection that the ground doesn't burn.

keveldevel7 months ago
love it. read about it and 6 long hrs later I had my very own model just like yours. I did have to make a custom rack my pot was to slim for your design. I also made my wind guard a little taller. it works great. it really does. first try and I'm completely satisfied with it. it will be my sole cooking devise on our week long canoe trip. thanks man.
Javin007 (author)  keveldevel7 months ago

Awesome! I love to hear about people making it! Would also love to see pics!

gorth10 months ago
Good 'ible. Just a short note. Since you are using a pot rack with this setup you don't have to wait for the stove to heat up. Just put the pot on and don't waste the heat.
MrBuildalong11 months ago
I like your design so much I've started constructing my own kit. I'm looking forward to testing this bad boy out in the woods to see what it'll do. So far I've finished the penny stove and am about to do the rack pins and wind guard. Tally ho!
agian harbor freight tools has them. dont buy the 10.00 dollar specail uill spend more in gas returning it. get thier 20 bock unit .
I just built one of these I haven't tested it yet and all Ive built is the stove and measuring cup but the instructions are the best and easiest to follow!! Thank you so much for posting!!!!
ac-dc1 year ago
You can make the epoxy structure thicker and stronger if you use it similar to how fiberglass is laid. That is, wet the surface with the epoxy then wrap some saturated steel wool around it. While this isn't as pretty for certain applications, for mechanical ones it is superior. Of course you could also use asbestos or equivalent heat resistant cloth, but don't snort the stuff since it is theoretically a hazard to your lungs if asbestos.
Javin,
I read all the talk about MSDS sheets and changes folks have made to this great little life saver. I have come to believe most alcohols are dangerous and I have seen people drink liquid sterno on many occasions, well enough on that I will be making mine just like you show, simple is almost always better.

I am about to make my first "Improved Pocket Sized Camp Stove" and I give you 5/5 rating after seeing your video and puppy. I just might make a change to fit my needs and will send you pic's of the results as well as my puppy.

Almost a professional prepper I guess, retired from public safety and now a disaster services worker supporting government communications when they fail thru ham radio, our motto is "when all else fails".

Our people ( many are retired ) carry go kits and the heavy MRE's since we must be self reliant and show up in area's that may be devoid of all infrastructure, meaning we're on our own. Now old and gray, I'm gonna use the much lighter freeze dried meals so I want to heat my water with a "home brew" stove, not a $150 stove made in China.

Most of our people are volunteers on fixed incomes, so I hope to bring this to a training session to let everyone see how great your little stove works with mostly recycled can's. If it's ok with you I would like to send them a copy of the download so they can gather up what they need ahead of time.

I had everything on hand including Denatured alcohol and the same refried beans which I am using as dip for my chips, minus the METOH Kudo's!
Rob
btw, I am curious, why no fiberglass, smell or melting?
Javin007 (author)  brokenmedic1 year ago
Rob-

By all means, use it at your leisure!  I'd be proud to have the stove used in such a way. 

The reason for no fiberglass is that it's simply not necessary.  In some stoves, the fiberglass supposedly helps vaporize the fuel, or "slows down" spills (neither advantage did I see in my tests).  In mine, I saw precisely zero improvement, but did find that it took up space in the can meaning I had to put less fuel in it, so got a shorter burn time per fill.  As you said, "simple is better."  I've seen and tested literally dozens of different designs of the penny stoves, and found that the absolute simplest model worked the best. 

To be fair, there was ONE model that proved to give a very SLIGHT advantage.  It was almost identical but that the holes that are punched with thumbtacks here were instead drilled with a very tiny drill bit, on the top, at an angle that produced a "tornado" effect. 

This was great if you wanted to quickly heat a single (thin) cup of water, and increased boil times by nearly a full 40 seconds on average.  Still, for all the extra work, I determined it wasn't nearly worth the effort, particularly in light of the fact that it would not heat a pan evenly if you were trying to cook fish (which is where this all started for me in the first place). 

So yeah, long-story short (I tend to ramble) nothing goes inside the penny stove because there's no point in it. 
cege1 year ago
THIS IS TERRIFFIC! THANK YOU!
kilber171 year ago
This Thing Is Awesome!!!!!
teaquack1 year ago
I don't get the rig, I'm finding it hard to make and even harder to use
can you explain the wind guard better? pics would be great! thank you!
it was kid of difficult building the actual stove from the two can lids, they kept tearing (yes the cans were tearing) but i got it to work on like the 8 try.
Best instructable i have ever seen, i am going to make multiple of these for natural disasters that come about. thank you very much!!!! :)
what kind of alcohol is in the denatured alc.? my mom is a chemist so she can get me some without the poison!
it's methylated spirits in the uk fyi.
90%ethanol with 10% methanol to make it poisonous so no tax has to be paid on the ethanol.
thanks so much!
denatured

the natural impulse is to drink alcohol to get drunk

denatured it to mean drink this to get drunk and you will die

nuff said ?
do that, then you don't have to bring whiskey for drinking.
denatured = poisoned so people cant drink it
Javin007 (author)  Ben_the_Sci_Kid3 years ago
Chemist or no, there would be no point in having her get the stuff "without the poison." The entire reason the poison is added is so that you don't drink it. If your intention is to drink it, then just get regular alcohol. Otherwise, the addition of the "poison" (which is also a flammable liquid) makes no difference at all.
heetbeet1 year ago
Awesome instructable! I have to make one of these before christmas. I am from Stellenbosch, South Africa where we have wonderful mountains to climb on weekends.
SgtHawk1 year ago
Really great stuff, 007. Did you every contemplate a reflective windscreen skirt that covers the entire side of the pot from below the flame to above the pot top with about a 1/4-7/16ths of an inch clearance all around between the pot & relective skirt? I made one last night out of an appropriately resized large juice can and heavy aluminum foil with a 1/4-1/2inch air gap( insulation) between these two "skirts and used my infared temp sensor to take temp measurements all over. Significantly improved boil time. When at a full boil, outer aluminum skirt down low was temp(78F versus ambient 59F); upper was about 95F. Top of pot was around boiling of course, Very hard to measure bottom of pot or flame; got a reading around 650F but not sure what I was really measuring.

The point is, you, and about everyone else who has contributed concerning alcohol stoves here are, about 1000% smarter and more experienced with this than I am so I would appreciate your or anyones suggestions.
Please pardon me if this is not the appropriate place to post this.
Regards
Javin007 (author)  SgtHawk1 year ago
"The point is, you, and about everyone else who has contributed concerning alcohol stoves here are, about 1000% smarter and more experienced with this than I am"

I would beg to differ. Nobody is "more experienced" when it comes to doing actual real-world tests. Nothing is "more experienced" than a real-world (aka: clinical) test. Sounds to me that you've taken the testing one (or two) steps further!

I've very much been interested in seeing what the end result of a better reflective internal screen would do on the efficiency, which, realistically, is what this is all about. From what you've said, it sounds like you may have found a method to make this stove even MORE efficient by reflecting more of the heat to the target, which may in fact make the vaporization even that much more efficient! I'd love to see what you've come up with! Are pictures a possibility?

My end barometer in this has been, how long does it take to bring 2 cups of water to a boil? If your method is doing it in under 4-5 minutes, then you've clearly found a further improvement! Please share!

And let me know where you're located so I can add you to my map of "places people have built this stove!"
SgtHawk1 year ago
Spectacular overall job 007. The outer wire lock to keep it together is brilliant.
SgtHawk1 year ago
I'm a newbe and find this site and your particular instructions to be nothing short of outstanding. I do seem to recall from one of the hundreds of instuctions and youtube videos I have watched that freezing one can portion and heating the other allows them to go together easier.
Again thanks very much for one of absolute best of the best!!
donn222 years ago
Hey Javin just came across your ible yesterday.. Love it! going to be making one as soon as i get the right sized can together... got to make some allowances for can differences as im in South Africa and cans are pretty monotonous here. anyway i decided to make a stronger burner than the soda can version by using the bottoms of two deodorant cans. the walls are a lot thicker but the diameter is somewhat smaller so the hearing of the unit not so much a problem. what i want to know is there a higher chance of a spectacular detonation due to the thicker walls. everything is the same as the soda can version in terms of topping it up and the position of the jets. the deodorant version is hell of a lot more sturdy anyway. will try post a pic of the unit soon. comments welcome.
Javin007 (author)  donn221 year ago
South Africa! Awesome! I'll add you to the map!

One of the reasons I built this stove was to protect the fragile penny stove with a shell around it so I was able to stick with the super-light-weight penny stove for the main burner. This said, using the deodorant cans wouldn't necessarily increase your CHANCE of detonation, that would still be the same. But with the thicker walls and (presumably) tighter fit of the two halves, this would mean that any detonation that DID occur would be many times more VIOLENT. The soda cans of the penny stove are flimsy enough that a detonation will be primarily absorbed by the penny stove itself. Even then, in an early test, it was enough to blow off the bits of JB weld, and bend the wind guard enough that I had to toss the stove.

With the thicker walls of the deodorant cans the pressure from the detonation would have to build up to a much higher, more violent level to cause a rupture. I'd imagine that, being that the denatured alcohol isn't massively violent by nature, the thicker stove can MAY be able to contain the full detonation without exploding, but there's also a pretty good chance that this isn't the case. If so, the detonation with a much "stronger" penny stove would be exponentially more violent, possibly even shredding off shards of metal and going off like a small grenade. (Sounds extreme, but rapidly expanding gasses can do frightening things.)

If you have the ability (I'm not sure of your age or experience with this sort of thing) it can be tested like so:

1.) Heat up the unit as if it had been used
2.) Add a VERY SMALL amount of fuel to the penny stove
3.) Pack the stove up as in the video (while it's still hot)
4.) Shake it up to ensure that the fuel is vaporizing throughout the stove,
5.) Place it a VERY SOLID container (box with thick wood, or a metal barrel)
6.) REMOTELY detonate it. (Rocket engines on long wires work well.)

I'd have to do this 20-40 times in succession before I'd be confident that the detonation is contained safely, but even then, I'd probably still be a bit paranoid. You MAY have the equivalent of a miniature pipe bomb on your hands.

Personally, I'd stick with making the penny stove out of a weak soda can since I know for a fact that when/if it DOES detonate, the detonation is small (like a small firecracker) and primarily absorbed by the weak soda cans.

Best of luck to you! And BE SAFE!
Thanks so much for posting these instructions. Some friends of ours were prepping to thru-hike the AT about five years ago, and bought one of these online. I studied the exterior and after a case of cans, I got a working model produced. Your procedures, photos, and the comments of others made this so much easier. I made two last night. I'm using a Campbell's soup can and a tealight as a pre-heater (not that I guess it's necessary), but the height works perfect when building a wind-screen from a #10 restaurant can. My wife and do primitive camping, but usually within a 1/2 mile of the truck, so height isn't an issue; we like the self-sufficiency of DIY, and not being a slave to the propane or butane tank sellers (sorry Hank Hill). We were both amazed at how quickly and efficiently this design works. Thanks!

We're from Virginia, lived most of our married life in Texas, and now live in East Tennessee. My nephew, who's heading to Fort Benning like I did 27 years ago wants me to build one with him next weekend. This weekend ours will be heating soup on Bald Mountain in Western NC. Thanks again. G
Javin007 (author)  Tennessee Burl1 year ago
Thank you for your response! I always love hearing about people's experiences with the design.

It was actually an after-effect that the stove design did turn out to be so effective for ultralight backpacking. I'd once upon a time purchased one of those $100 ultralight (3 oz) camp stoves only to find out that I had to carry a 13 oz can of propane (love the Hank Hill reference, BTW) to get one hour of use out of it. So this "ultralight" $100 stove turned out to weigh a total of 1lb. and I had to carry a propane tank that was highly pressurized and just hope I didn't accidentally smash the mouth of it while out... For one hour's use.

With this stove weighing in at 6 oz. (4.5 oz. if you remove the unnecessary bits) then every half hour of fuel adds 2 oz. So for the same 1 lb, I could get 5 hours of fuel, or only carry as much as I need for the hike... With the fuel carried in robust, difficult to hurt plastic bottles that if they DO get punctured, the fuel simply evaporates.

For free.
Brockley3 years ago
Is there any way to open the can without using a new opener? Would using a hand opener side ways make the can open in the desired way? I don't want to go out and buy a new opener just for this preoject. Is there anything else that you suggest?
Eax5 Brockley2 years ago
Yes it would. I was curious and tested it out on a tuna can.
rushwiz2 years ago
Javin... It has been over 3 years since you shared this awesome instructable. Could you consider taking the many excellent ideas and suggestions, and your own improvements on your stove, and sharing a new and improved version?
My eight year old son and I are going to build this stove today! KEN
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