Step 17: Usage (Video)

Picture of 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.


Any comments, improvements, or any critiques are welcome!

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gorth1 year 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.
cege2 years ago
Best instructable i have ever seen, i am going to make multiple of these for natural disasters that come about. thank you very much!!!! :)
fatboy073 years ago
very nice! keep it up man! :)
cryophile3 years ago
Awesome! It looks like this would come in handy if you were homeless.
orion33 years ago
Awesome stove! Just got mine finished. Instead of drilling holes for the rack pins, I JB welded small nuts to the bottom of the base can. After words, I was concerned that they might get in the way of the measuring cup once it was assembled but, it all fits well. Also, I used a 24 oz. tuna can for the base and riveted it to the lid instead of cutting the larger can down and JB welding together. I was a bet eager to try out the stove and didnt have any Denatured alcohol, so I used rubbing alcohol. (Not sure of the difference) I found the rubbing alcohol a bit hard to light at first (Hoping the Denatured alcohol works better). But I used a propane torch and soon got it blazing. Took a few minutes for it to settle down, then it started burning nicely. Had a problem with the fire staying lit for more then 10 minutes. (Again, could be the rubbing alcohol) I would then relight it with the torch again and it would take off again. I'm thinking the torch is heating up the alcohol in the can making it evaporate faster. All in all, A fantastic project and I plan on making more as gifts. A 10 out of 10!
Javin007 (author)  orion33 years ago
It's always so awesome to see people build this stove. :D Thanks a ton for the pictures!

I love the modifications you've made.  The riveting and using the tuna can could only make the build that much easier, and dare I say more stable.  Makes me wish I had a rivet gun.  I also like the idea of welding the nuts to the base instead of drilling the holes and using JBWeld. 

The rubbing alcohol is definitely your problem.  Rubbing alcohol is typically about 60% alcohol with the other 40% being water.  Denatured alcohol is 99% alcohol with 1% "additive" to keep people from drinking it.  (It's also used as "marine stove fuel".  Commonly used to fuel stoves on boats.) 

Your problem with keeping the rubbing alcohol lit is because the rig eventually cools down enough that the alcohol stops vaporizing.  You won't have this problem with denatured alcohol, and lighting it will be MUCH easier.  I even light mine with a flint striker if I don't have a lighter handy.
orion3 Javin0073 years ago
Awesome! Just the info I needed. This is a great build and is extremely well thought out. I will be heading to the store for denatured alcohol ASAP! I am getting started on number 2 today. I'm going to make my wind guard just a tad higher this time to more easily accommodate the nuts. I only went 1/2 inch higher then the stove last time. It fits but , just barely. I need to invest in one of those fancy side cutting can openers as well. I dremmeled the last lid off. It's passable but rough. By the way, the pot rack design, imo, is just Genius! Super strong and very sturdy! Thanks a lot for this great instructable . If I stumble across any more updates I'll post them here. \m/
xUNMERITEDx4 years ago
Great job!
JRick34 years ago
Do you really need the measuring cup or is it more for everything to fit nice inside when it is all packed up?
tristin76124 years ago
That was great, I think that I will have to try that out. My wife says I'm not aloud to see neat things like that because she knows that I will HAVE TO make it. Also love the cameo of the puppy.
Javin007 (author)  tristin76124 years ago
*heh heh* Thanks! She's not nearly as round anymore, but she's still just as cute!
sabr6865 years ago
hey great stove, i think it's the best designed and functioning one I've seen around. I appreciate the work you put into developing it. I made one last night (took me a little longer than I thought, being the first time and all) and I can't wait for the JB to cure so I can fire it up. I put a very small notch in the bottom of the wind guard so the rack would be trained to hold the package shut tight. Just Dremel'd it. I guess that's a new word. You know what I mean. I also left about 3" of coat hanger onto the end of the rack to replace the extra bit of wire used for the handle, with a little triangle at the end for grip. Just a little personal modification. Well done, and thanks for the jumping off point! I love this kind of stuff, especially when it's well thought out and constructed.
Javin007 (author)  sabr6865 years ago
Sounds like some great mods! Could we get a picture to see how it turned out?
I will try, though I'm not real tech-y in that regard.
tibbaryllis6 years ago
I do not have any pictures with me but I've had luck with the refueling. In my designs you insert a needle in the bottom of the stove (such as a basketball needle) this needle fits through a hole in the bottom of the wind guard. Its connected to a long* piece of small tubing. **** For starters I recommend in the 5 foot range so you arnt in detonation range if you do it wrong. The end of this tube has a large syringe (like a basting/injection syringe) Fill the syringe with your alcohol and use that to initially fuel the stove (this is important, you dont want air trapped in the tube) then refill the syringe and push a little extra fuel in so as to clear any bubbles in the line. Now step away from the syringe and prime and light your stove. It should be burning like normal. When you want to add more fuel, done a leather glove (for safety) and SLOWLY SLOWLY SLOWLY SLOWLY inject more fuel from a safe distance. As long as you dont back off pressure from the injection system there is no air to cause the system to blow up, and the tube is not hooked to the syringe or the needle permanently so any sort of explosive reaction is likely to push the tube off. The only piece that needs to be permanently affixed is the needle into the stove bottom as so it cannot easily fall out and so that it does not create an extra inflow of air.

Extreme caution needs to be observed until you completely understand the refueling process as everything that can go wrong can go wrong. I've even had one instance where fire did manage to travel back up the tube (was a short tube) but the syringe had come loose so it effectively sprayed fire... user beware.. With a large enough injection needle (some turkey ones are pretty large) you can effectively refuel the can enough to keep it running for days... now you can mini slow cook roasts or make slow cooked soups in the woods... You can also use the technique you used to make your pot stand to make a rotisserie. Make them about.. 3x taller and form loops for a pin to go through - using this method I've made rotisserie dove breast and a mini morel kabob...

Great idea. Obviously reserved for the "know-what-you're-doing" iblers. While we're at it, you could always put a valve between the syringe and the needle to act as a fuel cut-off, thus making it a bit safer. You could really take this a long way if you wanted to. I like the simplicity of the original, but add-ons are so cool, it's hard to resist!
that sounds like a good idea, but intead of injecting fuel could't you inject fuel initially to clear out air bubbles then have another line connected to the syringe in a container so it pulls of of that source?
i live in st. louis MO and i am planning on biking from stl to kansas city (and i guess back) and trying to spend as little money during the trip. so camping and using this stove would be amazing.  i'm building one this weekend
Javin007 (author)  .happy.hippie.5 years ago
Awesome!  I really wish I could talk people into posting pics of their stoves.  :/
juanoporras5 years ago
man let me tell you... this is awesome!!! I am going to build mine right away :P totally awesome. thanks for sharing.
TarzanJr5 years ago
at first i thought that the wind gaurd was much taller in the video then the picture of it sideways... when you are showing the holes you might want to show a comparison of the small medium and large cans after they have been cut so that they know what the end results look like.
Javin007 (author)  TarzanJr5 years ago
:)  I'd thought about that, but as I posted the measurements in as many formats as I could, I thought it'd be overkill.
Great instructable, a thought , these are pressurised so getting fuel in MUST be under pressure as well. a valve and tube with a squeese bottle and valve at the at end would theoretically work. An outer wall with space would let you add water which would cool it and let it burn at a slower rate (simmer)The tapped rivets you want used to be sold everywhere now hard to get (aircraft parts today), that is due to new window/door techniques, which no longer use them. you could JB weld a nut inside the stove, just wax/oil the bolt and get a tiny amount inside the thread of the nut, then put inside the thing before assemble (so if you mess up you haven't done all the work yet), then after its dry and ready complete assembly. Use brass nut bolt for ease of use later(no oxidation)
Javin007 (author)  spark master5 years ago
You know, I had not even CONSIDERED the fact that they're pressurized, thus a delivery system would have to counter that pressure.  I can't believe that didn't dawn on me.  Either way, I've pretty much given up on the refueling on-the-fly idea, as I've found there's virtually nothing I can't cook (while camping) that requires more than the 30 minute timeframe.  Even with couple of the disposable aluminum pans I've managed to cook ribs for 6 hours so they're falling off the bone by coming along and replacing the fuel whenever it runs out.  (The heat in the pans is sufficient to continue the cooking until I refill.)
Wow -- you did an amazing job. I'm impressed and inspired. (Nice pup, too.)
r-shippy5 years ago
Great vid have been playing with the penny stove myself and must agree with the idea of small jets and more of them and correct spacing and direction . I have a full wind guard that covers halve the pot and find it works like a chimney. keep up the good work people!!!
axial6 years ago
globguy6 years ago
dude this is totally awesome
Javin007 (author)  globguy6 years ago
Thanks! Plz 2 do teh vote!
minimalista6 years ago
VERY NICE!!! Excuse me but a alcohol stove how much time it takes for make boiling a cup of water? thanks bye!
Javin007 (author)  minimalista6 years ago
This will completely depend on the heat generated from the stove (which I'm currently doing experiments with.) Generally, if it's JUST the single cup of water, it would only take a few minutes.
I like what you are trying to do. I happen to be starting a business that will be marketing these soda can stoves in stores. I thought you might find what I have done interesting. I noticed all the same design flaws with most soda can stoves as you. I took mine a bit further in the area of efficiency by using a rivet nut to completely seal off the container and using more holes that are smaller. Seems to be a better fuel to air mixture for efficient combustion. I think you will like what I did for priming. With my stove design it allows for a mere 1 ml or less of fuel to prime. I have found denatured alcohol to be the cleanest and hottest. Also as far as measuring fuel I use a 10 ml syringe I get at the drug store for .25 cents and a small 4 oz fuel bottle. Anyway the site is: www.keyholestoves.com Check it out. Hope it gives you some good ideas. Keep on inventing!
Javin007 (author)  pastprimitive6 years ago
Since detonating my stove (test in step 2) I've been trying to come up with a more efficient way of fueling/burning. I too came to the conclusion that more/smaller holes was the answer, but I'm limited to the thumbtacks that I have, which make painfully large holes. I've also found the importance of the holes being evenly spaced, and even the direction they've been punched makes a huge difference. I'd love to know what you're using to make your vent holes. Your priming method is simply brilliant. I will have to implement this in my next stove since my last one was sacrificed to science. (But to be fair, I won't put it in this instructable, as that does make your product unique.) Now, I think there's but one more issue to figure out and the stove would be perfect. This is refueling. I'd considered maybe creating two SMALLER stoves so they could be swapped out/refueled, but this could be quite dangerous. The only solution that would make sense would be to somehow feed fuel into the stove while it's running. Unfortunately, I've yet to find a viable solution here, as JB Weld is only good up to 500 degrees F, and as you said, these stoves get considerably hotter than this. (Which is why I put the rack pin "nubs" on the outside instead of the inside.) I've experimented with tube-fed from the side (additional holes, more flames, unsafe) and even tried a wicking method from below (much, much fire). At the moment, I'm pretty much out of ideas on the refueling thing. Thanks for the comment, and great addition to the stove!
Sabata Javin0076 years ago
I've found that a plain ol' sewing needle works quite well for making the holes. Hold it about 5-6mm from the tip with pliers or a hemostat otherwise the needle may bend and/or break. I liked to make about 2 dozen holes in my stoves and got some pretty decent burn times using very little fuel. Unfortunately I've misplaced my old stove notes and can't give any specifics. BTW, I had one of my very first alcohol stoves blow apart on me several years ago. Luckily, I had only a very small amount of fuel (about a teaspoon) in it for testing, it was on cement and I'd surrounded the stove with a barrier, just in case.
Javin007 (author)  Sabata6 years ago
Yep. I've been doing experiments along these very lines. I've found that a standard penny stove doesn't quite work in this build. Read the newly added step (when I get it up there) to see the status.
Here is what I have concluded about detonating stoves. I have yet to have this problem once. And I believe it comes from too large of holes or an uncapped fuel fill hole which will allow oxygen back into the stove which will result in detonation. If you don't have these things it's virtually impossible for the oxygen level to rise to the point of detonation inside the stove. Unless of course you found a way to force oxygen inside.
Again, it's been several years since this happened so I'm going from memory here. I have a couple theories* but can't say for certain why the stove "popped." What I do know for sure is that the filler hole was closed off with a nut J-B Welded to the inside and a screw outside. Also, the holes were made with a small needle using the method I described above, so they definitely were not too large.

(*) Following some others' leads, I did not J-B Weld the two halves together. I also didn't bother to punch holes in the lower portion of the can as shown here almost halfway down the page.
Don Johnston's Photon Stove

I suppose that vapors and pressure built up but were not able to vent to the outer chamber and escape out the jets. Since the two halves were not epoxied together, they blew apart when the pressure got to a certain level.

Rather than only punching holes and trying the stove without glue to prove the pressure theory, I erred on the side of caution and punched holes and glued the stove as well.
I am glad to help. feel free to include the primer pan in the instructable as long as you give me some credit with a link to my site. I am not really after people who have time, desire, and interest in building the stoves themselves. So I am not too worried about it. I am marketing mostly towards physical retail locations and people who do not want to take the time to build. But thanks for the sensitivity. My secret weapons in producing awesome vent holes is a combination of 3 things. First I created a template by cutting out a bottom of a soda can right up against where it starts to bend inwards, and than cutting out the middle concave part. I than make 4 cuts up the inward wall to allow for expansion so it fits all the way down on the targeted soda can bottom. And than flange it out with a full can of soda. Then I create 24 holes. Here is the awesome simple part. I use sewing pins, the kind with the round nub of plastic, and than I snip off the tip so that it's about a half inch long. I then take this to a vice, other hard metal surface, and very carefully (as not to smash my fingers) I pound the non point end of the pin i just cut off. then I take this to my drill press and mount it in that with just about 1/8" sticking out. maybe a little more. The trick here is to put it between the teeth of the press, (Hence the pounding the non pointy-end flat, of course not too flat, we need strength) not the middle, as the middle typically will not accommodate such a small diameter shaft. Than you can go to town pushing it straight down into your target soda can, Hopefully it goes without saying... Don't turn on the drill press as you are doing this. And it will make beautiful small holes every time and without killing your thumbs. As far as the refueling issue, and exploding issue I have two solutions that I like. To avoid explosions I find that a rivet nut and a small thumb screw make a great fill hole. And the plus is that since you have a tight seal while running, and hopefully by now smaller holes:) combustion seems to have an impossible time happening in the stove itself. I haven't done a scientific study, but I believe the small jet holes for whatever reason just plain don't allow enough air in the stove at any given time to allow combustion as long as you have the fuel screw in when you light it. The only slightly dangerous experience I had was when I made my holes even smaller than what you saw, and the pressure built up too much and popped the top. I think it's that penny you use to seal your fuel hole, it just needs to be a tighter seal. You can pick up a rivet nut gun from harbor freight tools if you have one in your area for like $16-$25 bucks that includes aluminum rivets. I highly recommend the purchase. Such a handy tool. Now the refueling issue I believe has a simple solution. I think the real problem lies in not being able to transport your stove with fuel in it. Now of course I can't do that yet with my model either. but I am working on a that fits over the top of my stove, and puts a water-tight sel on it, effectively making it so you could top the stove off with fuel, cap it, pack it with you, and when you want to use it pull it out and light it up, burn as long as you want, and then blow it out, and recap it once cooled. Plus now you don't necessarily need a fuel bottle depending on trip length. My stove holds 2 oz of fuel and that gives about 20-40 minutes of burn time depending on lots of factors. So I find that more than enough time for me, but of course I could always make it an ounce or two bigger to extend the burn time.
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