Introduction: Side Burner Can Stove
This is a side burner aluminum can stove. It combines several different designs I've seen online, with a couple touches of my own. I own several commercial backpacking stoves; the one I'll show you in this tutorial weighs significantly less than all of them. Anyone who has gone on an overnight camping trip knows that saving weight is crucial to being able to hike or ride comfortably. This stove is very lightweight, usually weighing less than 15 grams, even with tape. The wide mouth makes filling this stove with fuel much easier than a conventional penny stove. The side burners make it so that this stove doesn't need a stand, after the unit has "heated up", the pot can be set directly on the stove's top. The larger version of the stove made with Fosters cans comes out to about 25 grams.
I actually carry two of these with me so I can cook two things at once, which is great for cooking actual meals. The set that I use consists of a larger higher output stove paired with a smaller lower output stove. I have found that this combination is good for making full meals. I can boil a pot of water, while heating something else up at the same time. The stove set is about 37 grams total, making it incredibly lightweight. I carry fuel in a separate container for both stoves and only pour the amount I need.
Be careful when making and using this tool, always be safe when dealing with fire.
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Step 1: Tools & Materials
These are the tools and materials needed to complete this project.
T-Pin or Thumbtack
Scrap Wood (1.5" thick)
Aluminum Cans! (2 or 3)
Aluminum or Copper Tape
Step 2: Cut Filling Hole
Using a utility knife, carefully cut around the inside edge of the bottom of the can. BE CAREFUL. This can be tricky, take care not to cut yourself. I always put in a fresh blade for this and I find it makes it much easier. After you have cut a nice deep grove around the inside edge (1-2 passes), push the blade in and cut a slit along the groove you've made. Using the slit as a starting point, the bottom of the can should be fairly easy to pop out. I sometimes use a flathead screwdriver to help enlarge the slit and push the bottom in.
Step 3: Poke Burner Holes
I made templates which make this step super easy. Download them in the "Tools and Materials" step. Just wrap them around the can, then poke holes on all the marks! I poke my holes about 1/8" from the top edge. When you tape the template to the can, space it about 1/8" from the top edge of the can. This will ensure that all the burner holes are straight and evenly spaced.
Step 4: Cut Bottom and Top
This is where the scrap wood, loose blade, and clamp come into play. Any board or boards that are 1.5" thick will work. I just clamp the blade down to the board against the table. This makes cutting the bottom and top out super easy, and they come out straight every time. Just rotate the can against the blade.
Step 5: Inside Wall
First, you need to cut off a flat piece from one of the cans you have already used. There should be a straight side from where you cut the top or bottom out. This can be used to make your initial measurements. First cut the strip down to 2 1/4" tall, I use one edge of the template to make these measurements. You are much likely to get better results if you cut this part with a straight edge. The closer your lines are to being perfectly parallel, the better the wall will seal into the top and bottom. Next, I lay the template over and cut it to the width, which is 7 5/8". I make two guide marks for cutting each slit, then use a pair of scissors to cut them. Finally, mark the holes for the fuel to pass through into the wall. I do this by laying the template over the part, then pressing a pen into the center of the circle. The holes can be pretty, or you can just cut little notches out at at the bottom.
When "linking" the wall together into a circle, put the tabs on the center of the circle. This will keep them from sticking out.
Step 6: Can Stretching
Pressing the cans together is the hardest part. There are a couple tricks for making it a little easier, but it can still be pretty tough. In my experience, "can stretching" has been quite successful. This is done by taking an extra can (a full one won't crush while your working) and placing it in the cut side of the TOP of your stove and making a swirling motion. After a minute or two of "swirling" press the (full) can directly into the TOP part of the stove. As you can see in the image for this step, if you look carefully, the can is stretched slightly. This makes fitting together all the parts MUCH easier.
Step 7: Can Crimping (Optional)
If you are having a lot of trouble fitting your TOP and BOTTOM together, a series of crimps can be made which makes it a little easier. Be careful though not to make them too large. The problem with these is they can create dents in the side part which can create leaks in the finished stove. Taping the stove in the final step can fix these dents, as long as they aren't too big.
Step 8: Pressing Together
Place the Inside Wall in the BOTTOM of the stove, with the holes at the bottom. Then align the top and carefully press the parts together. This is a lot easier said than done, but be patient. Don't worry about the inside all too much until you get the top and bottom to start sliding together. Once they start to slide together, make sure the inside wall is aligned with the top as it gets pressed completely together. It should fit in the groove.
Step 9: Remove Branding (Optional)
You can use steel wool to remove the paint if you want your stove to be raw aluminum.
Step 10: Tape (Optional, Sometimes Required)
If you did a really good job of pressing your cans together, you might not need to do this. I usually do it anyway; it adds maybe three extra grams to the stove's total weight.
Taping the top and bottom together ensures they are sealed together well. If you have any dents, they need to be taped over so they don't leak. Any leaks will also make a flame, just like the burner holes do.
Step 11: Using Your Stove
1. Fill the stove with fuel in the center
2. Light the stove (matches are easiest to use)
3. Allow your stove to heat up (roughly 60 seconds)
4. Place your pot or pan on the stove top
6. Remove your pot or pan from stove
*Be sure the bottom of your pot of pan hasn't been lit!
8. Cover the stove to extinguish (It can be smothered, can't be blown out)
I use Denatured Alcohol. It can be bought at Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot. Pretty much any kind of hardware store. Its usually with the paint strippers and thinners.
When lighting your stove, it is necessary to let the stove heat up for about a minute. When it's first lit, only the center opening will burn. You will know its ready for cooking use when the flames spread through the burner holes. If you set the pot on the stove too early, it will actually extinguish the stove. This may take a little getting used to.
The only downside I have experienced with this stove is that fuel condensates on the bottom of the pot. This can be a problem because when you remove the pot the fuel which has condensed on the bottom lights and burns for several seconds. Basically, when you pick up your pot off the stove, a small flame lights on the bottom of the pot. KEEP THIS IN MIND when using the stove! Make sure you use the stove in a safe, well ventilated area, with nothing flammable within the vicinity. It is a good habit to make sure your fuel container is secured and clear from your cooking area before lighting your stove. I like to use a stone surface so I can just set the pot down anyway. Be careful when making and using this tool, always be safe when dealing with fire.
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