Introduction: Simple Ultralight Alcohol Stove

Picture of Simple Ultralight Alcohol Stove


Who likes cooking? Who likes cooking using heavy stuff? If you do, turn back now! This instructable has been done by several other well qualified people who have been the inspiration for me to do this one. I have made a few modifications to the processes which have made it simpler for me. After practicing a few, I can bang one out in about 10 minutes. Also, you can check out this really cool Heineken Can Stove: Penny Stove

Ingredients - 2 Empty Fosters Beer Cans
1 Full Fosters Beer Can - for stretching out the bottom piece of our stove
Several Cotton Balls - This will help wick the fuel vapors up to the top of the stove
Razor Blade
2 pieces of wood - for clamping the razor blade between while you're scoring the cans
Pair of scissors to cut aluminum can
Hammer and Nail
1 Banana - for a snack while you work.
Bananas are good for you; they prevent cramps. No one likes cramps, and that's a fact.

Step 1: Step 1 - Scoring the Can

Picture of Step 1 - Scoring the Can

Clamp the razor between the boards on a counter. You can use 1x4's or something similar. I found that something about 1.8 inches works well. Other people have suggested using a book to hold the razor in place, but I have found that it's more difficult to maintain a straight line while scoring the can. Keeping a straight line while scoring the can is extremely important.

So place your 1st empty can next to the razor and spin it so you get a decent groove from the razor. You don't need to penetrate the can, just score it well.

Follow the same instructions with the second can.

Don't eat your banana yet, you haven't worked hard enough to enjoy it yet.

Step 2: Step 2 - Cutting and Separating the Bottom From the Can

Picture of Step 2 - Cutting and Separating the Bottom From the Can

Take your scissors and puncture the can near the top. The can is stronger here and this will prevent you from denting the can. Be careful, the edges of the can will be really sharp.

Slowly cut down the side of the can till you get to the score mark that you made with the razor. Be careful not to cut past the score mark though. Once you get there, the bottom of the can should separate from the rest rather easily, leaving you with a very evenly cut can bottom.

Step 3: Step 3 - Stretching the Stove Bottom

Picture of Step 3 - Stretching the Stove Bottom

In order for the stove to work well, there needs to be a tight fit between the bottom and the top. It doesn't matter which piece of can you use for the bottom, just designate one and mark it somehow so you won't get them mixed up. Take the full can of Foster's and use it to stretch your newly designated bottom piece of stove. It doesn't take long, maybe just a minute to fit the bottom of the full can into your empty can. This will ensure you can get the pieces together without using a shim, but still have a snug fit.

Step 4: Step 4 - Putting It Together

Picture of Step 4 - Putting It Together

By now, you should have two evenly cut can bottoms, one of which has been designated the bottom of the stove and stretched out a bit. Take your cotton balls and place them in your stove bottom. Place the top of the stove over the bottom and they should go together with minimal effort. You may need a shim if it is too difficult to get them together. This can be fashioned from a bit of one of the other cans.

Once they are together, you can press down on the stove evenly until you hear a satisfying "click!". It's the best thing ever.

If it looks uneven, just press a bit on the higher side and it should go in.

Almost done. Now you can eat your banana. You've earned it. Doesn't it feel good to eat a banana?

Step 5: Step 5 - Put Holes in Your Stove

Picture of Step 5 - Put Holes in Your Stove

Once you've eaten your banana, you can get a hammer and a nail and put 4 holes in your stove. I used a medium sized nail and stretched them out a bit. Also, put several holes close together in the middle for your fuel fill holes. You should cover these with a quarter when you light your stove. This will make your stove burn fuel more efficiently.

I have experimented with more holes in my stoves and found that this is more efficient than having lots of small holes. I used about 1.25 ounces to boil 2.5 cups of water and keep it boiling for 5 to 7 minutes.

Also, in order to get the alcohol hot, I use a small tin lid from a coffee can or something to put your stove on and add a negligible amount of fuel to and light that after you put your cooking fuel in the stove. This will heat the alcohol in your stove and get it vaporizing so it will burn nicely.

You can also decorate your stove so people will know you put a little love into everything you do.

I hope this is as helpful for you as other instructables were helpful for me!


cclark13 (author)2009-06-26

do you like put the cotton in then fill it with tiki oil or rubbing alcohol

cclark13 (author)cclark132009-06-29

whenever i put the unopened can in the botton cut of it always gets stuck

cclark13 (author)cclark132009-07-01

never minnd i thought of a better idea that i havent tried yet. okay after you cut the bottom of the can off fill it with water then get something that covers the top of it then wrap a rubber band over the top you chose then back around the bottom it should be tight then freeze it and the water expand and stretches it

Gelfling6 (author)cclark132013-02-05

Now, there's an idea! Ice expansion.. I think you just solved my splitting side problem! (and here it's winter in New England.. Time to make the local groundhog's prediction to use!) (we have Chuckles, in Essex, CT. totally different prediction to Punxsutawney Phil, out in PA.)

J@50n (author)cclark132009-07-07

use either, or use some heet. i use 91% alcohol in my stove, you can check the instructables out if you want its way different.

wdwdash (author)2012-05-26

After drinking the two cans of Fosters and even oiling the can being stretched, I was unable to get the cans apart. I ended up destroying both cans in attempting to separate them. My buzz just added to my rage!

nfisher2 (author)2011-11-16

you can put a half a can to bern stiks in to make the vapers

A flyin muffin (author)2011-03-12

I have all of the supplies except for the banana, so I will have to wait until I can find one. Where did you find yours?

firish (author)2010-03-14

A good component other than cotton balls or insulation is perlite.

dtrane33 (author)2010-01-31

 Or if you are worried about piercing the can, after it is emptied you can fill it about a half or fourth with water and freeze it.

D4NG3RNL (author)2009-08-04

Yeah, I wanna know the same b4 making this... HOW much cotton should I stuff in?

To much and its to dense to soak up enough alcohol
Not enough and the alcohol just flows out...

Btw, would lighter fuel (that stuff that you pour into old fashioned Zippo lighters) also work with this?


HAL 9000 (author)D4NG3RNL2010-01-13

 Don't use lighter fuel. Its expensive, smelly, really expensive, and doesn't burn as well as ethanol. Use "Denatured Alcohol" from the hardware store, you can probably get a gallon for what you pay for a small bottle of naphthalene fuel.

junits15 (author)D4NG3RNL2009-09-29

you cant use anything oil based, and you dont really need the cotton, if you want to three balls should work, like in the pictures. oh and don't score the can while its full it will burst sending soda/beer everywhere. (I have experience) And one last tip, a can filled with plaster of paris works better as a strecher.

junits15 (author)2009-12-21

fosters cans make good pots too, use a saftey can opener on the top and it will make a lid

fruitkid101 (author)2009-04-02

how do you light the stove and will rubbing achohol work?

junits15 (author)fruitkid1012009-09-29

you can put the stove on a primer pan with some alcohol on it, and light that the rest shold happen on its own.

You light it once the alcohol has been put inside the stove. The fumes will be coming out of the holes that you have made which is what will light. Rubbing Alcohol burns a lot dirtier than Denatured Alcohol. Also, it ignites easier. I think you could use Rubbing Alcohol, but I will not use it in my stove.

Batryn (author)2009-04-15

Can you use white gas?

thatoneguydavid (author)Batryn2009-06-21

there is no need for white gas. the best fuel for alcohol stoves is HEET - Gas-line Antifreeze & Water Remover. it is about $1.50 a pint and it is 99% methanol. And you can get it almost anywhere. gas stations, supermarkets, parts stores. so if you are doing a long trek and you make stops in towns you can always fuel up with no problem. As far as energy, 1 or 2 oz can usually boil 2 cups of water.

Sabata (author)thatoneguydavid2009-06-29

Yep, HEET works great. If I may, a bit of clarification to add to that advice. There is also gas line antifreeze made from isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to get the methanol variety. It seems to burn better and cleaner IME. IIRC, methanol HEET comes in a yellow bottle and Iso-HEET's bottle is red.

JR737 (author)Sabata2009-09-27

Methanol is VERY poisonous even if just a little is consummed. It can also be poisonous with skin contact. Isopropyl is very safe and if you so desired, you could drink it...

thatoneguydavid (author)Sabata2009-06-29

I agree, sorry for not clarifying. (I put the yellow bottle in my video to try to point people in the right direction)

junits15 (author)Batryn2009-07-09

noooo wite gas = possible explosion

J@50n (author)Batryn2009-07-07

or even use 91% alcohol, thats what i use.

D4NG3RNL (author)2009-08-04

A tip here: Dont empty/drink it yet! cut the groove first, then drink it.. its easier when there is still pressure on the can :) if you do it with care the drink shouldn't come out!

evilkidjr (author)2009-07-09

how tight should you pack the cottonballs

revs (author)2009-06-25

This style of stove also works without any cotton or fiberglass inside. I have made a few. If you put smaller holes around and more of them, it is a more effective stove. This I learned through trial and error. Good instructable, though.

RoBear613 (author)2009-05-17

Good tip

blodefood (author)2009-03-29

If you use fibreglass insulation batting instead of cotton balls, you can use the stove over and over again. I tried cotton balls once and when the fuel runs out, the cotton balls just burn making a charred mess.

Good point!

canetoadarrior (author)2009-02-25

Yep thats about all Fosters beer is good for, hope you tipped it out and didn't drink it..

rancheroburrito (author)2009-02-25

Hmmmm..... interesting..... Using a full can to stretch the bottom of the stove should make an easier job of it. You can use a bit more force with a full can of beer than you can with an empty one....that being said, I didn't really need to stretch more than the lip of the bottom I didn't really need to use enough force to get them stuck together. If you do get them stuck together you can put a small hole in the center of the stove bottom with a thumbtack and then you should be able to get them apart, hopefully, with out blowing anything up, losing an eye, or destroying any light fixtures....but of course doing it the other way is probably more fun!

flakeycakey (author)2009-02-24

Whoa rad, what a nice space-ship like shape it makes. Can't wait to make mine and boil up some stew! Thanks!!

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