I'm entering this into the Green Design Contest.  If you like what you see, please vote for me!

This instructable ties in very closely with my previous instructable, Snapple, Steel and Green Fire in which the lantern that is the base and heat source for the samovar is built using re-purposed/up-cycled materials.  I will give a high-level overview of the process of building the lantern, but for details, I encourage you to look at the instructable referenced above.

In Snapple, Steel and Green Fire, one of the comments (left by shizumadrive) asked if the lantern could be used to cook food.  I said I thought yes, but as they say, the devil's in the details.  

The first problem lies in creating a place for the food/drink to sit while it heats.  Although from the top view picture, it would appear that you could just set a small pot on the grill of the lantern, in practice, doing so would cause the carbon dioxide exhaust from the lamp to smother the lamp flame.  Drilling holes in the lantern top could solve this problem, but then part of the purpose of the lantern top was to reduce the level of particulates in the exhaust for the green fire version of the lamp (diboron trioxide).  Holes in the top would limit this aspect of the top's effectiveness.

The second problem is in the efficiency (or lack thereof) of the arrangement.  Although the lantern, being made in part of glass, is reasonably well insulated, the top is not, and that's where we need the efficiency improvements.


Making (and using) the Lantern and Samovar involves hot things and sharp things.  Be careful!  Cut metal is sharp metal.  You will need to exercise caution when cutting and sanding the various pieces you make.  Also, do not heat food or drink using the Green Fire version of this lantern.  The particulate exhaust, (diboron trioxide), will almost certainly get into what you're heating.  While boron is  a suspected ultra-trace nutrient, you're probably getting plenty in your diet already.  To quote Wikipedia "it is necessary in such small amounts that ultrapurified foods and dust filtration of air is necessary to induce boron deficiency."  There is the possibility of large doses having unpleasant side-effects.

That said, I use the non-Green Fire version of the lamp and Samovar inside, and (as long as it it not left unattended), it should be no more dangerous than any other lamp or candle.  Let me reiterate, however - do not leave unattended!

Other thoughts:

Boiling water + hot glass = nothing, apparently.  I started this project with the idea that, worst case scenario, a boil-over could cause the glass lantern body, or even the glass of the alcohol lamp inside, to crack due to thermal stress.  With that in mind, I made the first step of the project a spill tray of sufficient size to hold any alcohol that would spill in such an event.  I then spent a fairly dull hour watching the water boil in the samovar, and repeatedly spurt onto the lantern top and the glass body, but nothing much happened.  The water boiled off the hot surfaces immediately, but that was it.  

My temperature assessing gear is not so sophisticated, but I decided to try to check the glass temperature with a standard digital food thermometer.  The highest reading I got for the glass was 250˚ F.  While this is definitely hot enough to burn your fingers, when you take into account the near-boiling temperature of the water that hits the glass during a spurt (or "bump"), the temperature difference is not really that great - about 40˚ F.  As you will see when you read the glass cutting section of this instructable, this is not enough to propagate a crack through glass, even when a score line has been drawn across the surface.  While the lid of the alcohol lamp inside certainly gets hotter than this, the glass doesn't appear to, as evidenced by the complete lack of charring, or even discoloration of the paper seal inside.  I haven't had a boil over of such magnitude that water reaches the inside of the lantern, but I suspect that in this case as well, there would be no result other than to snuff out the lamp.  Cold water is probably another story.  Don't spill cold water on a hot lantern.

All this said, I would ask, nay implore, that you treat this as you would anything else that you have intentionally set on fire - do not leave unattended!  Do not set water to boil, and then go out to (for example) mow the lawn, take a quick nap, run out to the store, finish off that last fifth of Jim Beam, chase the dragon, or engage in any other activity which absents you, physically or mentally, from the spirit samovar.  This is because it is on fire, you see.

Step 1: Make the Lantern

This is the high-level overview of the lantern project.  For details on building the lantern, and cutting the glass for the lantern body, analogous to the chimney on a kerosene lamp, see Glass, Steel and Green Fire and Bottle cutting: some thoughts.

Snapple or Honest Tea Bottle (tea/juice removed) (or size equivalent e.g. some 10 oz Jelly/Jam jars)
Eden Organic Bean Can - 12 oz. (sans beans) (or size equivalent)
Slightly larger can from Chili/Soup - pull top e.g Campbell's Chunky (sans chili or stuff) (or size equivalent)
4 Socket (Allen-wrench) button-head bolts (M6 X 8mm or equivalent)
4 Hex nuts (M6 or equivalent)
3 6-32 thread X 1" machine screws (must fit standoffs below) 
3 1/4" OD, aluminum, 6-32 thread, round, female/female standoffs/spacers (must fit machine screws above)
1 sampler-sized jelly jar (or equivalent)
lamp wick
methanol (Heet - yellow bottle from an auto supply shop)
or isopropyl alcohol - 91%
acetone/xylene/naptha/other non-polar solvent (optional)
lead-free solder

Utility knife
glass cutter
glass cutting jig
center punch
paper hole punch
electric drill
electric burner/toaster oven (not to be used for food again) and/or
propane or butane torch (optional, depending on patience)
cheapo files
sandpaper (120, 220 and 400 grit)


You will need to cut the glass for the body from an appropriately-sized bottle.  I go into detail on how to do this (at least using my method - there are many others) in the above-referenced instructables.  In essence, remove the top and bottom of the bottle, sand, and set aside.  Although the samovar will be more efficient with a shorter body, I would still encourage a longer one to help preserve the glass during the heating and cooling the lantern undergoes - a longer body = a more gentle heat gradient between the metal base and top, both of which are excellent heat radiators.

Cut the base and top from the cans indicated above.  You will need to make the optional two-tiered top in order for the samovar unit to rest stably on top.  To connect the two can tops into one piece, I used lead-free, general metal solder, melted using a hotplate and a butane torch (for help).  I encourage making the two-tiered base, also to increase stability.

If you are only making this for use as a samovar, the lid is unnecessary.  

The spirit lamp portion is made from a small, sampler-sized jelly/jam jar.  To fit in the lamp, and for safety reasons, I would not recommend going larger than a one-ounce size jar.  The wick is standard, round lamp wick.  As noted before, green fire is pretty, but it ain't fer cookin'.  Don't do it!
<p>Classy lantern and AWESOME instructable. Well done!</p>
Thank you, sir!
<p>Another great instructable, with in-depth scientific steps (which we all appreciate). A suggestion to create a more efficient food preparation device would be to add extra &quot;burners&quot; and remove the glass completely. It would probably work best in a large can, such as industry size. Thanks for the idea!</p>
Yes, I think you are quite correct ... but it just wouldn't be as ... pretty(?) without the glass. Thanks!
This is COOL and slightly steampunk, which I'm all about.
Thanks! I was shooting for that nexus of steampunk and Thunderdome....
I&quot;m from iran and in iran we call this samavar.سماور
That's very interesting. I was only aware of the Russian use of the word. Thank you for the information!
Just when I think your designs can't get any cooler you come up with something even better! Seriously, this is the last update right? Because if you come up with something else impossibly awesome right after I finish this 'ible I think I'll die drowning in lamps and makers remorse...
Wow! Thank you!
After reading your other insts' I thought ... Once upon a time lived a guy who had a love for playing with fire... Then on day !!... Ah ! <br> <br>Great ideas ! Nice project ! <br>Well done too ! <br> <br>Thanks for posting !
Thank you very much! And yes, I made a few homemade fireworks as a kid....

About This Instructable


202 favorites


Bio: I am The Green Gentleman &reg; (TM). (C) The Green Gentleman &reg;. All rights reserved by The Green Gentleman &reg;. We are the corporate entity known as The ... More »
More by The Green Gentleman: Fire from Soap!  Tealight of the Apocalypse The (Mason) Jar-inator! Introducing ... DEATH-A-CORN!
Add instructable to: