Introduction: Ultralight Backpacking Stove Only 3/8oz. (video Demo)

Picture of Ultralight Backpacking Stove Only 3/8oz.  (video Demo)
This stove has been made many times by many people. I have made several of them and I use it as part of my Ultralight Kitchen so I thought I would show how I do it.

Here is a link to my kitchen kit (

The best fuel I have found for this stove is HEET - Gas-line Antifreeze & Water Remover. It is about $1.50 a pint and it is 99% methanol. You can get it almost anywhere, gas stations, supermarkets, parts stores. So if you are doing a long trek and you make stops in town to re-stock, you can always fuel up with no problem. As far as energy, 1 or 2 oz can usually boil 2 cups of water.

To use the stove, pour HEET in to the center section and light. Soon the methanol in the external chamber will vaporize and start to escape from the jet holes. These streams of vaporized methanol will ignite and will continue to burn until the fuel is gone. Below is a demo of this.

Step 1: Gather Materials & Tools

To build this stove you will only need 2 aluminum cans. Usually I use a Guinness can for the bottom section and a coke can for the top and ring. I have found that the Guinness cans are a little heavier and that they stretch better. In this instruction I use 2 coke cans. If you decide to make this stove I would suggest using a Guinness can for the bottom.

The tools you will need are as follows:

To score and cut the cans:
  • Utility knife
  • Large "C" clamp
  • Razor blade
  • Various pieces of wood to be used as spacers.
To help with stretching the can;
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Small piece of plywood
To puncture the jet holes
  • 1 push-pin
  • hammer

Step 2: Scoring and Cutting the First Can

Picture of Scoring and Cutting the First Can

This set up is to make the score line on the the first can.

1. Clamp a razor to your workbench 1.-1/4" above the surface of the bench.
2. With the can upright, slowly rotate the can against the razor with only slight pressure.
3. Once you have made several passes around move to the next step
4. Use the clamped razor to carefully puncture the can along the score.

Be ready with a sink or bucket or be able to get outside quickly. (things get messy here)

5. Carefully work your thumb in to the puncture as shown in the picture, and slowly work your
way around the can. The can should separate along the score line if it was done properly.

Step 3: Stretch the Bottom Section

Picture of Stretch the Bottom Section

Use the remaining unopened can to pre-stretch the top and bottom sections.

1. Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on the bottom of the full can.
2. Carefully insert the bottom of the full can in to the cut bottom from the first can.
3. Using a small piece of plywood or the like, apply firm and even pressure to force one can in to the other.
note: Do this step incrementally; Press the can in a little way and let the pressure build up push it back out. then repeat until you can force the can about half way in to the bottom section.

Step 4: Score & Cut the Second Can

Picture of Score & Cut the Second Can

This set up is to make the score line on the the second can.

1. Clamp a razor to your workbench 1-1/8" above the surface of the bench.
2. Score the second can just as you did the first.
3. Use a utility knife to make a score line on the inside ring of the bottom of the can.
4. When the score line has weekend the bottom enough you will be able to push the bottom in to the can.
5. Use the clamped razor to carefully puncture the can along the score.
6. Carefully work your thumb in to the puncture as shown in the picture, and slowly work your
way around the can. The can should separate along the score line if it was done properly.

Step 5: Prep the Top Section for Assembly

Picture of Prep the Top Section for Assembly

It is necessary to reduce the diameter of the top section slightly, even though the bottom section was stretched.

1. Cut five or six 1/2" slits in to the side wall of the top section. Space them evenly around the circumference.
2. At the top of each slit use a hole punch to make a relief for the displaced aluminum.
note: the holes are very important. Without them a sharp point will develop and this will spit the bottom section when you try to assemble the stove.

Step 6: Cut Out the Ring Strip

Picture of Cut Out the Ring Strip

1. Use a pair of scissors to carefully cut the side wall from one of the leftover cans.
2. Use a strait edge to true up one side with a utility knife.
3. Cut the strip to 1.5" wide. Take care to make the second cut parallel to the first.
4. Trim the 1.5" wide strip to 7"
5. Cut notches in to one side of the strip as shown below.
6. Cut a slit half way across each end so that they may be linked together. See picture for detail.

Step 7: Assembly of the Ring

Picture of Assembly of the Ring

Glue the ring together:
1. Do a dry fit to see that the ring links properly and that it fits in to the groove in the bottom section
2. Mix a small amount of JB weld epoxy adhesive and apply it to the end of the ring strip.
3. Link the ring together and tape it while you move to the next step.

Step 8: Assembly of the Stove

Picture of Assembly of the Stove

1. Apply JB weld to the groove on both cans and to the inside of the bottom section.
2. Place the ring, with the notches down, in to the bottom section.
3. Vary carefully insert the top section in to the bottom section.
4. Slowly and carefully squeeze the sections together until the ring is seated firmly in the upper and lower rings.

Step 9: Jetting the Stove

Picture of Jetting the Stove
Use a push-pin to make 16 evenly spaced jet holes in the top of the stove.

To insure that they are evenly placed, follow the pic below.

Once the jets have been added and the epoxy allowed to cure over night, the stove is finished and ready to be used. If you like you can use a piece of 200 grit sand paper to buff the paint off and leave a cool brushed finish.

I have found that 16 jets is a fairly good number, more than that and the efficiency of the stove goes down. In the video below is a comparison between a stove with 24 jets (left) and one with 16 jets (right). As you can see the stove with 16 jets is burning in with a more focused pattern and the flame is an even blue for the most part.


rpotts2 (author)2015-08-18

You can cut the can easier if you fill it about 2/3 of water, then let it freeze solid. gives a good amount of support for that razor blade.

n0hyd (author)2015-06-08

Question - once the jets get going, can you just put the Fosters pot right on top of the stove, or do you need a stand?

rpotts2 (author)n0hyd2015-08-18

A stand is just really helpful to keep things balanced. this stove though efficient, is also VERY lightweight. you either need a flat level surface, or just make a stand for it. hardware cloth works well.

Steelyard4 (author)2014-05-07

I'm making this in class.

Bron98 (author)2014-03-08

It was the fuel. got some heet an it works gr8!! puts out a lot of heat for its small size!! thanks for the gr8 instructable!!!

Bron98 (author)2014-03-04

hey i luv this stove! but i had 1 Q.... i am using prestone gas-line antifreeze and its 1st ingredient is methanol..... but wen i light it the flame is mostly yellow, different from your video.... and once the flames start coming out of the jets they all kindv half way join with the middle flame..... any idea what the deal is?

thatoneguydavid (author)Bron982014-03-04

not sure, it could be the fuel. Or it could be the size of jets/number of jets, or it could be that the seal between the inner ring and the rest of the stove is not holding pressure.

Bron98 (author)thatoneguydavid2014-03-05

alryt thanks! i think it might be the fuel.....

OldShotgunYoungShooter (author)2012-12-05

I have found staples ork better than slits to jion the inside ring.

profjaykay42 (author)2011-06-10

Instead of a JB weld and tape, I used a paper clip. Just thought that that would be a good cheap and simple alternative.

begnbezzy (author)2009-06-29

how cool whats the health risk in using HEET to cook on ?

Sabata (author)begnbezzy2009-06-29

I can't say for sure, but the risks should be minimal. HEET is simply methanol and people cook on alcohol stoves all over the world. Many boats have alcohol stoves as well. AAMOF, look at a bottle of denatured or solvent alcohol in the paint section of your local hardware store or home improvement center. They often say for use in marine and/or camp stoves on the label.

Sabata (author)Sabata2009-06-29

One more thing. Here is a list of international fuel names for reference.

countable (author)Sabata2009-06-30

Cooking on methanol is no problem at all. Drinking it, however, is.

Kelticpaddler (author)countable2011-05-17

Oh cr*p! I used to fire breathe with methanol!!

NOW you tell me!!

countable (author)Kelticpaddler2011-05-18

If you used it for firebreathing, I can't imagine you swallowed much of it (it probably tasted foul anyway).

Most firebreathers I knew drank milk before they started, to line their stomaches.

begnbezzy (author)Sabata2009-06-30

OTAY seems clear tryin it Flea Mkts seem have overstock on the HEET see if I can find larger can to try. Anyone ever try cooking w different fuels on the ole fashion campstove by coleman ? You know the kind you pump the canister w a plunger then lite?

Doko (author)begnbezzy2009-07-05

HEET is nearly pure Methanol. If you just burn it, it is OK. But Methanol IS A VERY POWERFULL POISON. IF INGESTED OR ABSORBED BY THE SKIN, LITLE AMOUNTS CAN CAUSE BLINDNESS AND MANY TYPES OF NEUROLOGICAL DAMAGES. An ingestion of just 10ml (10 cubic centimeters) will cause irreversible blindness in 50% of the population if not treated fast. In my oppinion, it is not a smart idea to mix methanol and anything used to prepare food (mainly if there are kids arround). The risk of contamination and/or incidental ingestion is just too big. I don't know if it will work in this case, but ethanol is almost harmless and generates nearly the same amount of heat.

thatoneguydavid (author)Doko2009-07-05

the risk of contaminating your food with the fuel you cook with is very low unless you are quite sloppy, so this warning for me is quite a bit over kill. If anyone is truly concerned i suggest you review the MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the product. it is readily available on line and will answer all of your questions and concerns. I my humble opinion, methanol is no more dangerous than Coleman liquid fuel and it has been widely used for about 90 years. (see its MSDS) As far as skin absorption it will not happen unless you put your hand in a bucket of the stuff. methanol evaporates much much faster than it would ever be absorbed by the skin. I have spilled it on my hands many times with absolutely no ill affect.

If the issue is methanol, one could simply replace it with ethanol. Everclear (or another potable GNS) is available for sale everywhere in the US except Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, and California, and would work as well as Heet.

Doko (author)Algor_Langeaux2009-07-12

Yes, Ethanol is a much safer fuel. It is so safe that I love to ingest some small amounts of it (beer is about 5% Ethanol...). I didn't mention earlier, but the main problem with Methanol is acidental ingestion. Ethanol and Methanol have about the same taste, and the first is component of all alcoholic beverages. People will not drink Coleman fuel, gas or kerosene. The taste and smell of this things are horrible and easy to perceive. But people will drink Methanol and think that there is nothing wrong. Think about a packpac, it is basically a big bag where a lot of things from food to clothes go mixed and shaking in your back for hours. The possibility of fuel leaking from the fuel bottle is very real, mainly if you use an improper bottle (I usually have simple water bottles for fuel). Imagine that some leaked Methanol soak slightly your bread or your dried meat. The taste of this mix is not so bad, the temptation of ingesting it anyway is not small for most of the people... Another posibility is that someone can get confused about botles and drink fuel thinking that it is vodka or some sort of moonshine. A minimum amout of Methanol swallowed will do horrible things in the body if not treated in the next 4 hours (and remember, you can be in a wild area very far from rescue). I live in Brazil and here there is a distilled beverage produced from suggarcane that has a taste very similar with pure Methanol, the Cachassa. Due to this, every year there are hundreds of cases of people poisoned by acidental ingestion of Methanol (mainly alcoholics that find bottles with methanol or people that try to make "moonshine cachassa" and end up distiling Methanol), any brazilian emergency doctor is familiar with this situation. So, just to be in the safe side, go with Ethanol. You don't have to worry if there is fuel leakages or even if any stupid friend prepare a drink with your fuel...

baneat (author)Doko2009-09-05

You know your stuff. I ask if naphtha (coleman's) will work in one of these stoves?

I don't have the credentials to say for certain, but alcohol burners are used for many applications so I would assume there is little risk. Does anyone else have a good way to answer this question?

.Hexx. (author)2011-02-26

Can I make the stove a bit longer for more burn time?

Matrix-technician (author)2010-08-17

So do you just pour the fuel into the center hole?

yes, that all you do. it will do the rest when you light it.

5tinkymouse (author)2010-05-27

 12oz  guinness? or does it matter?

To be honest, I don't remember.  But it does not mater that much.  You can pretty much use any to similarly shaped cans and be in pretty good shape.  The combination I described here is just what i have had good luck with.

Good luck

Radd28 (author)2010-05-14

Saples work better than the glue. One in the top about 3/16'' down and the same on the bottom but 3/16'' up. Use needle nose pliers to compress the legs of the staples to flaten  them after you staple and then just bend the staple top to comform with the radius of the inner circle. You are done and it's permanent and you don't have to mix the epoxy and you don't have to wait for it to dry.

trf (author)2009-06-28

A small hint....i have built 1 of these and a real nuisance in it is the spill of the fuel.It can leak alot through the jet ports. What i have done is added cotton swabs and packed them in.Pour the fuel into the cotton and it keeps it contained and it works just as well.

fn06afranci (author)trf2010-05-10

yeah i had the same problem so i cut off the bottom off another can and used it as a cap to stop it from leaking and to smother it to put it out

zimitt (author)2009-12-06

Thanks for this twist on the can stove. I love the open pit system better than the preheating type. I made mine without the epoxy. I cut the interior wall without cutting the can up the side so I was left with a ring 1.5" high. I then folded the ring to create a tuck to make it fit in the grove in the can bottom. This eliminated the need for gluing the edges. Then the whole thing fit together so perfectly and snug that I didnt need any further glue thanks to your exact measurements.
Thanks again for a great instructable.

thatoneguydavid (author)zimitt2009-12-06

I'm glad you were able to use my instruction as a starting point.  I hope you have a good time using it out on the trail.

junits15 (author)2009-10-28

Where did you buy your heet?
as you can see here  i had a problem.

thatoneguydavid (author)junits152009-10-28

i do not have the issue of being under 18  ..... maybe ask the guy that buys you beer to get you some...ha!  kiding.

Denatured alcohol works well too, you can get that at home improvement stores near the paint thinner.

good luck.

junits15 (author)thatoneguydavid2009-10-29

I think I'll have to do that, because i have bought acetone and al sorts of gluees at lowes without problems, I dont think they will wory to much about denatured alcohol.  I mean its denatured so I'm not planning on drinking any of that any time soon.

Zem (author)2009-09-28

Cool! I have one question though, wouldn't the stove warp a bit with the heat?

thatoneguydavid (author)Zem2009-09-28

it does not warp

Zem (author)thatoneguydavid2009-09-28

Awesome, thanks!

chopstx (author)2009-06-26

i noticed the can is un opened in the last pic., how is that possible?

The can was simply never opened......

oh. whoops. lol

jmeister15 (author)chopstx2009-09-12

Thats why it "gets messy".

chopstx (author)jmeister152009-09-12

Yeah. Dumb me.

jmeister15 (author)2009-09-12

Could you make a grill by putting a cookie cooling sheet thing over a few of these?

I guess you could, but I would not want the extra weight in my pack. And the burn time is only 5-15ish min so you would not be able to grill much. this stove is designed to boil 2 cups of water for rehydrating food.

jeradhoy424 (author)2009-07-27

Is the apoxy neccesary? Could it work fine without using it

baneat (author)jeradhoy4242009-09-05

Not needed, I used superglue

Willmeister (author)2009-09-05

no heet is methanol or how ever u spell that word and rubbing alcohol is 70-99 percent that alcohol that starts with an I methanol can make u go blind

harryji782 (author)2009-07-09

Just to help you out all heet is is rubbing alchol like what u use to clean cuts out with

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