Copper Plumbing Alcohol Backpacking Stove




Introduction: Copper Plumbing Alcohol Backpacking Stove

A compact alcohol wick stove made from copper plumbing.

Step 1:

I have cooked quite a few individual meals with this stove and have taken it backpacking. It is a little heavier than the ultralight stoves and It is not as powerful as compressed fuel stoves but I like the fact that it is durable, stable, refillable, and it uses relatively safe, clean burning alcohol; stored in the stove stand itself so I don't have to carry a separate fuel canister.

It is made from fairly standard copper plumbing supplies found at most big box hardware stores.

My personal motto: "If I can't find it at my local hardware store I don't build with it." I hate special order parts!

Step 2: List of Components

(1) Brass 3/8" compression fitting (compression ring and tube nut not needed) Ref. photo red box

(1) 3/8" brass "oil heater" cap

(1) #8 rubber o-ring

(1) fiberglass "Tiki" torch wick

(6) 3/4" copper coated steel pipe hangers

Step 3: List of Components Cont.

(1) 1" dia. copper pipe approx. 1" in length

(1) 1" dia. copper pipe connector fitting with internal stop (an internals stop is a formation at the mid-point of the connector that prevents a pipe from being inserted more than half way into the fitting)

(2) 1" dia. Copper "Stub Out" (It is a 1" dia copper pipe with a reduced 1/2" dia opening at one end and the other end is sealed. Purchased at Home Depot )

(1) 1" dia. copper pipe connector fitting without internal stop

Step 4: Assemble the Fuel Storage Chamber

1. Press the O-ring into the Brass Cap

2. Sweat solder the brass Compression Fitting onto the Stub Out . Instructions on sweating copper pipe fittings can be found elsewhere. It is fairly easy requiring lead free solder, flux, and a propane torch. I won't detail it here.

Important: Just make sure you sweat the fitting onto an empty Stub Out and without the Wick or Cap installed

3. install a "Tiki" Wick into the Stub Out. You will have to pinch it slightly to fit it into the opening of the Compression Fitting.

Make sure it is pushed all the way to the bottom.

4. Trim the Wick to be about 1/2" above the Compression Fitting.

Step 5: Adding Fuel

1. Remove the Wick and fill the Stub Out with Alcohol

Critical Safety Note

Only fill this stove with rubbing Alcohol! (Isopropyl or Ethyl) Both are sold at most drug stores.
(Ethyl is recommended because it will not leave soot on the bottom of cookware like isopropyl.)
Their explosive properties make them too dangerous to use in this type of stove.

2. Reinstall the Wick; pushing it down flush with the top of the Compression Fitting. This will allow the cap to be installed.

3. Screw the Cap and O-ring assembly onto the Compression Fitting.

Note: If you choose to fill the stove at this point, the cap should be in place for the remaining steps. Photos in the next steps are shown without a cap because they were done with an empty stove.

Step 6: Construct Base Legs and Pan Support Arms

1. Remove the sharp pointed ends of all (6) Pipe Wire Hangers. Cut about 1/4" off each end with a hack saw and lightly file the ends to smooth (two ends per hanger - twelve cuts total).

'Important: Make sure to remove the same amount of material from all hanger ends so that length of all twelve ends are the same.

2. Set aside (3) of the hangers at this point. They are the Base Legs and are complete as is.

3. Bend the remaining (3) hangers as shown in the bottom photo to form the Pan Support Arms .
The lengths, and angles are approximate. For each hanger, the resultant angle between the large looped end and the two short ends should be 90 degrees. The goal is to have the large looped ends horizontal (to hold a pot or pan) when the short ends are inserted vertically in the stove top.

Important: It is critical that the lengths and angles of the bends are consistent for all three hangers. You want all of these parts to be as identical as possible to ensure that a pot or pan place on the stove is level.

Step 7: Construction Complete

The hangers on the left in the picture below are the Pan Support Arms.
The hangers on the right in the picture are the Base Legs

At this point the fabrication of the stove components is complete.

The next steps detail the assembly of the stove for use.

Step 8: Installation of the Base Legs

1. Slide the Connector Fitting (the one without the internal stop) onto the tapered end of the Stub Out . Slide it on until it just starts to be retained on the full diameter of the stub out.

2. Insert the ends of each Base Leg into the Connector Fitting. Slightly squeeze the leg ends together to get all three legs to fit in the fitting. Note: the spring force of the leg ends will help to "self center" the the legs in the proper splayed position.

3. Place the stove on a flat surface an push down on the Stub Out to fully seat the stub out in the Connector Fitting. The leg ends will be trapped between the tapered end of the stub out and the fitting. This keeps the legs horizontal; preventing them from "folding up" and tipping the stove.

Note: The holes drilled into the sides of the Connector Fitting are optional, and are not described here. They were added to store the legs when the stove is disassembled. The photos on the last page show the base legs in the stored position using these holes.

Step 9: Installation of Connector Fitting and Small Pipe Section

1. Slide the Connector Fitting (the one with the internal stop) onto the Stub Out it should stay in place without soldering.

2. Slide the Small Pipe Section into the fitting. This will make the inside diamater the proper size to retain the ends of the Pan Support Arms.

Step 10: Insert Pan Support Arms

1. Slide each of the Pan Support Arms into the gap between the "flats" on the brass Compression Fitting and the Small Pipe Section

Step 11: Assembly Complete

At this point your stove is assembled and is ready to use.

Remove the Cap and light.

Step 12: More Photos in the Stored Position

These are some pictures of the stove in the stored position.

Hopefully you can figure it out from the shots.

Hint: Make sure the hole sets are offset verticallly so the when the ends of the legs are pushed in they do not collide with the ends from the opposing legs. Photo (3)

Note: An elastic "pony tail hair band" is shown holding the legs and arms together at the top.

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    7 years ago

    How long is the Stub Out?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great design. Will like to know the time to heat water and how long it last lighted. I like it because it can be buried on the ground, the wind will not affect the flame, no tilting and heat concentrates inside the hole on the ground. I would make the support arms smaller so it stays under the pot since copper likes to absorb heat and dissipate it. great lost of heat. I will be working on this. great idea.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    What a very clever innovation that is not only simple to build, but is also cost effective at the same time. Thanks for sharing this brilliant idea with us. I never knew copper plumbing could be used for cooking purposes, if twisted a little here and there. I think I would disregard the cons of this wick stove too like the fact of it being heavier and less powerful, as long as it has benefits like durability, stability and there isn't a need to carry a separate fuel canister.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I love this idea and plan on making one. However a couple of questions are left unanswere. First, as others asked, how long does fuel work and burn? Will it evaporate in time when sealed or do you take extra fuel (alcohol)? how long to rpidly boil water? Cool down time after? Please advise...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    would help if you could take some measurements and more detailed pictures of the holes in the bottom for storage. they look necessary for ease of storage. really neat project.

    I checked my hardware store and they call your stub out an air chamber.
    just tellingyou this so you could put it in the instructions incase other stores call them air chambers too


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Approx how long will the filled 'tank' of fuel last?


    i see instead of the base feet things the staff could be used, and for more compactness, you could put one on each end


    13 years ago on Introduction

    how balanced is this project it looks like the height would make it easy to fall over?


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea! Being a plumber and having all of the parts in the garage, this is the next project for my son and I to take on. Thanks, great idea. This looks like the most durable stove that I have seen on here.

    dp mac
    dp mac

    13 years ago on Introduction

    i need to know the total price of this build so i can know if i have enough cash thanks


    13 years ago on Introduction

    A very ingenious design. I also like the durability factor. Nice job, thanks.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    nice, I like it, but can you post some pics or a video of it working? that would be cool, also it would be nice to know how long it takes to heat up water... (like 1 liter - 8 minutes) or something like that... Keep up the good work!!!

    5* (Five Stars)