Introduction: Efficient Alcohol Stove With a Drop-in Wick Pipe

About: I'm a web developer and I enjoy outdoors a lot

There are tons of DIYs about how to create an alcohol stove, aka beverage-can stove, in a lot of different models.

I create several models and I only kept the one that worked better for me: the open jet one (aka "Standard" described in wikipedia:

It was working fine, but fine is not enough ;)
In this instructable I'll show you how to double the efficiency of this stove by simply adding a "drop-in" element easy to make: an aluminium wick coil pipe burner.

The advantages of this setup are:

  • It increases significantly the heat produced by your stove
  • It reduces the priming time
  • It is very light (8g, 0.28oz)

How does it work?
I've been inspired by this video: Basically it shows a copper tube that acts like a pressurised chamber, the wicking cloth brings the alcohol up to the top of the tubing where it is heated by the flame below. It vaporises and escape by the little holes. There it is burnt and produces heat which maintains the cycle.
In my application I also use it to transfer the heat via the aluminium pipe to the liquid alcohol.

Step 1: Tools and Material

We will assume that you already have an open jet alcohol camp stove or equivalent.

For this project you will need some material:

  • 1/4" aluminium tubing (I scavenged it from an old natural gas water heater) you can also use copper but it's heavier.
  • 100% cotton cloth or any wicking material (old teeshirt)
  • Thick fishing line

You also need those tools:

  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Metal hand saw
  • 1/16" drill bit or thiner

Step 2: Prepare the Tubing

  1. Take your pliers and pinch one end of the tubing so it is air-tight
  2. Carefully bend the tubing as described in the picture
  3. Cut the excess if any
  4. Drill 2 holes near the pinched end

Step 3: Insert the Wicking Material

  1. Push the fishing line through one of the drilled holes until it reaches the other end, this operation can be tedious. Pull as much line out as the length of the tubing.
  2. Prepare your wicking material (length and thickness) so it can enter easily in the tubbing.
  3. Attach the wicking material to the fishing line close to the open end of the tubing and make a knot. The remaining line will be helpful to get it out if it gets stuck.
  4. Pull the other end of the line to get the wicking material into the tubing. Try to pull it not further the top of the last loop (you might need to mark the line first).
  5. Once the wicking material reaches the correct position pull back the line until the knot comes out.
  6. Remove the knot and pull the fishing line completely.
  7. Leave some inches of wicking material and cut the excess.

You're done!

Step 4: Installation and Tests

Put the tubing in your stove, let the excess of wicking material lie where the fuel is.

Light up your stove and see the magic happening!

I did some tests indoor:
Experimental conditions:

  • Fuel: 70% denatured ethanol (I hadn't a better alcohol, the best would be to have 96% ethanol)
  • Quantity of water: 2 cups
  • Water initial temperature: 28°C
  • Room temperature: 29°C
  • Altitude: 250mamsl
  • No wind
  • Stainless steel pot
  • No pot lid


  • Without the tubing:
    • Time to boil: 8min1sec
    • Quantity of fuel burnt: 1oz
  • With the tubing:
    • Time to boil: 4min48sec
    • Quantity of fuel burnt: 1oz

Step 5: Conclusion

This is an easy way to significantly enhance your backpacking stove.
It is lightweight, silent and will make you save a lot of time!

Comments and suggestions are welcome =)

Please share your experience!

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Backyard Contest 2016