Introduction: Mini Project #15: Mini Alcohol Stove

About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,

this week I would like to share with you a great design for a very small alcohol stove that I recently found in a German survival magazine. I made penny stoves in the past but was never really satisfied with the results until I decided to try this design.

The benefits of this design are:

- You can make it from a single soft drink can (or energy drink can in my case)

- It is relatively sturdy due to the two chamber design

- It is reliable and does not require an external heat source to get it running like some penny stove designs

- Using a Red Bull can instead of a regular soft drink can reduces weight by 23% and has also a smaller diameter.

Users of the mobile app may use this link to get to the video.

Be aware that the testing part of the video doesn't reflect the actual time from cold water to boiling. I had to film this 5 times due to different issues and forgot to start recording at one time. The water was therefor already preheated to approx. 60°C. On previous takes I was able to get the 250ml (1 US cup) boiling with 20ml ethanol in less than 10 minutes.

The stove works best with ethanol but also isopropyl alcohol can be used (This creates a mess due to the soot though). Even alcohol based hand sanitizers can be used to get this stove going.

Step 1: Cutting Template

  1. A thick book (It should be at least 5cm/2" thick)

  2. Empty Red Bull can (250ml) - Any other brand will do

  3. Thin card board or plastic sheets as a backing for the template

  4. Glue (I used universal glue)

  5. Ethanol (Other alcohols like Isopropyl work too)

  6. Small container for your fuel

  7. (Optional) Thread seal tape to seal the container

  8. (Optional) Wooden back-up board

  1. Metric measuring device (Yard stick, ruler, measuring tape etc.)
  2. Straight edge (Preferably metal)
  3. Scissors
  4. Needle nose pliers
  5. Very pointy awl or ice pick
  6. Fresh/Sharp utility blade
  7. Utility knife
  8. Permanent marker/Carpenters pen
  9. Lighter
  10. Screw clamp
  11. X-Acto knife or scalpel
  12. (Optional) Hammer & 6mm hole punch

You can find the cutting template attached as a download for this step.

Step 2: Download & Cut Out Template

  1. Download the attached template
  2. Open and print it out on A4 paper
  3. Use the scissors to cut the two items out as shown on the template.
  4. (If you have a metric measuring device you don't need the little helper just the circle)

Step 3: Gluing the Template

  1. Use some universal, crafting glue or glue stick to glue the cut out template items to a thin cardboard or plastic sheet

Step 4: More Cutting

  1. Use a utility knife or X-Acto knife to cut out the template
  2. For the measurement helper I suggest you cut it out in a L-shape as shown in the last pic (This makes it just easier to hold the helper)

Step 5: And Even More Cutting

  1. Use an X-Acto knife or scalpel to cut out the circle from the template
  2. Cut along the dotted line
  3. (alternatively use a circle cutter for this step if you have one)

Step 6: Cut the Bottom of the Can

  1. Use your book and carefully place a utility blade in its pages
  2. Compress the book with a screw clamp until the blade has a height of 26mm (Or use the template helper) - You may have to do some trial & error to get to the correct height
  3. Ensure that the blade is tight and doesn't move
  4. Now slowly & carefully score a line in the bottom part of the can (Do not use pressure)
  5. Turn the can 10-15 times
  6. Use slight pressure with your fingertips to separate the two pieces as shown in the video.

Step 7: Remove the Top

  1. I used an awl to score around inside the top of the can to weaken the material
  2. Next I used an older X-Acto knife (or scalpel) to cut the inside of the rim out as shown in the second picture
  3. Next I used the aluminum handle of the knife to bend over the burr from the cutting.

Step 8: Marking the Nozzles

  1. Use the larger template and carefully place it over the top of the can
  2. It should sit there snug and all you have to do is to ensure that that it is relatively straight
  3. Now use a permanent marker or carpenters pen to make marks for the nozzles.

Step 9: Make the Nozzles

  1. Use the awl to puncture the can at the marks you just made.
  2. Do not use too much pressure you really only want to puncture the can at this stage
  3. I made mine approx. 0,5mm in diameter

Step 10: The Next Cut

  1. Set the blade to 32mm (or the middle mark on the template helper)
  2. Repeat the cutting like you did before

Step 11: Prepare the Center

  1. Use the scissors to cut the middle part as shown in the first picture
  2. Lay the strip out flat and use something like a straight edge to hold it flat
  3. Use the small template to make marks at 38mm (or mark it with a ruler)
  4. Use the straight edge to connect the marks
  5. With a utility knife knife cut along the line

Step 12: Make the Nozzles Larger

  1. Use the awl to widen the nozzle holes from the inside
  2. Each nozzle should now be approx. 1mm in diameter
  3. The burrs should also be bent to the outside of the can
  4. (Optional you can use a file & sandpaper to remove the burrs)

Step 13: Dry Fit the Middle

  1. Roll up the center strip and place it into the bottom of the can
  2. It should fit tightly around the inner rim
  3. Use the marker to mark the middle on each side of the overlapping area.

Step 14: Cuts

  1. Use your scissors to cut on opposite sides of the strip
  2. You can now slide the two ends inside of each other as shown in the third and fourth picture

Step 15: Bends

  1. Use the needle nose pliers to crimp the edge of the bottom part
  2. This reduces the diameter of the edge and makes it easier to slide the two parts together

Step 16: More Cuts

  1. Use your scissors to cut three small triangles into the center wall
  2. They should be equally spaced apart from each other
  3. Each should be approx. 5mm (1/4") high
  4. These holes will later be the only way for the fuel to get from the inner chamber to the outer chamber
  5. (Optional) - Use the hole punch to create clean half circles along the rim instead of the triangles - This is just cosmetic though and has no effect on performance.

Step 17: When It All Comes Together

  1. Finally each segment is ready and its time for assembly
  2. Place the inner wall inside the top
  3. Ensure that the wall sits evenly inside the rim of the top part
  4. Now carefully place the bottom part onto the top section
  5. Press them together carefully until you notice that they can't move any further but do not use excessive force

Step 18: Try It Out

  1. Before you add it to any part of your gear I strongly suggest you try the stove out at home
  2. I used a small 20ml container from a travel cosmetics kit which fits inside the stove
  3. This container holds enough fuel to get 250ml (1 US cup) to a boil withing 5-10 minutes
  4. When using it outside you want to make sure that you protect the set up from wind
  5. It should be possible to boil larger quantities of water with more fuel (Not yet tested the ratios though)


  1. Pour in your fuel (I recommend ethanol although most high percentage alcohols should work)
  2. Ignite the fuel and let it heat up for 10 to 15 seconds
  3. You will notice that small jets emerge from the nozzles (Compare pic 2 to 3)
  4. Place your water container on top of the stove
  5. Monitor the stove and relight if the flames should go out (in which case the stove wasn't hot enough to create the fuel vapor)


  1. Do not refuel a stove that is in operation - wait until all fuel has been consumed, let it cool down and then refuel
  2. Do not blow into the stove as this might cause a larger flame that could burn you
  3. Ethanol burns with a light blue flame which might be difficult to see in daylight
  4. Make sure your stove & water container stand on solid ground and can't tip over
  5. The stove will cool down very quickly once the fuel is empty but is extremely hot when in operation be careful and use gloves or tongs if neccessary

Step 19: Giveaway

You can win one of three Let's Prep "Tinder" Skill Builder Kits including a 3-Month Instructables Pro Account.

The kit shown is the current work in progress of the Skill Builder kit which includes a number of natural and synthetic materials. The whole concept is still very much in development and I will publish Instructables & videos accordingly once I know where I really want to go with this.

All you have to do is to subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave me a comment at this video and include "I want to go out and learn something new!" & your Instructables username. You have until the 15th May 2016 1800 GMT to participate after which I will announce the winners on my FB, Twitter & Blog. (Only entries from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, USA & Canada are eligible to get the full package mailed (please understand that I pay for this myself), residents of other countries may only receive the Pro-Account).

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